CAMPING & HIKING

Best Camping Food: What to Prepare for Your Backpacking Adventure

Best Camping Food
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

We all love summer and one of the best parts of this season is when you go on camping. Almost everyone just want to be with loved ones (family, friends, colleagues), spend time to communicate with nature, and live a good life free from any distractions.

With its namesake, you might think camping as a thrifty outdoor activity; however, costs can add up if you are not careful about choosing which foods to bring with you and prepare.

You need to choose the best camping food to keep you energized while in the wilderness. What food should you prepare? Keep reading and we will guide you on this expedition.

Tips in Maximizing The Amount of Calories in The Body While Camping

Since calorie-rich foods are advisable for backpackers and campers, it is best to know how to make the most of the amount of calories you intake while eating nutritious and healthy foods.

Food for camping

Take note of the following tips for your calorie intake.

  • Pack various foods: Eat enough to be energized while on the trail. When you go camping for a group, see to it that each camper has chosen some favorites in the meal. Foods you prepare should be in different tastes to avoid boredom, including salty, crunchy, chewy and sweet.
    Have a balance of these flavors and textures so you can select meals based on your mood and so you will not get sick of whatever you have in your pack.
  • Focus on calorie density: Foods dense with calories are necessary for outdoor enthusiasts. They include the following:
  • Nut butters and nuts: These foods are good sources of fat and protein.
  • Pouches for tuna or salmon: These foods are easily packed and provided you with healthy and lean protein.
  • Cheese: Cheese helps you to keep longer hikes and can be mixed with crackers to make a quick, great meal.
  • Pepperoni and jerky: These foods are available in a wide range of flavors. They come with plenty of meat to keep you energetic throughout the season.
  • Tortillas: These foods are a dense and sturdy option for carbohydrate-rich food. You can actually put anything on your tortilla.
  • Coconut and Olive Oil: Both oils are high in calories required for your weight while on active events. Coconut oil can be blended to oatmeal or can be used in cooking pancakes. Olive, on the other hand, works pretty well for dinners.
  • Keep hydrated on trail walks: Always be reminded of the greatness of drink mixes and powders in adding calories to your weight and in keeping you hydrated.
    It is better to include milk powder, electrolyte mixes and hot chocolate mix in your long-term food kit than tea or coffee.

Other Food Ideas Advisable for Camping

Calorie-containing food aside, you also need other types of food so you will not be left hungry and without any energy on your whole camping trip.

There are actually a number of food ideas you can choose from. Check out some of them below:

Crackers and Bread

These foods are thin, crunchy and sturdy. They are kept fresh for several years provided you tightly seal the bag.

Crackers and Bread for camping

They are also guaranteed GMO-free and gluten-free. They may include:

  • Bagels or pita
  • Corn cakes and rice cakes
  • Whole wheat crackers, rice crackers, and flavored crackers

Spreads

Delicious spreads are great partners for your crackers or even veggies, which are less expensive than ready-made hummus. Great spread selections include:

  • Cream cheese
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter
  • Vegetable pate

Salads

Salads are healthy and a great option for dinner on a hot day in the wild.

Quinoa salad for camping

Examples of salads when you camp are:

  • Quinoa salad
  • Taco salad
  • Mandarin black bean salad
  • Lentil barley salad

Fresh Vegetables

Outdoor experts advised those planning to camp to pack fresh vegetables for good health during the adventure. Vegetables that taste great raw are:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Carrot sticks
  • Bell pepper slices
  • Cucumber slices

Fresh Fruits

When camping, choose well-packed, sturdy fruits. Do not bring soft fruits such as kiwis and bananas as they only get crushed inside the food box. Carry with you travel fruits like:

  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Apples
  • Berries

Campfire Food

Since it is a camping, everyone expects to do some cooking on a campfire while having socials after hours of hike.

Grilled-cooked hamburgers

Among these must-cook food most campers prepare on the night camp or anywhere they got the chance to cook while on trail are:

  • Tinfoil dinner that is filled with delicious ingredients
  • Grilled-cooked hamburgers
  • Hotdogs cooked over a campfire
  • Coal-baked potatoes

Camping Desserts and Snacks

Sweets are also necessary during your hike since they have ingredients that help you energized to keep you going on the trek.

