We all need to eat. That is especially true while on the trail. Being on the trail all day requires a large amount of energy, so it’s only right that you will need to replace that energy, and the way to do it is through eating food. Sounds good, huh?

There are a few ways to prepare food to carry with you on a hike. You can do-it-all yourself and dry your own foods, and prepare them prior to the trip, or you can simply buy dried foods that simply need water, such as the instant foods (instant potatoes, Mac-n-cheese, Ramen noodles, etc…). Then there is the really simple way, buy the backpacker meals.

When I first started backpacking (just last year) I entertained the idea of a dehydrator, and bought the Mountain House Meals. These were convenient because it was a meal in a bag. Just add a few cups of water, wait a few minutes , and then dig in. The problem was the over-sized, heavy bags that I had to carry after I ate the meals out of them. They were also kind of nasty, especially if any got on the outside of the bag. However, if the bag stayed clean I could use the bag as a garbage bag, but I still put them inside another Ziploc.

I did this for a while, then found out about Freezer Bag Cooking (FBC). This was nice, in that you could prepare your own meals and simply put them inside a Ziploc. This meant less trash, and more custom choices. Also, doing this I decided to drop some extra weight by leaving the bowls at home and eating directly out of the Ziploc. Granted I could do this with the Mountain House Meals, and it would have been easier to do so with a long-handled spoon because the bags were so large.

While I have still not purchased a dehydrator, I have come to buying dried goods, and bagging my own meals in various size Ziploc bags. I have of course used Mac-n-cheese with a can of tuna, Ramen, cheesy rice and broccoli with a can of chicken, and red beans and rice. Last Thanksgiving I carried stuffing with chicken and gravy with cranberries.
There are also lots of snacks that can be carried. There are lots of different types of nutritious bars to choose from, as well as good ole’ candy bars. One of my favorites is Fruit Roll-Ups.

I have a lot of work to do in the food section, and for some reason, preparing my food rations is the least favorite part of getting read for a hike. But it is one of the most important. So, this is just a start. There is a lot that can be found just by doing a simple search on the web using Google. I have also found that a lot of peoples personal blogs have good write ups on food. So, I will do some more research on this topic, and I hope that you will do so as well.

For a good place to start, here are a few good websites:

Trail Cooking & the Outdoors

Wilderness Dining

One Pan Wonders

Packit Gourmet

Backcountry Cooking at

And for a great place to buy freeze dried foods in bulk, check out Shelf Reliance.

4 Responses to Food

  1. Vincent says:


    I’m just about to go on my first multi-day backpacking trip. I’ll be in Yosemite next week. I bought 10 Packit Gourmet meals. Do you usually repackage these, or just pack them as they come?




    • Stick says:


      I have only had 4 or 5 of the Packit Gourmet meals, and no, I didn’t repackage them. To me it didn’t seem worth it to repackage them since I was using the bag to cook in, and everything inside the bag needed to be as it was until it was time to cook them.

      Also, I will say, my favorite Packit Gourmet meal was the All American Burger Wrap. Super easy to make, required very little water, and tasted great!

      Also, if you haven’t already, I would suggest to check out Hawk Vittles. This is a one man company. He is a retired professional chef, and makes all of his meals fresh, then dehydrates them and packages them. There is no additives to keep the items fresh, which means it is better/healthier than the freeze dried options. Plus, it helps support the little guy. Everything I have had from him has been very tasty, filling, and lightweight too!

      Hope this helps.



  2. dcbortz says:

    I made a simple spreadsheet for food planning. At the top, I give it a daily calorie target and the length of the trip. In the main body of the sheet, I list each item along with number of servings, calories per serving, and serving size in ounces. The spreadsheet figures out caloric density for each item, total caloric density, total calories packed, calories per day, and total food weight. I used to be terrible at food planning, but this helps me a LOT. It also helps me pack more efficiently because I try to keep my total caloric density above 100 calories per ounce (usually I’m closer to 120). Works good for me!


    • Stick says:

      I have something similar now. When I plan a trip, I use Google Docs to create my gear list, my itinerary and my food planner. Across the top I list the day in one column, and then calories and oz in additional columns. Then I repeat this for X number of days, depending on my trip. Then I simply fill in the food, how many calories in the food, and how much that food weighs (counting packaging). I have set up formulas to tally the amount of calories per day, as well as total oz per day. Then at the bottom, it tallies all of the calories together, and all of the oz together, then it divides them, which results in a calorie per oz figure. I also try to keep mine above 100 calories per oz, and so far I have been between 100 – 120 calories per oz. But it does help to have the list…

      Here is an example of a trip I went on in january, which was 104 calories per oz:

      Hope this helps, and thanks for stopping by and sharing!



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