Food and Snack Packing Tips for Camping and Hiking

by Sadie_Holloway

Preparation is key to a safe, enjoyable hike or backpacking trip. Make sure you have a good supply of nutritious meals and snacks, plus plenty of drinking water.

Planning on going for a day hike this weekend? Are you hiking to your campsite by foot rather than by car or camper? Then check out these lightweight packing tips to ease your load and cut down on excess waste.

Remember, you will be carrying everything on your back or in a picnic basket. When planning your menu for your outdoor adventure, keep these tips and suggestions in mind.

Pack food and snacks that will help propel you up that mountain.
Pack food and snacks that will help propel you up that mountain.

The mountains are calling and I must go. - John Muir

Lighten up. Avoid heavy cans and excess packaging. Beans and wieners are a camping staple, but don’t forget how heavy that can of beans will feel after a couple of hours of hiking to your campsite. Be selective with your canned goods if you must take them. As an alternative to canned food, look for foods that come in foil pouches. Tuna, chicken, and many other ready-to-eat foods now come in handy foil pouch packets that are not only easy to carry, they're easy to open. No can opener needed. Just tear open the top.

Dried soups, beans, and other dehydrated fruits and veggies are much easier to carry in a backpack. Not only are they lighter, excess air can be squeezed out of the packaging so that the food items take up less space in your knapsack.

Buy in bulk. Before your camping excursion, buy your food in larger quantities and then portion out the food you will need into smaller re-sealable bags. Note: This should only be done with dry goods and foods that do not spoil easily. For example, portions of rice and dried pasta make sense, but putting mayonnaise into a smaller container is not a good idea unless you have a way of keeping it chilled properly so that it doesn’t spoil and make you sick.

Dry your own snacks and trail mix. Freeze-dried food and pre-packaged meals can be found in many stores that specialize in camping and outdoor recreational gear. But if you want to know exactly what went into your food, you could make your own dried snacks and meals. If you're an avid hiker or take lots of camping trips, a food dehyrdator will practically pay for itself with all the money you'll save by making your own dried snacks.

Trail mix is a hiking must-have. A well-balanced trail mix made with quality ingredients can provide you with essential nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins. You can buy ready-made trail mix or you can mix your own. If you want something a little more exciting than peanuts and raisins, go online and find some spicy, savory trail mix recipes.

Avoid foods that melt easily. Chocolate, candy bars, and soft cheeses can easily melt in your backpack or knapsack.

Don’t let the cookie crumble. Foods such as potato chips, cookies, crackers, and granola bars can get easily crushed in your knapsack if they aren't stored in durable containers.

Plan your trip carefully so that you have enough food for all the meals and snack breaks you will be taking along the way. To be extra safe and secure, add an extra meal in case your trip gets extended unexpectedly.

Source: Menu Planning for Backpacking, Wellness Market

Before you head off on your hike,

don't forget to...

  • tell someone where you are going and when you plan to come back
  • dress appropriately (proper footwear and clothing)
  • bring a first aid kit
  • stay in-bounds; don't venture off trail paths or put yourself in harm's way
  • take all of your trash with you when you leave
  • thoroughly extinguish campfires before you leave
  • bring sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, and other hiking and camping safety essentials

Always use good food handling and storage practices when packing your camping and hiking food.

Updated: 09/02/2016, Sadie_Holloway
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