"There I was, saying goodbye to the fifth 'friend' I made on this journey." My friend told me everything about her experience with backpacking because I told her I was thinking about doing it. You can have the best backpacking food ideas but if you don't have anyone to share them with, what's the fun of it?
Saying goodbye to people on the road was the hardest thing she had to do, but it also gave her a sense of relief. Although others were a big part of the fun along the journey, the goal for her backpacking trek was to discover herself, not others. To get to know herself better through rough times of exhaustion and dehydration, pushing her body to its limits.
Requirements of Backpacking Food Items
While relationships come and go, you still need to take care of yourself. Carrying the least possible is essential when it comes down to efficient backpacking. That's why you're going to need some excellent backpacking food ideas, to keep you going and cover your basic needs (to survive). The food you take with you while going on a backpacking trek should fulfill the following requirements.
You will have to carry your backpack with you all the time. Unless you're a trained veteran, you should make sure your bag is not a burden. The biggest source of weight is also the most important thing you should carry: water.
Enough nutritional value
Most of your day will consist of hiking activities which mean you will burn more calories than if you would just walk the same distance. Your food intake should at least break even with the calories required for maintaining weight. Otherwise, you'll be burning a lot (not only fat but also muscle). To calculate the number of calories, you should consume on a daily basis, use this calculator (use the extra active option). Choosing food based on the most calories per weight unit is essential to keep up the energy.
When you're backpacking, you don't want to spend hours on cooking. The following backpacking food ideas are all easy to prepare with little to no work needed. That would only cost you more calories, wouldn't it?
No refrigerator needed
Unless you're constantly in an immense cold environment, you shouldn't take food with you that requires a fridge or freezer. Instead, you should aim for products that can be held in room temperature environments.
6 Essential Foods
Now that we've got the requirements out of the way, we can start listing the best backpacking food ideas you should make use of.
For this article, we have chosen the six most essential backpacking food ideas to make it easier for you to make a choice. However, this doesn't mean there aren't any better substitutes or other great food choices. Feel free to judge for yourself and use what you can.
The best option for breakfast would be granola. It is one of the best sources of energy for any hiker or camper while the energy source doesn't come from sugar. If the energy source were sugar, you would crash after an hour which isn't useful at all.
ELAN's Paleo Granola option, as well as Bear Naked's granola products, are the best options for granola on the go. If you like to have breakfast with milk or coffee, you can choose to use the options mentioned below as well. It's going to add up to your backpack weight though.
You are also going to need something you can eat it out of, so take a bowl or something else with you to eat your breakfast out of if you choose to add milk (Nestle Nido or Hoosier Hill) or/and coffee (Mount Hagen or Alpine Start).
Instead of coffee, you could also use these Better Than Coffee Energy Bars. Although the focus of these energy bars is on increasing sustainable energy levels with caffeine, there are tons of other energy bars with more nutritional value. Energy bars are the best friends of every backpacker as they are lightweight, contain a lot of calories and don't need any preparation.
Down below, you'll find the top three selected energy bars for your next trek:
- Larabar Gluten Free Bar is the lightest choice (regarding weight)
- GoMacro MacroBar is the highest in carbs
- RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar is the highest in protein
Do not only choose your favorite and order a lot of them, instead mix them up. Otherwise, your favorite may become your least favorite.
Dried fruits, nuts and seeds
Breakfast and dinner are the most essential meals for loading up. Lunch should be less filling but still provide enough sustainable energy. That's where dried fruits, nuts and seeds come in. Dried fruits weigh less than your usual fruits and are easier to carry with you. It's an excellent substitute for candies as well!
Nuts and seeds are essential for the number of calories they provide. Did you know one gram of fat contains nine calories while one gram of protein or carbs offers four calories? Nuts consist of a lot of fats that provide you with a sustainable energy source. To order & mix your own combination of dried fruits, nuts and seeds you can check out nuts.com or buy them at Trader Joe's for lower pricing. Other choices that you can quickly order via Amazon: Super 10 Food Snack Mix and Imperial Nuts Grab & Go Nut Snack Bags.
Water and water enhancers
The most important thing to keep track off when you're hiking is hydration. There are multiple ways to ensure you stay hydrated throughout your trek: drinking enough water before going on a hike, plan to travel around water sources and drink up when you get there (when the water source is completely dry, follow the stream upwards and find the real source), and take a water filter with you.
Depending on your personal preference, these two water filters should help you: Lifestraw Personal Water Filter and Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System. The amount of water you should drink depends on how much you hike on a given day, the weather and many more factors.
To give a rule of thumb, the general advice is to drink at least two liters on a given day, but if you're hiking eight hours per day, you're definitely going to need more. Try to consume one liter per hour of hiking (on top of the minimum of two liters). This is critical to staying adequately hydrated. If your pee is light yellow, you're good (as long as it isn't dark yellow).
Making the most out of every drop of water you consume is essential. That's why you should make use of water enhancers. Listed below you will find the best water enhancers: Nuun Hydration Tablets, TOTAL HYDRATION Natural Himalayan Salt Electrolyte Replacement Capsules, and Electrolyte Concentrate for Rapid Hydration.
Are you ready for dinner yet? Lentils are on the menu!
One of the best protein sources among all backpacking food ideas: lentils. Frequently called a superfood lentils are one of the wealthiest legumes containing essential nutrients: many calories, a lot of protein, fiber, and iron. The only downside is that it takes a bit more time to cook.
You can find lentils in almost every supermarket but if you want something to order quickly, order Arrowhead Mills Organic Green Lentils because they are easy for on the go and have even more added protein to them.
Essential supplementation and extras
All necessary food is taken care of but what about supplementation for things you can't fit in? There are some essential supplements you should always take with you to ensure you keep your body in top shape.
- A multi-vitamin to fill in the blanks
- Fish oil for overall health and other benefits
- Spices and herbs to add more taste to your food
- Coconut oil to put in your coffee or cook
- Plant-based protein powder to mix with anything
- Treats to reward yourself for your persistence and endurance
If you use any medicine at the moment, you'll need to take it with you. Before using any of the mentioned supplements or foods, consult your doctor if you're not sure about using it. Everybody is different and may respond differently to certain foods than others.
Don't just copy anyone else, use your brain and make your own plan. The primary purpose of this article is to provide you with enough information and backpacking food ideas. The goal is to get a grasp of what you need to plan for.
Making Use of These Backpacking Food Ideas
The list is complete! You now have every one of the backpacking food ideas you need to craft your ultimate backpacking diet. Feel free to use what you want to use. As you may have noticed, most products are as vegan-friendly as possible to fit everyone's lifestyle.
If you feel like you need meat and other protein sources from animals, feel free to do so. Calculate your daily needs with the calculator mentioned at the start of this article. Make sure you meet the maintenance calorie intake. The rest is up to you!
Focus the most on getting carbs in your system. Your body will use this as its primary source of energy. Consume at least 40 grams of protein per day. And eat nuts throughout the day as a snack if you barely hit your calories.
Before You Trek Away
Before you go on your next adventure with these backpacking food ideas in mind, remind yourself to enjoy the journey.
Backpacking is more about surviving, it's about achieving your dreams. Reminding yourself of the reason why you went on this backpacking journey might inspire something inside of you.
After all, you're not going on a backpacking trek for fun, right? You want to experience and achieve certain things. That's why you need a backpacking plan with goals.
Good luck with your next backpacking experience!