If you are planning on going on a long backpacking or camping trip, you need to find the right balance between the weight of food and your caloric and nutritional needs. Being in the backcountry for days or weeks takes a good deal of advanced planning when it comes to food. This is especially the case if you are going on a backpacking trip in which you plan to hike every day—and even more crucial if you are thru-hiking. If you are taking extended or overnight walks, selecting the right food and drinks is imperative. The food and beverages need to nourish and revitalize you, however, you don’t want your backpack so weighed down that it causes spinal issues.
The Unique Food Needs of Thru-Hikers
Many aspiring thru-hikers look forward to being able to eat as much as they want without gaining weight. However, once on that long trail, they often find it challenging to eat enough to stop losing weight. According to Dr. Brenda Braaten, a thru-hiker who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, the fuel needs for long distance hiking are unique. She recommends eating foods that balance high-carbs (to refuel your muscles) and high-fats (to burn as pure energy as you hike). If this sounds like junk food, it is—but the caveat is that it should be carefully selected junk food. She also suggests eating something hardy a half an hour before falling asleep, because that is the time the body is attempting to restore energy burned during the day.
Food for Everyday Backpacking and Camping
Freeze dried backpacking food is a wonderful option because it is lightweight, tastes good, and doesn’t take up much room. Don’t forget to bring small packets of spices—these can really jazz up an otherwise bland meal. You might consider carrying pepper, salt, garlic powder, basil, dill, sugar, cinnamon, or anything else that you like. Experts also suggest bringing plenty of small snacks such as granola and energy bars, individual nut butter packets, nuts, dried fruit, and fig bars. There is nothing wrong with an occasional candy bar, but try to rely on complex proteins and carbohydrates for the long haul. The exception is when you are thru-hiking—it is likely fine to eat as many Snickers bars as you feel like carrying!
Freeze-dried camping food is available in enough varieties that you could easily make it the star attraction of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Freeze dried fruit paired with apple cinnamon cereal makes for a delicious, nutritious breakfast. If you’re not certain where to start, a nice assortment pack of freeze dried foods from Wise is an ideal solution for camping, backpacking, and hunting trips. Lightweight to carry and easy to prepare, you simply need to pour boiling water directly into the pouch and enjoy. Happy trails!