AlpineAire Meal Kits - NO MORE MEAL PREP HEADACHES

Last month we headed out for a week long camping road trip in California, and with all camping trips one of the most important things to plan are the meals. We tried to figure out what would be our best game plan after landing in Palm Springs. Do we find a Walmart and buy supplies when we arrive? Do we head to the grocery store? Do we buy a cooler to keep things fresh? And then while browsing the MEC website we found our answer…Alpineaire’s 7 Day Meal Kit.

I know its the stock image online, I was too excited when I received the box and forgot to take a picture.

I know its the stock image online, I was too excited when I received the box and forgot to take a picture.

Alpineaire

To be quite fair, I didn’t know the brand even existed, I had heard of Backpackers Pantry and other brands but Alpineaire never really stood out to me in any way. Once I found the meal kit however, I noticed them everywhere. I did a little research on their meal kits and it seemed like a good enough option for the trip. We decided with getting the 7 Day Vegetarian Meal Box, which included 14 packs of dehydrated meals. I have to say, 14 “two serving” meals for almost $100 Canadian, seemed like a fantastic deal. The company also offers a non-vegetarian and gluten-free 7 day box, a 5 day box and 3 day box options as well, all at a very fair price point.

Taste

How how did our box of dehydrated vegetarian meals taste? Actually, really good! I’ve had several different types of meal bags before, some were good, some were bad, some were definitely not my favourite. That being said, although during the trip we didn’t eat all 14 of the meal packs since while being in Cali, there were many opportunities to eat at delicious restaurants, but we had eaten about half the box.

My top pick - forever Young mac and cheese

I have always loved a good mac and cheese, and I must say that the Forever Young Mac and Cheese was delicious. The two serving pack comes at a whopping 800 calories and an insane 38 grams of protein per pack. This is fore sure the perfect meal for an activity intensive day! Its nice and cheesy, with peas, carrots and corn, I found that it definitely hit the spot. Of course it is available individually, but seeing as my Meal Kit came with 2, I was very happy eating it for two meals!

Fun Second - Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup

I really did not expect that I would say a soup would be my second choice from the meal kit, but I was pleasantly surprised with the Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup. The name doesn’t lie, it is definitely a creamy potato cheese soup, but it hits the mark after a cold or rainy day! More of a side dish than a meal though, coming in at 360 calories, this soup is also gluten free and packs 16g of protein. I would for sure pack this soup again for my next trip.

bottom line

Alpineaire’s meal box concept is quite brilliant. However, I have noticed some descrepencies in the posted supplied meal lists on various sites and what came in the box. I ended up with a few double meals even though they weren’t supposed to be doubled. If you you like the taste of the meal packs this shouldn’t be a problem for you, but if you have your heart set on exactly two of what is listed be prepared for a change in the menu. Now realistically nobody will be eating dehydrated meals everyday, but when it is necessary or the adventure calls for it, this is meal kit or any of Alpineaire’s other boxes are really some of the best bangs for you buck!


Montreal’s Outdoor and Adventure Show - Three New Finds

Montreal just had it’s annual outdoor adventure show this weekend at the Palais des Congrès! The show claimed to be Québec’s largest showcase of outdoor gear and adventure travel experiences and it definitely had my attention.

We went to check out the over 250 exhibitors on site, looking at the latest camping gear, outdoor clothing, sports equipment, scuba diving pool, seminars & adventure travel destinations. After a few hours of visiting the different booths and talking to many exhibitors, we left with many things to think about and lots of swag! Read on for three new finds that caught really caught my attention.

Three New Finds

Happy Yak - Canadian made meals for any adventure

Every adventurer needs to eat and, Happy Yak is a Canadian producer of adventure and travel pre-prepared meals ready to help do the job. From breakfast to dessert and everything in between, the company produces some very delicious looking meals for the adventurer to feast on. The company breaks up their products into several different categories, Express, Vegetarian, Comfort and Signature. Like most adventure food brands, the Express meal is a boil and rehydrate type pack. Many of the flavours are inspired by different international cuisines and honestly do sound delicious. I managed to pick up their the Express Moroccan Feast meal, and am looking forward to giving it a taste!

I am looking forward to tasting their Moroccan Feast that I picked up.

I am looking forward to tasting their Moroccan Feast that I picked up.

Where Happy Yak products get very interesting is when you look at their Comfort and Signature line. The comfort line are a selection of meals that remind you of your personal comfort foods growing up. With rich flavours and easy preparations steps, Happy Yak is able to make backcountry eating into a feast. Their Signature line of meals take eating to the next level. With meals like, Seafood Delight, Mandarin Rice and Braised Pork with White Wine Mushroom Sauce, it’s easy to forget that your meal came out of a little pouch. These meals take a little more time and a more active role in preparing your pre-prepared meals than your average Backcountry Pantry’s meal but the tastes seem to be well worth it!

