Hiking Food Tips

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What are some good hiking foods to carry on the trail?

Good Hiking Foods

Still at a loss about what to carry with you when you hike? Good hiking foods aren't that hard to come by, and they don't need to be expensive, either. Some staple hiking foods that should always be in your backpack include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Hard cheese and sturdy crackers, or canned meat and crackers.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Candy (like a Snickers bar in cooler weather) or trail mix
  • Beef or other meat jerky
  • Dried fruit
  • Bagels or pita bread for shorter trips
  • Spices and seasonings
Good hiking foods should fill you up but still have enough protein to keep you going. Remember, you'll be using a lot more calories than normal if you hike all day, so you'll need nutritional meals with plenty of energy-packing protein to keep you going.

What are some easy backpacking cooking tips?

Quick And Easy Backpacking Cooking

After a long day on the trail, the last thing you want to do is slave over a hot camp stove! Bring along some quick-cooking ingredients and enjoy great meals while you're on the trail. Here are some tips.

  • Save the small individual serving packets of honey, mustard, ketchup, and other condiments you get at restaurants for your backpacking trips.
  • Dry ingredients, such as pasta, rice, cereal, and couscous make great staples for backpacking.
  • Canned meats are easy to pack in, but you do have to pack the cans out again.
  • Tuna blends and other meats come in foil packets now, and they make perfect additions to rice, pasta, and even Ramen noodles for a quick dinner.
  • Dry mixes, such as gravies, sauces, and dressings are perfect for backpacking.
  • Make sure you purify your water before you cook with it, unless you've packed it in yourself.
  • Try carrying bagels instead of other breads, because they don't get smashed as easily.
The more you backpack, the more you'll discover your own way of cooking while you enjoy the outdoors. Backpacking cooking doesn't need to be much more than boiling water and adding some dehydrated foods, but with a little ingenuity, backpacking cooking can be much more than boiling water!

What are some fun day hiking recipes and ideas?

Day Hiking Recipes

When you day hike, you have a lot more versatility in the foods you can carry and enjoy. Most foods will last at least a few hours on the trail, so you can whip up some day hiking recipes at home, seal them in plastic bags, and hit the trail with a decent meal.

  • Carry along fresh fruit for a quick snack along the trail or a healthy dessert.
  • Create a healthy sandwich with pita bread, cheese, and lettuce, and tomatoes. If you place it in the refrigerator overnight, it should be just the right temperature when you eat lunch. Avoid meats and mayo on your sandwich if you're going to be on the trail more than a couple of hours.
  • Boiled eggs will last until lunch on a day hike, so bring some along for a snack, or make egg salad without the mayo for a sandwich.
  • Use your imagination for special day hiking recipes. If you want to plan a gourmet lunch, carry a bottle of wine, some dry pasta, and pasta sauce. Heat up some water when you arrive at your lunch spot, cook the pasta and warm the sauce, add some French bread, and you have a hearty and special lunch!
  • Cook a meal at home, such as chicken in sauce, or steaks with mushroom gravy, and carry in an insulated container to keep them warm. Then, just heat up some rice or noodles, and you'll have another gourmet lunch.
  • Carry food in a small insulated container and you can take just about anything with you on your day hike.
Use your imagination, carry a few extra tools, and you can enjoy some great day hiking recipes on a short day hike!

How can I prepare backpacking food ahead to save time when I backpack?

Prepare Backpacking Food Ahead

One way to create quick, tasty backpacking food is to prepare many of the ingredients at home before you leave for your trip. That way, you won't have to spend a lot of time prepping food in camp, and you won't have to carry as many prepping utensils, either. Here are some quick backpacking food ideas for prepping items at home before you head for the hills.

  • Place all the dry ingredients (like spices) you need for a recipe in one plastic bag, and then you can just pop them all into the mixture without measuring, and add liquid.
  • Put just enough dried pasta, rice, noodles, cereal, trail mix, or other ingredients for one meal in plastic bags and label them, so you know you have all the ingredients you need for each meal.
  • Carry small containers of dehydrated onions and garlic to spice up your meals. A few dried herbs are good, too.
  • Remove the packaging from everything you're taking, repackage it in plastic bags, and label with cooking directions, if necessary. Removing the bulk lets you carry more food.
  • Make your own trail mix by adding your favorite fruits, nuts, seeds, and sweets. Package in individual plastic bags that your group can carry with them during the day. If they need a quick snack, they'll have one right in their pocket!
Preparing food ahead of time takes the guesswork out of camp cooking, and it will make backpacking food a lot more fun for the entire group!

