Simple Lightweight Backpacking Food Ideas – Top Picks from the John Muir Trail

Learn the difference between canister, liquid fuel, and alternative fuel backpacking stoves plus tips and our recommendations for choosing the best backpacking stove for your next camping trip.


There’s a funny thing about food and the psyche when you are out in the backcountry. You spend a lot of time thinking about pizza, beer, and wings….all of the overindulgent things that you can’t have. You also spend a lot of time dramatically complaining about the food that you do have. “If I have to eat another freeze-dried meal, I might just be sick.”

But then you carefully pour the boiling water into that package of Mountain House Chili Mac and spend the next 10 minutes drooling, counting down the seconds till those ground beef morsels are rehydrated and ready to be wolfed down. And then second it hits your tongue, it’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven. That savory, salty, thick, hearty goo. It’s like there’s nothing more satisfying in the entire world.

During my 22-day John Muir Trail adventure, there was plenty of this back and forth. But overall, I would say that I made some pretty darn good choices when planning our menu. It’s not to say that I wasn’t happy when we sat down for our first real meal after the trip, but when I was out there, I always felt pretty content after eating.

The key is variety. You do not want to be eating the same thing every day over and over again. Having a mix of different breakfasts, lunches, and dinners gives you something new to look forward to and keeps your palette from getting bored.

The second critical element, at least for us, was to choose foods that were easy to prepare and clean up – ideally, dinners that we could repackage in ziplock freezer bags. For these kinds of meals, you can pour the boiling water right into the ziplock and eat straight out of the bag – resulting in minimal dirty dishes.

Here’s a list of simple backpacking food ideas from our time on the John Muir Trail. These are readily available online, delicious, easy to prepare, and require little cleanup.

** Looking for guidance on how much food to pack for your JMT Thru-Hike? Check out my Complete John Muir Trail Food Shopping List **

— Backpacking Breakfasts —

PROBAR Meal Superfood Slam

Bars made for a quick and easy breakfast because you could eat them on your own time frame as you packed up for the day. The dense 380-calorie PROBAR is packed with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and tastes like real food because that’s what it’s made out of.


Bobo’s Oat Bars

A super-filling, soft, chewy, delicious oat-based bar. Slightly sweet with 360 calories to sustain you till lunch; plus they have gluten-free options if you have Celiacs. My favorite flavors were coconut and peanut butter.


Instant Oatmeal

Everyone complains about oatmeal, but as long as you don’t have to eat it every day, it’s tasty, easy, and filling. All you have to do is boil a little extra water with your morning coffee. I enjoyed the texture and flavor of Trader Joe’s Multigrain Triple Berry Instant Oatmeal, as well as Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal.

Nature's Path Organic Oatmeal

Simply Native Foods Wild Rice Cereal

Hate oatmeal? Fuel your day with Simply Native’s hot wild rice cereal. This stuff has become a staple in my van & on backpacking trips. It’s a delicious instant wild rice mix with seeds and cranberries and only takes a cup of water and 10 minutes of simmering to make a hearty breakfast. The texture is awesome and chewy, nothing about it tastes instant. The rice comes straight from Simply Native’s family run farm in Wisconsin, and each serving has 4 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, and 240 calories – providing all the things you need to get energized for a tough day on the trail. Throw in some veggies and salami for an even heartier dinner. You can pick up this wild rice cereal on Simply Native’s website.

Best Backpacking Meals: Simply Native Hot Wild Rice Cereal

Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy

I don’t know if it’s the fact that everything tastes better in the woods, but these biscuits and gravy tasted just about as good as any diner I’ve been to. The biscuits had a perfect texture with an almost crisp edge, as if they were fresh out of the oven.

Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy

Maxim Gold Korean Instant Coffee

This is the best instant coffee I’ve ever had. I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m still drinking it now that I’m home. It comes in the same little tubes as Starbucks Instant coffee, but it already has the cream and a small amount of sugar mixed in. On Amazon you get 100 instant servings for $22. A steal!

Maxim Mocha Gold Korean Instant Coffee

Backpacker’s Pantry Mocha Mousse Pie

Chocolate addicts will love this. It’s basically chocolate pudding with a graham cracker topping. It’s technically a desert, but we had it for breakfast, because, well…we do what we want. It’s packed with 400 calories and a ton of carbs…a perfect start to a day with a big climb.

Backpacker's Pantry mocha Mousse Pie

OvaEasy Whole Egg Crystals

All you gotta do to make these eggs is add water and scramble. They were honestly pretty good and one package went a LONG way. Add a little salami, cheese, salt, pepper, and hot sauce for a bangin’ breakfast burrito.

