Whiskey Jack Mash: An Instant Winter Backpacking Meal

Jack Daniels Pulled Pork
Jack Daniels Pulled Pork

The last thing you want on a winter backpacking trip is to wait a long time for dinner to cook or rehydrate. You need hot food – immediately – to stay warm while you melt snow to resupply your drinking water and to keep your “furnace” burning throughout the long winter night.

Here’s a rich winter backpacking meal I concocted that takes 1 minute to rehydrate.

It has two ingredients: Instant Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes and Jack Daniels Pulled Pork, which complement one another nicely.

At Home

  • Repackage a container of Jack Daniels Pulled Pork. You’ll find this pre-cooked item in the freezer case at your local grocery store. Pull the meat you want out of the package and freeze it in a one quart Ziploc bag. Two portions are enough for me.
  • Repackage an envelope of Instant Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes in a one quart Ziploc bag. This is the equivalent of four servings.

In Camp

Start melting snow in your cook pot and bring it to a boil. Drop the frozen bag of pulled pork into the pot to heat it up boil-in-a bag style. It should have remained frozen in your backpack all day, but it’s pre-cooked and should be fine to eat even if it has thawed.

After a few minutes, pour two cups of the boiling water into the Ziploc bag containing your dehydrated instant mashed potatoes. Knead the water into the potatoes and let stand for a minute or two, which is how long they take to rehydrate.

Combine the now-heated pulled pork with the bag of mashed potatoes, mix it up a little with a spork, and devour it ravenously.

This meal has 1000 calories of nutrition but you can make it even richer by adding in three servings of the pulled pork (the entire package) instead of two.


There is none, except licking your spork. Simply fold up the used Ziploc bags and drop them into your food sack so you can dispose of them when you get back to civilization.


  1. 100 thousand calories I believe, but not of nutrition, more like a lot of empty starches and saturated fats with some protein and a lot of sodium…. how about vitamins and minerals? Nutrition isn’t just calories….how about vitamins and minerals? Sugars (simple carbs)/complex carbs/proteins/fats ratios? If you eat it all, that’s about 4500 mg of sodium alone! About twice the RDA for an adult in this one meal.

    Calories in Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Instant Mashed Potatoes
    Nutrition Facts
    Idahoan – Buttery Homestyle Instant Mashed Potatoes


    Calories 110 Sodium 450 mg
    Total Fat 3 g Potassium 260 mg
    Saturated 1 g Total Carbs 20 g
    Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 1 g
    Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 2 g
    Trans 0 g Protein 2 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg
    Vitamin A 0% Calcium 2%
    Vitamin C 6% Iron 2%

    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

    Jack Daniels Pulled Pork

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size 1/3 package (151g)

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories from Fat 100
    Calories 280

    % Daily Values*
    Total Fat 11g 17%
    Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
    Cholesterol 65mg 22%
    Sodium 900mg 38%
    Total Carbohydrate 27g 9%
    Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
    Sugars 22g
    Protein 19g

    Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 4%
    Calcium 2% Iron 8%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

    • RDA is based on a 2000 calorie diet. I use about 4000 to 5000 per day on a winter backpacking trip. The hardest part is trying to eat all of those calories..because there’s not enough time in the day.

      Here are some of the other horrifying things in my food bag.

      Chunk milk chocolate, Ritter bars, Gorp loaded with chocolate chips, Fritos, Sugar coated ginger chunks, fig newtons, lots of cookies.

      I don’t eat like this every day, but then I don’t snowshoe 15 miles per day with a 40 pound backpack in subzero weather either.

      Got a problem with my menu, don’t eat it.

      • This may not be the most nutritionally balanced meal, but the other Mark is missing the purpose of this meal. It is for a winter camping trip, not a school lunch. How do you think this meal would compare, from a nutritional standpoint, with what Shackleton’s men were eating a century ago? I think this is an excellent winter camping meal and I am grateful that Philip shared it.