We did have one concern with their packaging however and when talking to the representatives they assured us that it had already been taken care of. Their current packaging is a simple brown pouch bag, with instructions stuck on to the side. These instructions tell the user to pour 100ml of boiling water into the pouch to properly prepare the meal. Where most other pre-prepared meal brands have a water-fill indicator level on the side of the bag, Happy Yak does not. Not yet anyway. They assured us that they are already aware of the issue and their next batch of pouches are going to be revamped and will also include the standard water-fill indicator level on the side of the bag.

Bonnetier - Merino Wool clothing made in quebec

While visiting the different exhibitors I came across a brand I hadn’t heard of yet. Bonnetier is the new kid on the block when it comes to merino wool clothing. I had a chance to meet and speak with two of the women involved in the company and had a great discussion about the brand and its practices.

A Quebec made merino clothing brand that is definitely worth a look.

A Quebec made merino clothing brand that is definitely worth a look.

Just like companies like Icebreaker, who is dominant name in the world of merino of outdoor clothing, they source their wool in New Zealand. However, their merino wool comes from one sole sustainable farm with a 153 year history. What is very exciting is that they complete the manufacturing and garment making process here in Quebec and not overseas. Top it off with the fact that each item is silkscreened by hand using eco-friendly water-based ink, with sharp looking graphics and you have yourself a new favourite outdoor t-shirt.

Bonnetier apparel is competitively priced in comparison to other merino brands, the average t-shirt will run you a bill of about $100 Canadian. I am not sure how often they have sales or promotions on their items, but at the Montreal Outdoor and Adventure Show, they were selling merino t-shirts for $74 Canadian. They do have other products, such as socks, base layers, hats and neck warmers. I will definitely try to have a follow up post on their products and let you know if I pick up a pair of socks or a t-shirt!

Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival - Be at the Ottawa River Aug. 9-11


One of the finds at the show that I am most excited about is the Upper Ottawa River Race and Paddle Festival! I had the opportunity to meet one of the organizers and he really got me interested in this event. It is a three day paddle oriented festival celebrating outdoor fun and the Ottawa River. From live entertainment, to kayak and SUP races, to fishing derbies and SUP yoga, with dinners and prizes, they seem to have an awesome event formula figured out.

This is one race you don’t want to miss.

This is one race you don’t want to miss.

What caught my eye the most out of all those were the SUP races. There are 3 main race categories along with a free kids race taking place on the Ottawa River. There is a new for 2019, 44km race for the diehard paddlers, a 13km race and a much shorter 4km race, so really a race for all paddlers. Having got myself a board last summer and enjoying racing, I am very interested in attending the 13km race, though the thought of trying their 44km race is very tempting to me as well.

Talking to the organizer made it sound like if this is the year you try a SUP race, their race is the one to try! He hinted at some of the coolest sounding swag I’ve gotten at a race yet and a very appropriate for the event, Hawaiian race theme. Included in your race registration, is the entry fee, lunch and dinner, a race shirt, prizes and wards and a shuttle back to your car. Of course live music and guaranteed fun are included in the event, it is a festival after all!


Still More to Come

There were many more exhibitors that I met and spoke to during at the show. I still have lots of material to review and go over, so there will be a few more posts coming shortly about some of the parks, organizations, products and applications that I learned about this year that the Outdoor and Adventure Show. I will be releasing a few more posts shortly about a few other finds from the show.

Until then thanks for reading and happy adventuring!











Winter's End Snowshoeing Picks

Winter is almost over but there still is snow

The groundhog has predicted that winter will be short this year, but that doesn’t mean our winter fun has ended just yet! Below are 3 of my top picks for some last minute snowshoe trail fun.

  • Morin Heights

  • La Mauricie National Park

  • Parc de La Jacques-Cartier

Morin Heights - Trail Network

Can a small town’s regional trail network really be mentioned in the same breath as National and Provincial parks? The answer is quite simply, yes. The Morin Heights trail system boasts more than 200km of intertwined cross-country and snowshoeing trails. The trails can be accessed from various spots in the Morin Heights region, The Aerobic Corridor and The Chalet Bellevue. The trail system also has access points in the municipality of WentWorth-Nord, at The Pavillon Montfort and Laurel Parking.

