We almost always start our trail mornings off with a warm cup of coffee. PLAN YOUR SUPPLIES AHEAD OF TIME: Mailing boxes to resupply points requires some planning and prep-work ahead of time, but having pre-packed boxes of food you specifically picked out can be a great option for those with food allergies or special dietary needs (gluten-free, lactose, vegetarian, etc.). Nuts and Seeds. Finally, AlpineAire offers a filter feature on their website that allows users to find meals with specific ingredients or special diet options. It’s also a good plan to make sure your foods nowhere near your stove fuel, as a precaution. But before you get too excited about going sans stove, check the calories per ounce column of the comparison chart. They don’t fill in as a fully balanced meal replacement option, but they are a good way to take in additional calories on the days you need a little something extra. But at 114 calories per ounce, Packit meals have a very respectable caloric density for such unique, flavorful dishes, and they even offer some cold-water lunch options too. Finally, the updated Pro-Paks are only guaranteed for 5 years, although this shouldn’t be much of an issue for most adventurers (a long shelf life matters more for emergency preparedness). From complete meal replacements to weight lifting supplements. Like Good To-Go above, Next Mile Meals actually taste like real food, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise after looking at the ingredient labels. The most lightweight solution is instant coffee, which we’ve found to be perfectly sufficient for our morning cup of jo. Mountain House is known for their standard lineup of Adventure Meals (above), but their Pro-Pak is a great option for intrepid backpackers, climbers, and other committed outdoor-goers. Their flavor and texture are more along the lines of canned chili than rehydrated mush. Just something to look forward to - a candy bar, a cup of tea, etc. Chances are, you haven’t heard of ReadyWise. 26. Peanut (or Almond) Butter. Cooking method: PouchAverage cook time: 10 minutesCalories per ounce: 103What we like: A whopping 30 dinners to choose from.What we don’t: The flavors leave much to be desired. But we think Heather’s Choice is the best-tasting food around, and the tradeoffs could be well worth it for those who don’t want to compromise enjoyment or nutrition while on the trail. What we don’t: Lots of preservatives and sodium. Cooking method: Pouch / potAverage cook time: 10-15 minutesCalories per ounce: 114What we like: Tasty food with all the accoutrements. Ambitious backcountry chefs can stock up on the staples—instant pasta and beans, egg powder, vegetable mix, and more—and save a good deal of cash in the process. There are all kinds of organization tricks you can do with food and stuff sacks. There are also countless rice varieties with different seasonings and veggie fixin's at the store. To guarantee their shelf life, backcountry meals should be stored fully sealed in a cool and dry environment (no refrigeration needed). Mountain House is our favorite, but it’s a tougher call between Backpacker’s Pantry and AlpineAire. Known for their environmental consciousness, the company’s food branch—Patagonia Provisions—fits into the same mold. Another backpacking staple and great meal base. Tortillas. It’s no contest for us, though: Good To-Go is worth the wait.See Good To-Go Meals. Combine with chicken (see Valley Fresh) and rice and you have a complete nutritious meal for the trail… Importantly, the Half Dome line is now exclusively offered in “Plus” models, which are among the roomiest and most... Cozying into your sleeping bag at the end of a long day on the trail is one of the simple pleasures of backpacking. For pouch meals such as those made by Good To-Go, you simply let the food sit in hot water for 15-20 minutes—no need to tend to it. Many of the meals in this article rehydrate in their pouch, making them popular options because they only require adding boiling water. 8. Paleo Meals To Go also come at a high price: $13 for one serving, to be exact. Good To-Go represents a new generation of backpacking meals: food that we actually would consider eating at home. The dehydration process, on the other hand, exposes food to hot and dry air over several hours (smoking and sun-drying are also methods of dehydrating). 