Backpacking Food Ideas And Recipes For Different Diets

by Ally Mash | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
Backpacking Food Ideas And Recipes For Different Diets

In this article, we’ll take a look at different types of backpacking foods and recipes for different types of eating habits. More specifically, we’ll focus on backpacking food ideas and recipes that are easy to make, suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and people on a low-carb diet. Lastly, we explain how to pack the food into your backpack the right way.

How To Choose The Best Backpacking Food

If backpacking is something that you are already familiar with, then you probably already have an idea of what type of food to bring backpacking. However, if this is going to be your first time then it’s important that you know the reasoning behind choosing one type of food over the other.

There are several reasons that come into play when choosing the best backpacking food, but these are the most common ones:


Nutrient dense food

Since everything you need during your backpacking trip is in your backpack, the available space for stashing your food will be scarce.

For this reason, it’s best if you pack nutrient-dense food, which means food that contains minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein. By doing this, you ensure that you are able to reach your daily calorie intake and avoid hunger while minimizing the occupied space in your backpack. 

If you are still uncertain how much food to bring backpacking, then definitely check out the following article!

Easy to prepare

Backpacking Food Ideas And Recipes

Given the limited space in your backpack, there’s not a lot of room for packing cooking equipment. As a result, you’ll probably only have a mini camping stove, a pot, a pan, and kitchen utensils at your disposal.

In this case, you are better off with recipes that only require mixing a few ingredients to make a meal or purchasing ready-to-eat backpacking meals. 

If you are interested in learning more about camping cookware, then check out the following article.


Lightweight food

A general rule when packing your backpack is to make sure that the total weight doesn’t exceed 25% of your body mass. This is to reduce the strain in your neck, back, and shoulders when carrying the backpack for prolonged periods.

Thus, every item you pack in your backpack has to be lightweight including the food. A good way to do this is to reduce the moisture in the food by drying it out.

This process is called dehydrating food and yields additional benefits such as longer shelf life and volume reduction.

Long shelf life

The importance of packing food with a long expiration date becomes prevalent the longer your backpacking trip lasts. There are several food preservation methods, but the ones that are the best fitting for backpacking are food dehydration and vacuum sealing.

That said, in this article, we’ll be focusing on foods with long expiration dates.

Backpacking Food Ideas And Recipes

Similar to our article on camping food ideas and recipes, we’ll be suggesting backpacking food ideas and recipes based on different types of diets. Also, the suggested foods comply with the criteria mentioned above when choosing the best backpacking food.

No-cook backpacking meals

Plant based backpacking meals: Ideal for vegans and vegetarians

Low carb backpacking meals

How To Pack Food For Backpacking

Once you have chosen the type of backpacking food that best suits you, it’s time for packing the food into your backpack. 

The best way to approach this is by first laying out all the food on a flat surface. If possible you should arrange the food based on the daily portions. This will give you an idea of whether you have packed enough food with you for each day on the trip. Once again, if you are uncertain about how much food you should be taking with you, then definitely check out this article

The next step is repackaging your daily portions into reusable food storage bags. In most cases, the food and sandwich bags will suffice for storing your meals while the smaller bags will be more adequate for snacks. The longer the trip, the better it is to keep backpacking food air and watertight as well.

Therefore, consider packing your food into reusable vacuum storage bags as well. This trick definitely comes in handy if you are planning on doing kayak camping now or in the future as well. Since you will be repackaging different ingredients together to form a meal in the future, consider packing the ingredients with a piece of toilet paper detailing the recipe.

The benefit of this is that you can still use the piece of toilet paper once you are done following the instructions. 

The last step is packing the food in the backpack. When doing this, the main objective is to minimize the influence of the backpack weight on your center of gravity. If your backpacking trip consists of multiple days in the backcountry then the total weight of the food will be relatively heavy when compared to the other gear.

In this case, pack all the food in the center of your backpack and as close to your back as possible in order of consumption.

The following video shows how to keep your food safe from animals such as bears once you set up camp.

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Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.