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Arriving at the Aerobic Corridor, a 8.5km mechanically groomed portion of the network used by cross-country skiers, we entered the chalet where we were taken away by their welcome. The employee was by far the most helpful park employee I have ever met, and gave us a quick overview of the area. After a quick briefing, we strapped on our snowshoes and map in hand we headed to the end of the parking to start our journey on the trail.

The trails there are very nice. Even despite not having received any recent snow, the conditions were superb and paths were snowy, white, clean and a pleasure to trek along. The trails had it all, nice flats, rolling hills, lakes and even a small summit view. Even though the trail system is in chalet country, you will not find the country houses obtrusive, and they do not take away from the feeling of being in nature.

Overnight Trail Considerations

La Mauricie National Park

Montreal’s nearest Canadian National Park, La Mauricie National Park, is a perfect spot for a two day getaway in the snow. They offer an interesting lodging in a 4 season mix between a tent and a cabin called Otentiks. For this experience alone, I would recommend a stay at La Mauricie National Park. The National Park has very nice snowshoeing trails throughout, with trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging, long and hill-ridden paths through the park. One thing to note is that as these trails are used as hiking trails in the summer, do not be surprised to encounter stairs in the middle of the trail.

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Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier

Another park that is some distance from Montreal, but definitely worth an overnight stay is Parc National De La Jacques-Cartier. The park is just north of Quebec City, so I would suggest a one or two night stay would do the park justice. Located along the valley of the Jacques-Cartier river, many of the trails lead to picturesque summits overlooking the valley. With an approximate 84km of trails, your bound to have an endless amount of fun out in the park. Like La Mauricie National Park, on depending which trail you take, you may encounter stairs. The stairs were virtually impassible with snowshoes on (though a little hors-piste seems doable, you may end up sliding down the section of mountain down to where the stairs ends, watch your step).

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Take Away

There are probably only a few good weeks of winter left, as temperatures are on the rise but it doesn’t mean you still can’t take advantage of the snow for a few more days of fun. If you’re in the Montreal region, and looking for a place for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Morin Heights trail network. It is close by, extensive and quiet. If your schedule allows for more time, head out a little further to La Mauricie or La Jacques-Cartier parks where large valleys and higher summits can be enjoyed!

Should You Try a Fatbike This Winter?

What Is a Fatbike?

First off what is Fatbiking? Fatbiking is the awesome act of riding bikes that have 4 inch + tires, and provide float on just about any riding surface. Not only does it feel and sound like a cross between pedal powered tank and a lunar rover, it is sure to put a smile on any rider’s face! Fatbikes have been around for quite a while now and I remember trying it out a few years back and instantly falling in love with it.

Where to Fatbike?

If you’re in the Montreal region, there are quite a few places where you can give it a try. Right now the city of Verdun has a great program going on called Verdun Actif, where they are offering free Fatbike rentals for an hour at a time a time at Parc Arthur-Therrien. They are also offering any other activities to try free of charge, such as skating, snowshoeing and “snow scooters” (though apparently this only for children).

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The Verdun Actif program will be taking place for only a few more weeks until March 10th and is available to anyone. Get yourself riding on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00-4:00 and throughout the March Break, March 4th-8th during the same hours. The park has a very limited number of bikes, but they have a large supply of cross country skis to try while you wait.


If city riding isn’t your thing and you’d like to get out more into the wild take a look at Sepaq’s offerings, there are many of the Quebec parks that offer Fatbike rentals.

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A quick look shows that the following parks offer rental services in the Montreal area:

  • Parc national d'Oka

  • Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville

  • Parc national du Mont-Saint-Bruno

  • Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

  • Parc national de la Yamaska

  • Parc national du Mont-Orford

I’d recommend showing up early to make sure you can rent the bike for as long you’d like, otherwise you may either have to cut your ride short or be stuck waiting for an available bike.


So Should you try a fatbike this winter?

Absolutely! Fatbiking has got to be one of the most fun and different winter activities there is. This weekend my girlfriend and I went to try it out for her first time and we had a blast! We decided to give the Verdun Actif program a try, and for novice Fatbikers there is no problem riding on the snow. My girlfriend had a great time and was smiling as we rode around the park.

I would have to recommend that if you are going to try it for your first time, be sure to check the weather before. Riding on ice is very doable, just mind sudden movements and you won’t slip or fall. Sleek and slush makes for a wet ride but who doesn’t love riding through a giant puddle? However, fresh packed snow is where Fatbikes excel at riding! If you can go out after a nice snowfall, it would be the best conditions to experience your first ride. Hope you have fun, let me know if you liked your Fatbike experience!