hiking food

hiking foodIt doesn’t mat­ter if you are going on a day hike or a week-long back­pack­ing trip; you will need to pack food and water to take with you.

Don’t put your­self in a sit­u­a­tion where you might end up dehy­drat­ed or hun­gry in the wilder­ness. Here are six things you should con­sid­er to make sure you pack nour­ish­ing, healthy food that will keep you safe on your next hike.

How Much Food Should You Pack?
How much food you need to pack will depend on a few fac­tors, such as how long you are going for, how old you are, how many peo­ple are going, and the cli­mate (if the weath­er is cold­er you will eat more). A good guide is to pack three meals and two snacks per per­son per day, which should be between 0.9kg and 1kg of food.

When Should You Eat?
Hik­ers should try to snack reg­u­lar­ly instead of just eat­ing three big meals. Big meals might make you feel sleepy and uncom­fort­able, which defeats the pur­pose of your whole excur­sion. Small, reg­u­lar snacks every two hours will help to keep your ener­gy lev­els up, and it is bet­ter for your diges­tive sys­tem as you are doing a stren­u­ous phys­i­cal activ­i­ty as you eat.

To make reg­u­lar snack­ing easy, remem­ber to put your food at the top of your bag so it is easy to access.

How Much Water Should You Bring?
Water is the most impor­tant thing you will bring with you on a hike. You should try to pack around two cups of water for each hour of hik­ing, so if you are hik­ing for five hours you should pack around 10 cups of water. It is also use­ful to drink a few cups of water before you set off so that you are hydrat­ed when you start.

What Kind Of Food Should You Pack?
To keep your ener­gy lev­els up you will need to eat a mix­ture of pro­teins, fats, and car­bo­hy­drates. Your food should be well-bal­anced; around 50% should be car­bo­hy­drates, 35% should be fats and 15% should be protein.

Pack­ing Food For A Day Trip
If you’re pack­ing food for a day trip you can bring per­ish­able foods like sand­wich­es and pas­tries, but you may need to bring an icepack along to keep them cold—especially if you are hik­ing in sum­mer. Before hik­ing, it is best to pack light-weight food that con­tains lots of nutri­ents, such as trail mix, ener­gy bars, gra­nola bars, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, tuna sal­ads, meat jerky, and tortillas.

Pack­ing Food For A Mul­ti-day Trip
If your hik­ing trip will last a few days, you need to spend more time think­ing about what food you should pack. You can bring per­ish­able foods for the first day, but after that, you will need to have a meal plan for each day. Pack food that doesn’t need to be kept cool, such as ener­gy bars, cere­al, veg­eta­bles, fruit puree, dried pas­ta, rice and cous­cous, dried soup, or meat and fish pouches.


©istockphoto/sliper84Sum­mer is the sea­son for sleep­ing under the stars, throw­ing burg­ers on the grill, and sip­ping on your favorite bev­er­age. Whether you’re hang­ing out in the back­yard, back­pack­ing through alpine won­der­lands, or camp­ing out down by the riv­er, try these fun ideas for our favorite camp beverages.

Car Camp­ing
If you’re car camp­ing, con­sid­er invest­ing in an insu­lat­ed, dou­ble-walled stain­less steel growler to keep beer, cider, or car­bon­at­ed kom­bucha fresh and cold. If you’re going to be out for more than a cou­ple of days, try turn­ing your growler into a per­son­al keg! Just look for a growler that offers a lid with portable CO2 car­tridges and a hose so you can pre­serve your beer’s car­bon­a­tion after tapping.

Back­yard Bonfire
If you’re hang­ing out around a back­yard bon­fire, add a splash of bour­bon or Kahlua to your mug of hot choco­late. For added style points, top your toasty drink with a per­fect­ly gold­en-brown marshmallow—just don’t burn your mouth!

If you’re plan­ning an alpine expe­di­tion, pack a flask of some­thing from the top shelf. Most peo­ple find that drink­ing at alti­tude isn’t as much fun as it sounds, because it ham­pers acclima­ti­za­tion and can cause heart­burn and headaches. But experts agree that when you’ve returned from your suc­cess­ful sum­mit bid, one or two sips of some­thing deli­cious is good for the soul.

The Lake
If you’re spend­ing an after­noon at the lake, make san­gria! Before you leave home, chop up what­ev­er fruit is on hand, then scoop it into a plas­tic bot­tle and add vod­ka. Trans­port it on ice in a cool­er, and when­ev­er you’re ready to drink it, add wine, juice, or sparkling water and gar­nish with more fresh fruit. Enjoy!

If you’re camp­ing in the woods, look for fresh berries (make sure they’re not the poi­so­nous kind). Dou­ble-check to make sure they’re edi­ble, then for­age for a hand­ful of the ripest ones. Put them in a jar, add tequi­la, and wait as long as you can. If you can find snow, add a hand­ful to make a mar­gari­ta! Oth­er­wise, cool your con­coc­tion in a riv­er or stream, then enjoy.

If you’re head­ing to the beach, make grown-up Capri Suns. Mix fruit juice or punch with vod­ka or rum, then pour indi­vid­ual serv­ings into Ziploc bags and freeze overnight. Trans­port the frozen bags on ice in a cool­er, then serve by unzip­ping the Ziplock a cou­ple of mil­lime­ters and slip­ping a straw inside.

If you’re going ultra­light, invest in some pow­dered apple cider, hot choco­late or chai tea. Add warm water, then a splash of your favorite whiskey or rum.

