When you are out on the trail, you need to maintain a certain level of caloric intake so as not to become fatigued or emaciated. In order to get that caloric intake, you will need to pack lightweight, high calorie, non-perishable items in your backpack. Below is a list of some items that make a great backpacking choice!
Don’t be fancy. You don’t have to go all out and spend hundreds of dollars on expensive labels or food items that are advertised just for backpacking, hiking, or the apocalypse. You can use everyday items that you can get from any grocery store to supplement your nutrition while you are out on the trail.
- Ramen Noodles: This is a great choice because it is lightweight, easy to carry, small, and doesn’t require a lot to cook. It’s also filled with salt, which is something that is lost when you sweat and needs to be replenished. It has a high caloric intake as well.
- Instant Oatmeal: Who doesn’t love a good bowl of Quaker Oats, especially the kind with cream and fruit? Yum! Instant oatmeal provides calories, sugar, and is compact and easy to cook.
- Oatmeal Fruit Pouches: These are usually found in kids’ lunchboxes, but they actually are a great snack to have with you on the trail. Although they don’t pack a huge punch in the calorie department, they do provide sugars and essential nutrients that can help sustain you on your hike. Some brands, like Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze, offers choices with chia, flax, and quinoa to add a powerful nutrient-dense punch to your trail snack.
- Granola: Whether it is in a pouch or in a bar, granola is another tasty, easy to carry treat that is perfect for backpacking. Granola also comes in a variety of flavors, so you can mix and match however your taste buds desire.
- Fruit and Nuts: Trail mix is not named trail mix for no reason! Dried fruits and nuts are a great, handy snack to have on the trail and they are high in calories.
- Energy or Protein bars: These are probably the best items you can have in your bag because of the sheer amount of goodness that these provide for your body. They not only have calories, protein, sugars, and salt, but they usually have a full day of vitamins and other essential nutrients packed in.
- Peanut Butter Packets: Peanut butter, sun butter, almond butter, and sunflower butter are all great sources of protein and now many companies offer single-serving sized packets of these items, which are great for throwing in your backpack.
If you need to be a little more fancy, there is always the option of dried foods that can be rehydrated with water and a cook stove. Here are a few examples:
- Dehydrated hummus: This is a great, protein-packed snack that can be thrown in your pack along with crackers, pita, or tortillas to soak it up.
- Dehydrated mashed potatoes: Okay, this is a favorite. Just add the right amount of water to how fluffy you want these bad boys and you will have an instant snack that makes you feel like you are sitting in your grandma’s kitchen.
- Powdered milk: This can always come in handy because it contains whey, which is a great source of calcium and protein.
- Brand name dehydrated meals: Companies like Good to Go, Mountain House, and Harmony House all offer dehydrated meals that can be an easy go-to for an overnight hiking trip.
Finally, hydration. Don’t forget to stay hydrated when you are out on the trail. Simple water is a great hydrator, but can be a bit boring after a while. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem:
- Coffee: There are powdered coffee packets that just need water added to make them drinkable.
- Tea: Again, a teabag is an easy, simple solution to the hydration boredom.
- Nuun: Nuun are tablets that when added to water create a yummy drink packed full of electrolytes!
Don’t feel like you have to break the bank to make backpacking nutrition work for you. There are many options, even more than the ones listed above, but if you use this as a quick, simple guide to getting started with your nutrition, you will be off on the right foot. Don’t forget to test your nutrition and what works well for you, including amounts of food needed, space to put the food, etc., on short trips before taking off on a long adventure. Happy trails!