OvaEasy Whole Egg Crystals

— Backpacking Lunches —

StarKist Tuna in Sunflower Oil in a Tortilla

I was skeptical of this tuna. I thought how good can it be, especially without covering up the taste with some other kind of sauce. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. This StarKist Tuna had a nice, non-fishy flavor and the sunflower oil adds extra fat and calories. Throw it in a tortilla with some cheese and you got a pretty tasty lunch. (For what its worth, I did NOT like salmon that came in a pouch. When eating it plain, I thought it tasted like cat food. Ick!)

Starkist Chunk Light Tuna In Sunflower Oil

Salami Wrap

Salami is another delicious protein to throw in a tortilla that doesn’t require refrigeration. My favorite is the Chianti Artisan Salami from Trader Joe’s. To up the gourmet factor, throw in a dollop of powdered hummus, cheese, and cranberries.

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Cheese certainly isn’t essential, but really adds a nice touch to tuna and salami wraps. Go for a hard cheese like aged gouda or the mini Babybels that come in the red wax. The hard cheese, in particular, might sweat a little bit, but either of these will last for weeks.

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Oh Nutella. Why can’t I eat you all the time? Oh that’s right. Because I wouldn’t be able to control myself, and I would turn into a blimp. This chocolatey hazelnut goodness slathered on a tortilla is just heaven. Bring more than you think you’ll need. One jar only lasted us 5 days. More Nutella would have been a total game changer.

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— Backpacking Dinners —

Peak Refuel Backpacking Meals

Up until recently, the number of major backpacking food brands has been pretty limited, but over the last few years, we’ve seen some new players in the game that are focused on creating healthier, more natural backpacking food with fewer chemicals. One of these new companies, based out of Utah, is Peak Refuel. Their meals are non-GMO, calorie dense, and packed with protein…but even more important, they are delicious. Check out my favorite Peak Refuel meals in this blog post.

Good To-Go Backpacking Meals

Good To-Go is a new player in the backpacking food scene. Their lightweight dehydrated backpacking meals are meat-free, gluten-free, and have less sodium than the competition, filling a huge gap in the food aisle at REI. I’ve tried every meal in their lineup, and recently wrote up a post listing out my top Good-To-Go picks.

Good To Go Backpacking Meals - My Top Picks

Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals

I ate a LOT of Mountain House on my John Muir Trail backpacking trip…We were Mountain House loyalists on this trip, and for a good reason…they are consistently good. I only wish we had brought along a larger variety. Also the package says it serves two, but after burning all those calories, half of one will likely not be enough for dinner unless you have a small appetite. We usually split a Mountain House meal and then split one of the other items below, like some ramen or couscous.
Favorites included:

  • Sweet and Sour Pork – transported me right into a Chinese restaurant. We ate this on my birthday, and I couldn’t have been happier. The little chunks of pineapple really make this dish.
  • Chicken Ala King – kind of like a chicken pot pie but with noodles instead of the pie. Savory and homey.
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – I preface this with the fact that homemade spaghetti is the one food I would choose if I was stuck on a deserted island with only one meal for the rest of my life. This spaghetti is no homemade, but it did the trick.
  • Chili Mac – This was one of the heartier and more filling Mountain House meals. Pretty good flavor, but don’t be afraid to add in a little Tapatio.
  • Beef Stroganoff – Creamy, salty goodness packed with mushrooms, noodles, and beef. Mmm mmm mmm.
  • Chicken and Rice – For some added umph, throw it in a tortilla with your favorite hot sauce. Big portion and the rice is filling.

The only ones I didn’t really enjoy were the Pasta Primavera, which wasn’t filling enough (vegetarians might like it though!) and Noodles & Chicken, which reminded me more of a thick chicken noodle soup.

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Couscous is awesome for backpacking. All you have to do is boil water, add the couscous and seasoning, turn off the heat, cover, and it’s ready in 5 minutes. My favorite was the Near East Couscous. I thought it was great on its own, but if you want to make it a more hearty meal, add in some salami or beef jerky and a handful of cranberries.

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Idahoan Mashed Potatoes

These Idaho taters were the talk to the trail. Everyone loved these. They stay piping hot in the JetBoil and are quite filling. The four cheese flavor was delish. Throw in some bacon bits, and it’s just like a loaded baked potato.

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On the trail, I loved ramen so much that I joked that I might just start eating it on the regular at home. Grab your favorite flavor and mix in a foil pouch of chicken and some Just Tomatoes Just Veggies for a more filling and “nutritious” meal.

