The 10 Best Backpacking Foods

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in February of 2018. On any expedition, your body needs meals with plenty of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients to keep you energized and fit. The right mix of calorie-dense snack foods and hearty, nourishing, freeze-dried meals can keep hikers going strong on backpacking trips of any length, without weighing them down, taking up too much space in their packs, or costing a fortune. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Peak Refuel

2. Daily Nuts & Fruits Bulk

3. Mountain House Beef Stroganoff

Editor's Notes

May 08, 2020:

Both calories per ounce and cost per calorie are extremely important considerations when planning your backpacking meals. For that reason, we'd suggest one of the varieties of Daily Nuts & Fruits Bulk for almost any trip. I've personally been fueled by nothing but nuts, fruits, and jerky on quite a few of my short- to middle-distance trips and found that varied trail mix provides plenty of interesting, healthy, and high-calorie snacking, even while you're actively walking down the trail. If that brand doesn't excite you, Happy Belly Trail Mix also has a number of flavors to choose from. Alternately, the Clif Bar Variety Pack comes with several types of the protein bar that's basically become synonymous with outdoor adventuring. All of these have the advantages of being calorically dense, so they won't add much weight or bulk to your backpack.

But if you're okay with bringing along a backpacking stove, there's a wide variety of dried meals that, with the addition of hot water, become hearty, delicious, and satisfying dinners. Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, Mountain House Biscuits & Gravy, and Mountain House Blueberry Granola are all particularly renowned as some of the best-tasting options from an incredibly popular and experienced company. While their manufacturers aren't quite as well known, Good To-Go Smoked Three Bean Chili and Backpacker's Pantry Lasagna are both excellent vegetarian options, if a bit pricey. Peak Refuel, on the other hand, offers plenty of flavor, a good balance of cost and nourishment, and decent variety. If you're specifically concerned about saving money, consider Knorr Rice Sides, which take longer to cook as they aren't freeze dried, but are highly economical and easier to clean up after than the same company's pasta sides.

Special Honors

Packit Gourment Ask a seasoned through-hiker their favorite brands of freeze-dried meals and many of them will include Packit on the list. They cook quickly, are highly nutritious, and pack a ton of flavor, allowing them to help satisfy your tired body and your taste buds after a long day on the trail.

4. Clif Bar Variety Pack

5. Mountain House Biscuits & Gravy

6. Happy Belly Trail Mix

7. Mountain House Blueberry Granola

8. Backpacker's Pantry Lasagna

9. Knorr Rice Sides

10. Good To-Go Smoked Three Bean Chili

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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