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Article provides an explanation of the types of food items that work well for backpacking trips and provides examples. A variety of meal suggestions are given as well asa few links to sample recipes that will not disappoint.

When going into the backcountry, one of the most important considerations is food. Unless you are an ultra-light survival fanatic, you will want to pack food in. The amount of food you should bring depends on many factors including how long you intend to be in the wilderness, how many calories you expect to bum each day, the amount of weight you can reasonably carry, whether or not you will be able to hunt or forage, and your comfort level. There is a lot of discussion about rules of thumb for food rations on the internet. To some extent, the amount of food one should pack varies by person and trip conditions. A much less thoroughly discussed subject is what to eat.

Food options

Arguably the most convenient foods available are MREs (“meals ready to eat” created by the military) and freeze-dried meals. Both of these options are lightweight and quick to prepare but lacking in flavor, heavy on packaging, and relatively expensive. Backpacker’s Pantry seems to be the brand of choice, but not all their recipes are equally well received. The REI website has many customer ratings on their freeze-dried food offerings that may help to guide selection, but if cost is a major factor it may pay to shop around. Some people prefer such food due to its convenience, but getting creative in the food planning process can result in healthier, tastier, and more cost-effective alternatives that may have more appeal to those embarking on longer trips.

Foods that contain little to no water, keep well without refrigeration, have high nutritional value, and can be used in multiple ways make good candidates for ingredients of backcountry meals. Since water is easily the heaviest thing one can pack, the less water food contains the better. Dried or dehydrated foods offer the benefit of reduced water content and thus reduced weight. They also keep well without refrigeration. Many fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats can either be dried or dehydrated at home or bought in this state, providing a wide range of options to the meal planning backpacker.

Grains, noodles, oats, and powdered milk have very low moisture content and keep without refrigeration for relatively long periods of time. Spices, dried herbs, salt, pepper, garlic and sugar also weigh very little, are highly versatile, require only small amounts to make a big impact on flavor, and keep for long periods of time.

Salting and pickling are two time-tested methods of food preservation that reduce water content and may be worth the effort when it comes to protein-rich eggs, meats, and fish. Certain types of pre-salted meats or fish may be available in supermarkets.

Tomato paste and other concentrated liquids are lighter than their alternatives but the weight of the packaging materials may make them impractical unless trading longevity for weight savings by eliminating the container is an option.

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