Smores for camping

These are some of the snacks and desserts you can have while camping:

  • Traditional smores
  • Healthy and tasty homemade granola bars
  • Campfire cones
  • Banana boats
  • Trail mix

Recommended Best, Delicious Camping Foods in Review

Now that you have knowledge of the types of foods you should pack and those you should not pack for camping, it will be easier for you to choose the best food for camping food.

Know what the top camping foods reviewed here can offer you.

Mountain House

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

Dimensions: 11 x 2 x 8 inches

Specific Features:

  • Very quick preparation process by adding water to its pouch and let it cook in less than 10 minutes without cleanup.
  • Allergens – Soy and wheat
  • Taste warranty of 30 years
  • Servings – two and a half of a cup
  • Comes in different flavors – Biscuits and Gravy, Chicken Fried Rice, Italian Style Pepper Steak that has Rice and Tomatoes.

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Short Hikes/Treks
  • Trekking
  • Other outdoor activities

Description: Mountain House is just one among the most reputable and oldest food brands for backpacking across the globe. They actually have been manufacturing lightweight backpacking food and been improving their recipes for nearly 50 years.

Their latest released flavors are biscuits and gravy, chicken fried rice, and Italian-style pepper steak with rice and tomatoes. All these flavors and those existing in the market are well worth their cost for great taste and convenience.

They are easy to make, starting up your day in a flavorful and hearty way. Their texture and flavor were too good not to try. Some who have eaten the Italian-style pepper steak with rice and tomatoes complain about the lack of flavor of its tomato sauce base.

Most of backpackers, hikers and outdoor people highly recommend Mountain House if you are looking for lightweight trail meals which are delicious and ultra-convenient. However, there are hikers who will not suggest this for a long or an all-day hike.

Backpacker’s Pantry

BACKPACKER'S PANTRY Pad Thai

Weight: 0.75 pounds

Dimensions: 2.25 x 7.5 x 9.75 inches

Specific Features:

  • Just add hot or boiling water to the mixture and enjoy
  • Directions – You need to remove its peanut and its peanut butter packets, mix peanut butter into the other ingredients in this pouch, add 540 mL boiling water; then thorough stir to make sure that the noodles are completely submerged
  • Rice noodles with a sweet, spicy, garlic sauce, vegetables, textured soy protein, and roasted peanuts for extra pizzas and texture
  • Can make two 13 oz servings
  • Rich in protein
  • Dry Weight: 228 g
  • Vegetarian option
  • Shelf-life of 84 months

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Short Hikes/Treks
  • Backpacking
  • Other outdoor activities

Description: You need not to eat bland and boring food because you are miles and miles away from the civilization, thanks to the development of Backpacker’s Pantry.

Backpacker’s PANTRY Pad Thai prides itself in offering quality, dehydrated meals intended for outdoor meals throughout the world. This food helps fuel your outdoor activities through a combination of dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients with organic and bold spices to keep the flavors interesting.

It is suggested not to assume a 1-1 correspondence between a meal and package when you are purchasing this meal.

You have to carefully read labels and complete meal or calorie plan for your adventures. The reduced amount of water concentrates its flavor a little more, keeping its soupiness away so that there is no need to drink your food when the peanuts and pasta are consumed.

There are backpackers consider it as a staple in their hiking repertoire although some of its dehydrated flavors may be swallowed. Many are still recommending it for hitting certain spot following your long day hike.

Good To-Go

Good To-Go Thai Curry Meal

Specific Features:

  • Size – Single and double servings
  • Gluten-free
  • Energy
  • Dehydrated gourmet
  • Nutrition

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Long Hikes/Treks
  • Backpacking
  • Other outdoor activities

Description: Good To-Go has proven that this backpacking food is a healthy trail food, and is tasty as well. It actually elevates your trail food to the next level. Its gourmet-dehydrated pouches include incredible flavor and restaurant-quality taste, leaving you blown away.

Good To-Go comes with common dehydrated adventure meals that are low on flavor and packed with sodium. It is definitely good for pescatarians and vegetarians, and it leaves you with many options.

It is easy to prepare using boiling water into the pouch; you just have to re-seal it and then sit for 20 minutes. Enjoy its deliciousness while wandering the most beautiful surrounding you are into, which may possibly match the sunny and breezy mountain summit.

