The item you will find the most in any hiker box is food! People tend to pack their fears and a fear most people have is not having enough food. This process of figuring out food gets easier as you keep hiking because you can see what you have been eating and what you like. There are so many different delicious options out there you just need to figure out which ones you like! This post has food recommendations that can help you decide what food to put in your food bag.
- Pop tarts
- Cold cereal with powdered milk
- Clif Bars or other power bars
- Add dehydrated fruit to cereal
- Tortilla with almond butter, honey, raisins and date (one I discovered while on the trail and loved it)
- Trail Mix!
- Mixed nuts
- Snyders pretzel bits – honey mustard and onion or hot buffalo wing were my favorite flavors
- Any chips or crackers, just don;t expect them to hold together very well.
- Clif bars or other power bars
- Dried fruit
- Candy bars
- Packaged tuna
- Peanut butter
- Cheese and summer sausage
- Knorr rice or pasta sides
- Packaged tuna
- Dehydrated meals (Mountain House, Alpine, etc.)
Dehydrated vs making your own
The prepackaged dehydrated meals are popular, and easy on the trail. All you do is add boiling water to the pouch, wait around 10 minutes, then eat straight out of the bag! There are many interesting meals such as lasagna, chicken teriyaki, and beef stroganoff and they are all pretty yummy. The downsides is the weight, and cost of the meals. They can be between 6-12 dollars per meal and they are bulky and weight a little more than say Ramen. They are fairly caloric but you can get your calories in other ways than these meals.
Making your own meals can be simple as well. You can add packaged tuna to Knorr sides or Ramen as well as some extra spices to make them delicious. To add more calories you can always carry some olive or coconut oil to add to your meals. A small spice kit can be beneficial to flavoring meals and making them interesting. Repackaging spices in smaller bags or bottles can help save weight in your pack.
Another way people make their own meals, is dehydrating all the food and assembling the meals ahead of time. This process is tedious and time consuming but if you have special diets, or like making your own food, then it is awesome. Everything you dehydrate needs to be cooked beforehand, and chopped up fairly small. If certain fruits, veggies, or meats aren’t dehydrated fully, they can come out chewy. There are many online resources for tips on dehydrating your own food, and assembling tasty recipes for backpacking. Make a few and test them out to discover your favorites. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad and it can be much healthier than other store bought items!
Eating healthy while on the trail is difficult, but not impossible. One great way to get some fruits and veggies on the trail is to bring some! If you’ve just left town, bring a banana and an apple to eat as snacks that day. You can always bring some veggies to throw in whatever meal you want to make that night. Of course, all the scraps will need to be packed out, but at least you got something wholesome in your diet. If this seems too cumbersome, get dried fruits and veggies. Make sure to get the ones not coated in sugar.
Try not to worry about eating healthy. You will need those carbs and fats and you won’t be eating like you’re on the trail forever so embrace it while you can.
Having a special diet can also be tough. This is not my area of expertise as I will eat anything! Do some research to figure out how you can accommodate your diet while on the trail.
Food bag vs. can
Storing food is very important because you don’t want critters getting in your food! Hanging your food on a tree limb at least 10 ft up and 6 ft from the tree trunk is the most popular method. A waterproof sack such as the ones here are great for staying out in the rain all night. They are cheaper and lighter than the other option which is a bear canister. Canisters are usually 2 – 3 pounds but they are foolproof. They just need to sit on the ground 200 yards from your tent. They are indestructible so you know your food will be safe. Most people don’t like to carry the extra weight if it’s not necessary. There are areas of the country that require bear canisters. One area here is from Jarrard Gap to Neels Gap and that area requires a bear canister from March 1 – June 1. This is a five mile section right before our store over Blood Mountain and it is easy to hike in a day so you don’t need the canister. Incidents in the past with bears is what caused this regulation to be put in place. Be careful along the trail so more of these rules won’t have to be enforced.
Check out our YouTube video that shows what one of our employees, Carlie, would have in her food bag!