Arguably, food occupies the most brain space when it comes to backpacking trip planning. What will you eat on a multiday hike? How much should you pack? Fresh or dried? Hot food or stoveless? There’s so much to consider to appropriately fuel you while keeping pack weight low.
And if you’ve ever planned a long-distance hike, you know food recommendations are sort of the same-old, same-old: tortillas, bagels, peanut butter, tuna packets, honey buns, ramen. Ugh, ramen.
We revisited trail recipes to refresh and inspire the tent-side palate. (There’s so many great resources available! More below.) Check out these must-try menu items and comment with your own favorites.
GMC Field Supervisor Kati Christoffel recommends mixing these ingredients for a one-pot dinner: ramen noodle soup, spicy tuna (from the packet), a handful of nuts and dried fruits, and peanut butter. “It sounds gross, but tastes so good in the backcountry,” she says.
“When thru-hiking, I ate a lot of ‘ramen bombs,’ which are some combination of ramen, instant mashed potatoes, a tuna packet, and Knorr’s rice side,” says GMC Outreach & Field Coordinator John Plummer
Committed to ramen? Try these four ramen revamps for a bit more spice.
Facebook community member Margaret Daly recommends peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwiches, while Kat Ellis suggests peanut butter and thick cut beef jerky on naan for “salty sweet deliciousness.”
Tracy Sherbrook, another Facebook community member, loves a hummus wrap. “We used a dried hummus mix reconstituted, [which is] nice because you can make it thicker and more substantial. Add some of the sundried tomato oil, too. I even found some little packets of lemon juice to add. You can, of course, add other good stuff to your taste.”
“Overnight oats are an effortless breakfast,” says GMC Communications Coordinator Angie Hilsman. Add oats, filtered water, and chia seeds to a sealed container at night. The chia and oats soak up the water without having to cook them. In the morning, stir in honey, raisins, and cinnamon –or whatever other flavors you enjoy.
Worth the Extra Weight
“A frying pan,” says GMC Executive Director Mike Debonis. “Modern camping pans don’t weigh very much and can greatly expand your backcountry cooking options.” Mike recommends this JetBoil Summit Skillet.
Try Mike’s veggie burger bagel melt!
- Use the frying pan to toast a halved bagel and to cook the burger. Assemble a single or double stack held together with cheddar cheese.
- Add a little water to the pan to create steam and cover with a lid or plate. Cook the whole thing together until it’s warm and the cheese is melted.
- Add generous amounts of Cholula hot sauce to season.
“My favorite after work snacks on crew [included] a big spoon of peanut butter hollowed out to support a puddle of syrup,” says now Field Supervisor Rosalie Sharp. She also enjoyed a slice of cheddar cheese with a raw garlic clove and hot sauce… cracker optional, she says.
Looking for something a little less risky? Mike recommends moon cheese. “Crunchy cheese in a bag that never goes bad. What’s not to like?” he asks.
Check out the 2021 field staff’s favorite trail snacks in last week’s blog.
“I splurge on fancy hot cocoa when camping,” says Mike. “Spicy Aztec from Lake Champlain Chocolates is a favorite.”
“I also always need a coffee in the morning,” says Visitor Center Manager Amy Potter. Her go-to? Starbucks instant coffee packets.
We’re also really curious to try this Sherpa butter tea, made with black tea and ghee. Give it a try!
While honey buns and chocolate bars could never get boring, it’s fun to mix up the routine with a hard-earned sweet. Show off your trail savvy: prep this rice pudding at home and enjoy it during a sunset view, or treat yourself to these chocolate mangoes after a hard climb.
Accommodating a Dietary Need or Allergy
The best thing about this lentil curry recipe is not that it’s vegan, but it’s a protein-packed, one-pot meal that’s perfect for backpacking.
If you’re seeking a breakfast bar with a shelf life, try making your own! This vegan Barista bar recipe includes ¼ cup ground coffee, so you’ll be wired for the morning. Linda Hagstrom, a Facebook community member, adds an egg to the mix before baking. Try it out and let us know what you think!
Prepping for an alternative diet or allergy can be tricky. Get recipes, ideas, and info on vegan backpacking here.
Homemade gorp is a regular feature on trails, but style it like a Vermonter with this maple glazed trail mix recipe.
- Starting off with backcountry meals? Check here for more about pantry basics, calorie needs, and resupplying.
- Interested in dehydrating food ahead of time? Find dehydrated recipes here, from beef alfredo to banana chips.
- Tap into the expert minds. These recipes were built by and for thru-hikers.
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