It is ideal for a long day trekking or hiking with its trail mix, trail snacks and granola, which ensures that you will not be left hungry along the trail. The only downside of this camping food is its high price.

Mary Jane Farm Organic Kettle Chili

Mary Jane Farm Organic Kettle Chili

Weight: 8.5 ounces

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 8.5 inches

Specific Features:

  • Color – One Color
  • Size – One Size
  • Content – 3.3 ounce bag
  • Made with organic, all-natural ingredients
  • Cooking Preparation – Can be cooked in non-aluminum Eco pouch

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Short Hikes/Treks
  • Backpacking
  • Other outdoor activities

Description: From the maker of the best organic hiking and backpacking food, Mary Jane Farm Organic Kettle Chili guarantees bare essentials with its kettle chili made from tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, onions, black bean flakes, lentils, herbs, red bell peppers and spices.

These ingredients blend together without making the dish soupy. Mary Jane Farm Organic meal leaves the spice rack at your home, making it the primary foods for vegetarians. It is being referred by many as an uncomplicated, simple rendition of traditional camping meal staple. Its natural smokiness is due to its natural seasonings and spices.

Instead of packing it out, its packaging can rather be burned in hot fire. Meanwhile, among the drawbacks observed in this meal are its small portion size, short eco-friendly packaging life (unlike the traditional packaging based in foil), lack of a re-sealable closure in its packaging, and being a meatless meal.

EasyMeal Core Kit

EasyMeal Core Kit

Dimensions: 12.5 x 20.25 x 13 inches

Specific Features:

  • Style – Kit C
  • Servings – breakfast, lunch, dinner good for 25 people
  • Food Preparation – just add water to the content of the pouch
  • Cleanup – easy to clean as it is directly served from the pouch
  • Warranty – 10-year taste guarantee
  • Storage – does not need refrigeration since it is easy to store

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Short Hikes/Treks
  • Backpacking
  • Other outdoor activities
  • Emergency situations

Description: EasyMeal Core Kit has built a reputation in providing good food for hikers, backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts. This makes EasyMeal a great choice for those interested in emergency preparedness and long-term storage.

It is made available in three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The content of the pouch include scrambled egg with bacon, turkey tetrazzini, peas, crackers, corn, and spaghetti with meat sauce.

The success of this product comes from the mere fact of its great taste, compact, easy to prepare, and lightweight features. It actually makes you feel like having your home-cooked meal inside the tent.

Preparing it is so simple and easy as you will just have to pour water on it. It also comes with it an instruction on the amount of water to be added for the food of your choice.

Alpine Aire Foods

AlpineAire Foods Vegetarian 7 Day Meal Kit

Weight: 6.2 pounds

Dimensions: 13 x 10 x 8 inches

Specific Features:

  • Comes with 14 freeze-dried or dehydrated meal pouches prepared for lunch and dinner good for seven days
  • Rehydrates in 10-12 minutes
  • Preparation – add hot water into its pouch
  • Servings – 2 for each pouch
  • Does not need a measuring cup as its fill line suggests the right amount of water you need to add

Best Use:

  • Camping
  • Short Hikes/Treks
  • Backpacking
  • Other outdoor activities
  • Emergency situations

Description: AlpineAire Foods Vegetarian 7 Day Meal Kit is highly recommended for outdoorsmen in search of inexpensive, delicious and convenience for extended trips, emergency preparedness or group outings.

The meal kit of 14 pouches contains freeze-dried meals to suffice your lunches and dinners, 7 meals each. You don’t need learn how to prepare these meals, as you just have to add boiling water to the pouches and simply wait for a few minutes to let it completely rehydrate.

The kit also include various vegetarian recipes such as Pasta Roma, Mountain Chili, Forever Young Mac & Cheese, Three Cheese Lasagna, Spaghetti Marinara with Mushrooms, Leonardo da Fettuccine, Wild Quinoa Pilaf with Hemp Seeds, Cheese Enchilada Ranchero, Himalayan Lentils and Rice, Santa Fe Black Beans and Rice, Veggie Burrito Bowl, and Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup.

Meanwhile, you need to be careful preparing these meals because you will be dealing with hot water. There are instances when some consumers complain about pouches leaking, which has led to some unexpected burns.

