Backpacking Food Basics

8 Fantastic Foods for Backpackers

Go beyond granola bars and make these energy-rich essentials part of your trail diet.


The Tarahumara barefoot runners (made famous in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run) use chia seeds as an energy supplement, and for good…

The Tarahumara barefoot runners (made famous in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run) use chia seeds as an energy supplement, and for good reason: The seeds are chock-full of calcium, Omega-3s, antioxidants, and they’ll give even give you an energy boost. Sprinkle them in your oatmeal, add them to your smoothie, or just eat them plain. [image: Health Gauge / Flickr]

Best foods for backpackers

Peanut butter gets a bad rap sometimes because it’s so high in saturated fat (each spoonful contains 3.3 grams). But don’t let that scare you. The spread packs a protein punch and the portability can’t be beat. Plus, Harvard scientists have found that peanut butter can help reduce the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. [image: mrsdkrebs / Flickr]

Even if you guiltily treat trail mix as \

Even if you guiltily treat trail mix as “M&Ms with obstacles,” there’s no harm in a little indulgence on the trail. Chocolate is packed with carbs and protein that your body needs in spades. Plus, it tastes delicious, staves off energy crashes, and weighs next to nothing (unless you’re bringing a whole satchel of it, that is). Opt for dark chocolate to max out on heart-health flavinols and antioxidants. [image: John Loo / Flickr]

Best Foods for Backpackers - Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans

As long as we’re on the subject of chocolate, these little babies are just what you need to snap out of the early morning bleariness or a mid-afternoon slump. They’ll deliver a a concentrated jolt of caffeine and save you the trouble of stopping to brew tea or coffee. Just don’t pop too many at once or you’ll be wired well into the wee hours. [image: Nate Steiner / Flickr]

You don't have to give up this breakfast staple just because you're headed to the great outdoors.  To make this protein-rich trail snack safe for…

You don’t have to give up this breakfast staple just because you’re headed to the great outdoors. To make this protein-rich trail snack safe for transport, hard-boil them in advance, then open them up and empty the innards into a well-sealed zip-top bag. [image: bppheonix / Flickr]

Yup, you read that right.  They might not have the most appetizing name, but most nutritional yeasts are loaded with potassium and B12 vitamins,…

Yup, you read that right. They might not have the most appetizing name, but most nutritional yeasts are loaded with potassium and B12 vitamins, making them especially great for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, they’re an easily portable dry ingredient that adds dairy flavor to noodles, sandwiches, or popcorn. [image: watashiwani / Flickr]

Best Foods for Backpackers

Carnivores, take heart: Salami is calorie-dense and rich in protein and fat, making it the perfect energy boost for a summit push. And like other cured meats, it will keep for between 3-4 days on the trail. [image: jesuez471 / Flickr]

Quite possibly the world's perfect grain, quinoa pairs nicely with a cut of meat and can even sub in as a lighter alternative to pasta, beans, and…

Quite possibly the world’s perfect grain, quinoa pairs nicely with a cut of meat and can even sub in as a lighter alternative to pasta, beans, and rice. Packed with protein, calcium, and dietary fiber, we were sold even before the United Nations declared 2013 to be the “International Year of Quinoa.” [image: Wikimedia Commons]