Sasquatch Fuel was cooked up when Andrew Schroeder and his dad Sandy kept running into the same two problems while alpine fly fishing in the Montana backcountry: food packaging that littered the wilderness and meals that lacked nutrition and bogged them down.
“There’s nothing worse than half burnt packaging in an old fire ring or shimmering up from a lake or river,” Andrew said. “Or, returning back to base camp deprived of calories and settling for garbage.”
That was the beginning of a long two-year journey for the father-son team.
Back home in Bozeman, Andrew got his hands on omnidegradable packaging that would break down into toxin-free biomass (ie. plant food) to water microbes. The only problem, it was only available in a coffee storage bag.
It took Andrew a full year to dial in a shelf-stable food pouch that would tolerate boiling water and properly cook a meal. He remembered thinking, “It contains boiling water, there’s zero toxins coming out of the bag and it’s not leaking! This could be the real deal!”
For Sasquatch Fuel to work, the eco-conscious packaging came first. “We weren’t going to do the company if we couldn’t find the material.”
With packaging figured out, Andrew and his dad turned their attention to the kitchen. They wanted to create preservative-free, nutritious meals “that weren’t meant for a doomsday vault.”
Andrew comes from a big Italian family, and that’s influenced him. “My passion is for cooking. Ask my girlfriend, I cook every dinner,” he laughed.
“It’s definitely been a process of learning as we go,” Andrew laughed.
Andrew was just 10 credits shy of a degree in finance when Sasquatch Fuel started to get some traction. Despite critics advising him to put school first and the business second, it was getting tough to balance that life.
“It came to the point where I was about to graduate, had another semester left, and I just decided, I hate finance,” Andrew laughed. “We were growing the company every year, and I figured I’m gonna take a chance and follow the dream and build this into a reality.”
With five meals currently on the shelves, and another five in the works, Sasquatch Fuel is finding their footing. “You feel like you’ve climbed a huge mountain before you’ve even launched the product. Then, you launch the product, and go, ‘Wait a minute, it’s only just begun.’”
At first, the brand wanted to create familiar recipes customers would be looking for, now they’ve come to a point where they can start experimenting, expand their product line and get a little creative. “It gets back to what I love to do,” Andrew said.
“The more we researched its benefits as a super lean protein, we started falling in love with the idea,” Andrew said.
And, lo and behold, about 300 miles north of Sasquatch Fuel’s Bozeman headquarters, there is a 1,000-acre Tibetan Yak farm, home to some of the best bloodlines in North America. “We ate cookies, drank tea, and talked about yaks,” Andrew laughed of visiting the farm.
“There are over 200 yaks on this ranch and every single one of them has a name. Sustainably and ethically sourced, grass-fed, free range – right in our backyard! It was a dream come true!”
While Andrew handles the brand’s day-to-day operations, his dad is still very much involved in the business. Additionally, Andrew’s girlfriend Holly joined the team and is the Director of Team Sasquatch, the brand’s ambassador program. “I can’t do it the right way by myself,” Andrew said of Holly. “She came in and has been a huge asset.”
The brand’s foundation stems from having eco-conscious packaging, and Sasquatch Fuel is a huge advocate for Leave No Trace principles. Even though the packaging breaks down, they encourage packing out the pouch for composting at home.
“Our purpose is not just to provide backcountry meals, but to take part in a solution to backcountry litter. There would be no Sasquatch Fuel without them,” he said of the specialized pouches.
As if that’s not enough, the brand is the only 2% for Conservation certified backpacking food on the market. Meaning, Andrew and his team donate 1% back to conservation efforts and 1% of their own time.
“We get out there,” he said. “We build trails and we volunteer our time. For bigger brands, it’s easy to throw money at something. But to have an opportunity to volunteer our time and do what we say we do is huge for us.”
One of Andrew’s favorite parts of backpacking is at camp when it’s time to eat.
“Being able to not only create these moments for myself, but when someone else has our meal and has that moment as well, that is the ultimate. That’s the vision that keeps me going every day,” he said.