38. But because we’re all looking for something different to eat, you simply might not agree with our numbering. See Ultima Replenisher. A great base for a backpacking dinner meal. Brownie and cookie mixes are loaded with sugar, can be mixed in with cold water and are super lightweight. Reasonably priced at $10, each meal is offered in a single-serving package (from 570-650 calories), making Pro-Paks a nice option for solo adventurers. Bagels. In choosing the best backpacking meals of 2020, we focus on taste, nutritional value, packability, preparation time, and cleanup. You don’t get a ton of options with Heather’s Choice, especially if you’re a vegetarian (although each dinner is gluten, soy, egg, and dairy-free). It can remain stable at room... Best Cheese for Backpacking. Dried Fruits. Let peanut butter be the food of choice for the savory loving backpacking community. Pack in an isolated bag in case it busts. With that in mind, calories are your friends in the backcountry and the numbering on nutritional labels deserves your attention. Seaweed. So, there’s not much room for flexibility in case you get held up somewhere longer than you planned. You won’t find us bringing Omeals into the backcountry very often, but for certain applications—going without a stove, emergency food in the car, canoeing, or the novelty of watching a flameless heater at work—they can be a tasty choice.See Omeals Meals. The meat (free range, grass-fed, and 100% natural) especially stood out: it retained the taste and texture of real meat better than other freeze-dried meats we’ve tried. Learn how to easily rehydrate and cook healthy backpacking meals while watching the sun go down over the mountains. Instant Coffee. Each complete meal comes with everything you’ll need: an entrée, side dish, dessert, crackers/bread, spread (cheese, jelly, etc. On the other hand, dehydrated ingredients shrink more (think plum to prune), meaning they’ll take up less room in your pack. With an average of 400 to 800 mg of sodium per serving (and remember, you’re probably eating more than one serving), it’s no secret that most backcountry meals are high in sodium. Tortillas are compact and can take a beating. Pasta entrees that only require boiling water and something to cook them in come in all sorts of varieties and are nice ideas for backpacking meals. 41 Backpacking Food Ideas from the Appalachian Trail The 5 Backpacking Food Requirements. Banana Bread Oatmeal. Takes a few extra minutes to cook. You can throw in a can of chicken or tuna for an easy, inexpensive meal. Try mixing it up with some granola and dried fruit for breakfast. It all adds up to an impressive 142 calories per ounce on average, which is far and away the best calories-per-weight spec here. If you really wanted to, you could survive your entire backpacking trip on prepackaged bars alone. 40. you can make this backpacking dinner ahead of time and enjoy a homemade meal on the trail. Cooking method: PotAverage cook time: 10 minutesCalories per ounce: 96What we like: Responsibly sourced, manufactured, and distributed food.What we don’t: Small selection of side dishes and snacks only. Be creative and have fun out there. 17. They may not knock it out of the park in terms of taste, but these meals remain a reliable and lightweight standard for backcountry cuisine. Brownie or Cookie Mix. Although some preservatives are natural (salt, garlic, spices), many are manufactured chemicals. In my case, I list my meals for … By your imagination and creative thinking, you can come up with numerous no-cook backpacking ideas that will be an additional enjoyment on your trip. It’s all about minimalist camping! Civilian MREs are now made by many manufacturers, and websites such as Be Prepared allow you to pick your flavors and ensure that the meals you purchase aren’t past their expiration date. If you’re looking for flavorful or all-natural ingredients, look elsewhere. Too many options to name. It’s more of a “bare minimum” approach, but raw foods can be a great option for quick, hassle-free breakfasts, lunches, and on those nights where you just really don’t want to cook. Take a look at the Calories Per Ounce spec above: the average Omeals dinner weighs 10.4 ounces (including the heating element) and is only 230 calories. Both have flat, packable pouches, large serving sizes, and a plethora of special diet options. By taking foods out of their packaging and re-packing them in resealable bags ahead of time, you’ll not only save yourself some space, but you can also ensure the food stays securely closed when put away. Instant Noodles. Oatmeal is packed with fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and manganese and provides a filling source of carbs (7). 