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Backpacking food ideas?

I'm going on several backpacking trips this summer and I'm looking for some great food ideas that are light to carry (and that wont spoil). I've been looking at some other posts as well as online, but most everything is for car camping/camping with a cooler. I do have a dehydrator to prep veggies and fruit. Any suggestions besides the typical (though amazing) Annie's mac and cheese would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Chinese/Japanese dried mushrooms (shiitake) are very light and tasty .... quite inexpensive also. Chinese sausage is also tasty and cooks up very quickly... not quite as durable as the mushrooms but certainly not as fragile as other types of fresh sausage.

    1. The laughing cow cheese
      tuna fish
      beef jerky
      Tortilla Wraps

      1 Reply
      1. re: DarthEater

        don't forget the GORP.

        I've been backpacking once and don't make the mistake I made...carried 2 lbs of pancake mix, yup, you think I was going to feed 20 people and be gone for two weeks. Bring only what you need, minimize all packaging and think light foods like dried noodles or rice where you just add water. Those mushrooms sound awesome.

        I'm envious!

      2. When I'm backpacking, my food depends on what my daily objective is which most of the time is 10 miles a day, about 3,000 ft. elevation, and I'm shooting for 4,000+ calories, or about 2 pounds of food a day (very rough estimate.)
        My basic food is the old standby gorp. I custom mix my own, getting most of my ingredients from Trader Joe's, Peanut M&M?s are still great. Cheap, tasty, high in calories, easy to pack and eat. Energy bars are compact and have reasonable caloric density and nutrition. They are expensive though. I like Cliff Bars but end up taking Power Bars a lot of the time because I can get them cheaper. Peanut butter boosts my caloric density. Cheap and easy to pack. Crackers or dense bread add grains. Grape Nuts. Add grains. Use for breakfast with powdered milk. I used powdered milk (Milkman, other brands taste really bad!) and meat jerky in combination with grains (grape nuts, crackers, flour in pemmican bars) as a source for complimentary proteins. Milk boosts my calcium. Cheese is a treat and adds calories, protein and calcium. But doesn't keep as well as some other foods. Cheddar cheese is around 115 cal/oz and keeps fairly well. Parmesan is around 130 cal/oz and keeps very well. I sometimes bring hard, dry salami on a short trip or on the first few days of a long trip. I bring dried fruit to add fiber, variety, and as source of minerals and vitamins. I bring chocolate (as needed), to add fat and calories. Boost my cal/oz. total. Any room or extra weight I can deal with is for water.

        1. I have a recipe for energy bar biscotti which are good. If you're interested, I can post it.

          I just found it online, along with other good suggestions.


          1. We always took rice balls, shaped and wrapped in Saran wrap. Spam kind, breakfast sausage stuffed and egg kind, eaten in the morning for breakfast. Burritos are always easy to eat and I made energy bars with dried fruit, nuts, oatmeal and cereal.

            1. I take small pasta like fusilli that cooks in 6-8 minutes. Start the stove, put on a pot 2/3 full of water, add in some sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not in oil) and dried mushrooms (I've been able to find both at the grocery fairly easily, but there's a much wider/cheaper variety of mushrooms at an asian market) while its heating up, and let it boil for about 10 or 12 minutes alone, then add the pasta and cook until al-dente. I take it off the flame, drain, and mix in some basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and parmesian and its fairly tasty if a bit dry. I think I may try taking a tiny container of olive oil this summer to add to the flavor a bit.

              You can do a similar thing with rice, but your stove will need to be able to simmer and rice tends to take a little longer to cook. You can usually find some lentils that will cook in about the same amount of time as the rice, which is really convenient. I use red lentils and normal rice, and dried mushrooms and a lot of minced onions to help the flavor, but it tends to be a little "earthy" so I'm still trying to find good stuff to add. again, this summer I'm planning on bringing some oil and might bring a carrot or onion to cut up and simmer with the rice.

              I like making a dry indian-style dish with any vegetable (onions, zucchini, a potato, whatever - not the best for weight, but they do tend to keep well) - saute the veggies a bit to soften, add curry powder, cumin, and paprika, then add water about 1/2 way up the veggies (more if you can't properly simmer), a small handful of basamati rice, cover, and let simmer until the pot is nearly dry and the rice is cooked.

              marshmallows are lightweight, good, and fun to roast. For years I forgot to take them, for some reason, so I mention them even though they're sort of obvious.

              pancake mix is luxurious. I tend not to take it much because it takes a long time to cook pancakes one at a time which uses a lot of fuel, and its easier when you have a little oil, which I rarely take for some reason unless I'm car camping. I like mixing chocolate chips or pecans with the pancakes. Just put it all in a container, add water and shake when you're ready to cook them up.

              I rely on fruits and nuts a lot, so I mix up two or three different varieties. smoked almonds mix really well with dried cherries, also raisins, peanuts, dates, m&m's, you don't need any help there I'm sure.

