Backpacking Food Tips

by Gabriella Patel on May 1, 2015

There are basically two kinds of backpacking food. There are freeze-dried backpacking meals, available in many delicious varieties but at relatively higher prices. Or food at your local grocery store, also with a wide variety of tasty choices, but with less cost.

Hiking upPlanning menus for a weekend trip shouldn’t be difficult as you could get by with whatever you happen to have on hand that will keep unrefrigerated. You could even take some luxury items that normally would be too heavy or bulky.

The “Best” Backpacking Food

An important characteristic of the “best” backpacking food is that you like it. Having tasty food is much more important on trips that take much longer than a weekend, particularly if a week or longer. On these longer trips, food is important to your well-being psychologically. Tasty backpacking food helps keep the spirits up during physical stress, and even improves the scenery!

The best backpacking food cooks quickly, is lightweight, tasty, and calorie-packed. However, each meal type is different. Lunch is usually heavier, more bulky, has higher energy, and is a no-cook meal. Cooked dinners are typically dehydrated so they are lighter. Good backpacking food for breakfasts consists of about half no-cook and half quick-cook.

Saving Weight

Food can easily account for 1/4 or more of the bulk and 1/4 or more of the weight of your pack. On trips of two or more weeks, half the load of your pack may be in food. A very good general estimate for food quantities is 1.5 to 2 pounds per person per day. At that rate, the longest trip most people would take without a resupply is 2 weeks.

To save weight, you have two options:

  • Freeze dried food is the easiest option by far and you can eat relatively luxuriously, but it costs more.
  • Dehydrated food such as grains, pastas, breads, dried potatoes, are already dehydrated or naturally dehydrated. You can also buy dehydrated fruits and vegetables, but you can easily dehydrate them yourself. It takes time, but isn’t difficult. If you are serious about backpacking, it’s well worth a small investment to get a food dehydrator. Dried vegetables can really add much-needed variety to your dinners.

Food prepared for backpacking needs to be packaged and organized to balance weight and not having enough. Food and menus can easily become the most complicated and time-consuming part of trip planning!


Save yourself a lot of hassle in camp by measuring out and packaging individual meals in plastic bags. Get rid of the cardboard. Add labels with cooking instructions. Squeeze tubes or wide-mouth bottles of various sizes are good for portioning out exact amounts of syrup, peanut butter, amongst other foods. It’s smart to double-bag powdered foods, such as potato flakes or bulk hot cocoa. A flexible meal organization system is to put all dinners into one bag, all breakfasts into one bag and all lunches into one bag.

Types of Food

Backpacking takes an amazing amount of energy (long trips are a great weight-loss plan!). Backpacking food needs to supply your body with roughly 2,500 (summer hiking) to 5,000 (cold weather, intense backpacking) calories a day. The middle-ground, 3000 to 4000 calories, is right in line with the 1 ½ to 2 pounds of food guideline.

Good backpacking foods for quick, short-term energy are carbohydrates, starches, and sugars — such as breads, cereals, pasta, and crackers. You will also need long term energy, provided by proteins and fats, such as canned meat, cheeses, dried eggs, dried milk, cheddar cheese, chocolate and nuts.

Whatever types of food you choose, have fun with it! The whole trip can be a learning experience of what are your likes, and dislikes, so that next time you will perfect the art of backpacking food!

Gabriella Patel

Gabriella Patel

Health Contributor at Creative Bioscience
I grew up in a family who has a long history in natural supplements. I've always found such a greater level of health and well being because of the choices I've made to seek natural and organic products. I've taken a lot of my knowledge now to be able to help others make the right decisions to achieve a higher level of wellness. From what I've seen most of where the problems come from is what we put in our bodies, and what we're not. I hope to shed some light on many issues we all face. Subscribe to my work Gabriella's favorite product is Detox Diet 1234
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