A Meal Plan for Backpackers

Backpacking is an activity riddled with challenges. I mean, you limit your safety, shelter, and comfort to what you can carry on your back and spend days away from anything resembling civilization, sometimes dozens of miles removed from the nearest town! One such challenge found in this is bringing not only enough food for your trip, but the right kind of food. The kind that will keep you energized with calories, carbs, and proteins, but still tastes good. Today, I’ve provided you backpackers with some tips to help you plan your meals accordingly when hitting the backcountry, so keep reading to learn more.

The average backpacker burns anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 calories on a trip. Of course, this number will vary depending on the individual’s metabolism, as well as the activity involved, but the bottom line doesn’t vary: ingesting enough calories is crucial. If you’re wrestling with how much food will be enough, pack a little more (an extra day’s worth is enough). Just be sure to not pack so much that your pack becomes overly cumbersome.

There are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding what food to bring on your backpacking trip. As I’ve said, calories are important because they provide energy and fight fatigue and headaches caused by hunger. You’ll also want to make sure the food you bring contains a good amount of carbs and proteins, such as nuts or dried fruit. Furthermore, try to keep your foods lightweight and small, for obvious reasons; leave that turkey leg or head of lettuce at home. Easy preparation important things to consider, as well, since you may not always be able to build a fire or boil water. Finally, when it comes to taste, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your preferences, even in the backcountry. Your trip will be miserable if you only brought food that is healthy, but doesn’t taste good to you.

Breakfasts on the trail can vary heavily from person to person. For some, it’s as easy as an energy bar, while for others, it’s as involved as eggs and coffee. It really depends on how much you want to clean up afterwards. Popular options include dehydrated eggs, oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, or breakfast bars.

Lunch is a little trickier, since the smart idea is to spread lunch out across several snacks over the course of the day, rather than one meal. Try to stick to an eating schedule, rather than waiting until you get hungry, too. This is commonly known as “grazing.” Again, dried fruits are great for this, as are nuts, jerky, and even easily transportable foods like bagels or carrots.

For most, dinner is seen as a reward for a long day on the trail, and rightfully so. You get to rest, wind down, and recharge after a grueling hike. There are some who go into Iron Chef mode and whip up full meals over the fire, which is great, but then there are some who are content with combining snack foods into a buffet. If you brought along packaged or freeze-dried meals, be sure to also bring along a collection of spices to add some zest. Pasta, such as Ramen noodles, is a great option, along with tuna, soups, instant potatoes, and instant rice.

Meal planning for a backpacking trip is an important step in the trip process. Failing to pack nutritious foods, or enough food, can not only result in a miserable trip, but potential health and safety risks. Bring food that gets the job done, but also food that you actually like and enough of it, and your trip will be full of memories rather than grumbling stomachs.