              Try stuff out at home so you can figure out what you like and what spices work. I always try to premix the spices and since most of the ingredients are dry I don't obsess over storing everything separately; I just sort of throw a lot of stuff in a pot or container and sort it out when I'm ready to cook.

              1. if you can find condiments and spreads in packet form you can carry alot and had zip to any backpacking trip. nab a few from resto, diners, chains...


                health food stores carry alot of convenient snacks-take a walk thru a local store for inspiration.

                besides water, I usually tote a small carton of rice and soy milk for cereals.

                enjoy the summer!

                1. Couscous is great for camping; it cooks really fast. It would work well with the dreid mushrooms folks are suggesting (plus you have a dehydrator; add whatever veggies and herbs you like!).
                  I crave protein when I'm outdoors, so I often bring cheese (you can wrap cheese in a cloth and put it in a bag) and sometimes even tuna, although the can does weigh extra.

                  Can your dehydrator dehydrate cooked meals too, or is just for slices of things like fruits/veg? Perhaps you could dehydrate some rice and beans or dehydrate your favorite tomato sauce or something like that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: seattledebs

                    Don't forget about the tuna that's now available in pouches! Much lighter :)

                  2. I LOVE to cook while backpacking and camping. Here's what I do:
                    Bring parboiled rice to eat w/indian fare. You can buy pouched/cooked indian at Trader Joes or your fav. Mid-east market. I look for foods made w/ghee and NO preservatives. I also buy carrot halva. SO yummy as a breakfast thing with hot rice and coffee. I buy the coffee as instant individuals pouches made by Nescafe. Has the sugar and creamer already inside. I only use this while in the mountains. Not at home- don't even drink sweet coffee while at home but in the mountains - oh yum! Of course, I love instant oatmeal that I mix w/my fav granola/nuts and dried fruit -awesome breakfast item. Also use instant black bean soup, 1 chicken soup bullion cube and H20. Make a soup and add rice Or, black bean soup w/vege dogs. They won't sour if you're in cooler elevation. Annie Chungs soups, miso w/dried vege/seaweeds and love the instant THAI noodle things from T.J.'s. I like the combos of beans and rice -good protein w/o animal products, packs well and adds texture. Seems xtra carbs work well. Helps to keep me warm.
                    Dried apples and strawberries are now available - Saw at T.J.'s. Bring dried potato flakes. U can cook w/H2O and dried/instant chicken soup mix, add ghee and a few cooked FRESH green beans - yumm! Bring spices/herbs and ghee - I bought small plastic containers for such from REI -I have cinnamon, ghee, salt, pepper, italian herbs and olive oil. I bring all in a cooking pouch and have great fun inventing. Endless opps! Think dried - fruits, tomatoes, potato, rice, crumbs, etc. think small pouch- soup, tuna, ...Small fresh - like green beans and carrots, 1 zucchini, small onion. Banana chips- great in the oatmeal or dipped in melted chocolate! pressed fruits from T.J.'s are good too.
                    Bring small cubes -you cut at home - of cooked ham or chicken. Keep frozen until ready to travel ok for the first day, evening (W/dried tomatoes) and morning. Great with the dried bean soup mix wrapped in a tortilla! Done all this an never had a problem! Save your condiments: packages of red pepper and parm cheese from the pizza shops, salsa from the mexican shop, soy sauce from sushi boxes, ketchup/mustard honey, jelly squares/comtainers, coffeemate (I add to my oatmeal), and the like from other various fast food shops. They really come in handy while backpacking!!! I even bought a couple of LARGE toothpaste tube containers that I filled with peanut butter -specific for backpacking. Works great-squeeze onto a tortilla, celery, premade scones, etc. Can of Pringles is good too. Eat the whole thing then you can use the can to collect small trash items or for storage!
                    Have a great time.

                    Oh - here's another idea - If MSG is ok w/you go to an asian market and buy HOUSE brand curry. Already made just heat and pour over rice. Has mild, med and hot. Asian markets are great -esp. Japanes, 'cuz everything is premade, prepackeged and small. Check out a 99 ranch market and stroll the isles. Think creative and you can find fabulous options! They even make dried tofu!!!

                    1. oooh, great topic. i'm going on my first backpacking trip in a few weeks. i was thinking couscous and rice noodles and stuff like that. these are great suggestions!. i am planning on borrowing my sister's vacuum sealer to pack things airtight.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ndl

                        Couscous is also great for breakfast. I cook it in water with milk powder with 3:1 ratio of liquid to couscous. I then top it with dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar. Another breakfast item (but they are only good for the 1st or second day, depending on the heat) is those puffy pitas that come in different flavours (ie. apple/muesli). I heat them up in the pan with a bit of butter, then spread peanut butter and honey on them. Yum!
                        The oriental grocery stores are a great resource. I typically buy egg noodles from there because boiling time, is something like 3 min vs. 8 min for regular pasta. I am fanatical about less fuel = less weight. For protein, I often get the tetra paks of tofu that don't need to be refrigerated.
                        Hope everybody has a great time on their trips!

