The 15 Best Backpacking Foods and Meals
Backpacking is an exciting way to explore the wilderness or travel to foreign countries on a budget.
However, carrying all of your possessions on your back can make it difficult to plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks.
Fortunately, many foods are not only nutritious but also lightweight — making them perfect choices for backpackers.
Here are 15 of the healthiest meals and snacks for backpackers and travelers.
1. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are portable, convenient options for backpackers.
They also make excellent snacks for those who are traveling.
Nuts and seeds are high in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber and protein, which backpackers need to stay fueled.
Additionally, they're high in calories, yet small in size.
Depending on the terrain, backpackers can burn through thousands of calories per day. Therefore, choosing calorie-dense foods is important (1Trusted Source).
Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds can be mixed with dried fruit for a tasty snack that can be enjoyed on the move.
2. Dried Fruit
Unlike fresh fruits, which are highly perishable, dried fruits are heat-stable and have long shelf lives.
The drying process removes excess water from the fruit and inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause food to spoil (2).
Dried fruit retains many of the nutrients found in fresh fruit and provides a healthy source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and carbs.
As an added bonus, dried fruit is compactable and can be easily stored in a backpack or travel bag.
Plus, it can be mixed with nuts and seeds to create a high-energy trail mix
Backpackers often avoid fresh meat, as it's highly perishable and needs to be kept refrigerated.
Jerky is an excellent alternative to fresh meat that is shelf-stable and backpacker-friendly.
It's made by drying meat or fish in order to prevent spoilage.
Since most of the moisture is removed during the drying process, it's lightweight and can be stored without refrigeration — making it a perfect choice for travelers.
There are many types of jerky on the market, such as beef, chicken, turkey and even salmon varieties.
Jerky can provide a good dose of protein when fresh sources are unavailable.
4. Nut Butter
Nut butters, including peanut butter and almond butter, are delicious, nutritious products that are popular with backpackers — as long as you stick with natural products without added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients.
Though transporting a large jar of nut butter is not possible for most backpackers, nut butter packets or dehydrated nut butters are excellent alternatives.
Plus, they're versatile and can be added to many meals and snacks.
Most nut butter packets have a shelf life of over a year, so they can be enjoyed on long backpacking trips without the worry of spoilage.
5. Dehydrated Meals
Although dehydrated meals are not usually associated with being healthy and tasty, there are many nutritious choices for people wanting a warm meal while on the trail.
In fact, many stores that cater to backpackers and hikers sell a wide variety of dehydrated breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
These meals contain dehydrated meal components, such as meat, poultry, vegetables, grains and fruits, that can be cooked by adding boiling water and letting the mixture sit.
There are many dehydrated meal choices that contain high-quality, limited ingredients. By carefully reading labels, you can be sure to find a healthy product.
Dehydrated meals come in lightweight foil containers that are easy to store and carry.
6. Protein Bars
Depending on the type of excursion, backpackers may need to bump up their protein intake.
Similar to endurance athletes, backpackers need to consume quality protein sources on the trail in order to repair muscle and stave off hunger (6Trusted Source).
Protein bars are portable sources of high-quality protein that can fit any dietary preference, including veganism and vegetarianism.
Plus, they're shelf-stable and don't need to be refrigerated.
When searching for the best protein bar to pack, look for products with limited, whole-food ingredients and avoid products containing artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.
7. Instant Oatmeal
Instant oatmeal is a healthy choice that is easy to prepare when backpacking.
Though some instant oatmeals are loaded with added sugar and artificial ingredients, many products contain healthy ingredients with little to no added sugar.
Choosing instant oatmeals with no added sugars allows you to add healthier sources of natural sweetness like raisins or dried apples when preparing your meal.
Additionally, you can add nuts, seeds or nut butters to instant oatmeal for an extra dose of protein and healthy fats that can keep you fueled throughout the day.
8. Powdered Milk
While fresh dairy products are not backpacker-friendly, powdered milk can provide a healthy source of nutrients when refrigeration is not an option.
Additionally, it can be an important source of calories for backpackers in rugged conditions.
Powdered milk can be added to instant oatmeal, dehydrated meals and morning tea or coffee to provide a boost of nutrition.
9. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and teas are backpacker-friendly beverages that can be enjoyed while traveling or on the trail.
They're lightweight and easy to prepare, making them a perfect choice.
Choosing lightweight bags of loose-leaf tea and coffee, rather than single-use packets, is the best way to reduce waste and pack efficiently.
10. Fish or Poultry in Foil Packets
Storing fresh poultry or fish when backpacking is out of the question.
However, fish and poultry in foil packets make excellent choices for backpackers searching for high-quality sources of protein.
These products are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration, making them a perfect choice for backpacking and traveling.