Bannock No Bake Peanut Butter Balls

Bannock No Bake Peanut Butter Balls

Specific Features:

  • Content – 3 servings for each pouch containing 110 calories, 5g sugar, 13g fiber, 14g protein
  • Include 55 nutritious, delicious and healthy super foods and prebiotic fiber
  • Does not contain MSG and trans fats
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Convenient and lightweight, hearty servings
  • Preparation – just add boiling water into the pouch

Best Use:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Fishing
  • Hunting

Description: Bannock No Bake Peanut Butter Balls are being equated to the ultimate outdoor meals. Such camping food is specifically developed as healthy and satisfying meals with essential minerals and vitamins necessary for any type of outdoor adventures.

Each pouch provides 2.5 servings, suggesting that each pouch is good for 15 people. A few of those who have tried Bannock note that there was not much in the package unlike other desserts. The pouch is large enough that it requires you to mix the ingredients together with a utensil.

Some find it messy to make individual peanut balls, and recommend just eating it out of the pouch. There are also those who find difficulty in handling it in the back country.

They recognized the good taste of it though. Bulk up on Bannock meals and desserts so you will get to enjoy the whole duration of your adventure.

Simple Kitchen Southwestern Penne Healthy Easy Meal

Simple Kitchen Southwestern Penne Healthy Easy Meal

Specific Features:

  • Rich in protein at 15g and fiber at g
  • Does not have gluten, fake flavors, preservatives or colors
  • Servings – 4 servings per pouch that makes a total of 16 servings
  • Preparation – add boiling water and let it stand for 10-15 minutes
  • Warranty – limited warranty of 1 year

Best Use:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Other outdoor adventures
  • Emergency situations

Description: The healthy easy meal Simple Kitchen Southwestern Penne has proven the fact that great-tasting meals don’t have to be complicated. The meal makes delicious entrees with penne pasta that is made from a hundred percent whole-grain rice and red lentils, so that makes it gluten-free.

Its delicious meals are even powered by nutrition based on plants that provide you with sufficient protein and fiber to satisfy and make your family happy. It is very convenient to prepare, as it only requires you to pour hot water and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

The distinct gluten-free feature of this camping food helps boast a considerable amount of fiber and protein. It is delicious although the preparation takes longer. Its price is impressive alongside its excellent packet. Some of the consumers are disappointed at the taste because of the inconsistency they experience while cooking and eating noodles.

Final Words

Always take note of the importance of food as a part in camping. These food ideas are really great in making your next trip outdoor much better. Meals should be simple and easy to prepare so that you can focus on more important tasks.

Bring your camping food

The meals help fuel your physical activities during your canoeing, camping, hiking, and other activities. And as mentioned above, neatness or cleanliness in preparing your camping food is critical when you are in the wild, as you also need to consider the health of your environment.

Look into each of these camping meals first before purchasing the best one among the rest. We hope that this article makes sense in your search for the best food you can pack for your next adventure. Drop us your insights in the comments section below and share your stories with us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Kendra Larson

    I added Backpacker’s Pad Thai on last minute for my backpacking trip, and I must say, the tastiest freeze dried meal I have ever had. Delish. A little spicy. Just remember to stir it really well to get the seasoning dispersed and I put a little less water than recommended cause these things tend to ask for too much.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Those instant food packs are really tasty and awesome, right? It takes the humdrum of having the usual “camp food.” Ramen and other noodles also make a great lunch or dinner and they’re very convenient to eat, too.

  • Rachel Mohan

    I know a lot of people hate on rehydrated food in general, but simply for ease of packing and cooking I always have a Mountain House meal on me. I do generally try to cook and eat my own food but rehydrated food is always good when you don’t have time/are tired/can’t be bothered! Whilst you can just eat them straight from the bag (thus saving on washing up!) I think they taste better if you add something to them after cooking. Dried herbs and spice, for example, or even putting it in a wrap or pitta.

  • Jerry Mueller

    When I have the time, I usually make my own rehydrated food which is more cost effective. I don’t think flavor escapes when you rehydrate, or it might be that I’m making my own. Try it and invest in an inexpensive and compact redhydrator machine for the kitchen one of these days.

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