                        1. re: ndl

                          Mind the salt! you'll be exercising, so expect you'll need some extra. Maybe a lot extra!

                        2. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! I've been experimenting with some at home and right now I'm working on different breads. So far, my fry bread has come out the best! Its just flour, powdered milk, baking powder and sugar (if you want it sweet). Just add water and fry up in a little oil. Its going to be perfect on the trail! I cant wait to try the others!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: thunderbug84

                            That’s the biggest bitch when traveling. I can lose 5 pounds during a 3-day road trip if I’m not careful. Muscle naturally deteriorates if it’s not actively maintained. You wanna try to get in some physical activity if you’ll be gone for a long time, as long as you keep in mind the inevitability of losing some muscle mass if you’re getting a lot of cardio/heavy calorie-burning activity. You wanna eat often, just as you do at home. Someone suggested tuna, which is a perfect cheap source of protein; an added bonus, tuna doesn’t require refrigeration when you buy it in cans, and you can find it in supermarkets across Europe. If you take any supplements, bring with you maybe a bottle of BCAA’s. Gyros and its ancestor: the kebab, have high level of fat (which is why they taste good), so you wanna have these very sparingly because the meat used is ground meat that’s not lean. Chicken gyros and chicken kebabs or chicken falafel are excellent substitutes. Make sure they use the more conventional sauces (tzatziki for gyros [made of yoghurt and cucumber], hummus or other chickpea-based pastes for kebab or falafel) instead of anything fatty like mayonnaise.

                            Make the supermarket your best friend, and make use of hostel kitchens. Whole-grain pastas should be quite easy to find in Southern Europe. Open-air markets, as someone noted, are also great places to get good, healthy food, particularly fruits and vegetables.

                          2. bring along a bag of bisquick with chocolate chips in it!

                            1. I generally carry a lot of food. Never bought special food just regular groceries. Fruit is big, fresh and dried. I also love taking ramen and cutting in bunch of stuff, veggies and dried stuff.

                              Best advice I've ever received is treat your self to a great meal first night out. Freeze a nice steak and take out right before you leave. By that night it will be just right for cooking. Take a potato or two and some onion and you have a great meal for the first night.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Noodles & Sauce is a staple of mine with or without precooked (and then frozen) meat. Powdered milk can be substituted for the packages that require milk.

                                1. Aah, you all are genius! I (stupidly) started a thread about this over on general topics before I even looked here. That premade curry is such a great idea - I think I'm going to try that next time I go out, with a little canned chicken and instant rice.

                                  If you're able to have a campfire, breakfast burritos are a great treat for the first morning on the trail. I make them in advance (cook the eggs, sausage, potatoes, etc, and wrap in a tortilla with salsa and cheese, then wrap in aluminum foil), freeze them rock solid, then heat them up in hot coals in the fire pit in the morning. They're a little heavy, but you only have to carry them for a little while!

                                  1. I'm going backpacking if a few days too, and have been thinking about food. My main concern, of course, is the lack of refrigeration. I'm wondering if hot dogs would work, as they're already fully cooked when you buy them and just need to be heated up. Would they keep for a day or two un-refigerated?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: ajs228

                                      I don't know about those or smart dogs (just pretty much TVP).. but I would recommend finding a coop or someothing w. a bulk section. we usually end up doing a ton of dried refried beans or dried up chili. takes like 3 minutes and is enough protein/fiber to keep you full & warm :) can also put them in said corn tortillas above & make a burrito! if you're lucky like i was you can find dehydrated eggs and make a killer egg & bean burrito w. little chilupa condiment packs or dried chili peppers to spice it up.. our favorite camping treat!

                                      1. re: ajs228

                                        buy some dried salami (preferably the beef kind)--the kind with all sorts of mold on it kept at room temp.
                                        I wouldn't trust hot dogs.

                                      2. SO many great ideas here!

                                        I have two very separate backpacking food philosophies...I run a large backpacking camp for girls and young women in the CA/NV Sierra mountains, so I have very different food priorities for them than I do when I pack myself! :)

                                        I'm assuming you'll be on rather short trips? I pack much differently for our long (12-day) trips than I do for our shorter weekend-type trips. Everyone has such good suggestions for you, so I'll add just a little:

                                        Be sure to include plenty of extra oatmeal and very bland water-based foods if you'll be backpacking at any altitude at which you're not accustomed. Nothing is worse than backpacking with a finicky and upset stomach :( The oatmeal is lightweight (the FIRST rule of backpacking) and heaven to an unhappy stomach, regardless of whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also never carry too much tea or cider or hot chocolate or whatever your warm drink of choice may be.

                                        Splurge on flavor that is light to carry -- dried herbs are a great way to spice up any dish, and they don't require the space and energy that other condiments do.

                                        Skip the pancakes...every backpacking company touts the wonderfulness of pancakes, but they take forever to cook and they're a pain besides.

                                        Consider your altitude when planning meals. Water at altitude takes longer to boil (also, the btu's of your stove), so opt for fast cooking starches like couscous and orzo and the like...skip heavier pasta-type noodles. Quick cooking rice is much better than standard jasmine or basmati rice.

