Four years ago, sommelier and Iron Chef winner Jennifer Scism co-owned a successful restaurant in Greenwich Village. Then she moved to Maine, took to the trails, and discovered that existing just-add-water meal options didn’t quite measure up to Manhattan’s fine dining standards. So she started crafting her own with a food dehydrator. That led to Good To-Go, which brings Scism’s inspired treats to ravenous backpackers with refined palates. Simply add boiling water, seal the package for 20 minutes, and eat. One forkful of Thai Curry reminded my taste buds of a trip to Southeast Asia. A muddy camp kitchen lit by headlamp took on the sheen of a candlelit dinner under the stars thanks to the rich, creamy flavors of the Herbed Mushroom Risotto with basil pesto. (Good To-Go also makes Smoked Bean Three Chili and Classic Marinara with Penne.) And unlike most of the glorified MREs you see on camp store shelves, these are no salty gut bombs: All of Good To-Go’s meals are gluten-free; many are vegetarian (Scism hand selects fresh veggies to dehydrate); and Scism complements her masterly skills with whole spices. Voilá! Trail cuisine, elevated. 7 oz. per meal; $9.75–$10.75; goodto-go.com
On an August backpacking trip gone awry, my group got lost in a forest thick with the sharp ends of beetle-killed pines. We beat through walls of branches to discover cliffs and quagmires, but never a route to camp. And when my friend tried to save a misstep on a slick boulder, she dislocated a shoulder—then grimly popped it back in on her own. Helpless to ease the dull ache of my friend’s freshly torqued shoulder, I set out to mend group morale with Pat’s Backcountry Beverages.
Here’s how the system works: prime the Carbonator Bottle with an Activator Packet—a mix of citric acid and potassium bicarbonate—and add filtered water and syrupy beer concentrate in the 20-ounce container. Shake for two minutes, let it settle, and pour a nicely frothed pint of the sweetly hoppy Pale Rail (5.2% ABV) or dark, malty Black Hops (6.1% ABV), both brewed with Cascade hops. Each packet weighs 2.1 ounces and the custom container doubles as a water bottle. The takeaway? A 12-pack requires less pack space than a Nalgene. Any beer tastes good after near-crisis in the backcountry. But this group all lives in Colorado, where a robust microbrew scene cultivates beer snobs. We all agreed Pat’s was better than merely quaffable; the reconstituted beer impressed the skeptics and earned a permanent spot on my packing list. $49.95 for Carbonator Bottle Starter Kit; $9.99 for Brew Concentrate 4-Pack; patsbcb.com