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The Scrog Blog - Part 1: Eating right for the backcountry

Eating for backcountry skiing

Whether it be here in Scotland or elsewhere in the world, we love a day in the backcountry. The chance to crack out the touring gear and head for untouched snow is one we’ll always try to take full advantage of – but for a day out bagging hills our bodies need to be fuelled with the right food to get us to the summit and make the most of those turns on the way back down.

You burn lots of calories when ski touring and splitboarding, so you need to make sure you’re fuelling your body and replacing what you burn. What’s more, when you’re at altitude, your metabolic rate increases substantially – so eating plenty of the right foods is super important. In this, the first of our touring-themed Scrog Blogs, we’ll look at fuelling your body for the tour – preparing yourself with a nutritious backcountry breakfast, snacking on the hill, and meals for the evening that can aid your recovery during multi-day tours.

The importance of fuel

If you’ve ever been ski touring or splitboarding before, you’ll know it requires substantial physical exertion. At the end of your day, you’re hauling yourself and all your gear to the top of the hill, and you still want to have plenty left in the tank for the way back down. All that work requires a lot of energy and plenty of hydration, so it’s important to keep your body topped up with useful calories and fluids throughout the day.

The best breakfast for the backcountry

Touring Breakfast

Call us out on the cliché if you will, but breakfast really is the most important meal of your touring day. Getting your body loaded with the food it needs before setting off from the lodge is a must. Slow-release energy is best, and porridge is our go-to. Topping off a big bowl with some seeds and nuts gives you plenty of protein and ‘good fats’ to keep your muscles going as you make your way up the skin track. It’s also worth remembering that you’re headed into the extremes and the weather might not permit a sit-down lunch with epic views, so make sure you eat plenty.

What to include in your backcountry breakfast?

  • Eggs
  • Porridge/oatmeal
  • Nuts
  • Fruit in smaller amounts
  • Water/juice
  • Avocado on whole grain toast

What to leave out of your ski touring and splitboarding breakfast?

  • Sugary cereals
  • White bread

Snacks for the hill

When you’re making your way up the hill, weight-saving is vital – having some snacks packed that deliver high energy with comparatively low weight and volume are ideal. You want to make sure your snacks don’t freeze, so pack them in the middle of your bag to avoid breaking your teeth. Stay tuned for our DIY scrog bar recipes, but for now grab yourself some energy-rich snack bars from the supermarket – they’re ideal for the tour.

Best snacks for ski touring

  • High-energy snack bars
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Dark chocolate
  • Isotonic gels

Snacks to avoid when ski touring

  • Soft fruit that might get squashed in your bag
  • Sweets
  • Crisps

Bring extras

Taking extra food with you on tour is essential. You might end up on the hill longer that you expected, someone in your group may have forgotten theirs or you might get stuck overnight – so it’s always best to have some food in reserve for worst case scenarios.

When to snack?

Where to stop for lunch in the backcountry

You’re burning most of your energy on the way up, so don’t wait until you’re at the top to crack into your snacks – stop on your way up at replace the calories you’re burning. It may be tempting to avoid stops to leave out the hassle of getting your gloves off and pulling food out of your touring pack, but it’s always worth working some snack time into your schedule, especially if you can find somewhere sheltered from the weather. Small snacks can help you out if you’re in a hurry – stash a bunch in your pocket if you want to keep moving.

Staying hydrated in the backcountry

As with any form of exercise, plenty of hydration when you’re touring or splitboarding is key too. We’ve got a range of avalanche bag-compatible hydration bladders and flasks that are ideal for the backcountry. Hydration tablets are an awesome addition to your water when you’re touring – they won’t take up a lot of room in your pack and are an efficient way of replacing the salt your body loses through sweat. 

Post-tour dinner

Particularly when you’re heading out the next day, giving your body the fuel it needs to recover from a day on the hill is vital. It’s important to consume calorie and nutrition-rich foods to combat the fatigue caused by a day of skinning and skiing. Plenty of protein will help your muscles to repair themselves, and carbs will allow your body to replace its glycogen stores to keep you going for longer with fewer snacks the next time you’re out on the hill. And don’t be tempted into that post-tour beer, particularly if you’ve got another day ahead. Chances are you’re going to need to rehydrate, even if you’ve been keeping on top of it during the day. Drink plenty, and drink slowly over the course of the evening to give your body the best chance possible to recover.