Welcome to Backcountry Paleo! For many of us, the best days happen in the backcountry. High in the mountains, down a sandy desert canyon, tramping about somewhere lonely and gorgeous. The backcountry calls to our hearts and souls, and we get out there every chance we find.

I lived that life for many years. Climbing road trips, afternoons at the crags, long backcountry ventures. Going off-trail where humans rarely go. High altitude trail runs. Dry sandy desert canyons, raging desert rivers. Seeing the way that only a sunrise and sunset can paint beauty on the side of a mountain.

Then, a six year struggle with a debilitating autoimmune condition kept me from any physical activity. I could no longer haul a pack up a mountain or climb cracks till my entire body hurt in that strangely delicious way (yeah, desert rats!). Could no longer get after it all day and tell lies around the campfire at night. In fact, I couldn’t even stay up past 7pm. During that time, the stairs in my house were too much for me. Really. It was ridiculous, and it was my life.

The whole time, my spirit needed those remote places that few humans tread. It took a long time for me to heal, and the path was winding and long. But with the help of some key people and a ton of effort, I focused on healing my body and mind, so I could get back out in the wild. I recently returned to a state of health where I could return to hiking, climbing, and adventuring. Getting back out there feels like the greatest gift. It’s coming home.

AIP and Paleo Outdoors: Changing The Game

When I started getting outside again, however, some key things were different. First, I am on a specialized medical diet called the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). It’s similar to Paleo but even more restricted, and happens to exclude most traditional backcountry foods. That poses a major challenge.

And, because of my autoimmune condition, my body responds differently to training, exertion and recovery than it did before. An added challenge. The rules of the game have changed. This means I need new and creative ways to work with food, training, adventuring, and recovery.

While pondering ways to work with all this, I realized there must be others in similar shoes (and boots!) who face the same challenges. So I decided to start a blog to share my journey. Meet Backcountry Paleo!

Paleo? AIP? Who is this blog for, anyhow?

This blog is for people on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and Paleo adventurers alike; we all face similar challenges when it comes to trail food (more below on that!). Most of my recipes are AIP-friendly (AIP is more restrictive than Paleo), and it’s easy to widen their scope to fit a Paleo diet. The food prep, meal planning, and trip ideas are useful for all of us. And for you strict AIP’ers, on the rare occasion I include a non-AIP ingredient, I’ll always make that clear and suggest a substitution if possible.

The Three Aspects of This Blog:

AIP and Paleo trail food

A major factor in my recovery has been the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), an elimination/reintroduction diet similar to Paleo (but more restrictive) that helps reduce inflammation and quells the effects of autoimmunity (AI). If you scoff at the concept of Paleo, don’t go getting your panties in a bundle! Regardless of whether or not a Paleo diet is what our ancestors ate, the AIP has proven to be fundamental in the recovery of growing thousands of autoimmune patients; the science is in, and it’s here to stay.


plantains fried in coconut oil

The Autoimmune Protocol doesn’t allow the grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and dairy that are traditional staples of backcountry food. The Paleo diet allows some nuts and seeds, but no grains, dairy or legumes. So, we face a unique challenge when planning food for the backcountry; throwing a pound of rice, some g.o.r.p. (“good old raisins and peanuts”) and a few pounds of cheese in the pack isn’t an option. But we still need trail food that is:

  • Strong enough in protein, fat and carbs to fuel us
  • Trail stable
  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight
  • Delicious!

AIP and Paleo diets are strong in fresh foods such as fish, bird, grass-fed mammal, healthy oils, fresh veggies, and fruits. These foods are heavy, and in their normal on-the-table state, they would spoil quickly on the trail.

Enter the need for proper food preparation, storage, and trail-stability. That’s much of what Backcountry Paleo offers, including:

  • Recipes for trail food
  • Meal planning and food prep for short and long trips
  • Food preservation and storage at home and on the trail

Living with autoimmunity in the backcountry

Living with autoimmunity sometimes means having to put a filter on activities we once took on with abandon. That doesn’t mean they are impossible; it means we have to plan, train, adventure and rest smarter than before. It’s a new set of rules that require us to re-vision our game plan.

Topics to look for:

  • Training for the backcountry when you live with Autoimmunity
  • Tips on how to make your backcountry time easier and more enjoyable
  • Dealing with specific autoimmune issues in the backcountry
  • Recovery from long or intense trips
  • Testimonials from people who’ve healed from AI issues enough to get in the backcountry again


The outdoor life means fun times! Sometimes, seeing someone else heal enough to get back to doing what they love is exactly the inspiration you need to keep working toward it yourself. I look forward to sharing trip reports and photos from my adventures. After all, backcountry fun is what it’s all about!

And yes, this is a journey for me, so you can expect to see some posts about my mistakes and failures. How does that saying go… “Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from making mistakes.”

I hope you find some morsel of deliciousness, fun, or inspiration here. I’d love to hear from you; your stories, questions, recipe ideas, lessons and successes. At heart, we are all adventurers, and it’s the wild places that light up our spirits. Thanks for visiting Backcountry Paleo, and have fun out there!