Food for the Backcountry
On the final night of the Forge last year one of the attendees looked over at me as I was murdering a Beef Stroganoff and asked “so how did everyone know about those freeze-dried meals? I’ve been eating cold tuna every night.”
The type and amount of food you bring into the backcountry is very dependent on the kind of trip you are doing and your personal preferences.
Longer trips that cover more distance will require you to choose different foods than if you are hiking in a few miles for two nights. If you are using horses then the game totally changes as now grills, cast iron pans, as well as full size coolers come into play.
This article will cover some suggestions in regards to a 4-5 day backcountry trip on foot with roughly 5-10 miles per day of travel.
Choose foods that your body is used to and you enjoy. Avoid totally changing your diet when in new environments and under high workloads. You are obviously limited somewhat as you don’t have a full kitchen and cooler. If you decide to try out new foods such as freeze dried meals we suggest doing so at home at least once to ensure you like it and it agrees with you.
Amount of Food
Based on size and normal intake. You will be working much harder in the back country than while at home so if you’d like to maintain your weight then I suggest eating more than you normally do. I usually shoot for 3,000-3,500 calories
I like to break up each day of food into a gallon sized ziplock bag. My breakfast, snacks, lunch, and any drinks will all go into this bag. This makes it easy to ensure that you have enough food for trip as you need one bag for each day. This allows you to keep that bag at the top of the pack to access it throughout the day. I usually keep my dinner separate as it will not fit in the bag and I will be eating this at camp once set up.
My General Menu
Oatmeal or Freeze Dried Meal
Dried or Fresh Fruit
Salami, Jerky, or Summer Sausage
Cracker / Chip of some type
Protein Bar or similar
Mountain house or similar
Whiskey and Cider or Cocoa
Dark Chocolate or Snickers Bar
Notes on my menu
- I used to buy prepackaged oatmeal but have gone to making my own with rolled oats, brown sugar, dried fruit, and walnuts.
- I don’t enjoy eating oatmeal every day so I alternate days with a freeze dried meal, one that doesn’t use eggs as those are pretty nasty.
- Protein is hard to get so I supplement with a shake. This is also why I like to bring a bottle in the backcountry as trying to mix drinks in a bladder is messy.
- When going in for just a few days cheese and salami will last as typically it’s cool enough. I keep the cheese in a small cooler on the drive out then toss it in my pack at the trailhead. Usually I leave it in blocks until I open it then cube it up. Colby Jack and Pepper Jack seem to last the best. Cheddar gets oily.
- Pretty much always do a dehydrated meal for dinner, mountain house is my go to but I really enjoy the packit gourmet.