Backcountry Breakfasts: Overnight Oats

By Jen Sotolongo, Long Haul Trekkers

In May 2015, the Long Haul Trekkers crew, comprising Dave, Jen and Sora the dog, began the ultimate bikepacking quest from Oslo, Norway back to Portland, Oregon. Follow their journey at longhaultrekkers.com, where you’ll find an abundance of resources for bike touring, traveling internationally, and camp recipes, like this one.

For years, this porridge with its gloppy texture sort of terrified me.

In my 20s, I decided to finally give oatmeal a try. I started safe with instant oats from Trader Joe’s, loading them with brown sugar and cinnamon. Eventually, I graduated to steel cut oats and began to add other grains.

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 The problem with steel cut oats, however, is that they take forever, and I didn’t generally have the time or will to wake up early to prepare my breakfast.

Then I discovered overnight oats. I’ve been making these for years, varying the ingredients regularly, and I never get sick of this breakfast.

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During our bicycle tour, I’ve made a version of overnight oats nearly every single morning. They’re quick, don’t require us to fire up our stove, and provide plenty of fuel to cover the miles we travel before lunch.

So far, I’ve had no problem finding shelf stable plant-based milks in Europe. I find that a one-liter container lasts us two days. If it’s not cold enough at night to act as a refrigerator, we simply swap milk for water and add peanut butter or almond meal to make it a bit creamier. We’ve found that if the temperature is over 80 F (26 C), we don’t risk it. We learned the hard way one morning in Austria.

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The below recipe is a basic variation I use. I make my own muesli and just store it in a gallon-size zip top bag. This can be used with store-bought muesli as well. I use my MSR pot to make the oats, cover them, and let them work their magic inside overnight.

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These are fabulous topped with the Sweet and Simple Macerated Strawberries I’ve created.

Overnight Oats

This easy, healthy camping breakfast requires no stove and takes only a few minutes to prepare before crawling into your tent after a long day of activity. It’s vegan and can be made gluten free with certified oats.

Prep Time: 5 min

Oat Mix

  • 4 cups of rolled oats
  • ½ cup of seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin
  • ½ cup of raisins or dried cranberries
  • ¼ – ½ cup of other dried fruit such as goji berries, dates, chopped apricots – anything you like!
  • Mix everything in a gallon-size zip top bag and shake to combine.

Overnight Oats (Serves 2 human-powered traveler appetites)

  • 1.5 cups muesli, homemade or store bought
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 small handful of nuts (about 12) – almond, pecans, walnuts – it’s your choice!
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Almond milk or other plant-based milk

Instructions

  1. Add the muesli, chia seeds, nuts, and cinnamon to your pot or other covered bowl.

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2. Stir to combine.

3. Add enough almond milk to cover the muesli by about an inch.

4. Stir to combine. If the milk is absorbed by the oats and you can see the muesli mix, add enough milk to cover the mix until only a few pieces of fruit or nuts and seeds are visible (see the last photo as a reference).

5. Cover and let sit overnight.

6. In the morning, the oats will have absorbed the milk your muesli will be ready to eat! Serve and add any additional sweeteners like maple syrup, top with seasonal fresh fruit and enjoy!

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  • Kevin

    This works with just water and then add some powdered milk or powdered cream in the morning for flavor. No need to carry heavy milk product that could spoil.

  • Andrew Berg

    Soaking steel-cut oats in water overnight is a camping and bike-tour staple for me. They cook in just a few minutes if they soak overnight, and the texture is more nutty and less gloppy. Just make sure that your pot is sealed up tight and out of reach of critters!

  • Phillip Roberts

    So…..you keep this up in the bear bag overnight?

    • Carlos Perez

      Not to mention, perfectly upright!