      • I have to agree most heartily with Philip and the other Mark. This menu is for a cold, winters trek in the snow where calorie intake is far more important than what vitamins you consume. Snowshoeing in deep snow in zero degree temps is very taxing and requires a massive calorie intake. 35 years in Alaska taught me that and Philip’s post reinforces what I have learned. Not only about the caloric intake but the Jack Daniels Pulled Pork is mighty tasty on its own any time of year. I have spent considerable time carrying and munching instant potatoes with added ingredients for decades and it too is versatile and warming. Happy snowy trails to you Philip.

    • I love all those extra bad things in the winter. They keep me doing backflips with my snowshoes on. Great idea Philip!

  2. Philip,
    Don’t worry about nutrition for your weekend jaunts. For 1000C of food you get *some* goodness besides energy. How much potassium do you need, in terms of grams? Nor were you bringing about an eating rebellion against packaged foods. You were just giving a single meal possibility. Being outside, in the woods, climbing the mountains is healthy enough. Take a vitamin pill, ignore the hype and just hike.

  3. I always add more salt in my food when backpacking because of the sweat loss. Your meal sounds just the ticket on a cold winter hike. I wish we could get JD pork here in UK. But something similar will be available. Thanks for the tip.

    • Alan..there’s nothing really special about JD pulled pork. Any sauce smothered shredded meat or beef stew will due. My wife views this meal as a form of Shepard’s Pie and she’s not that far off.

  4. The older boys told me that some backpackers even drink whiskey, too! But I’m not sure I believe it.

  5. Alas, I’ve not been able to find JD pulled tofu yet :(

  6. Hey Philip – Great idea for a backpacking meal. I hope to hike Ramsey’s Draft next weekend and just might try it. :) On my last hike I ate Beanie Weenie for dinner. Easy to heat and eat. And it’s delicious!!

    And Mark – eat your own eats, hike your own hike. :)

  7. oooooooooh I’m going to try the JD pulled pork, and I love Idahoan potatoes when I backpacking.

  8. Thanks Phil

  9. Please remember that your blog is available to read by most of the planet and not everyone’s Winter camping trip is consistently cold enough to keep food outside the “danger zone.” While most of us have played around the edges of food safety, I’d rather others not have to experience the unpleasantness that arises two or three days after a meal of microbial stew!

    • I would think that that would fall into the “common sense” category. If you hike in an area where it’s not consistently cold enough for this, or if the weather reports suggest temps will be too warm, then don’t bring this particular food item.

      That being said, I think this is brilliant.

      • Or better yet, reading and comprehending the written word is also quite important as Philip mentioned he freezes the pulled pork and by the time the day is over the pulled pork would be nearly thawed. I have found that frozen packages well insulated will last at least a couple of days being partially frozen even on fairly warm days. Most people I have met who do this usually carry the heavier meals like frozen pulled pork for one day only and eat it the first night out. Many then go to lighter meals. Anyway bottom like is go out, don’t worry about it, gorge yourself and maybe even have a little J.D by the campfire.

  10. I would think in the prevailing temperatures of your winter trips in the Whites, you could skip the step of freezing the pork and thereby save yourself some fuel on the reheat.
    If you’re anywhere near a Costco, they have a similar Kirkland brand pulled pork that is mighty fine eatin’.

  11. I apologize to everyone here for putting down this no doubt tasty meal idea as I am certainly guilty of not eating terribly well when on back country trips, including perhaps some Jack Daniels without the pulled pork. Missing vitamins is just fine here and there, sodium can be good (though I like to see a good potassium to balance it out), and a good, hot/warm meal is just what the doctor ordered on a winter’s night. Nutrition aside, it sounds good. Maybe add some peas for some kinda shepherd’s pie! Sorry!

  12. I’ve eaten this meal (and various alterations of it) on many a trips, hiking and canoeing in the BWCA or Quetico. it’s always been excellent. My fave is my homemade irish stew that I’ve dehydrated at home instead of the pulled pork, but I see nothing wrong with the WJPP!
    Dehydrated baked beans or lentils and vegetables are also winners for me. Add some shredded chicken and hot sauce, can’t be beat. I eat this in the summer, spring and fall too, because it is usually cool to cold in the BWCA and Quetico.