Remem­ber: these ideas are just intend­ed as inspi­ra­tion! Feel free to give each recipe your own spin. After all, the inven­tion is the spice of life! And as always, please drink respon­si­bly. When in the back­coun­try, use extra cau­tion: stay well-hydrat­ed, make sure you’re in a safe place, and nev­er, ever dri­ve when you’ve been drinking. 

©istockphoto/wundervisualsThe next time you head out on the trail, leave the squashed sand­wich­es at home. With these cre­ative trail snacks, you’ll be eat­ing like a pro on your next adventure.

To enjoy this pro­tein-rich Mid­dle East­ern clas­sic in the back­coun­try, look for a dehy­drat­ed ver­sion at your local health food store or online. Sim­ply mix the pow­der with plen­ty of water, stir well, and enjoy with pita bread or car­rot slices.

Nut But­ter
Peanut but­ter is a clas­sic, but these days there are oth­er options to explore: cashews, almonds, wal­nuts, and sun­flower seeds are all being craft­ed into mouth-water­ing, high-pro­tein blends. Just be sure to check with your group for aller­gies, and avoid glass jars. Look for sin­gle-serv­ing pack­ets or mul­ti-serv­ing pouches.

Snick­ers Bars
They’re avail­able at almost every gas sta­tion, are tasti­er and cheap­er than pro­tein bars, and offer more nutri­ents than any oth­er can­dy bar. Plus: they’re deli­cious. It’s a per­fect trail snack.

Fresh fruit always tastes good on the trail, but del­i­cate pro­duce can eas­i­ly get bruised in the bot­tom of a back­pack. Apples are the hardi­est option, and can sur­vive sev­er­al days. They’re not dense in calo­ries, but the crisp, refresh­ing taste is often worth the wait. Pro-tip: add nut butter.

Peanut but­ter and jelly
This tried-and-true sand­wich is a clas­sic for a reason—the jel­ly gives an instant burst of ener­gy, while the peanut but­ter packs a pro­tein punch that’ll keep you going for hours. Pro tip: try swap­ping bread for a whole-grain tortilla.

Store-bought options abound, but zeal­ous hik­ers often invest in dehy­dra­tors and exper­i­ment with mak­ing their own.

Cold Piz­za
If you’re just out hik­ing for the day, noth­ing tops a slice. And there’s noth­ing easier—just wrap in alu­minum foil and toss it in your pack. (Just be care­ful with meat if you don’t have a way to keep food cold.) Bonus: because the bread and cheese pro­vide nec­es­sary car­bo­hy­drates, pro­tein, and fat, you can indulge guilt-free.

Trail Mix
Most peo­ple asso­ciate trail mix with raisins and peanuts, but expe­ri­enced back­coun­try trav­el­ers know how to get cre­ative. Try vis­it­ing the bulk foods depart­ment of your local mar­ket, or buy ingre­di­ents indi­vid­u­al­ly to make your own mix. The sky’s the lim­it! Think: dark choco­late chips, yogurt-cov­ered espres­so beans, dried blue­ber­ries, banana chips, peanut but­ter pret­zels. Kids can even make their own combinations.

Tuna and Crackers
If you only buy tuna in cans, you’ve prob­a­bly assumed it’s too heavy to take on the trail. But in foil pouch­es, it’s the per­fect lunch. Pack crack­ers in a crush-proof plas­tic con­tain­er, and be sure to include a Ziplock bag for aro­mat­ic leftovers.

Dark Choco­late
It’s the per­fect ener­gy food: sug­ar, fat, and a lit­tle bit of caf­feine. And who doesn’t love a hik­ing part­ner who loves chocolate?

Always use prop­er food safe­ty han­dling tech­niques when pack­ing for the back­coun­try. Read about the prin­ci­ples of Leave No Trace here.

Eating Well

Eating Well

We’ve all suf­fered through mediocre meals in the name of back­pack­ing. Here’s five ideas to help spice up your camp­site cook­ing routine. 


Rosemary1. Fresh­en up

Fresh herbs like basil, rose­mary, and pars­ley can last for days in your pack. Lay­er herbs between paper tow­els and store in an air­tight bag. Add to your meal or chew on a basil leaf for a refresh­ing taste.


 Cheese2. Get Cheesy

Stock up on high-qual­i­ty hard cheeses like parme­san or romano, which can go unre­frig­er­at­ed for extend­ed peri­ods of time. Eat with crack­ers or shred over oat­meal for a savory breakfast.


 Pasta Salad3. Trust the pros

If you don’t have the tools to dehy­drate your own meals, or don’t trust your cook­ing to keep you sat­is­fied, try jazz­ing up ready-made meals. Re-pack­age boxed pas­tas with addi­tion­al freeze-dried veg­gies and sala­mi for a reliable—and delicious—dinner.


 Egg Carrier4. So long pow­dered eggs

Organ­ic eggs from pas­tured chick­ens are safe at room tem­per­a­ture for a few days. Invest in a three-dol­lar egg car­ri­er and for­get about pow­dered egg omelets. Just make sure you trust the farm where the eggs are com­ing from, some organ­ic sources are still sus­cep­ti­ble to salmonella.


Candy Bar5. Indulge

Do you secret­ly love pack­aged moon pies and kit kats? Pack ‘em. You’ll be thank­ful for old favorites out on the trail. Just make sure to bal­ance treats with high-pro­tein, whole-grain meals to avoid burn­ing out.