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I can’t count how many times people ask me, “Oh so you’ll be foraging for food then?” when I tell them I’m going on a long backpacking trip.
Believe it or not, I do not forage for food, but do bring along some good hiking food so I can cook up my own backpacking meals on my hiking trips.
So, what hiking food do I take with me on the trail?
When I’m out on the trail, I do try hard not to just live on oatmeal and ramen (even though those are some of the easiest, cheapest, lightest trail meals to bring!)
Here some things to consider when planning your backpacking meals for on the trail:
- Must not be *too* perishable. You’d be surprised how long hard cheeses and string cheese sticks last out of refrigeration. I sometimes bring fresh fruit or veggies to be eaten within the first day or two after resupply.
- Must be light enough to carry around with you for days on end. You don’t want to carry any food in bulk, or glass containers or bottles.
- Must be able to be either eaten raw or cooked in one tiny pot over a camp stove or fire.
- You should have about 1.5-2 pounds of food per person, per day.
- You should aim for about 3,500 calories per person, per day, while backpacking. (Give or take based on your caloric needs, physical condition, and activity level.)
I know, I know, you’re still asking, so what do you eat out there?
My favorite backpacking meals:
- Oatmeal loaded with peanut butter and/or dried fruit, for breakfast
- Cheesy grits, for breakfast
- Bagels and cream cheese, for breakfast or lunch
- Quinoa with dehydrated veggies and/or meat (beef jerky, turkey jerky, pepperoni, vegan primal strips, etc.) for dinner
- Annie’s Mac and Cheese with tuna, for dinner
- Instant mashed potatoes with instant stuffing mix and chicken or tuna, for instant Thanksgiving dinner in the woods! I know, I know, it’s not nearly the same, but it still hits the spot after a long day of hiking.
All of the above are extremely simple, and the ingredients are easily accessible and easy to carry.
Or, if you want to go the super convenient route – you can get delicious, pre-portioned, lightweight backpacking meals from Mountain House.
One more backpacking meal to try, if you want some really good hiking food.
It is a little more extensive – more like cooking than just adding hot water to dehydrated backpacking food! So if you’re up for it, try:
- Thai noodles – ramen noodles, a little oil, a little soy sauce, peanut butter, minced garlic, spice of choice – crushed red pepper, sriracha, or anything else hot, add in any tuna, chicken, meat, or veggies.
I hope this gave you some hiking food ideas and a good starting point for planning your backpacking meals!
Share your favorite backpacking meals in the comments – bonus points if they are 4 ingredients or less!
For more backpacking tips, check out these posts:
- How To Pick The Best Hiking Shoes For You, Part 1 and Part 2
- How To Pick A Good Campsite
- How To Poop In The Woods
- Take Care Of Your Hiking Gear And Your Gear Will Take Care Of You
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