Chicken, tuna, sardines and salmon in foil pouches can add a protein boost to meals and snacks.
These products are packed with protein, B vitamins, iron and many other nutrients that backpackers need to stay healthy (11).
Unlike canned fish and poultry products, foil packets are light and can be easily stored in your backpack.
11. Hard Cheeses
Hard cheeses are shelf-stable and can be used as a flavoring for meals and as a source of protein and healthy fats when backpacking.
Unlike soft cheeses, hard, aged cheeses — such as parmesan, aged cheddar and pecorino romano — have a low moisture content, which extends their shelf life and inhibits the growth of bacteria (12Trusted Source).
Hunks of these cheeses can be enjoyed as a snack with dried fruit or shredded over meals to provide a tasty pop of flavor.
Plus, its high protein content makes cheese a go-to choice for a filling and nutritious snack.
12. Preserved Meats
Preserved meats, such as pepperoni and salami, don't have to be refrigerated, making them a good choice for backpackers.
For these reasons, it's best to consume any processed meat product in moderation.
13. Beans in Foil Packs
What's more, they don't need to be refrigerated, which makes them a good choice for backpackers.
While canned beans may add too much weight to your backpack, beans in foil pouches are lightweight and compressible.
Beans like chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans can be added to any meal and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Beans in foil packs have a long shelf life, making them a smart choice if you're embarking on long expeditions.
14. Whole Grains
Whole grains like oats, quinoa, farro and buckwheat are highly nutritious, providing a powerful source of fiber, complex carbs, vitamins and minerals (18Trusted Source).
They're shelf-stable and portable, which makes them a perfect fit for backpackers.
Whole grains can be enjoyed at any time of day — plus, they're highly versatile.
They're also easy to prepare over a fire, which is the most common method of cooking while backpacking.
What's more, buying whole grains in bulk allows backpackers to plan meals ahead of time while saving money in the process.
Eating the same meals day in and day out can become boring if you crave variety.
Packing spices — such as garlic powder, turmeric, chili flakes and paprika — can add flavor and depth to meals while providing powerful nutrition benefits.
Spices, such as turmeric and paprika, are packed with antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in your body.
Additionally, spices only take up a tiny amount of space, which is important when backpacking or traveling.
Healthy Tips for Backpackers and Travelers
Staying healthy while backpacking or traveling can be a breeze as long as you're taking care of your body.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for cellular repair, brain function and immune health (20Trusted Source).
Getting enough sleep also ensures that you're functioning at an optimal level, which is important for safety while backpacking.
Lack of sleep can increase your risk of injury and negatively impact your mood (21Trusted Source).
Alcohol can dehydrate the body and slow reflexes, which can lead to dangerous situations for backpackers (22Trusted Source).
Plus, alcohol is heavy and adds substantial weight to your backpack.
Eat Real Food
Though high-calorie snack foods, such as candy, sugary cereals and powdered meal replacements, are tempting, there are healthier options for backpackers.
Processed foods tend to be high in sugars, unhealthy fats and artificial ingredients, which should be kept to a minimum.
Prioritizing nutritious foods — such as those listed above — is always the best bet for health.
Because backpackers expend energy and moisture carrying heavy packs and navigating difficult terrain, it's critical to maintain proper hydration.
Staying properly hydrated can keep your digestive system healthy, improve brain function and boost athletic performance (24Trusted Source).
Because many water sources like lakes and rivers may be unsafe to drink from, it's often necessary to use water disinfection techniques, such as boiling, UV light purifiers or charcoal filtration systems (25Trusted Source).
Getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol, staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods are excellent ways to stay healthy while backpacking.
The Bottom Line
Though many healthy foods require refrigeration, there are a number of shelf-stable, nutritious options for backpackers to enjoy on the trail.
Dehydrated meals, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, nut butters, aged cheeses and whole grains are just some of the options for health-conscious backpackers.
No matter the location or length of your trip, choosing nutritious, portable foods is the best way to stay fueled.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an emergency after 20,000 tons of diesel fuel spilled into a river in the Arctic Circle.
Atmospheric researchers have pinpointed the spot on Earth with the cleanest air. It's not in the midst of a remote jungle, nor on a deserted tropical island. Instead, the cleanest air in the world is in the air above the frigid Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, as CNN reported.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Set for Record Decline Due to ... ›
- Coronavirus Shutdowns Causing Huge Drops in Traffic, Air Pollution ... ›
- Blowing the Cover off the 'Cleanest Air' Illusion of the Trump ... ›
Satellite data collated for the World Resources Institute (WRI) showed primal rainforest was lost across 38,000 square kilometers (14,500 square miles) globally — ruining habitats and releasing carbon once locked in wood into the atmosphere.
