Packing for a day trip or for multiple days on the trail? Here are a ton of tasty, nutritious, energy rich meals and snacks to help with meal planning. From the basics to gourmet, here are the best 50+ easy, no cook backpacking food, meals and ideas you can make ahead and eat like a champ on the trail.
- Top 10 Tips For The Perfect Back Country Meal Plan
- More Hiking And Snack Ideas
- Muffins - Sweet + Savory
- Trail Mix, The Backpacking Classic
- Energy Balls
- Bars + Cookies
- No Refrigeration Needed
- Hearty Sandwiches + Wraps
- Easy, Unique Trail Snacks
- Fruit Leather + Roll Ups
- Overnight Oats
- Snack Boxes + Charcuterie Boxes
- Salad To Go
- More Easy-To-Pack Snacks
- Pin It To Save For Next Time
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These recipes and ideas are easy and lightweight. All can be made ahead but if weight is an issue, there are some that can be left dry until eating if you'll have a good water source to use where you are backpacking. I love hiking and on the Pacific coast, we have no shortage of water but if you are in other areas, be sure to check where (and if) there are reliable sources of water along your trip. There are lots of options that won't require any prep or water added if you want everything ready to eat before you go.
Top 10 Tips For The Perfect Back Country Meal Plan
Don't discount your favorite meals and hot meals. When you've hiked all day and you are hungry, you'll thank yourself for packing your favorite foods. Dining in nature is part of the joy! Weight is a big consideration if it is a multi day hike, so you'll want to choose lightweight foods. A combination of sweet and savory is important too. A hot dinner is welcome and a hearty, savory lunch is nearly essential.
Along with these ideas, don't forget anything you need to prepare or eat your food. A lighter for fire, a pot to boil water, a spoon, fork and knife for eating and cutting and a cloth to wash are all important.
- Water - Pack 1 liter for every 2 hours hiking. For hikes longer than a day, plan out water sources along the way and pack enough water for essential drinking in case water sources have gone dry, a risk during summer hikes. If planning to source water on the way, pack water purifying tablets, lightweight water purifiers, or a pot to boil water for 1-3 minutes before using.
- Breakfast - Muffins are great, as is overnight oats. Instant oatmeal packets and dried fruit hydrated with boiling water make an especially tasty and warm wakeup. Dry cereal with hydrated milk powder is a lightweight, tasty cold breakfast too.
- Snacks - High energy snacks are essential to keep you going and keep you in good spirits. Whether store bought or homemade these snacks last and don't need refrigeration. Trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, muffins, hard cheese and crackers, nuts, pepperoni, salmon jerky, beef jerky, fruit roll ups, dried fruit and vacuum sealed chicken and tuna salad packs are all easy snacks for the trail. Mozzarella cheese strings, sliced cheddar cheese, banana chips and fresh veggies are good choices too. Chocolate covered espresso beans are a fun, energy rich snack too! Bring more than you think you need, they are handy for emergencies.
- Lunch - A no cook lunch is easiest so you can take a break without having to build a fire. A satisfying lunch is savory with lots of flavor and texture. While some might just eat a meal bar and carry on, my mountaineering, foodie brother did not tolerate that. He knew the morale boosting value of a delicious and hearty lunch. For day one, a sandwich with meat and cheese is great, for subsequent days, pre packed vegan sandwiches or other shelf stable ingredients are great. Pickled eggs keep well and vegetarian protein packs with hard cheese, fruit, veg and crackers are a gourmet treat. The savory feta and spinach muffins below are an easy lunch option too.
- Dinner - You may easily have a cold lunch but if you're not hiking in the summer months, you'll definitely appreciate a hot dinner. Dehydrated meals, soup packets and instant ramen noodles are easy but bring some tasty add-ins to dress them up. Fresh vegetables pre-chopped, freeze dried veggies or dried mushrooms added to ramen make it much more satisfying. Foil sealed packs of chicken, salmon, tuna or even Spam are a tasty protein alongside soup or in a bun with any cheese or shredded veggies you brought. Small takeout packets of mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce or soy sauce are perfect for adding more flavor too.
- Drinks - Water is great, in fact the best drink to have while hiking but in the evening you might like tea or cocoa. Herbal or black tea bags and cocoa powder take almost no space and weigh almost nothing. You can get juice crystals or electrolyte packets too if you like some more flavor in your water. For the morning, coffee grounds if you've brought a pot and strainer or French press. If not, bring instant coffee. There are some great instant coffees in recent years, my brother swears by the Starbucks instant coffee. Bring some milk powder or Coffeemate if you like. Milk powder does double duty for morning cereal too.
- Sweets - Sweets are a no-brainer for many because they are quick energy, but if you're like me and you tend to the savory, remember to bring some sweet treats too, you'll want them at some point, usually evening. A chocolatey or fruity muffin, dark chocolate bar, energy balls, or some hot chocolate mix. A sweet treat before bed will help you sleep well and have plenty of energy for the next day.
