The sun is beating down on you, you’re only halfway through the day and you feel the need to recharge. It’s lunchtime! What did you pack? Continuing with our series on how to pack food for your backpacking adventure; let’s talk about lunch and snacks.
Easy-Breezy Nothing Fancy
More often than not, we sacrifice good taste for convenience. Hopefully, our recommendations will help you find a good compromise between great tasting lunch and snacks, without needing to pack your whole kitchen.
That mid-day break could be one of the chances to bring out the stove and start whipping up a meal, but we suggest saving that for dinner (or breakfast) and pack easy to assemble or ready to eat meals that will be just as good.
What To Bring
Remember these three “C”’s when packing your meals, COMPACT, CONVENIENT and full of CALORIES. It's always best to consider the most amount of calories per serving, in light and easy to use packaging. This will go a long way in saving weight and space in your backpack. For this, we suggest dehydrated or single-serve food. Avoid heavy cans or bottles that you'll need to pack out. If the items you want do not come in single-serve packs, you could re-pack them.
Another thing to consider is how long the food will keep while not refrigerated. Pick food that has a long shelf life and will not easily spoil in the heat. Dehydrated foods again would be perfect, either those that are ready to eat or those that will only need water to rehydrate.
A little flavor goes a long way! A bit of spice and condiments could liven up any meal and won't take up too much space. Likewise, powdered juice mixes could turn that boring water into something enjoyable. Not only will they add flavor to your food and water, they will also add more calories and energy to finish out your day's hike.
Try it before you pack it! It is best to taste the food and make sure that you like it before deciding to bring it with you for the hike. It would be a waste of time and space to bring something that you may end up not eating on the trail.
Here’s a list of lunch and snack suggestions that are easy to prepare, loaded with energy, taste great, but still light to pack. Many of these can be found at your local grocery store. Make sure to check out the bulk food sections of many natural grocery stores. They may contain many different types of trail mix, dried fruit, etc. and you can purchase exactly the amount that you need.
- Tortilla Wraps
- Summer Sausage
- Hard Cheeses
- Pork Rinds
- Spice or Condiment Packs (Mustard, Ketchup, etc.)
- Instant Juice Mix
- Dehydrated Meals from Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry
- Dried Fruits / Berries
- Energy Bars
- Candy Coated Chocolate (those that will not melt easily in the heat, like M&M’s )
- Candies / Gummies
How To Pack
Once again, packing is almost as important as what to bring. Here are some tips on how to compactly and conveniently pack the most amount of calories:
- If necessary, repack into smaller single serve containers/packs. This also applies to your homemade trail mix. Pick the nuts, dried fruit, candies, and chocolate that you like and put them in small ziplock bags.
- Group your food by meals and day. This way you would not need to take everything out of your bag and have easy access to just what you need. It will also make it easier to check if you are getting enough calories during any part of the hike. Store your lunch and snacks somewhere really accessible in your pack, like the top lid.
- Try to look for food items that come in packaging that you could eat them in. This saves you time and the need to bring plates or mugs to transfer them into before eating.
- Practice leave-no-trace backpacking, if you pack it in - pack it out. Bring a large ziplock bag to use as a trash bag and responsibly pack out any waste that you brought into the hike. Let’s keep the trails and parks clean so that future hikers will be able to experience the same unspoiled wilderness.
- Do not forget your large waterproof stuff sack to store and hang your food for the night. This will keep bears, critters, etc. from eating your food while you sleep.
For more ideas on how to pack your hiking food, check out Breakfast on the Trail.