By: Hope Gately
Backpacking in the backcountry takes immense planning: routes, gear, and food planning must all be considered. When an adventurer has dietary restrictions, it adds another layer to the preparation process. Luckily, dietary concerns don’t have to hold you back or cramp your style. MYSTERY RANCH caught up with Hunting Ambassador Randy Newberg to discuss his adventures to the fullest regardless of dietary restrictions.
Know Your Body and Work with a Specialist
Whether you face dietary restrictions because of Celiac disease, various food intolerances or allergies, it is beneficial to know your body’s needs and how it reacts in backcountry conditions. Newberg explains how becoming “hyper-aware” of how his body reacts to certain foods and specific situations allows him to be more prepared:
“I am missing the Portal Vein and associated “plumbing” that is paramount for proper liver function. That happened due to a large blood clot in 2004. It forces me to be on a low-protein diet. Yeah, I know, ‘Big game hunter on a low protein diet?’ That said, I still need protein – I just can’t take it in heavy loads. I’ve found a way to manage it, and in the process, I have become hyper-aware of how my body responds to certain foods. And, it has shown me that dehydration, even slightly lower than normal hydration, is a huge complication to the body.”
But, intuitively knowing your body might not be enough. Working with specialists can ensure that you are nourished and healthy in the backcountry. Newberg explains:
“I’ve overcome these challenges through working with dieticians and food specialists. It is paramount that I stay disciplined in my routine and hydration. If not, things get bad. The point being, if you want to have a backcountry lifestyle, talk to a professional in health and diet. These professionals can likely help a dedicated person find ways to overcome their dietary challenges.”
Planning is Everything
Preparing for meals in the backcountry can be overwhelming when dietary restrictions are involved., Newberg recommends planning for “a steady intake” of snacks and foods that meet your nutritional needs while adventuring.
“My method is unique to someone with liver complications. For me, it’s not about planning huge meals. Rather, I plan for a steady intake of food that meets my dietary needs that provide a balance of the essentials needed for the exertions of the backcountry. I spend about 100 days a year either overnight or on day trips in the backcountry. So planning is paramount.”
Newberg recommends having some food staples that you always take with you and can be relied upon to give you the nutrition and calories your body needs.
“The same food, day after day, can get a bit boring. Yet, I’ve found some basic items that just work better, so I have more of those than my taste-driven desires would prefer, knowing that those will do the job. I try not to make everything about big meals, rather eating regularly throughout the day.”
Hydration, Electrolytes and Comfort Food
No matter the dietary challenge you face, hydration and electrolytes are two essential needs for all adventurers.
“Complete hydration and electrolyte maintenance cannot be neglected, even in cold weather. Comfort also has its place. The older I get, the more I value comforts and good food. Both allow me to be more rested and better nourished.”
Nutritional Snacks that Pack a Punch
When planning your snacks, it’s vital to carry nutritional value items that won’t aggravate your stomach and provide a mental reward. These snacks will be different for adventurers based on their dietary needs and restrictions. A few of Newberg’s favorites include “venison jerky and a trail mix of dried mangos with cashews, raisins and chocolate.”
For adventurers with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease, hard-boiled eggs, popcorn, nuts or carrot sticks may be healthy options for the trail. For adventurers with diabetes, string cheese and beef sticks are delicious options. Nut butter pouches and hummus pouches are easy to carry on the trail for those living with Crohn’s disease.
Randy’s Favorite Packs and His Hot Rock Method:
When asked about his favorite MYSTERY RANCH packs for the backcountry, Newberg had the following to say:
“I have to flip a coin between my METCALF and my BEARTOOTH 80.”
He recommends this hot rock cooking method for backcountry adventures. It involves heating rocks by a campfire, then laying raw recently harvested meat on the rocks and allowing it to cook in an open flame. The heat from the rocks acts as a conductor and is just as effective as cooking with a cast-iron skillet without hauling a skillet into the backcountry. As Newberg says, “When I’m lucky enough to harvest a big game animal, you can’t beat fresh tenderloins on a hot rock heated by a big fire.”