Photos: Excalibur

The right fuel on the trail is as important as the right hiking boots or climbing gear.

Sure, you can buy prepackaged trail food like jerky, dehydrated chili and granola — and deal with the preservatives, sugar, high sodium, and artificial stuff lurking in some of them — but if you want to eat healthier and know exactly what’s in your food, you’ve gotta make it yourself.

Top 7 Foods for Sustaining Energy on the Trail

It’s easier than you think to whip up some homemade fruit leather, jerky or even some trail-ready chili. All you need is a few ingredients, some imagination and a good dehydrator.

We recommend Excalibur dehydrators. They come in 4-, 5- and 9-tray sizes, depending on how much food you plan on drying, and the built-in 26-hour timers make sure you dehydrate your food perfectly. Just put stuff on a tray, set the temp and timer, and you’re done. It’s almost easier than driving to the store for jerky.

Besides just making dried fruits and vegetables, here are some recipes from Excalibur for classic camp food, including dehydrated chili, one pot spaghetti, scrambled eggs, beef jerky, fruit leather, power bars and granola.

Basic Jerky

·         3 to 4 lbs lean beef (cut into strips)

·         1/2 cup tomato sauce base or catsup

·         1/4 cup soy sauce

·         1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

·         1 tsp onion powder or 2 tsp onion flakes

·         1 tsp garlic powder

·         1/2 tsp cracked powder

·         1/2 tsp hickory smoke flavoring or salt

Blend all ingredients and soak meat strips in mixture.

Keep refrigerated 6 to 12 hours, stirring and turning meat occasionally in marinade.

Once meat is marinated to desired strength, drain off marinade and dry in dehydrator at 155°F/68°C for 5-6 hours or until completely dry.


Hawaiian Jerky

Makes about 1/2 pound jerky

·         1 lb. lean meat cut 3/16” thick

·         1 tsp. salt

·         1 tsp. ground ginger

·         1 tablespoon brown sugar

·         1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

·         1 crushed garlic clove

·         1/4 cup pineapple juice

·         1/4 cup soy sauce

In small glass bowl combine all ingredients except meat.

Stir to mix well.

Place meat 3-4 layers deep, spooning sauce over all layers.

Cover tightly in refrigerator for 6-12 hours stirring occasionally.

Take meat out of marinade and place on dehydrator trays.

Dry at 155°F/68°C for 5-6 hours or until completely dry.


Cranapple Leather

·         1 cup apples, chopped

·         1/2 cup cranberries

·         Honey or sugar to taste

Puree apples in blender with a small amount of water.

Add cranberries and sweetener if desired.

Pour on Paraflexx dehydrator sheets, kitchen parchment paper, or plastic wrap covered dehydrator trays, and dry at 135°F/57°C until leathery.


Power Bars

·         3 cups rolled oats, barley or wheat

·         2 1/2 cups powdered milk

·         1/2 package citrus flavored gelatin (approx. 8 oz)

·         1 cup sugar

·         2 tablespoons honey

·         3 tablespoons water

Place rolled oats, powdered milk, and sugar in bowl.

Add water to honey and bring to a boil; dissolve gelatin in honey and water mixture.

Add dry ingredients.

After mixing well add water a teaspoon at a time until barely most enough to be molded.

Shape into bars.

Dehydrate at 155°F/68°C until hard.


Nonnie’s Great Granola

·         4 cups rolled oats

·         1/2 cup wheat germ

·         1 cup brown sugar or 1/2 cup honey

·         2 cups coconut

·         1 cup sesame seeds

·         1 cup almonds and walnuts, chopped

·         1/2 cup wheat or soy flour

·         1 tsp vanilla

·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         1 cup oil

·         1 tsp salt

After dehydrating the above ingredients (recipe below) add:

·         1 cup raisins

·         1/2 cup dates

·         1/2 cup dried pineapple

·         1/2 cup dried apples

(or any combination of dried fruits)

Mix the first group of ingredients together in a large bowl and spread onto Paraflexx, kitchen parchment paper, or plastic wrap.

Dehydrate at 155°F/68°C (approximately 3 hours) until crunchy.

Add the second group of ingredients.

Serve with milk or plain yogurt.


Camper’s Favorite Chili

Serves 4

·         1 1/4 cups canned pinto beans

·         2 cups tomato sauce—homemade or commercial

·         12 oz. dried pasta (such as elbow macaroni)

·         3 Whole jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

·         5 oz. ground beef (optional)

·         1/2 onion, minced

·         Seasoning as desired

Brown ground beef and cook pasta until done.

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan and heat to boiling.

Season to taste.

Spread on Paraflexx (dehydrator sheets) covered dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 155°F/68°C until dry (approximately 5 hours.)

To rehydrate, cover with water, boil stirring occasionally and serve.


One Pot Spaghetti

Serves 2-3

Dry the first group of ingredients ahead of time, pack them for your trip, and cook over a fire or camp stove.

Combine in 1 gallon freezer-weight zip lock bag:

·         1 cup dried mushroom pieces and/or slices

·         1/4 dried diced green bell pepper

·         3 tablespoons dried onions

·         1 envelope dried spaghetti sauce (8 oz.)

·         1/2 tsp. garlic powder

·         1/2 tsp salt

·         3 cups thin spaghetti noodles

Boil 4 cups water in medium pot.

Add mix.

Cook stirring frequently, about 5 mins.

If noodles stick add a little water.

Remove from heat, cover, let stand 5 min. or until noodles are tender.


Camp Scrambled Eggs

·         3 eggs

·         1 tablespoon water

·         1/4 tsp. black pepper

·         1/8 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in bowl and beat very lightly until just blended. Add any of the following variations or any of your favorite ingredients:

Cheese mushroom:

·         6 fresh mushrooms sliced

·         3/4 cup any variety grated cheese


·         3 sprigs parsley minced

·         1/4 cup onions chopped

·         1 tsp. any dried herbs


·         1 cup tomato sauce

·         1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, fresh or canned, seeded and minced

Blend together egg mixture and any of the variations.

Place in skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Scramble until done.

Place on Paraflexx sheet and dehydrate at 155°F/68°C until dry. (Approximately 5 hours.)

To rehydrate, cover with boiling water, stir occasionally and serve.

If there is an excess of liquid pour it out.


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