for a Satisfying Hike
Backpacking food is an important part of your trip planning. I like to eat—that doesn't change when I am hiking. At the end of a long hiking day I am going to have a hot, hearty meal…and you can too.
Your food is the heaviest category in your pack weighing around 2-2 ½ lbs. per day.
You could decrease the pack weight of your food by choosing only potato flakes and dried noodles. But let’s face it, that would not only be boring but nutritionally lacking.
On a weekend hike you might be okay. However, on a longer trek nutritionally deficit meals take not only a physical but a psychological toll leading to feelings of depression and lethargy, forcing some to abandon their trek altogether.
When planning the food you will take on your hike, count calories and fat. You will be expending much more energy carrying an extra 12 or more pounds on your back, hiking rough terrain and keeping warm. This is the time to allow yourself 3000 or more calories a day with a heavier than usual concentration of fats.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “An army marches on its stomach.” Following that philosophy with your backpacking food will keep you nutritionally sound, psychologically satisfied and on the trail.
I recommend 3 key strategies:
• Variety is key
• Hot is more satisfying that cold
• Dry is lighter than wet
Also, keep your personal cooking style in mind. If you are a heat-and-eat cook at home, you will not be best served trying to make your backpacking food the complex-cooking gourmet variety.
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On the other hand, if you enjoy preparing meals with more flare, your backpacking cuisine might take on a more complex nature. Most will fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps you will prepare your special spaghetti sauce and dehydrate it at home. At camp you can add dried spaghetti and water and have a delicious, hot, lightweight, one-pot meal.
A typical day of of eating on the trial might look like this:
A hot breakfast of oatmeal or a freeze-dried breakfast entrée with coffee. If your morning appetite is heartier, you might add a little fruit, either fresh, dried or packaged in the single-serving plastic container.
Lunch will usually be en-route so you might want to stick with something like summer sausage and cheese, or peanut butter and honey on whole wheat tortillas.
The evening meal is a reward for reaching the goal (or at least giving it your all). Here is where your meal choices really pay dividends. Plan on something hearty and hot. You might begin with instant soup to sip while preparing the rest of the meal. Follow that with spaghetti, stroganoff or some other protein plus starch. You could finish this with a pudding, fruit or chocolate. Eating a high calorie meal before bed will aid in keeping warm through the night. Just before bed, try a hot drink to warm your insides.
Your backpacking food planning should also include snacks. Plan on a couple of handfuls of trail mix or GORP at least twice a day on a full-day's hike. You can make your own or choose from many commercially packaged ones. A mixture including both nuts and dried fruit is a good place to start. To that, add whatever you like for your pick-me-up.
Where Do I Find It?
Appropriate backpacking food can be found anywhere from the dollar store to the supermarket to an outdoor sporting goods store or from a number of mail-order companies. Concentrate on a variety of nutritionally dense, high calorie, lightweight choices and let your imagination explore the possibilities. Your taste buds will thank you.
What is Your Favorite
Do you have a favorite backpacking food or recipe? A favorite backwoods comfort food? Other hikers want to hear about it. Share it!
Other Hikers' Favorite Backpacking Foods
Click below to see other hikers' favorite backpacking food shared on this page...
Sausage Potato and Onion Hash
Two tablespoons olive oil
One large potato diced
Summer sausage diced
One large onion diced
One clove garlic sliced thin or chopped
Tabasco to taste …
Tuna salad rollups
Foil package of tuna
packets of pickle relish or small plastic container of relish
packets of mayo or miracle whip
salt and pepper
flour tortillas …
What you need:
Grill or something to cook your steak on
This is the best first-night meal for backpacking. Add any seasoning or …
Dutch Oven Cobbler
One of my favorite recipes requires a little extra equipment, but is well worth it!! I used to do a lot of car camping and really enjoyed the comfort and …
Pepperoni (I like the Pre sliced)
Mozzarella String cheese (pull apart before you start)
Spaghetti sauce (if you want to carry the …
Chicken & Stuffing
This is one of my favorites. Its simple, only requires hot water and has no additional waiting after the water has been added.
Stovetop stuffing (or …
6 ounces dry spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup dried ground beef (dehydrated from fresh ground beef)
1 cup dried spaghetti sauce (dehydrated …
Chicken and Dumplings
1 Pouch Chicken ( 4 oz. Dehydrated Chicken)
3 Tablespoons Mixed vegetables dehydrated
1 Teaspoon Soup Base or 1 Bouillon Cube
1/2 cup Flour
2 Tablespoons …
Whole wheat Pitas (can also be used with peanut butter as great lunch item)
Nalgene of Marinara sauce
Egg in a Hole
When I was a little girl, my dad used to prepare this for me on camping trips. For backpacking, it would require the use of a plastic egg carrier, which …
Cheesey Egg Spuds
Add to boil bag:
1/2 cup Potato Flakes
1/4 cup Egg Powder
1/4 cup Cheese Powder
In camp prep - …
Pot for cooking noodles
Food dehydrator for drying
Spices, I like a dash of ginger …
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