Backpacking Food Essentials

Backpacking food can be difficult to pack. You generally have a limited amount of space, plus not very many cooking options. Carefully consider what cooking tools you'll have as well as your available food storage when packing your backpacking food.

Be smart about the type of food that you bring. Your meals when backpacking should be well-balanced. These will sustain you, giving you enough energy for the physical demands that backpacking puts on your body. Stay away from junk food, which will zap your energy and dehydrate you.

Examples of good food to bring backpacking include protein bars, Gorp (which ranges in contents but may include peanuts, raisins, dried fruit and M&M's), jerky, crackers, bagels and peanut butter and cereal (with or without milk). Rice and pasta are great for dinner because they're light but tasty.

Some companies make freeze dried dinners, which are okay, but not ideal. They are generally expensive and high in sodium.

Bring non-perishable items that don't have to be heated, in addition to any food that you may need to cook. The Mountaineers, a group credited with coming up with the "Ten Essentials" of backpacking, suggest bringing a full day's worth of chow as emergency food. This food should not have to be cooked.

You can bring a grill with you if you have the room. A grill makes it easier to cook meals, plus it expands the options of what food you can bring. A grill may be difficult to carry, depending on its size, weight and the distance you are traveling to your campsite. For these reasons, grills tend to be more practical when driving to a campsite.

Water is the most important thing you'll bring with you. Bring enough water for your entire trip, plus extra. If you know you'll be near a water source such as a river, bring a water purifier.

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