You wanted to know what trail food works best for hiking/backpacking?
Food. Food. Food.
Food is one of the most important in planning out a hiking/backpacking trip. I’ve been hiking and backpacking now for years and honestly just want to have a good meal or a good snack sometimes out there. Keeping weight down on longer hikes is essential for comfort, but when you have a one-night trip take advantage if you want to. What usually comes to mind when you think of trail food? Bars, dehydrated meals, peanut butter, tortillas, etc. Some of these items are on the favorite list, but my goal is to make the food as diverse as possible so we never get sick of the same thing over and over.
If you are interested in some of my backpacking/hiking gear included for the kitchen see my “What’s in My Backpack” Page. Always nice to be comfortable when you’re on the trail.
*List updated as I find new trail food that deserves to be on this list. Last updated: 6/5/2018
— What’s for Breakfast —
Getting breakfast in is probably one of the most important things you can do before setting out on the trail and conquering the morning. My favorite way to wake up is a nice cup of coffee mixed with hot chocolate. I’ve tried a few different coffees out and lately we’ve been sticking to the Starbucks Via (Pike’s Place). That’s normally the only warm/hot thing we have in the morning. I usually have a quick breakfast like a bar or a honey stinger to keep me satisfied until snack time or lunch time. On a day where time doesn’t matter, just like a weekend when we’re at home, I love making eggs. Favorite breakfast meal out there is the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, throw it in a tortilla and share it with your hiking mate. If you like spicy, like me, bring some small packets of Tapatio Hot Sauce Packets or Cholula Hot Sauce Packets; that usually does the thing.
Here’s a list of items that I would recommend as breakfast ideas for the trail:
- Coffee & Teas: (Starbucks Via) mixed with Hot Chocolate & Green Tea
- Mountain House Breakfast Meals: Mountain House Breakfast Skillet in a tortilla
- Breakfast Snacks: Honey Stinger, Pop-Tarts, Instant Oatmeal
- Make your own breakfast: OvaEasy Whole Egg Crystals with dried bell peppers, bacon bits & any other dried veggies you may like in your eggs
If you are just going hiking or for one night these are some more fresh ideas for the trail:
- Apple with cheese (hard cheese is the best and won’t melt as fast especially on just a quick trip)
- Banana before you start out from your car
- Granola Bars (Nature Valley Granola Bars, Sweet and Salty Nut, Almond, 18 Bars, 1.2 oz)
— What’s for Snacks & Lunch —
Snacks are most important when you are doing a longer hike, they are what give you fuel throughout the day. There are so many snacks out there these days, so my goal here is to give you my favorites and some ideas of what would be good for a shorter hike or a longer backpacking trip. I don’t usually like to have anything so sugary, but when I need a little energy I take the Gu Energy Chews or Haribo Gummy Bears as a good source of quick energy. I don’t naturally like the Gu Energy Gels, but a lot of people recommend them on longer through . I would say if you are on a very long hike and just need something quick then it would be good.
Sometimes my breakfast is a snack, I don’t really get hungry until a little later and throwing a quick half of a bar or a couple of beef or turkey jerky down to help me keep going throughout the day. On the first day of the hike, I always carry an apple up to have as my first snack of the day, whether it was for breakfast or during lunch. Tuna packets with Triscuits is another favorite quick snack that I can portion out throughout the day.
Lunch is usually snacks put together. I usually make a couple wraps ahead of time at home and wrap it in foil. By the second day it is still just as good as the first. My wraps consist of spinach tortilla, mayo, mustard and Siracha mayo (i love spicy), some sore of lettuce (favorite is spring mix), tomato, red onion (it will make your bear box smell, but who cares), sweet banana pepper slices, turkey or chicken slices, salami slices and pepper jack cheese slices. Roll it up in foil and throw it into your pack last possible minute.
Here’s a list of items that I would recommend as snack/lunch ideas for the trail:
Need quick energy?
Snack on these for lunch or anytime:
- Cheese (this one is huge for me, I love cheese)
- Chips, Crackers & Salt:
- Tortillas and Bagels
- Hummus and Crackers
- Bars: Kind Bars, Larabars, RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bars, Clif Bars
- Died Fruits & Trail Mixes:
- Candy & Sweet Snacks:
- Candy: Snickers Bar & M&Ms
— What’s for Dinner —
For a while, I stuck to the Freeze Dried Meals from Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry, but I decided to change it up and try new things. I still stick with the Freeze Dried Meals on longer hikes, but when it comes to a one-nighter I take advantage and we make fresh tacos (check out my Tacos above 10,000 Feet recipe: soon to come). Sometimes we catch fish, so we cook that and make some mashed potatoes on the side; or we stick to the easy instant noodles with dried veggies or the Lipton chicken noodle soups as I love hot soups after the sun has gone down.
Miso Soup is also a huge favorite of ours before dinner to warm up, I guess that should belong in the Snacks section. Soup is the way to go, but if you need the calories get those noodles, rice and potatoes in; a ton of the freeze-dried meals will give you a higher calorie value with less weight to carry.
- Freeze-Dried Meals: Mountain House (Chicken Fajita Bowl, Chicken Breast with Rib Meat & Mashed Potatoes), Backpacker’s Pantry, Good To-Go
- Instant Noodles: NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup, Sapporo Ichiban Original Ramen Noodles, Macaroni and Cheese
- Instant Rice: Knorr Rice Side Dish
- Instant Potatoes: Idahoan Mashed Potatoes
- Dried Veggies: Harmony House Foods, Karen’s Naturals Just Veggies
- Instant Soups: Miso Soup, Lipton Chicken Noodle
— What’s for Extras —
A lot of Freeze Dried Meals and food that we take into the backcountry does not have the best flavor to them. Because of this, we started taking spices and sprucing up our meals with them. With that said, buying packets of spices isn’t the best way to go. Fill up this GSI Outdoors Spice Missile. I’m able to fit garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika powder into this missile; those are the only spices really that you would need on the trail.
Here’s a list of items that I would recommend to spruce up your meals:
- Olive Oil: is a very good fat source especially on longer hikes and you can cook your tortillas to make a quesadilla or cook the chicken for those Tacos Above 10,000 Feet.
- Condiment Packets: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, tapatio, cholula are just some of the packets that you can take along with you.
Check out my “What’s in My Backpack?” page to find out how we make our backpacking meals more enjoyable. Of course you don’t necessarily need all these things and on longer hikes, I leave some of these things at home.
Check my out on Instagram @beyondlimitsonfoot