When you are out hiking or backpacking, it is important to plan your meals carefully. In order to replenish the energy you are expending you need to maintain good nutrition. At the same time, however, your meals need to be lightweight, easily carried, and easily prepared. Waste reduction is also something to keep in mind, as you will need to carry your waste around with you. The more you hike, the more you will experiment and become more confident with your own favorite meal choices. The following tips and hiking recipes will be helpful when planning your next backpacking trip.

Maintaining Nutrition

If you select the right foods for your backpacking trip, it is not necessary to take any vitamins or other supplements. In order prevent weight loss, it is important to seriously gauge how much food you need to bring on your hiking trip. Packing light will be key, but running low on calories, especially when hiking for longer occasions, is most certainly not a good idea. For a 160-pound male, 1.5-2 pounds of food per day should be satisfactory for a moderate-level backpacking trip. Taking 125-130 calories per ounce of food is a good guideline for caloric density. It is important to think about your own weight, metabolism, shape, mood, and alertness, as well as the level of skill necessary for the trip, the elevation gain, altitude, and temperature. If your goal is weight loss, then you should be able to plan accordingly, while at the same time adhering to your own health standards. Hiking snacks such as energy bars, GORP, soy jerky, and peanut butter are good ideas for boosting your caloric intake. Dried fruit also adds necessary nutrition like fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.


Hiking recipes that are easy to prepare are very helpful for backpacking trips, as you won’t need to carry around the extra weight of unnecessary items. Many recipes involve just adding hot water to already dehydrated foods, such as oatmeal with blueberries, or noodle soups. Dry, powdered milk is also quite handy on backpacking trips, instead of regular, perishable milk. Freeze-dried or dehydrated products are an easy option, as many meals are available for purchase online or in outdoor recreational stores. Make sure to watch out for meals with high amounts of sodium or low nutritional content, however. One thing to keep in mind is waste—try not to bring any canned items, as you will then need to carry the cans around with you for the remainder of the trip!

Hiking Recipes

Creating your own backpacking meals can be fun and easy, as long as you remember certain guidelines. Be creative with your meals—try new combinations of food, as you will be carrying everything around with you in your backpack. This is the one time you can try new things! One dinner recipe for Mexican chicken and rice involves mixing all of the dry ingredients at home, including rice, soup mix, and seasoning, then boiling it in water at the camp site. If you would like, you can add a can of chicken to this recipe. Trail mix, such as GORP, will always be a useful recipe, as it is easy to store, easy to eat, and easy to prepare. Adding a mixture of dried fruits, seeds, pretzels, granola, and chocolate chips or M&M candies, and other optional ingredients such as coconut and sesame sticks, will give you a fun, tasty, nutrient-filled recipe to use throughout your trip.

By making your own backpacking meals, you can save money, as well as increase the nutritional value, especially if you’d like to go vegetarian or vegan. If you make sure to keep in mind nutrition, calorie density, preparation, and waste production, then your backpacking trip will be complete with the best meals—just be creative! Try new things, and you will see how exciting a backpacking trip can be with the right meals!