Find the right rescue course
& keep your skills sharp
Find a course

3 Keys To Fuelling Your Winter Adventures

by Willa Mason · 8 December 2021

Expert Marc Godbout weighs in on finding the right foods for cold weather activity.

Author: Willa Mason, Boreal River

It’s finally happening. You look up to see the first snowflakes float from the sky and sigh as you pack away your flip flops. However, the arrival of cooler temperatures doesn’t mean the end of outdoor adventures. From snowshoeing or backcountry skiing to skating on the canal, there are lots of ways to get outside, but even a mellow day in the cold could be ruined if “hanger” (hunger + anger) sets in. Marc Godbout knows it takes a little extra planning to pack food that will keep you smiling all day long.

Man with a frozen beard smiling

An adventure-seeker through and through, Marc has spent extensive time kayaking and climbing across Canada, South America, and Australia. After joining Canada’s national freestyle kayak team and rafting team, he’s completed exploratory first descents of remote rivers (such as the Magpie main branch), run ultra-marathons (including the fastest known self-supported circumference of Gatineau Park), ice climbed challenging routes in western Canada, and ski toured to some truly epic locations. Doing it all with a smile on his face and a snack in hand, he’s learned the hard way how to fuel himself for an adventure.

Man ice climbing with rope and picks.

When asked about his go-to food for a cold day outside, Marc emphasized three key components: choose nutrient-rich food, pack food you actually want to eat, and eat at regular intervals.

1. The fill-you-up factor.

If you’re short on time for prep, granola bars and energy gels pack in lots of calories  without taking up much space. Less processed options like homemade muffins or homemade energy balls give you more power to control the sugar content and taste of your snacks. Cheese chunks, peanut butter, or avocado wraps provide lots of calories to keep you going. A pre-made meal, like leftover lasagna, can be a filling and hearty option – but be sure to consider whether it will still be edible when frozen! Marc wisely advised to stay away from canned or liquid snacks, as pudding or applesauce will turn into popsicles.

Hot drinks work wonders for morale and warmth. For Marc, a sweet hot chocolate, tea, or coffee distract him from the icicles forming on his helmet and the ice layer coating his gloves.

2. The yumminess factor.

A sugary peanut butter snack may be a better option than a super healthy bar, if it means you’ll actually eat it. Physical activity and low temperatures might change the appeal of what you packed, so opt to bring a variety of options that you know have some of your favourite flavours.

In addition to picking foods that are appealing to you, pack familiar foods. Your big day outside is not the time to test out newfangled recipes. Try those out the week before. Not only will this allow you to get the spices juuuuust right, but a trial run will give you a better understanding of how filling each snack is and its impact on how you feel.

3. The frequency factor.

Once you’ve dialed in your snacks for the day, make sure you eat them! This sounds simple, but during a busy day it’s easy to neglect feeding yourself. Prevent hunger by keeping snacks in easy-access pockets, rather than tucked away in a backpack or lunch box. Reach for food at regular intervals throughout the day, rather than waiting until hanger takes over and forces you to break for a more substantial meal. This consistent snacking will keep your energy levels up throughout the day, preventing the dreaded bonk” effect that occurs when your body runs out of fuel.

smiling man eating left over noodle dinner from thermos.

From nutrition experts to your great-grandmother, everyone has their own beliefs about the “right” things to eat. When you’re out and about adventuring during the winter season or pushing yourself physically, the “right” food is something that packs in lots of calories, protein, and healthy fats, is easy to eat and access, and has flavours you’ll look forward to all day. Ignore the frosty windows, take a few minutes to plan your snacks, and get outside!


11 simples steps to do a hypothermia wrap (hypo wrap)

How to self rescue if you fall through ice.

3 tips for teaching the most essential river skill: Stoke.

Find a course for you
or organize group training
Find a Course