                                        Take more protein than you think you may need. Dried salami is a great addition to just about any meal.

                                        Now, when I pack for myself (not with ten 14-year old girls) I do splurge and carry butter and pre-cooked meats...I plan ahead and include some treat for everyday, depending on the anticipated physical exertion of the day. For example, if I have a heavy hiking day, I'll plan for a larger lunch with some sort of treat -- I'm not averse to carrying fresh fruit on longer trips if it'll get my rear over the next mountain! If I have a light but long hiking day, I'll plan for a special dinner that I'll have energy to prepare once I've reached my destination.

                                        Something else to consider -- your water purification methods. If you're using something quick (like a steripen or the like) then you may prepare just about anything. If you're opting for something that takes time (like the old boiling water method or iodine), then you need to be prepared with food that you can eat while the water is doing its thing.

                                        Oh...and don't skimp on bear protection. I suppose this depends on where you're going, but anywhere in the US is going to be ripe for either bear or rodent or some other sort of animal menace to your food supply. I've given more of my extra DELICIOUS food to fellow backpackers whom I've run into in the back country who lost theirs to bears because they were lazy. Don't give away what you've worked so hard to prepare! :)

                                        Above all, ENJOY! Leave the extra t-shirt and jeans behind in favor of an extra pound of food...you'll be so, so glad you did!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: tsfirefly

                                          A few Simple Ideas:
                                          - Always make the first night's meal an amazing one. It's worth the haul (Filet mignon w/ gorgonzola, mashed potatoes and green beans? Oh yes.)
                                          - Repackage, Premix (no water of course), Season and Cook anything ahead of time that you can. Just finished pre-cooking sausages for tomorrow night. They lost half their weight in fat, and it will save a lot of fuel and time.

                                          Powdered potatoes are super fast to cook (just heat water) but usually require 2/3 cup milk and 2 tbs butter per packet. Use powdered milk and butter buds; premix ahead of time. Add Salt & Garlic powder to counter the sweet of powdered milk.

                                          Rice adds calories to everything (nods to previous posts) Just make sure to get the 10 minute boil-in-bag type. Interesting cooking suggestion above.

                                          Car Camping Omelets: Precook meat, veggies potatoes or whatever is going in, not completely, but just al dente (so to speak). break and whisk eggs, add spices, salt, cheese and ingredients; put in Heavy duty Ziplock. Can be frozen, but salt is needed to keep yolks from turning to rubber.
                                          To Cook: Just boil the whole bag in water, careful not to let bag melt on the edge of the pot!

                                        2. Great suggestions here. One more from my backpacking days is to invest in a small pressure cooker. We bought one 20 years ago at REI, and it is the only pot we carry on backpacking trips. It is small and light (made in England) and really amplifies your dried food choices. We used to take brown rice and beans, and could cook with small amount of fuel. I really second (or third, or whatever) taking some heavy stuff like an onion or fruit that you eat the first day out (great psychology to start the second day with a noticeably lighter pack!). And one of my guilty secrets is Knorr's vegetable soup mix. Very light, very salty, tastes great on the trail as soup, or add to rice or beans to make stew. Food always tastes so good on the trail when you have really worked for it!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: dkenworthy

                                            The pressure cookers that REI now sells are a hard anodized GSI one (about 3 l, good quality China made), and a 1 1/2L Hawkins (India).

                                            The Hawkins is good for cooking about 3 cups of stuff. I haven't used it backpacking, but in car camping it does make short work of tougher cuts of meat for a stew. It also does a nice job at cooking small batches of risotto. For its size, though, the Hawkins does not pack very compactly - the handle is fixed, the lid includes a handle, and thus is hard to pack neatly. The GSI might pack better, though it still will be heavy compared to plain pots of similar volume.

                                            Most backpackers are content to use (nearly) instant starches such as instant rice, couscous, instant mashed potatoes, and rolled oats.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Right. Bring at least a few things that can be eaten raw (ramen, instant mashed potatoes)

                                          2. Had to reply to this because i think my husband and i have the best backpacking meal recipe ever. Coconut curry! - It's lightweight, versatile and deelicious! As long as you can get powdered coconut milk, you're set. You just bring a pouch of powdered coconut milk, an onion or green onions, snow peas (light and keep for days), ribbon rice noodles, a chicken bouillion cube and a scoop or package of your favourite thai curry paste/powder and you have the basis for a wonderful meal. Throw the powdered coconut milk,bouillon, onions and curry paste in a pot of water, boil it up and add your noodles, veg and protein. We camp on the West Coast of British Columbia, so there's usually plenty of shellfish or fish to be caught and thrown into the pot (think California mussel green curry!). If you dont have fresh seafood at hand, you can bring tofu or dehydrated tofu to add in. Anyway, it's my very favourite camping meal and i had to share it :)

                                            Oh, and obviously you need to check the red tide/PSP warnings before you go eating any shellfish off a beach. Don't go getting poisoned ;)

                                            1. Good advice in this thread.

                                              I assume you have googled the many sites.
                                              eg. http://www.easybackpackingtips.com/

                                              If not a solo trip then I suggest getting everyone
                                              to agree to eat communally. The food choices
                                              expand greatly. One foiled package of chicken/tuna
                                              will serve two or as an ingredient for a meal for four.

