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Book Review: Backcountry Cooking

One thing this cookbook author has is an extensive collection of outdoor books, which of course contains many outdoor cookbooks! I am always picking up new ones to add to my office’s book shelves!

I had been meaning to pick up a copy of NOLS Backcountry Cooking: Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips, by NOLS (Edited by Claudia Pearson and Joanne Kuntz). It came out last year.


So recently I acquired a copy to take a look over. One warning is this book is tiny – 4″x6″ and 102 pages. Not that is a bad thing, but I would say this is the smallest outdoor cookbook I have in my collection. Consider the book an abbreviated version of the big NOLS book, NOLS Cookery (National Outdoor Leadership School). As a starter book it has good points in the first 64 pages, covering how to select food/menus, how to judge weight per day based on your type of trip, gear, setting up a camp kitchen, dealing with planning for more than one day. Mike Clelland’s illustrations are always nice to look at and the book has quite a few of them. The recipes though don’t make the book – there is only 32 of them.More so, the recipes call for time and fuel intensive techniques in some – how many of us use raw rice? Instant rice is so much easier, especially if you have dehydrated your favorite rices at home and made up a stockpile of homemade instant rice!

I would suggest that if one was picking up this book they consider getting it with the big book as well for a wider range. As a gift for a newbie expressing interest in hiking this might be a good choice, it won’t overwhelm them with information. But if you are an experienced trail cook, not so much. The recipes will disappoint most readers. There just isn’t enough variety nor new exciting ideas.


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