- Emergency Snacks - These are the extras you might not normally eat or plan for but are essential in many cases. Your hike took longer? You got lost? You found hungry hikers? There are more scenarios too but the point is to bring a few high calorie, lightweight and shelf stable foods that can be employed in any emergency. (An emergency foil blanket is a great item to bring too.)
- Secure Your Food - If camping overnight, you will likely need to store your food securely from small critters or large. Research where you are going to see if there are metal boxes or if you'll need to bring some rope to hang your food packs up in a tree at night or carry a bear canister for food storage. For long trips, freeze-dried meals are convenient and scent-free until opened, so they're less likely to attract insects and animals.
- Minimize Packaging - To keep the trails beautiful for everyone and minimize attracting rodents, pack out any and all packaging and garbage. To keep it to a minimum, remove any extra, unnecessary packaging from food and snacks before you go.
More Hiking And Snack Ideas
Muffins - Sweet + Savory
Muffins are one of the best and most versatile foods for a day of hiking. With no need to refrigerate, they keep well for up to a week and they make a quick meal for breakfast, snack, or treat. Go sweet or savory with fruits or veggies and enjoy a high protein, high fiber muffin made with Greek yogurt, eggs, or even feta cheese.
Trail Mix, The Backpacking Classic
Trail mix is the perfect hand held snack to eat as you hike and it is what you make it so pick your favorite bites. Go salty, sweet or a combination. Here are some favorites to give you some inspiration. Pack in plastic bags that get folded up at the bottom of your bag once empty.
A modern classic, energy balls are tasty little bites with big nutritional value. These are made with nutrient dense, wholesome ingredients. Choose your favourite flavors like chocolate, coconut, peanut butter, almonds or pumpkin pie flavors and make a batch for your next backpacking trip.
Bars + Cookies
Energy is key. Bars and cookies are always a good idea. They're a great source of energy and so easy to nosh while you walk. Choose your favorite flavor from no-bake or prebaked. Cookies keep well for long trips and are great washed down with refreshing cold water.
No Refrigeration Needed
If it's going to be hot and you're going on a long hike, you'll want some easy no cook lunch ideas that can handle not being on ice through the day. These no cook sandwiches and wraps fit the bill. Wrap them up for a delicious lunch and savory dinner with no cooking or prep at camp required.
Hearty Sandwiches + Wraps
These hearty meals are filled with so much fuel for your day. A great make-ahead, no cook meal, these are best for the first day of hiking. If you can keep them chilled, they can be good for up to 3 days. These sandwiches are some of my favorite things to pack for lunch or dinner because they are so delicious. These pair up great with lightweight potato or tortilla chips, or a side of dried fruit.
Easy, Unique Trail Snacks
Sweet and savory stuffed dates are a tasty vegan treat that lasts well on the trail as are chocolate covered oranges. Unexpected, nutrient rich flavor bombs that you'll be glad you packed.
Fruit Leather + Roll Ups
Make these tasty fruit snacks on dehydrator trays in the oven on low or in a dehydrator. These get your taste buds going with fresh fruit flavor (and fiber) in a lightweight package.
Cold soaking oats with fruit or nuts make great complex carbohydrates for long days on the trail. Pictured here pretty in glass jars, pack them in plastic containers for backpacking trips to make them more light weight. Also, you can layer these and omit the water (adding purified/boiled water at camp) to keep them even lighter while hiking.
Snack Boxes + Charcuterie Boxes
Like fancy food? Taking your date on a hike? These snack boxes are great no cook backpacking meals for the trail. Fill them with your favorite ingredients and maybe even a mini bottle of wine or sparkling water!
Salad To Go
Salads are great, crunchy and refreshing, especially on hot days. Pack the salad dressing separately to keep your veggies crisp. If using ingredients like mayonnaise, shrimp or chicken, keep them cold or bring canned chicken or shrimp and small mayonnaise packets to open when you're ready to enjoy without having to worry about food safety.
More Easy-To-Pack Snacks
Pickled eggs, hummus, chips and dip are delicious, high protein, flavorful no cook backpacking food for trail or camp. You can pre make them at home or bring store bought versions like dehydrated hummus.
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Check out all my delish muffin recipes and bake up a batch for your next backpacking weekend!
I hope you find the perfect no cook backpacking food for your next backpacking trip. One thing my late brother always brought? Moonshine. If you might like a little tipple at the end of the evening, on difficult or multi day hikes, moonshine packs a big punch in a small flask. Drink at your own risk 😉
If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I try to answer any recipe related questions quickly as I know you might be in the middle of making it. Also check out my FREE PRINTABLE meal planner to make menu planning and grocery shopping a breeze. And if you like this recipe, I would love it if you give it a star rating in the recipe card.
Cheers and happy cooking, Friends! Sabrina