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Home Forums Campfire What essential hiking food should one take?

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    I was wondering if you can tell us about what foods you recommend someone to take to a hike for a 1 day trip or say a 4 day trip.

    Jeff Hester

    It really depends on what you like, and how much work you want to put into it.

    I’ll share my own approach.

    For a one day trip (I’m assuming overnight) I don’t worry as much about keeping the weight down. In fact, I often get crazy and bring things you normally would never bring (a fresh melon, hamburger, eggs, etc.).

    For a longer trip, you need to consider both weight and freshness. You don’t have a refrigerator in your pack, so things like fresh meat are usually out of the question. Usually what I do is something like this:


    Quaker 1-Minute Oatmeal. I get the big cylinder and measure out 1/2 cup of oats, then add to that brown sugar, dried cranberries, cinnamon, a dash of salt and some nuts. For breakfast, I add one cup of bowling water, wait a few minutes, stir and enjoy. This is usually washed down with instant coffee (I like Starbucks Via) or tea.


    Since it’s usually a break in the hiking, I opt for something that doesn’t require any cooking. Cheese and salami will both keep for 4 days pretty easily. Ry-crisp crackers with tuna salad (those foil packages work well). Trail mix, or a Clif bar. Sometimes I get a little tired of plain water, so I have a powdered mix for tea, lemonade, etc.


    The easiest solution (and my preference) is prepackaged, dehydrated meals. You can get them at REI or online. They come in foil pouches, and you just boil water, pour the measured amount into the pouch, seal it up for the designated time and enjoy. We’ve had pasta, Pad Thai, chili, and all kinds of great meals this way, and clean up  is super easy — just fold up the foil pouch and stow in in your waste bag to pack out. These are a little pricey, but worth it for me.

    If you want to do-it-yourself, you can find a number of cookbooks out there with recipes across the board.

    One final warning — plan for a little variety. That way if you find you don’t like a particular meal, you’re not dreading 3 days of repeats!


    Im still learning but this works for me. its simple and light weight.

    breakfast: oatmeal, breakfast bars,

    lunch: ramen noodles, summer sausage crackers sharp shedder,

    dinner: mountain house.

    snacks: trail mix, sunflower seeds, cliff bars, twix,

    drinks: sports drinks, coffee, hot cocoa, tea and coffee.

    Rachel Sciacca

    I overdid it on oatmeal a few years ago and can’t eat it anymore, so for a 1 day trip I like to pack some hard boiled eggs and eat those (as long as it’s not terribly hot out) for breakfast. They’re big and clunky to pack, but really not all that heavy, and you’re basically going to carry the same amount of weight for a 1 day trip as a 2 day trip – slightly more for food, but not enough to matter much. They hold up pretty well as long as you leave them in their shell. For longer trips I usually get the dehydrated breakfast meals – some require that you add water, and then heat it on a saucepan but to save the mess, I normally just put the actual bag in the boiling water with a small slit open to steam it. Works out pretty well!

    Lunch I usually go for a stick of salami and some hard cheeses that hold up well. Another idea is tortillas and cream cheese. Costco sells these individual packages of cream cheese and they’re great on a tortilla. You can also buy Justin’s peanut butter packs and add those to the mix. The latter is great for longer trips – everything packs real small and it’s very filling. The salami and cheese would be good for the first day or two.

    For dinner, I agree with Jeff – for weight and convenience, the prepackaged dehydrated meals are the best. They’ve come real far in taste – I get mine from or – the chili cheese pasta is amazing, so is the alfredo pasta. Sometimes, I’ll get the pre-cooked lentils from trader joes, some rice/quinoa in the packets that are mostly cooked, and some pre-cooked bacon – mix it all together with a little water over heat, add some seasoning…and it’s pretty delicious and very high in protein.

    For snacks, I sadly really like to get the old school sticks and cheese we used to have in elementary school. They pack small and light, and they’re a nice little treat and hold up well. I also bring protein bars and jerky, and usually some energy chews – my favorite are the Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade. They’re great for a bit of sweetness.

    The pre-packaged dehydrated desserts are usually pretty tasty too! And for nighttime, I do like to enjoy a little whisky or scotch, and one of our favorite things is to bring little packs of cider powder, heat that in some water, and add some whisky. It’s great for colder nights!

    Happy trekking!


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