What does every backpacker yearn for after a full day of hiking for miles through the wilderness?

Easy. A hot meal. I can think of nothing more rewarding, satisfying, or motivating than a hot, calorie dense meal after spending miles upon miles hiking through the wilderness.

It warms our bones. It motivates us to climb up and out of the gorge. It instantly calms and relaxes our weary muscles. It refuels us for the next day’s adventures. It brings everyone together around the “dinner table” to share stories of the day and to create new. Each night on our Backpacking Workshops in Red River Gorge, we would together make Krave Fire Roasted Chili.

Lynsey and I spent quite a bit of time figuring out and experimenting with the workshop menu. We knew we wanted a chili for Saturday night. It’s hearty, calorie dense, and can easily feed a group. It can also be cooked over an open fire which would expand the cooking methods we taught on our Backpacking workshops. We also wanted a “Homemade” chili versus prepackaged. Anyone can add boiling water to a dehydrated mix. Then there was the challenge of meat. We wanted to incorporate a meat while not bulking on carrying weight. I’m still perfecting my dehydrating skills when it comes to meat, so that was out. (Currently, it tastes very much like dry dog food. 👎).

We partnered with Krave Jerky for the Red River Gorge Backpacking workshops. That got me thinking. What is jerky? Well, duh, it’s dehydrated meat. So, I set out to try Chili made with jerky. It was delicious! We were able to give our chili a good meaty flavor without hauling in fresh meat or dehydrating our own to only produce bits of kibble. It was already in our packs to munch on while hiking. Why not use this light-weight, backpack friendly resource for more than just snacking?

The versatility of Krave Jerky opened up new possibilities when cooking in the backcountry beyond our workshops. The countless flavors and meats that Krave offers like Chili Lime Beef or Black Cherry Barbecue Pork could easily turn a one-pot meal into backpacker gourmet. The best part and why we chose to partner with them is they are nitrite and gluten free. Yep. We and our bellies feel good about that.


Krave Fire Roasted Chili

Originally published in the Explorer Chick Field Guide to Backpacking


Makes  6 – 1 cup servings


  • Onion – ½ Fresh or ¼ cup Dehydrated
  • Green Pepper – 1 Fresh or ½ cup dehydrated
  • 1 – 16 oz Can Chili Beans
  • 1 – 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes (With chilis for an extra kick)
  • 1 – 8 oz Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 – 3.25 oz Bag Krave Sea Salt Original Jerky – Chopped or Torn
  • 1 ½ cans of water
  • Olive Oil, if using fresh vegetables



  1. Build a hot campfire with a sizeable amount of hot coals. Construct fire on one side of fire pit, leaving enough room to place your heat proof cook pot (stainless steel, cast iron, etc). Push hot coals to other side of fire pit to create your “burner.”
  2. If using fresh veggies, heat olive oil in pot. Then saute Peppers and Onions until tender.
  3. Add rest of ingredients to pot. Simmer for 25 minutes or longer, until heated through and flavors distribute.
  4. Feed “burner” as needed with fresh, hot coals.


Building the fire on one side of the fire pit to create hot “Burner” charcoals


Our stainless steel chili pot simmering over the coals. Notice it’s not on direct heat, but the chili still comes to a rolling simmer.


Explorer Chicks tending the fire. They’re keeping the main fire going while shuffling hot coals over to the “Burner.”


Bon Apetit!

Adventure with us!

We run Red River Gorge Backpacking Workshops each spring and fall. You’ll learn the fundamentals of backpacking including packing, safety, camp set up, water purification, cooking, hanging a bear bag, and more! Our workshops are always women only and hands on giving you a supportive environment to prep for your next adventure!

Explorer Chick lends you a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, so you can try it out before investing in your gear!