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— Backpacking Drinks —

Powdered Hot drinks

Lesson #21 from the John Muir Trail: Plentiful hot drinks are critical. Hot apple cider. Hot chocolate. The more, the better. Stock up.

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Powdered Cold drinks

While we didn’t bring any cold drinks other than water, we saw plenty of people carrying Tang and Gatorade powder. I can’t help but think that some orangey Tang would have been nice with lunch every once in a while.

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— Backpacking Snacks & Treats —

Dried Fruit

Cranberries, tart Montgomery cherries, apples, apricots, coconut, mangos. Pack a variety of your favorite fruits for a healthy sugar boost.

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Kind bars

The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate flavor was the bomb. It provided a nice crunch that you don’t often get out in the field. The Almond Coconut variety came in at a close second.

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Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews

Pure gummy goodness that is naturally caffeinated from white tea. After sampling almost all the flavors, I would recommend pomegranate, limeade, and fruit punch.

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Trail mix

This is a given. Recommendation: Trader Joes Omega Trek Mix. It’s packed with all of the best nuts including almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans. Alternatively, load up on your favorite ingredients in the bulk section and make your own trail mix concoction.

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I’m a picky jerky eater. I hate when it’s dry and hard and gets stuck in your teeth. Introducing Tanka bites made of natural buffalo meat. The spicy pepper variety had great taste and soft texture.

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Loucks Sesame Snaps

Crunchy, sweet, and packed with fat, calories, and protein. These sesame snaps only weigh 1.4 ounces so you get a lot of bang for the weight.

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Backpacker’s Pantry Creme Brulée

Yeah that’s right. Creme brulée. And no blow-torch required. Follow the directions carefully, and this stuff from Backpacker’s Pantry turns out light and fluffy and even has caramelized sugar on top.

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Do it. Load up on those Snickers Bars and Sour Patch Kids. In my recent post 22 Lessons from 22 Days on the John Muir Trail, I explain that backpacking is not the time to go on a diet. You don’t want junk food to be the only thing you consume, but treating yourself here and there is totally acceptable.

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Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Any purchases you make help to support this blog at no added cost to you. I only recommend products that I stand behind, and if you ever have any questions about any of the products featured on my site, please email me. Thanks! Kristen

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

81 comments on “Simple Lightweight Backpacking Food Ideas – Top Picks from the John Muir Trail

  1. Aron and I read this before backpacking the Kern River last weekend- we have to try the Ova Easy! Instant oats, dried fruit, nuts, jerky, tuna, salami, hard cheese, and ramen are our regulars too. We used to buy Mary Jane’s backpacking meals at REI- they are organic, low sodium, have lots of veggie options, and require no cleanup but they are a little pricey ($10-12 a pop!). Nowadays we also like taking hard boiled eggs, tortillas or flat breads for wraps (they don’t get squished like regular bread), instant/dehydrated soups, lara bars, and powdered hummus (this is a hard one to find so cherish it when you do). A recent discovery is Tasty Bite Indian food- a variety of Indian dishes like madras lentils, channa masala, and rice packaged in bags that you boil in hot water for five minutes. Delish on a cold night after hiking all day 🙂

    1. Kristen you have a very Informative site. Glad I chanced upon this via the ig. While you gave dwelled a lot on nonveg food, you could think of including veg/egg vegetarian food also for people who are off nonveg. One lady named Linda has given few nice alternatives in the comments which include hard boiled eggs,preprepared Indian food packs, flat breads etc.

  2. Regarding powdered cold drinks – another reason to bring them along is for energy in case you get sick. I was on the last day of a 4 day trip and woke up with a wonky stomach — let’s just say solid food wasn’t doing me much good. I tried hiking out 8 miles without eating breakfast and darn near passed out. I then ate something :)…

    Someone pointed out to me later that a sugary drink like Tang or Koolaid would have at least given me some calories to hike on…

    1. Man, that sounds really tough! Glad you were able to make it out. That must have been scary. And that’s a really good point that I hadn’t thought of regarding the drink powder. I’m definitely going to remember to pack some next time.

  3. I just discovered your website – you have some great stuff here! I love this article. It’s always difficult to plan meals for long treks, so this is super helpful. I’ll definitely be bookmarking it for future use!

    Also, I love that you included Maxim coffee in there!! We are currently living in South Korea and that stuff is ADDICTIVE! It’s good to know we’ll be able to order it online even after we leave Korea 🙂

    1. Katie – I’m glad this was helpful! And that’s so awesome that you drink the Maxim. Totally addictive. I’m drinking it right now in fact…leftovers from my trip. And it’s dirt cheap. Thanks again! -Kristen

  4. I love this article! My sister (who blogs with me) and I grew up on a Girl Scout Camp — our parents ran it — and it reminds me so much of the camp food we would eat over fires. Haven’t done a big trek yet, but it’s on my list! Definitely will be back here for tips!!

