How to Enjoy Camping Without Fire

There are more than 75 active wild-land fires currently burning in the west and the summer just got under way. With the increasing heat, many of us will head to the mountains for relief, but we still need to feed ourselves. If you’re camping outside a designated area, you really don’t have many options but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy good food without cooking.

In California, you need to get a campfire permit, period. Not only do you need a permit for a campfire (only allowed in designated campgrounds) but you need a permit for a charcoal barbecue, a camp stove and even a gas lantern. It’s inevitable that we’re headed for full fire restrictions this summer in the west but you don’t have to cancel your trip if you plan ahead.

RELATED: 10 Things to Avoid on Your Next Camping Trip

The idea of camping without a campfire is something most of us can’t fathom. But being responsible for burning up an entire forest is  an even worse thought, not to mention the criminal consequences. But you can still eat well, get plenty of calories and leave without having the old “god I hope the fire was completely out” thing going on. It happens to the best of us.

Some of my favorite “no cook” foods are healthy, easy to prepare and readily available if you get the munchies in the middle of the night. Many don’t even need refrigeration. Here’s my favorites.

  • Hard boiled eggs: Easy to make, they taste good anytime and you don’t have to worry about breaking them. You can add them to almost anything and and they’re biodegradable.
  • Tuna: Packed with protein, good Omega 3 fats and almost everyone likes it.
  • Smoked salmon: Another one of those foods that taste great anytime. Healthy and filling too.
  • Jerky: Camping and jerky are synonymous, gotta have it but so does everyone else. A good hiding spot is essential.
  • Peanut butter: Another great old “go to” for energy and filling up. Make sure you bring some Saltines and you’re favorite jelly. Warning: you may talk funny for a short period.
  • Cold cuts: Who says you need hot meat? I like to cut up a chicken or tri-tip and make a big salad if I get tired of sandwiches. Salami is also an excellent filler. I bring a whole log.
  • Granola: Hippies got it right when they invented this stuff! Another one of those foods that you can munch on all day and add lots of stuff to. It’s also healthy and has some good fiber in it.
  • Hummus: I’m not even sure what it is but it packs a good combo of protein, carbs and potassium. Make sure you have a big bag of tortilla chips to scoop it with.
  • Carrots: I think these can be dipped in pretty much anything and still be good.
  • Tortillas or wraps: I like these better than bread because they don’t squish as easily. You can pretty much throw anything on them and you have an instant meal—and they fill you up.
  • Nuts: Almonds and cashews are my favorites but any combo makes for a great snack.
  • Dried fruit: A good source of natural sugars and easy to pack.

There’s an endless variety of food that’s healthy, tasty and easy to prepare without the need for fire. I also like to bring a bunch of raw veggies, yogurt and definitely some dark chocolate bars with a high cacao content. Once you get it all together, it’s a pretty low-maintenance way to head out into the great outdoors without worrying about the need for fire. The forest will thank you!

Photo credit: