Best Backpacking Foods

Breakfast

It’s nice to start any day with a warm cup of coffee. A nice option for taste and convenience is Starbucks Via. Pairing coffee with a calorically-dense bar or two is a good way to get some quick energy in the morning. For additional calories, you can munch on some trail mix or mow a packet of almond butter. Below are some nice options:

Lunch

Having a cold lunch on the trail is a great way to avoid the time, effort, and fuel required for cooking. Bagels and tortillas tend to hold up well on the trail and provide relatively dense calories. Hard meats and cheeses will easily last a few days, though they’re not great choices for hot weather trips. Other options are listed below:

  • Bagels or Tortillas
  • Hard Meats – Salami, Summer Sausage, etc.
  • Hard Cheese – Parmesan, Romano, etc.
  • Almond Butter Packets (Justin’s)
  • Peanut Butter Packets (Justin’s)
  • Jelly or Honey (Nature Nate’s)
  • Tuna or Chicken in foil packets (StarKist)
  • Small Condiment Packets – Mayo, Mustard, Relish, Hot Sauce, etc.
  • Supplement with other snacks (more snack info below)

 

Dinner

Freeze dried meal pouches (Mountain House, MaryJanesFarm, Good To-Go, PackIt Gourmet, etc.) are a convenient, lightweight, and tasty option for backpacking dinners. Most freeze dried meals cost around $7-12 and feed two hikers, though your mileage may vary.

The main downside with freeze dried meals is they tend to be much more expensive than DIY options. If you’re on the trail a lot (thru-hiking, etc.), the cost of freeze dried meals will add up quickly. Any supermarkets will have other “just add water” options (instant potatoes, ramen, etc.) that cook quickly and cost a fraction of the price. Here’s a list of our go-to dinner choices with links to our favorites:

  • Freeze Dried Dinners
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Ramen
  • Instant Soups
  • Stuffing
  • Easy Mac
  • Pasta and Rice Sides
  • Couscous
  • Chicken Packets
  • Tuna Packets
  • Dehydrated Vegetables (Just Veggies)

 

Snacks

Snacks are a critical part of any good trail diet. You’ll be burning a ton of calories on long hiking days, so eating a small snack every hour or two is a good way to keep your engine running.

In hot weather, we try to avoid things that melt, like granola bars with an outer layer of chocolate. Trader Joe’s has some delicious and relatively affordable options for backpacking snacks. Here’s a list of our go-to trail snacks with links to our favorites:

  • Bars (Larabar,Clif Bar,ProBar,Luna,Kind)
  • Trail Mix
  • Nuts & Seeds (Almonds, Peanuts, etc.)
  • Dried Fruit (Mango, Apple, etc.)
  • Fruit Leather Strips
  • Jerky (Jack Link’s)
  • Crackers (Triscuits, Goldfish, Ritz, etc.)
  • Candy (Snickers, Peanut M&Ms, Chocolate Almonds, etc.)

 

Considerations:

-calorie intake

-leave no trace

-carrying weight

-water access

-fuel

-nutritional volume

-cost

-storage

-convenience

 

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