An essential part of the pleasure of being outdoors is food. It’s the fuel by which we go adventuring, it’s the lunch on top of the mountain, it’s the backcountry dinner. These three books explore all aspects of food and outdoor adventure, from nutritional considerations for peak performance, to the snacks that power the activity, to recipes for different kinds of camping.
The New Camp Cookbook: Gourmet Grub for Campers, Road Trippers, and Adventurers is focused on car camping, and presupposes a lot of gear and ingredients. There’s a chapter on setting up the camp kitchen, and subsequent chapters give recipes for each of the day’s meals. These dishes are more gourmet than grub! They include Dutch Oven Deep-Dish Soppressata and Fennel Pizza, and Korean Flank Steak with Sriracha-Pickled Cucumbers. And sign me up for Summer Ale Sangria with Ginger and Peach! There are sections on cooking with both a cook stove and a camp grill.
Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor Adventures is a bit more versatile. It’s divided into three sections, for day hiking, car camping, and backcountry camping. Each section has information on meal planning, techniques for the cooking gear involved, and a collection of recipes. The three authors also run a collective blog of the same name. The recipes are a bit simpler and heartier, from Backcountry Mac and Cheese to Lentil Vegetable Stew with Dumplings–yet also with elegant touches, as with the Skillet Apple Pie with Cognac Butter.
Peak Nutrition: Smart Fuel for Outdoor Adventure contains 100 recipes for snacks, meals, and beverages, but the bulk of the book is given over to a scientifically informed discussion of the role of nutrition in performance. The authors are both rock climbers, but they map out the specific needs of a number of activities, from bouldering and wall climbing to trail running to hiking and backpacking to backcountry skiing. It’s a comprehensive treatment of preparing for, fueling up for, and recovering from high exertion activities. It includes detailed sections on nutrition to slow aging, nutrition for different body types, and women’s nutritional needs. Among my favorite features are the numerous “Peak Profile” sidebars in which they ask outdoor athletes about their go-to energy food, the biggest challenge to getting good nutrition, their best and worst eating habits, and their favorite food indulgence at the end of the day. And then, of course, the big one: fleece or down? The answers are as entertaining as they are inspiring for planning one’s own outdoor adventures.