While I fluctuate between insisting I’m a vegetarian and subsequently caving at the smell of cooking bacon, my trail partners are bona fide meat eaters — so much so that they won’t call something a “meal” unless there’s some sort of meat involved.
But, short of learning how to hunt, the options for getting some animal protein on the trail are few and far between.
Enter a slew of companies solving the stale-beef-jerky problem that plagues all trail carnivores hungry for something other than raisins and peanuts. Here’s how to get your meat fix outdoors — without setting any traps.
If you’re more of a discerning carnivore, this cured-meat-of-the-month club might be the only trail food that can match your elevated tastes. Each month, members are shipped a classy faux-wood box filled with four to six handcrafted cured meats from top artisans from around the world (all of whom purchase ethically treated animals, use humane slaughtering practices and use locally sourced ingredients).
Each month’s box is determined by its producer, with themes like “artisanal jerky” and “French charcuterie.” Goes great with expensive small-batch whiskey and a campfire. Or, you know, water from a Nalgene.
No one really likes those dry protein logs, right? That’s why Epic Bar‘s sweet and savory meat, fruit and nut bars are such a welcome substitution. Each individually wrapped bar is made with really high-quality, ethically sourced animal meats and simple ingredients like cranberries, apple and sesame.
The taste is strong but easy to get used to; in fact, after the first few bites, you’ll wonder how you ever ate protein bars with flavors like “Gooey Chocolate Marshmallow Mint” instead of “Pulled Pork Pineapple” and “Bison Bacon Cranberry.”
If you’re hungry, but not ready to set up camp and pull out the pots and pans, pop a Tanka Jerky Bite in your mouth. These bite-sized blocks of low-fat, high-energy American buffalo meat and cranberries are actually based on a Native American trail food called “wasna,” a combination of meat and fruit.
These packs of jerky blocks are shelf-table for 12 months and come in three re-sealable pouches with flavors like slow-smoked, apple orange peel and spicy pepper.
Eating fish can be an ethical dilemma — and damn near impossible when you're without refrigeration to boot. Leave it to Patagonia to shepherd in a more sustainable and responsible choice for pescatarians: their 6-ounce packages of lightly smoked wild sockeye salmon are fully cooked and ready to eat out of the bag with light seasoning and a flaky consistency. Each unopened pack is shelf stable and slips into your backpack easily, and for a hot meal all you need is some warm water and seven minutes.
You like roaming around in the fresh air, and you want the animals you’re eating to have experienced the same thing. Enter The New Primal‘s Grass-Fed Beef Jerky. It’s made from certified grass-fed beef, sweetened with a little pineapple juice and honey and infused with onion and pepper instead of the normal salt bath most beef jerky gets. This tasty and perfectly chewable jerky has nothing to hide: it’s non-GMO and contains all natural ingredients, too.
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