  5. Love your site! Great tips on backpacking foods! A few of my own: love to have powdered country time lemonade!! Cuts through those salty meals and goes great with a snickers! For added taste and a little extra protein I put some powdered milk into the oatmeal- makes it richer and creamier. Looking forward to reading through all of your website!!

    1. Thanks for those awesome tips Julie! I really like the idea of the milk in the oatmeal. And the lemonade sounds great too. Always nice to have a little sweet treat. Thanks! Kristen

  6. As far as Mountain House I liked the spaghetti and stroganoff too. The only candy I brought were PayDay candy bars. They didn’t melt and that salty sweetness was awesome.

  7. I just came back from an epic mountain bike where I set a record for riding to Everest Base Camp at 18,000 plus feet in elevation. The eight weeks prior I ate 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbohydrates (about 50g per day of carbs) and my body started producing ketones to burn fat constantly as fuel. Getting “fat adapted” is an amazing strategy for mountaineers and endurance athletes. read more by @ProfTimeNoakes.

    PS – Kristen if you like to MTB you’ll like this video from my YouTube Channel

    1. Thanks for the tips Patrick. And I just checked out your video. Very cool! I’ve been trying to figure out the best places to go mountain biking in Vegas. I’ll have to check out some of the trails you recommend. Thanks again! Kristen

  8. Thanks for this list! We live in AK now and my 13 yr old and husband have been doing longer and longer hikes every year! (2nd summer here)This yr they are up to 4 days, and I always have trouble thinking about thier food! We recently got a JetBoil, so this is perfect!

  9. So, I saw that you mentioned tortillas. Could I send tortillas in my resupply? I’m going in July and was just wondering if they will get moldy, or if they will be ok? Also, the Babybels cheeses, could those go in resupplies too? Thank you!

    1. Chris – I sent both Mission brand tortillas and babybel cheese in my resupply boxes and they were all fine…no mold and perfectly good to eat. Hope thats helpful! -Kristen

  10. My husband and I are planning a few backpacking trips this fall and love this site. . I purchased bobo boars, Maxim coffee, and powdered humus to try (on amazon prime) for our next trip. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Amy – That’s great to hear! I’m glad you like my site and have found it helpful. I hope you like everything you bought! Definitely come back and let me know what you think. Cheers, Kristen

  11. I’m not even a backpacker but loved this article. My son’s are getting into backpacking and your article caught my eye. Great information!

  12. Hey Kirsten,
    Great tips! Can you tell me what the start weight of just your food was without the bear container? I am planning a JMT hike the last week in Aug 2016 and I am trying to determine the ever important pack weight.

    1. Hello! Congrats on making the decision to hike the JMT. You’re going to have an amazing time. You know, I’m not sure what the starting weight of my food was. My guess 7 days worth probably weighed about 15 pounds. But I never weighed it so I’m not sure. With 7 days of food and 3 liters of water I was at about 43 pounds total. If you have any other questions, just let me know! -Kristen

  13. Oh my goodness! I am so thankful to have found your blog! Just started planning my 2016 JMT hike and feeling very overwhelmed. So much to think about and to prepare. Thank you for this detailed site. I will be referring to it lots!. 🙂

  14. Thanks for the great ideas! I am getting ready to hike the Ozark Trail in MO next year and need a few starter ideas on food instead of packing the heavy military MREs. Just skimming through the article I saw Tapatio so I knew that I had to read the whole article. Thank you.

    1. My suggestion is do NOT take MREs! My husband & I made that mistake on our 1st backpacking trip. They are heavy & create a lot of trash.

  15. Hello Kirsten,

    Love this article and love your blog! If you’re looking for another nutritious and lightweight backpacking food option you have to checkout We’re a startup based out of Birdsong, Alaska dedicated to changing the way backpackers eat! We’re creating gluten-free, dairy-free dehydrated backpacking meals with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. Our founder, Heather Kelly, uses her nutrition background to craft every meal for nutrient density and flavor. You can’t imagine how yummy a bowl of Alaskan Salmon Chowder tastes after a full day on the trail! Please check us out and grab some Heather’s Choice for your next adventure!