                                              Designate a cook. Hopefully the best cook among
                                              you. The cook gets his/her tent set up for free :-
                                              )Find out what the likes/dislikes of the others in the

                                              My fav breakfast was inst oatmeal w/ dried fruit
                                              bits and small chuck of maple sugar.
                                              Lunch was my GORP, mini-bonbel cheese and

                                              I'll second the post of making the first meal a
                                              memorable one. My BP partner and I would
                                              freeze steaks, insulate them and put them in
                                              our sleeping bags. First night out was a steak
                                              dinner w/ pre-baked potato w/ sour cream,
                                              chives and crumbled bacon bar.


                                              1. Daiwa Mini Cast spinner compact fishing rod and a few flies and spinners. Find a used copy Euell Gibbon' Stalking the Wild Asparagus.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                  Seabear (found at REI) makes a pouched wild sockeye salmon
                                                  Pouched tuna
                                                  Dried mango (other fruits)
                                                  Trail mix
                                                  Cheddar cheese

                                                2. I backpack around Arizona/Utah all the time in desert heat and swear by always taking lots of protein with me. So for breakfast I bring HB eggs (they will last 2 days without refrigeration) and precook Canadian bacon, wrap it in foil and then eat it cold or reheat it in the foil over my backpacking stove for a few mins). Beef jerky, instant potatoes, flat packets of tuna, pita bread, ramen noodles. I'll get one of those Mountain House red beans and rice and mix the shrimp in it for an instant "jambalaya". Dried fruit, especially apricots and banana chips for the potassium.

                                                  Since we hike in the desert and usually have to carry 7-8 liters of water with us, we are all about packing lightweight food!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: CoteGal

                                                    Not sure I'm using this site correctly so forgive me if not, but I have a question. What is the best sandwich bread for a 4 day trip? Pita, tortilla, bagels, other?

                                                    1. re: dennis528

                                                      I've tried them all and prefer tortillas. They are indestructible and don't seem to ever go bad, no matter how wet or humid the weather. Easy to fit in your pack too. As far as the original post regarding general backpacking food, I've found that you can pretty much dehydrate any meal with a food processor and a dehydrater. Heavier than freeze dried, but so worth it. Use whatever sauces you make at home and add in pasta, coucous or rice. Cheese added on top makes it even better!
                                                      I've carried cheese for 9 days and salami for 6 days, so far no diseases of any kind (after 13 years anyway).
                                                      Happy backpacking!

                                                    2. I am meeting a friend who is currently hiking the Colorado Trail end-to-end. I will only be with her one night so weight isn't really an issue but I wanted to get ideas on what kind of treats I could bring. For those of you who have done extended trips, what was one treat you would have loved for a friend to bring you on the trail?

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: swest

                                                        for lunches we often bring smoked salmon, cream cheese & cucumber served on either bagel or ryvita. this can last 2 days if it cools off over night.

                                                        we are not very adventurous with our dinners, often opting for freeze dried due to the altitude we are climbing up to. However we are going to try dehydrating some things. We have cooked up a coconut lentil soup with sausage and frozen it, then eat it the first or second night, it is heavy though. this would maybe dehydrate well.

                                                        our most recent purchase is an ultralight backcountry oven. they are amazing! think fresh biscuits & cinnamon buns! pilsbury makes it easy, but heavier. there are recipes out there for dry ingredients only.

                                                        the one treat for me would be WINE...fill a nalgene bottle or flask with a bottle or half bottle of wine...that is a lovely treat, and maybe some cheeses & french bread....yummm. Or depending on how long into it you are meeting her, anything fresh, such as fresh veggies or fruit, usually by day 3 I am craving fresh food like apples and oranges or tomatos.

                                                        1. re: cleopatra999

                                                          or you could bring dehydrated wine... (note: not made with dehydrator!)

                                                        2. re: swest

                                                          Is your visit a re-supply of her next seven days of supplies, or just a "show up and cater a mega meal"?

                                                          If the latter: Fresh steak, fresh eggs, butter, Frozen jumbo shrimp, lemons, and tomatoes with real mayo. Don't forget to bring the frypan, and cooking fuel.

                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                            I have to have a very high protein diet and avoid carbs. I see tuna / nuts / etc... my daughter and I are planning for an AT thru hike - so will be a week or more before restocking stores - any ideas on HIGH protein / LOW weight foods

                                                            1. re: AT Thru Hiker

                                                              What an opportunity for you in terms of a focused chow experience! I did it (southern half) in 1975, way before the internet exchange of trip planning ideas. Ziploc bags had barely hit the market.

