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Suggestions for best backpacking meals

am wanting to do a backpack trip. 1 day in,camp and one day out. am looking for cooking suggestions. easy veggies,meat,fruit,etc... I guess what is the best food to pack for hiking 10-20 for a 1-2 day hike. packaged veggies,packaged meat,etc...? just looking to try and get the best energy while hiking, for an overnite  tent trip. INCLUDED COFFEE in the morning.LOL!

12 Replies

@Snoborder73 I use a camp stove and like instant oatmeal for breakfast and then something like Ramen or Knorr Pasta sides (or both) for supper.  Saw a video on Ramen Bombs the other day that I'm trying to work up the nerve to try.  Basically, I like "just add water" stuff (like coffee 🙂 ).

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@Snoborder73 For a fairly short trip, almost anything will do.  Quick and easy would be a freeze dried dinner of your choice.  For non FD, one of my faves is macaroni and cheese, with a bit of beef jerky added.  For veggies, just take raw carrots or similar, something that doesn't need any cooking.  Apples do well on the trail and provide needed liquid. Be sure you do stay well hydrated.

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@Snoborder73 So long as you don't go overboard, for a 1 to 2 day trip anything will do since you are not gone long enough for it to make much difference...provided you are prepared to carry it.  Fresh food within reason will keep for a few days although avoid things that will actually spoil if not refrigerated...raw meat, creamy salads etc unless you plan to eat them on the first night and you can pack them with a cold pack.

If you are practicing for longer trips or you tend to overpack,  the rule of thumb is 2lb of food a day which assumes about 100cal per oz based in a ~3200 cal intake for active males between 18 and 35 or thereabouts.    Turns out that 100cal per oz is about what you get from a typical selection of dried foods and snacks that people typically chose to take backpacking hence the 2lb rule.  You can do better (ie carry less weight) by choosing to take more food that has higher calories per oz...nuts and oils are around 200cal per oz fex.  Packaging adds weight so often people repackaged dried foods to reduce weight and the amount of packaging they have to pack out.

Also you need to manage water and water weighs about 2lb a quart.  Generally you need 2 quarts a day and you don't need to carry more than that assuming there are water sources and you have a filter and/or other means to treat the water.  You need more in dry or hot areas so make sure you understand the water situation where you are going.

@Snoborder73 ha! you'll get a zillion opinions on this one!  More options than tents, boots, sleeping bags combined!

But...I go with Starbucks Via coffee packets, easy, strong, robust, did I say easy?

REI Member Since 1979

@Snoborder7 having just done a similar sounding length backpacking trip, here are a few things we took that were appreciated, noting that none of these are fancy suggestions and certainly not totally focused on lightweight:

  • PB&J sandwiches - great protein, super easy to eat quickly when you're hungry/tired, no cooking required, last pretty well for a few days, even when smooshed!
  • High protein items that are easy to eat, like jerky, meat sticks (a personal favorite is landjaeger), nuts, trail mix
  • Salt water taffy - yup, random, not lightweight, but a real treat to have in your pockets for sweet snacking along the trail

As @Philreedshikes said, you're likely to get lots of suggestions that are all pretty personal!

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@Snoborder73 such an exciting topic!

You have already gotten some great advice from our fellow community members. I'll just tack on a couple of my favorite items for short backpacking trips:

1)Snickers bars - a MUST HAVE! These delicious, quick-and-easy treats are a great source of protein, salt, sugar, and calories. I always carry these with me, and eat approx. 1 per day while I am backpacking.

2) If you are looking for veggies, this is much easier to manage on a short trip. I love to bring raw baby carrots, celery, and sliced bell pepper (as long as you are in an environment where these items won't go bad right away). They are great as part of a larger meal or simply as a snack!

3) If you are looking for meat, I love turkey jerky (or beef jerky if you like that). It's not perishable and is a quick way to get protein and salt in your belly!

4) Dried banana slices are a great way to get your potassium while also providing you with carbohydrates in the form of a yummy snack. Just make sure to place these somewhere they won't get crushed!

5) Nuun hydration tablets - I love these little guys, especially the sports tablets, for backpacking! I only bring these if I have good water access because they require a good amount of water to use. However, they are a great way to ensure you stay hydrated and maintain an ideal level of electrolytes in your body! Also, make sure that you don't use these to substitute your water intake, but rather they should be used in conjunction with drinking regular water.

6) CLIF BAR energy chews and gel packets - these are a delicious way to get quick energy while on the trail. I wouldn't consider this to be part of your "meals" per say, but if you need a quick energy fix while on the move, these are great! These are also a great option if you don't have good access to water.


Also, make sure you are aware of your climate (temperature, sun, etc.) and pack any perishable items accordingly! I tend to only bring perishables if I am doing a short trip of no more than 2 days (one night spent on the trail). Beyond that, cooking and freeze-dried meals are your best bet.

Have fun on the trails!

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You had me at dried banana slices!!  Never thought of that.  Awesome! (yes, that's a lot of exclamation marks 🙂 )

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/good recommendations in bryndsharp's post.  I would just add, in the dried meat category, Tanka bars, basically bison jerky, which is utterly delicious.  I would walk miles for a bison steak....

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@Snoborder73 another thing I forgot to mention in regards to climate - if you are somewhere that is significantly warm/hot, make sure you don't leave your backpack in the sun for too long, or all of your snickers bars will melt! 😞

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