Camping Food Basics
Generally speaking, camping food should be light, easy to pack, and easy to prepare, all of which will save you energy when you're out on the trail. Part of what makes typical food so heavy is that it's got a lot of water in it - predictably, most of the best camping food is dehydrated! This kind of food falls into three major categories: Non-Cook Foods, Just-Add-Water Foods, and Freeze-Dried Meals.
The latter two categories require you to have boiling water available for cooking. We recommend a small propane or iso-butane single-burner stove designed specifically for this purpose, which are sold at nearly all camping supply stores. Also, remember that it's good trail etiquette to pack out what you pack in - choosing things that don't have a lot of extra packaging or messiness will make your job much easier.
Non-Cook Camp Foods
Start preparing your camp food list by considering foods you don't have to cook! The most common form of this kind of camping food is a typical trail mix, but there are lots of other options to help keep your energy high and your cooking time down. Think about things that don't require refrigeration and pack easily, like:
- Beef jerky - a great source of salt and protein.
- Breakfast Bars - good for vitamins and carbohydrates.
- Dried Fruit - ***NOTE: Dried wolfberries (or goji berries, as they're also known) are easily portable and exceptionally good for you! They contain beta-carotene, Vitamins C, B1, B2, and other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids, in addition to significant macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber, making these tiny tasty treats something of a "superfood".
- Dry Cereals - healthy sources of vitamins and carbohydrates.
- Sausages & Hotdogs - another great source of easy protein.
- Cheeses - if eaten promptly, an excellent source of protein and Calcium.
- Flatbreads and Crackers - easier to pack than normal bread, great for carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
- Flavored Single-Serving Tuna Packets - easy to pack in and out
Just-Add-Water Camp Foods
A lot of foods you can find in the supermarket come in dried or powdered form. These can be great additions to your camping food list, too, provided you have a means to boil water out in the backcountry. Think about including:
Freeze-Dried Meals as Camp Food
In recent years, freeze-dried technology has come a long way. It's now possible to eat things like pasta primavera, eggs & bacon, beef stroganoff, and lots of other typical meal choices while you're out on the trail. These meals come in vacuum sealed pouches to which you simply add hot or cold water. Surprisingly, they're generally quite tasty; though a bit heavy on salt and carbohydrates, they can really add something to your backcountry experience. Look for companies like Backpackers' Pantry and Mountain House for the greatest variety and best flavors!