                                                              Will it be this upcoming March, from Springer? Are you wanting to pre-fabricate the bulk of your diet and ship parcels to resupply points?

                                                              For low carb, to get 4,500 calories per day, the planning would mandate a construction of menus around low-glycemic dehydratable carbs.

                                                              What carbs are you presently consuming, and how willing to expand to get the needed calories per day? Is it diabetic or more Atkins in the more sedentary world?

                                                              What budget is involved? Are you looking to pre-fab as many protein sources as possible on minimum budget?

                                                              1. re: AT Thru Hiker

                                                                Sounds like fun to me! except the low carb plan.

                                                                I don't want to pester, but on such a long distance, physically demanding trip I am worried for you not having many carbs in your diet. Have you done anything like this b4 on this type of food? Carbs are the fuel you need for muscles to convert food into sugar into energy easily and often as is needed on this type of endeavour.

                                                                to answer your question though...here are some thoughts...
                                                                -beef jerky (although it often has sugar as part of the curing process)
                                                                -you can now get tuna in packages at health food stores instead of in cans, although it is fairly pricey
                                                                -maybe dehydrating your own jerky without the sugar would be a good idea
                                                                -peanut butter, almond butter
                                                                -protein powder (whey, soy or hemp, but watch for sugars)
                                                                -skim milk powder
                                                                -dehydrated beans
                                                                -nuts & seeds
                                                                -high protein grains such as quinoa cook fast, however they are a grain & therefore carb too.
                                                                -cheese (can last a few days, longer if it gets quite cold at night
                                                                -dehydrated soy protein (chunks) can be picked up at backpacking supply stores
                                                                -powdered eggs

                                                                good luck!


                                                            2. Great ideas here. One that is missed is foil pack fish and meat. Look in the tuna aisle of a supermarket. I can't find them at TJ, but at Luckys. There is a large selection of foil pack tuna, yellow tail, salmon and chicken none of which requires refrigeration. Add it to any freeze dried backpacking food to radically improve it.
                                                              Also consider canned beef. Sounds gross, but it is fantastic on the trail. It is like stew meat in gravy. Of course you have to pack out the cans but add it to freeze dried beef stew and watch the smiles of your buds.

                                                                1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                                  Bacardi 151, more bounce to the ounce.

                                                                2. For coffee addicts, Starbucks has little instant coffee pouches, called Via--find at REI (I thought the Bold flavor fantastic), Costco, prob Starbucks, too, I'd imagine. They're really tasty for instant brew and save a ton on space and weight. I plan to tuck some into my suitcase for regular travel.

                                                                  Last backpacking trip I splurged on beef hash in a sealed pouch from Trader Joes (comes in a box, which I recycled--strip all packaging to a minimum)--it's OK to carry heavier food for a two-day trip, and it was yum for breakfast, high in needed cals. I also presliced apple and prepeeled whole orange into a ziplock--again, heavy, but good for quick desert trip, no fruit waste.

                                                                  1. I just posted this on a different thread so sorry for the duplication. I found some great pancake mixes online. My favorite is the vanilla malted pancake and waffle mix on amazon. It is a complete mix so you only have to add water to get great pancakes. There are others such as pamela's mix but they are in much larger containers so I prefer the heartland food products mix the best.

                                                                    1. I'm am probably going to sound old and dated, but at 63, I am a registered Maine Guide and Vietnam vet who was w/ a recon. company, eternally stuck out in the field, who still backpacks, often alone, just for the sheer joy of it. When I take clients out, I pack a lot of the fun and fancy. But the point I want to make is that when I go solo, I travel light, often w/ just jerky, and water. I forage as I hike and want to make miles, not hump pounds.
                                                                      Simplify, simplify, simplify.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                        I call for the restoration of use of pemmican.

                                                                        Dried jerked meat, pulverized to granules, than added rendered fat, and dried fruits. A perfect trail food. It connotes the images of ancestors and the sound of their footgear hitting the trail at a steady trot for a 40 or even 50 mile day.

                                                                        There was heavy trade in hide-sealed bags of pemmican, especially along the continent opening Missouri river.

                                                                        Colin Fletcher, in his 1960's seminal work "Backpacking", went with Wilson's "Meat bars" as a best substitute for the original item. They are no longer made.

                                                                        Lots of recipes for pemmican out on the web, but look for the most primitive, of pulverized dried meat and rendered suet and dried berries.

                                                                        Let there always be wilderness to trot in while seeking simplicity.

                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                          I second that. Foraging is a lot of fun too. Leisurely and at peace. I've picked over 10 lbs of chanterelles this summer!
                                                                          The book, by Fletcher, A Man Who Walked Through Time, prepped us for The Grand Canyon, when we hiked it in the 70's. Water sure is heavy!

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                            Thanks for reminding me about Walked Through Time. Didn't do the walk, but did the book.

                                                                            Colin was cool.

                                                                            Foraged shrooms are fun. Once came across a late May Michigan slope with morels so thick that it looked like fungi tundra. As we worked thru the 30 or 40 pound haul, I remember the camaraderie with the companions, the wish for real butter rather than the margarine we carried, and lots of gentle grateful burps.