  13. Oh, this is a great idea, pulled pork is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Thanks YaanG for suggesting the Costco version of pulled pork. I recently became a Costco member at my local Sacramento store and am discovering some good things for backpacking there. For example in their organic section they have Nature’s Path organic instant oatmeal, which is quite good. And the Costco Kirkland brand Fruit and Nut Medley is great which is a combination of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, apples, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, cherries and raisons. As for chocolate my favorite is Toblerone swiss milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat. It comes in triangular form, which makes it easy to break off pieces for yourself and friends. I get a 3.52 oz. bar for 99 cents at my local dollar stove. In conclusion let me say to Phillip and everyone, but especially the relatives in County Kilkenny, Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise daoibh, which is Irish for Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

  14. Catamount Cruiser (Matthew)

    Sounds like a great plan. As a matter of fact I think if you had the pork frozen and in the middle of your pack you could use this as a first night meal on any trip for the shoulder season (not high summer). Typically the middle of your pack stays quite cool with other materials acting as insulation. When I hiked the AT we would hike with cold cuts like this with no problems.

    I hear about nutritional needs of backpackers quite a bit. I hiked the AT in 4.5 months AND gained 3 pounds while doing it. I at CARBS more carbs and more carbs. Prepackaged foods — Lipton Noodles with ramen, Instant Black Beans and instant rice, instant potato, mac&cheese, spaghetti with rehydrated sauce was the healthiest. (I would pack in a can of tuna once in awhile — this was before the pouch tuna had come on the market. Lunch was cookies, fig newtons, instant hummus and crackers, peanut butter, bagels, cold cuts on carefully packed rolls. Breakfast was M&M’s, Kudo Bar, Poptarts. At the end in Maine, I was eating 5 candy bars a day, plus the above plus anything I could put in my pack. Town stops were for eating a bit healthier but that was typically, fast food joints or subs or pizza. For me it was all about quantity.

    I understand nutrition. My point in writing this is when people who have never been on long trips or weekend trips of high caloric needs try to bash what can and has worked and will work for many through hikers to come. There were several people trying to eat “right” on the trail that didn’t make it, there were several who ate like me that didn’t make it. What works for you physically AND mentally is what matters. and $$$. PLus finding nutritional correct food at a gas station along the trail is hard to do.

    My breakfast routine was, Handful of M&Ms (my trail coffee), eat the pop tarts while packing up, eat kudo bar while walking down the trail getting the muscles warmed up. During this period I had also consumed a minumum of 1 quart of water. This allowed me speed and jump start the body to get going. I would litterally feel the carb crash coming on and would stoke the engine with more food to keep going.

    This routine worked for me. will it work for you? I don’t know but I know when I hit the PCT my plan will be similar. I don know that my pack will be lighter since I hiked with a Gregory pack that weighs the same as my Pack, Bag, and Shelter now weigh!

    AT GA -> ME ’97

  15. I do something similar that has been the envy of those I hike with.
    At home, grill a well seasoned steak rare. cut into small cubes.
    Toss into a baggie with some dehydrated potatoes, some freeze dried green beans.
    In camp, add boiling water and when the beans are rehydrated its ready.
    The steak ends up cooking to about medium rare, just where I like it.

    The only other thing it would need is a beer.

  16. Can’t beat meat and potatoes. With more prep at home, you could cook and dehydrate enough real mashed potatoes for a whole winter of hiking. I’m not a fan of instant potatoes because of all the artificial ingredients and partially hydrogenated oil. I like Mark’s idea of adding some dried vegetables to the mix. Dried broccoli florets rehydrate pretty fast.

  17. I tried this out on a 30-mile section hike in southern NJ last weekend, and it was one of the best trail meals I’ve ever had. It worked only because it was a short trip and weight was not much of a factor. Brought the BBQ frozen and bioled int he bag. Mashed taters in my insulated mug. Out of this world good! Kudos on the great idea.

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