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As hunting season rolls into November and winter steadily approaches, the freeze-dried meals we’ve all been eating for the last couple of months are rapidly losing their luster. Cold temperatures, long nights and deep snow require a high level of physical exertion at times, so eating enough calories to meet that requirement is critical. Not to mention, these few tips are sure to boost the flavor of your favorite freeze-dried meal, too.


Hot sauce. What else do you need to know? Tapatio, Cholula, Sriracha. They’re all great. And while they don’t add significant calories to your meal, they just might make a few of the less flavorful meals (rice and chicken, beef stew, breakfast skillet…you know the ones) more bearable. If you can find small squeeze packets, that’s the best, but if you can’t, pick up a small bottle at your local grocery store and throw it in your pack. Your buddies will thank you.


Tortillas are a great addition to any of your backcountry freeze-dried meals. They’re easy to throw in a backpack, they hold up well and won’t get crushed like bread or bagels. Calorically, one large tortilla will add around 200 calories to your evening meal and will turn any of your favorite dinners into a great burrito or wrap. Add hot sauce, and you’re looking at a low-key luxurious backcountry dinner.


Quality protein can be tough to find in the backcountry. Bars are great, but by the end of season I’d rather go hungry than eat another standard bar. Tuna packets are a great way to add quality protein to your backcountry food list. It isn’t the best in terms of weight-to-calories, but they’re protein rich. One packet can add 15-20 grams of protein to your favorite meal. Grab some standard unflavored packets, or kick it up a notch with flavored options from Tuna Creations like Sweet and Spicy, Ranch, Buffalo or Lemon Pepper.


The late season comes standard with long nights in a tent, and packing in a couple of beers for you and your buddies can improve morale and help pass the time. Leave the light beers at the truck and pack something with a little substance, a Banquet, a stout, anything with a bit more bang for your buck. If you’re feeling especially charitable, don’t tell your buddies and throw a few extra beers in your pack to surprise them when the time is right. Whatever you do, don’t pack any full cans back to the pickup.


Ramen is a killer lightweight addition to your backcountry food plans during the late season. It’s cheap, and around 400 calories depending on the brand. Go for the standard chicken or beef flavors from Nissin, or pick up something with a little more kick from the ethnic foods aisle in your local grocery store. Add the ramen to your evening freeze-dried meal, or eat it for lunch if you need something to warm you up on a chilly glassing knob.