Bolivia Has 80% Higher Loss<p>In its Global Forest Watch report, the WRI highlighted Bolivia, saying its removal of primary forest and surrounding woodlands — to produce soy and range cattle in 2019 — had been 80% higher than any of its previous years on record.</p><p>"Its highly biodiverse Chiquitano Dry Forest was particularly affected, with reports that nearly 12% of it burned," said the study.</p><p>Other countries with severe losses had been Peru, Malaysia and Colombia, followed by Laos, Mexico and Cambodia — from 1,620 square kilometers and 800 square kilometers in primal forest lost.</p><p><strong>Indigenous Rights Protect Forests Too</strong></p><p>WRI's Seymour said a "mounting body of evidence" suggested that legal recognition of indigenous land rights "provides greater forest protection:</p><p>"We know that deforestation is lower in indigenous territories," Seymour said.</p>
Pandemic Weakens Enforcement<p>The current Covid-19 pandemic had changed dynamics, said Weisse, weakening enforcement of forest-protection laws and leaving rural families desperate to feed themselves back home after losing jobs in cities.</p><p>In April, scientists grouped within the Global Carbon Project estimated that coronavirus-induced economic slowdowns would trim carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5% year-on-year.</p><p>It was "something not seen since the end of World War Two," said project chair Rob Jackson, professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, California.</p><p><span></span>But, recalling the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, climate scientist Corinne Le Quéré at England's University of East Anglia, forecast in April that emissions were likely to rebound if structural changes were not instituted.</p>
Glasgow's COP26 Postponed<p>Last week, host Britain confirmed that UN climate talks due in Glasgow, known as COP26, had been postponed a year until between November 1 and 12 2021.</p><p>Experts involved in those long-running negotiations insist that global emissions must start dropping this year to avoid irreversible impacts, including polar melts, record hot weather, rogue storms, and ocean level rises.</p>
- Statistic of the decade: The massive deforestation of the Amazon ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest Deforestation Hits Highest Rate in 10 Years ... ›
- Amazon Deforestation Rate Hits 3 Football Fields Per Minute, Data ... ›
Researchers have found that warm temperatures in the U.S. this summer are unlikely to stop the coronavirus that causes the infectious disease COVID-19, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease.
- Will Warmer Weather Curb the Spread of Coronavirus? - EcoWatch ›
- Don't Expect Coronavirus to End This Summer - EcoWatch ›
The glaring numbers that show how disproportionately racial minorities have been affected by the coronavirus and by police brutality go hand-in-hand. The two are byproducts of systemic racism that has kept people of color marginalized and contributed to a public health crisis, according to three prominent medical organizations — the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American College of Physicians, as CNN reported.
- TV Coverage Ignored Impacts of Extreme Weather on Marginalized ... ›
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ... ›
- House Democrats Roll out Environmental Justice Bill - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
With the nation focused on the coronavirus pandemic and protests against U.S. police brutality that have sprung up across the globe, the Trump administration continues to quietly attack federal policies that protect public health and the environment to limit the legal burdens faced by planet-wrecking fossil fuel companies.
<iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-1267581093349191680" id="twitter-embed-1267581093349191680" lazy-loadable="true" src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-1267581093349191680&created_ts=1591049857.0&screen_name=PeterGleick&text=And+while+attention+is+elsewhere%2C+another+Trump+assault+on+the+Clean+%23Water+Act+and+the+ability+of+states+to+protec%E2%80%A6+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FUtqe7IkGt9&id=1267581093349191680&name=Peter+Gleick" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="b88aab098c5666a85c251e01b7a029bf"></iframe>
<iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-1267802127273005056" id="twitter-embed-1267802127273005056" lazy-loadable="true" src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-1267802127273005056&created_ts=1591102556.0&screen_name=EnvProtectioNet&text=.%40epa%E2%80%99s+rule+change+is+a+blatant+attack+on+states%E2%80%99+rights+and+flies+in+the+face+of+decades+of+Supreme+Court+rulings%E2%80%A6+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2Fk42d4AgTL5&id=1267802127273005056&name=Environmental+Protection+Network" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="a0d99172630e2eaea81fb529e2c93c87"></iframe><p>Hauter vowed that Food & Water Action "will be pursuing all avenues available—legal, electoral, and otherwise—to ensure that states have the right to reject fossil fuels as they see fit, and support vulnerable communities everywhere seeking to protect themselves from this malicious administration."</p>
- Trump's EPA Budget: 5 Critical Programs on His Chopping Block ... ›
- Trump's EPA Limits States' and Tribes' Rights to Block Pipelines ›
- States Sue Trump EPA for Suspending Environmental Regulations ... ›
A video of an incident in Central Park last Monday, in which a white woman named Amy Cooper called the cops on African American birder Christian Cooper after he asked her to put her dog on a leash, went viral last week, raising awareness of the racism Black people face for simply trying to enjoy nature.