6 Easy Cold Soak Recipes For Your Next Thru-Hike (Basic Ingredients Only)

OK all you ultralight cold-soaking freaks. You can simplify your menu now, or you can ride that wave of denial until it dries up. Because let’s face it, we’ve all been there before: continuously assuring ourselves we’re going to carry a bunch of old Ziplocs full of different spices, or those little bottles of olive oil, ghee, or sriracha (OK actually you’re going to need that last one). Or maybe we promised ourselves we’d add freeze-dried fruits and chia seeds to every breakfast.

But eventually, that enthusiasm is going to run out (or else you’ll be stuck in a small town with no resupply options besides instant ramen, old stale Knorr packages, and instant potatoes). DON’T WORRY though, that pint of Talenti wasn’t eaten in vain. It’s time to get even freakier. You can transform basic gas station resupply ingredients into delicious meals with these six extremely simple cold soak recipes.

6 Easy Cold Soak Recipes You Need for Your Next Thru-Hike

1. The Only Overnight Oats You’ll Ever Need

easy cold soak recipes

Powdered milk if you’ve got it, but not necessary. I also recently discovered cinnamon and spice oatmeal works well here too.

It’s hideous. It’s disgusting. It’s kind of intriguing. It totally works. All you need is:

  • Two packets of Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal (extra brownie points for the generic brands).
  • One sachet of instant coffee (Oh look: somebody probably just left 30 Taster’s Choice sachets in the hiker box, and they taste the same as Starbucks Vias or Alpine Starts when they’re mixed with the oats anyway).

That’s literally it, y’all. I probably ate this about 50 times on the PCT this year. And it made those town diner breakfasts that much sweeter. BUT, if you’re not a coffee drinker, and if you are feeling just a little bougie, you can totally kick it up a notch by potentially adding:

  • Two heaped spoons of powdered milk OR
  • A heaped spoon of powdered peanut butter (or both of them put together, I really don’t care).
  • However many chia seeds it takes to forget that time in high school you did that really embarrassing thing.

READ NEXT – Trail Coffee 6 Ways: Which Method Makes the Best Brew?

2. The Easiest and Best Ramen On Planet Earth

easy cold soak recipes

Wasabi peas optional. Presentation mandatory.

This is so simple that everyone should at least try it once. The best part is that you can make it vegetarian too.

  • One pack of Soy Instant Ramen
  • One pack of Lemon Pepper Tuna
  • A squirt of sriracha

Think about it. Are you thinking about it? These four flavors are basically already the marinade you would use for tofu or chicken or whatever at home. It’s brilliant, and it was probably all from the hiker box too. But if you are sticking to your guns and keeping it completely meat-free on the whole trail, a great substitute or addition to the tuna is:

  • A bunch of wasabi peas (there’s almost as much protein in these as the tuna anyway).
  • Some crushed up nori/seaweed (for that extra sodium boost you didn’t know you needed).

3. An Even More Simplified Version of Skurka Beans and Rice

easy cold soak recipes

Tastes even more decadent if you eat it in a pit without a view.

Because five ingredients was too complicated. Plus it was too hot and you just couldn’t bring yourself to pack out the Kraft Singles. Don’t worry, the Chili Cheese Fritos are so MF’ing flavor-blasted that you don’t need that universal spice kit or anything else. Your taste buds are gonna start asking for the launch codes.

  • Dehydrated refried beans (for sale in most Wal-Marts, or, just as frequently found in bulk at health foods stores along the trail)
  • Knorr Spanish Rice
  • Chili Cheese Fritos

This one tastes so good right out of the jar. But I guess you could also put it on a tortilla with hot sauce. ALSO, if you can’t seem to get the proportions right, try adding some instant mashed potatoes to thicken it up. This goes for literally any cold soak recipe ever.

READ NEXT – Our Favorite 3-Ingredient Backpacking Meals

4. The Other Tried & True Ramen

I loved this one so much that I took it with me to the top of Mt. Whitney.

No frills here. This one is a classic, and it’s a classic for a reason. Y’all know what I’m talking about. It’s not delivery, it’s:

  • Lime Chili Ramen (or any other one, really, it doesn’t matter too much)
  • An absurdly large spoonful of peanut butter
  • A potentially regrettable amount of sriracha

Hiker trash pad thai. I didn’t actually eat this one as much, but it was great once in a while, especially when I felt like I needed to get in even more calories.

5. How About We Do Mediterranean Night, Babe

I ran out of relevant photos, so here’s the cat from Trout Lake Grocery on the PCT.

Take yourself on a cultural and culinary adventure to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean Sea with:

  • A bunch of olive oil & garlic flavored couscous
  • Idahoan Four Cheese Instant Potatoes
  • Probably sriracha

I did this one pretty frequently too. Especially because people are always leaving mystery bags of couscous in hiker boxes. It was probably the most filling of all the dinners, and maybe the most carbs too.

6. OK But What About Dessert?

In case you were wondering if it’s possible to cold soak Little Debbie brownie mix? It is. Kind of.

Or you could always just give in and buy that jar of chocolate frosting. Nobody’s gonna judge you for eating out of it; we’ve all wanted to since we were kids. Go ahead. You earned it.

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Comments 9

  • WD : Nov 5th

    Hilarious article… FACT… I hiked over 600 of the AT in 2019, and the entire thing in 2021. I have NEVER eaten a pack a ramen. Though I did carry one as an emergency, in NJ and NY, in case I was late and encountered a closed deli or off-trail store.

    I did try cold soaking about a week. It gave me a belly ache. Then I learned that pasta had to be boiled, to release the starches, which then make it digestible. I noticed one of your meals was a rice/pasta combo.

    I hate cooking at home. After reading this article, I’m going to take the plunge and try the ramen you listed above. Sounds tasty! ?

    Thanks for the read!!

  • Black Magic : Nov 5th

    Beans & Rice uses cheddar, not whatever the hell Kraft Singles is. If you’re on the PCT, there is no excuse not to have Tillamook singles. Even gas stations will have them, usually.

  • D. Hyde R8r : Nov 5th

    Ew! I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Great read though. Dehydrate your Siracha, you heathen!

  • Bo : Jul 15th

    Wish I could eat those foods. I have to eat more natural foods like tuna, peanut butter, wheat tortilla’s olive oil, dehydrated healthy stuff. Ramen and other fake type foods leave me with very little energy and feeling sick.

  • Laura Hamilton : Aug 5th

    Super funny piece, I like your style! Reading it made me a confirmed car/cooler camper though. I like real food too much. I think I would keel over pretty quick on a diet of instant mashed potatoes and ramen. If not physically, then mentally. You’re one tough MFer.


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