Did you know you can dehydrate just about anything you can cook, making great portable food for hiking?

Dehydrate Your Own Food for Hiking

If you're a picking hiker, you can dehydrate your own food for hiking. Dehydrators come in all sizes, and once you learn how to use them, you can create your own jerky, dried fruits, and just about anything else you'd like to pare down for hiking.

Dehydrating is fun, too. The kids can help you place sliced meat, fish, vegetable, or fruit on the dehydrating trays, and after a few tries, you'll learn how long to dehydrate each type of food. Often, you can dehydrate overnight and have dried delights the next day.

Once your food is dehydrated and sealed in plastic bags, you can safely carry it hiking or backpacking. Dehydrated food for hiking weighs much less, and it's a lot easier to carry in a pack. All you need to do is add boiling liquid to reconstitute the food, or you can munch on it as is. Jerky is a great snack on the trail, for example. Invest in a cookbook or two on how to dehydrate, and you may become a dehydratin' fool!

What kinds of foods lend themselves to outdoor cooking?

Creative Outdoor Cooking

Outdoor cooking doesn't have to mean steaks, dogs, and burgers. You can cook just about anything on a camp stove or over a fire, and if you can boil water then you can enjoy boil-in-bag meals, pasta side dishes, and a variety of other convenience foods that just take boiling water to make them. You can even take along instant pudding; just add dry milk powder and water!

On a large camp stove, you can create gourmet meals just like you'd create at home and gourmet outdoor cooking is becoming much more popular. On a short hiking trip of a couple of days, you can carry insulated containers with food you've prepared at home, then heat up at the camp site.

Another quick outdoor cooking tip is to partially cook pasta at home, then put it in a strong plastic bag. You can finish cooking it in the bag when you're ready for dinner. Marinate meats in plastic bags as well, and then cook them when you arrive at camp.

Practice outdoor cooking skills on your stove or on a grill at home before you hit the trail, so you'll know exactly what you need to do when you arrive in camp. If you're going for a shorter hike, you can carry more fresh foods and really enjoy outdoor cooking. Longer, multi-day backpacking treks usually call for more dehydrated and packaged dry foods.

What are some easy backpacking food recipes?

Easy Backpacking Food Recipes

Some backpackers swear by staples like pasta, rice, and macaroni and cheese. They're quick to prepare, light to carry, and nutritious enough to keep you going for at least a few days. However, you can whip up some easy backpacking food recipes on the trail, too.

Try carrying a small tube of tomato paste, and mixing the paste with water and dry spaghetti sauce mix. You'll have a light and tasty spaghetti sauce. Spice it up with dehydrated onion and garlic, or some hot pepper sauce.

Mix instant potatoes with canned or pouched meat for a quick, nutritious dinner. Carry along a little dry Parmesan or Romano cheese for added flavor.

You can carry some fresh foods, like carrots, fruit, nuts, and even potatoes and onions for a few days, at least. They add weight, but they add a lot of variety to your cooking as well.

Check out Asian food stores for dried mushrooms, and noodle mixtures that you might not find at your grocery store. You can add canned meat to the noodles or mushrooms for a delicious sauce or one-pot meal.

Carry powdered milk and eggs for a quick breakfast or dinner, just add water and cook into omelets, scrambled eggs, or fillings for tortillas or pita bread.

Can I find hiking stoves that can let me get creative with camp cooking?

Hiking Stoves for Gourmet Backpacking

If you want to kick up your hiking menu, don't hike so far, and carry along some frozen or fresh foods you can cook in camp. You can cook on a small backpacking stove, in fact many now come with two burners, but if you want to really go gourmet, you'll probably need a bigger stove and more fuel, which will be more difficult to carry long distances.

Look for a two-burner stove with an adjustable flame, so you can simmer, boil, and everything in between. Look for a sturdy stove that will stand up to your pots and pans, as well. Also, most manufacturers offer "boil and burn times" for their stoves, so you know how long it will take to boil water and how much time you can expect out of a fuel canister. Hiking stoves that heat up quicker and use less fuel may be more expensive, but they'll save you time and money in the long run.

These suggestions work well with camping, too, so you don't have to carry your food and tools so far. Invest in a good hiking stove and it will last you for many years of fabulous meals on the trail!

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