                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                              Beside my family's Russian tradtion of foraging, I also learned a lot from Euell Gibbons' In Search of the Wild Asparagus.
                                                                              Do you know the San Pedro cactus?

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                Euell did the groundbreaking work of a Mule when he wrote that one. To the extent that I fully forgave his subsequent forays into TV commercials for Grape Nuts.

                                                                                I explored "living off the the land" pretty hard, with literature that I've given away to younger bucks years ago. You've got the be there at the right time in the plant's life cycle to get the good stuff.

                                                                                I focused more on densest caloric rations that fit the features of the re-supply. I've endured the jeers of downtown Chicago commuters who were not happy with my taking up aisle space on the morning bus to get to a westbound Amtrak, with many ration boxes in tow.

                                                                                San Pedro cactus, yes. But that's more of a New Mexico than a Maine thing, eh?

                                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                  Yup, & Boivia. Up here, just pasture paddie mycology.
                                                                                  I'm really looking forward to hiking the San Mateo & Zuni Mountains, west of Alb. We used to ski into them nd winter camp. That's high cal. food requirements.
                                                                                  Thunderbug, if you drink, Barcardi or Everclear give the most bounce per ounce. Mixed w/ powdered ice tea & water is not too bad after a long day's hike. I feel the rocks under my pad less too.

                                                                        2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          Can you please post your jerky recipe?
                                                                          I am sick of the supersweet ones...
                                                                          When I'm hiking, I need salt! ;-)

                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                            way better that jerky! I prefer not to dip it in the vineger/ salt solution before henging up, because I like the the salt and corriander sticking to it....
                                                                            The fan and light is necessary in a humid / indoor place. we normally just hang the strips in a dry, cool, well ventilated room. enjoy!

                                                                        3. minuter rice, canned white chicken (pre-cooked and packaged like tuna, no need for can opener if you get the right kind) and lots of spices. just add boiling water
                                                                          It sounds blan, but the spices make all the difference. I like it withe garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, thyme, and celery seed, but you'd have to try it out yourself, do what you like.
                                                                          Its easy, light, and CHEAP

                                                                          1. In a lovely book by Leslie Mass - In Beauty May She Walk: Hiking the Appalacian Trail at 60, Mass describes what she found to be the perfect food - The Sandwich. It was peanut butter on whole grain with some additions. It fueled her day.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: chowmel

                                                                              I've found brie and crackers to be the perfect backpacking food. It's relatively lightweight, calorie dense, contains protein, fat, and carbs, and the brie actually gets better tasting if it isn't refrigerated.

                                                                            2. Those Summer sausages and cheese from Hickory Farms are good for lunch. The larger sausages are heavy, but they have the smaller size and it could probably feed two campers for a quick cold lunch. Serve with pita or tortillas. I also enjoyed tortillas with peanut butter and flattened bananas (from TJs). The only thing about peanut butter is I don't enjoy powdered milk straight, so that poses problems when nothing can solve a peanut butter mouth than a tall glass of cold milk. Tortillas with the Laughing Cow cheese wedges (various flavors) and pepperoni or salami. You'll have to add something that's calorie dense since the cheese is only 35cals per wedge.

                                                                              There are various curry pouches out there that just need to be heated in a pot of water and you could eat out of the pouch itself, just add either the summer sausage or maybe canned chicken for protein. Eat it with instant rice or ramen noodles. You could even use the ramen's soup packet and make curry ramen. Throw in so dried veggies and you got yourself something delish for the trail. This would have a lot of salt in it though, so be careful.

                                                                              You dehydrate meats as well as produce, so make use of that. Cook the meat, drain fat and then dehydrate I'd imagine. That way you don't have to deal with canned meats which add weight. Make your own jerky!

                                                                              I'm actually fond of rice and canned (or pouch) tuna with soy sauce and sirracha. I even eat that at home, but on the trail I use instant rice. Also throw in some dried dehydrated veggie for health. =)

                                                                              Breakfast is oatmeal or 1min Cream of Wheat, dried fruit, strawberry jam, and maybe some almonds. Sugar too of course.

                                                                              Other staples:
                                                                              GORP (I like a blend of golden raisins, peanuts, cranberries, white and dark chocolate chips and almonds).
                                                                              I've also enjoyed Cheez-Its (or Goldfish) mixed with pretzels.

                                                                              For a treat, instead of lugging steaks and potatoes, bring a skin of wine, a piece of baguette and some hard cheese (parm or aged cheddar, Gouda, etc). That's always really nice.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                  This is the jerky marinade we use very successfully,

                                                                                  Per pound of meat:

                                                                                  1/4 c soy sauce
                                                                                  2 T Worcestershire sauce
                                                                                  2T liquid smoke
                                                                                  2T brown sugar
                                                                                  2t salt (notice... little t not big T!)
                                                                                  1t ground black pepper
                                                                                  1t meat tenderizer
                                                                                  1t garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
                                                                                  1t onion powder
                                                                                  1t paprika

                                                                                  Marinate 24 -30 hours, drain and pat dry, dehydrate.

