By Michelle Shea

Grab your pack shovel and get creative with these five tips for cooking with one of your essential pieces of backcountry gear. Whether you’re looking to dig a snow pit or dig into a snow-camp meal, Tahoe Mountain Sports has a variety of backcountry shovels to choose from for your next adventure.


Fire Starter!
Use your shovel to build a fire when the ground is wet or covered with snow. First, line thin, dry pieces of timber along the base of your shovel and spread a Vaseline-soaked cotton ball over the timber. Next make a pyramid of timber around the base. Light the cotton ball and let the flame build. When the flame is steady and you’re ready, slowly pull the shovel from the fire and try not to disturb the structure (think of a magician pulling a table cloth from a set table). When the shovel is free and clear, add additional timber and larger dry wood pieces to build your fire.


Grill Tool!
Speaking of fires and shovels, your backcountry shovel makes a great tool for flipping and grabbing food from your fire pit. There’s no need to carry extra tools for cooking on a backcountry fire; your shovel does it all. You can also use the shovel to fan the fire to build the flames.


Pot Cover!
Who needs a lid when you have a shovel to throw over your pot!? The light “u” shape molds perfectly to any size pot.


Cooling tray!
Use your shovel as a cooling tray to make backcountry treats, like these “Bear Scat Cookies.” You can heat and bind your ingredients with a backcountry stove and then cool your goop directly on your shovel’s non-stick surface to make delicious cookies without an oven.


Cool leftovers and make dessert with a shovel and snow. Dig a shallow hole in the snow. Lay shovel with leftovers on shovel surface in the snow and cover with aluminum foil. Cover the shovel with a light layer of snow and remove when food reaches your desired temperature. This is especially great for making desserts when you’re staying in a warm hut. Try ice cream, pumpkin peanut butter bars, or frozen fruit treats.

For more creative backcountry recipes visit

This post comes from Guest Blogger Michelle Shea. Michelle lives at Lake Tahoe and is the host/creator of the outdoor series Adventure Dining Guide. She created Adventure Dining Guide because “food is the unrecognized hero of our journeys, and it’s about time backcountry meals get the recognition they deserve”. Learn more at

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