25. Many online guides provide the temperature and time specifications for different types of food. It almost goes without saying: dinnertime is one of the best parts of any backpacking trip. My go-to cookbooks for backpacking recipes are Recipes for Adventure, by Chef Glenn McAllister and Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’, by Christine Conners.. Great for a quick lunch. If you’re traveling solo, you can save weight and just eat straight from the pot. See Nuun. Cooking method: PouchAverage cook time: 10-12 minutesCalories per ounce: 106What we like: Low price and fun menu items.What we don’t: Tastes like standard backpacking fare. It’s also convenient to throw a couple of snacks in your hip pockets or other easily accessible areas, that way when you need something to tie you over between meals, you won’t have to go looking very far, or even break stride if you don’t want to. There are protein bars, energy bars, snack bars, nutrition bars, food bars - you name it. Apple Pie Oatmeal. With a big push in 2020, the revamped ReadyWise Adventure Meals lineup now features 13 entrees and soups, available mostly through their website and Amazon. Fruit Powders. It might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes a little organization and reliability on the trail is just what the heart needs. Pitch the tent, collect more water, sit down and work on a crossword with your hiking partner—20 minutes will fly by. Fruit Leather. And because they’re not dehydrated, Omeals taste a lot better than standard backpacking fare. Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. On the other hand, pot meals like Cache Lake’s Beef Stroganoff require that you stir the meal occasionally as it simmers, meaning you’ll need to be beside your stove for the duration of the cook time. Bars come served in various sizes, calories, and flavor assortments whether you prefer something more chocolaty, fruity, or salty/sweet. NUTRITIOUS: Hikers have been known to burn up to 6,000 calories a day. The West Coast Trail: Vancouver Island's Iconic Hike, Mountain House Adventure Meals ($9 - $11), Back to Our Backpacking Food Comparison Table, Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, Paleo, ketogenic, low carb, gluten free, soy free, Gluten free, soy free, egg free, dairy free, Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, soy free, dairy free. Pork Rinds. 31. See MRE Complete Meals. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. Powder Meals. Protein shakes are another good thing to have on the trail. This not only makes the food lighter, but it also makes it smaller, shrinking it to about half its original size and weight. But, give the sweet award to honey. If you’re looking to keep your sodium intake down, pay special attention to the nutritional facts (we see a great deal of variation from meal to meal), and Backpacker’s Pantry even has a filter on their website to show their low-sodium options. Cooking method: PouchAverage cook time: 15-20 minutesCalories per ounce: 112What we like: Great flavors and healthy, real ingredients.What we don’t: Expensive; slower to cook than many of the options below. Another potential drawback worth mentioning (although it may have been an anomaly): we once had a Good To-Go pouch of Thai Curry that was too spicy to finish, so flavors may vary. Snacks: (eaten with each meal and between meals… You can even do so in your oven, although most will find an actual food dehydrator works better. It’s compact, boils water quickly, and is reasonably priced. It’s quite simple: for every calorie out, you want to put at least one in. You don't have to be Southern to love grits. Our Favorite Three-Ingredient Backpacking Meals …For When You Hate Everything in Your Food Bag The first few hundred miles of your hike will be a blissful, face-stuffing party of Snickers and … Due to its lower water content, freeze-dried food is lighter and has a longer shelf life than dehydrated food. Milk without the weight. Fresh fruit is generally heavy and delicate, which means it does not necessarily make for the best hiking food. Crammed with calories, fat, sodium and protein. Although our meal had sizable pieces of broccoli, the ingredient list was full of preservatives and additives. These are my best ideas for backpacking breakfasts and dinners. Whatever it may be, we find that AlpineAire dinners are either noticeably bland or so over-spiced that they are hard to finish. Great source for electrolytes and enhances hydration. Water is the number contributor to heavy food. Similar to Omeals, MREs are pre-cooked and can be eaten hot or cold, though they too come with a flameless heater. Cooking method: PouchAverage cook time: 10-12 minutesCalories per ounce: 110What we like: Incredibly nutrient dense.What we don’t: Steep price tag of $13 for a single serving. Great way to get some fruit nutrition without the weight. Bread can be too bulky and fluffy for backpacking. It even comes with a heating element that is activated with 3-5 ounces of any kind of liquid (even sea water or coffee). ), there are tons of great recipes for backpacking meals, from talented outdoor chefs. Similar to Good To-Go above, you’ll recognize all of the ingredients on their labels as real food. Some also require you to bring your own ingredients: for example, the Big’un Burrito with Fajita Chicken is BYO tortilla. See Best Freeze-Dried Meals. 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