                                                                                  I'm afraid I didn't write down which site I got it from so I don't know who to credit.

                                                                              1. This is a little dated relative to the OP (and season), but here goes...

                                                                                Kung Pao Chicken rocks on the first night of a backpack trip. Everything keeps really well, especially if you start out with solidly-frozen chicken double-zippy'd in your down sleeping bag. I have 2 colleagues I surprised with this dish after a hard day on the trail--20 years ago--and they still talk about it like I was Our Lady of Lourdes.

                                                                                In fact, quite easy.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  Ain't it nice how that grub packed in fresh on first night,

                                                                                  Gives lingers and memories of tasty delight.

                                                                                  There are few places left of a good Prima Nocta

                                                                                  But packing it in, then unfurled, gives a gotcha.

                                                                                2. Here are a couple of good hiking food ideas from a blog: http://bigtriplittletrip.com.au/backp...

                                                                                  Couscous is a pretty good one i think. Add those mushrooms to it, some stock, and there is a tasty basic meal on its own.

                                                                                  1. You can home-dry lots of "real" foods in your regular oven. Years ago, while prepping to hike the AT, had a brainstorm while cooking a pot of pinto beans: you know how the bean-splash dries along the side of the pot, and you just stir it back in. Well, cook a pot quite thick, then dump in a thin layer on a baking tray. Put in a slow oven for a long time (varies LOTS, pending your beans, recipe, etc), periodically give it a stir. Eventually, voila, home-dried bean soup for the trail. Did this with lots and lots of foods (including home-oven-dried beef jerky), and we ate very well on the AT--no spoilage at all, very few processed/commerical foods. (We mailed our own stuff to P.O.s along the way, too.)

                                                                                    1. I was thinking about the exact same thing! You could by those Quaker raisin oat bites and mix them with dried cranberries or any dried fruit and nuts with honey and bake until you smell the nuts

                                                                                      1. 1) Mind the salt.
                                                                                        2) Halvah's the best, by weight and volume.
                                                                                        3) Need meat? Get some dried salami (if Katz's can send theirs to Iraq w/out a problem, it'll do fine in the heat).

                                                                                        4) GOOD ramen (miso variety preferred) is a really nice supper after a hike.

                                                                                        5) Plan on making something warm for breakfast (pouches of hot chocolate go a long, long way if you're in the mountains).

                                                                                        6) Thirding everyone on beef jerky.

                                                                                        1. Those summer sausage thinks can be a godsend. Taste god, keep well, can be added to may menus or just fried alone.or even eaten alone

                                                                                          1. Those instant mashed pot. packages for 2 for a $1..add dried mushrooms.
                                                                                            Turkey jerky
                                                                                            Quality granola bars.
                                                                                            Dried fruit
                                                                                            Flask of the heater.

                                                                                            1. We love Trader Joes Middle Eastern whole wheat flatbread with French onion laughing cow cheese wedges and presliced salami when we are in the back country. To mix it up we sometimes use the flatbread with nut butter (Justin's nut butter or jiff 3oz packages) with real honey packets from Starbucks and then add dried bananas (homemade or trader joes)

                                                                                              1. First and foremost "Keep it Simple ". Think about water availability in regard to cleaning up . Asian markets have a good selection of durable products to pack away from dehydrated veges,sausage,mushrooms etc .I've bought good well made ramen ( I don't recall any brand name but I believe they were a Japanese brand )that can hold up in a pack . Indian style boxed dinners such as those made by SWAD such as Dal Tadka (lentils ,onion,tomato and cumin ) $.99 for a pouch you can boil and it's tasty. SWAD has a variety of prepared dinners. Good cheese and dried sausage if your too tired to bother with cooking also flat breads pack real easy into your pack and last with out a cooler. Starbucks instant coffee works well for me I usually buy the espresso.

                                                                                                1. I once packed the first evening of food and was invited to always pack that first evening of food after that. I cooked up a big batch of chili, put it in gallon plastic bags, wrapped it around empty beer bottles and froze it hard. Then we pulled the empty bottles out and placed cold beers in the frozen mold of chili. Be sure to use the same brand of beer so it fits. When you get to the camp site, your chili is starting to thaw and it doesn't take long to prepare dinner, but the highlight of the evening is an ice cold beer!

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: kqig

                                                                                                    I bought a brand of ramen in the health food store that is easily packable Anne Chung's Ramen .It takes a bit of water so it may not be convenient as a trail snack .I also have small tins of both calamari and pulpo in olive oil that also travel well .The fish in tins though can be a bit messy but are so good.Not to far from where I reside there is a German butcher who sells hunters sausage . the sausages are flat (easy to pack) and don't need a cooler. I have found small eastern European food markets that carry small vacuumed packed smoked fish ,hard crackers dried fruit,mushrooms SUN DRIED TOMATO'S tossed with rice or noodles or on bread also good.