  16. Great article! I just found your site as we are prepping for our southern Utah trip. Thanks to your essential hiking guides we decided to swap backpacking the narrows and hit Paria instead, your Paria canyon post looked so awesome! As we are gearing up I am always looking for awesome backpacking food tips. As a vegetarian though I was hoping for a bit more variation in your post! I wanted to add a few of my favorites in the comments for those other veggies out there! 🙂
    1. Nut butters and Jelly sandwiches/tortillas
    2. Sundried tomatoes, cheese, dehydrated hummus on tortilla
    3. Thai pnut cous cous or rice noodles
    4. Dehydrated beans and rice burritos
    5. Dehydrated soups
    6. Pesto pasta with veggies
    While bringing fresh veggies can add a lot of extra weight, I feel they add so much flavor at the end of a long day! Onions, beets, carrots, and cauliflower can hold up well for a few days.

    1. Thanks Molly! I totally appreciate these suggestions. You’re right….I should definitely do a post on vegetarian backpacking food…I bet a ton of people would be interested. Thanks for following along on my site!

  17. Great ideas here, the fact that you found a way to use cheese makes me very happy, I’ve gone without up until now. Another thing to mention is the Mountain House meals seem to go a little too soupy for me- there’s always extra water. Sometimes I just use 2-4 oz less water than prescribed, or you can use the instant mashed potatoes to thicken it up. This especially works well with the chili mac or spaghetti.

    The Chicken and Rice is my jam.

  18. Great Tips!

    All my friends were bringing Mountain House meals on our last camping trip and I was quite skeptical. I had a taste of the Beef Stroganoff and was pleasantly surprised. I ended up going the cheap easy route with a package of ramen, added dehydrated veggies and chunks of ham. Loving the couscous idea and all your other suggestions. Thanks for the ideas!

    Katie @ Katie Wanders

  19. I’m planning on a JMT solo though hike this summer and being from England, I am getting to grips with the brands and (in some cases) translating some of these foods into our terminology! Obviously, I don’t want to bring loads of food from home, so your guide will help choose locally. Many thanks.

  20. I thru-hiked the JMT in 2000, and made many similar meal choices, though, heading NOBO and without any stove, all the meals were cold for the first 100 miles as I was above tree line and out of the region where one can gather firewood. My first hot meal, after descending the golden staircase, linguine and diced salami, was heaven-sent!
    So, here it is 16 years later and I’m in my mid-sixties, planning to repeat the trek. This time I’m taking my MSR Whisper lite stove and planning to have a couple more warm meals. And further, it’s meal planning time again. Given the time in between trips, my memory seems to have faded a bit on the particulars of what I did last time. Your suggestions are excellent! To further reduce any post meal clean-up I’m thinking I’ll bring some boiling bags, which I can then pack out in the bear cannister. Mostly, I don’t want to have any food scent on the camping cooking utensils attracting unwanted visitors.
    Great site and thanks for the good suggestions.
    Bob (NurseBob)

    1. Hey Bob – That’s amazing you are going back. And yea, I rehydrate the food right in a freezer ziplock to avoid any mess. Have fun and come back and tell me how it goes!

      1. Kristen,

        >I rehydrate the food right in a freezer ziplock to avoid any mess.
        Seems like a great plan, since I plan to package my meals in ziplocks – No Muss; No Fuss! 🙂

        >come back and tell me how it goes!
        If all goes well, I’ll have a detailed video diary of both the planning and the trek. Right now I’m capturing the prep, maps & mapping (I carry both 7.5 minute topos and compass as well as my old Garmin 12 GPS), and organization in anticipation of the trek. For this trip I’m taking a Canon HF 200 video camera, my Canon 60D (for both stills and secondary video), and a Tascam DR-100 MK II audio recorder. Not wanting to repeat my ’99 debacle when I added some 40 pounds of camera gear at the last minute – leading to an unplanned exit over Whitney after realizing I’d never be able to complete the trip with my 75-80 pound pack. This time I’m training with the equipment I’ll be using (which including batteries & lightweight tripod, is under 10 pounds), and am also using the training hikes to test out some of my video and still image concepts.

        I guess I’m hoping I’ll be able to produce something both useful and inspirational. FWIW – Mile, Mile and a Half reawakened my long-held desire to repeat the trek with quality, light, equipment.


  21. Hi Kristen,
    Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. Quick question related to the Mountain House dry-freezer food.
    I’m also a big fan of Mountain House because of its taste and convenience but they take up so much space and leave lots of trash.
    Did you have any ways around to bring all those food in a more compact way and minimize the trash?
    Thanks again!

    1. Yes, I repackaged all of my mountain house meals in freezer ziplock bags. Then I push all the air out and pack away. Then you can rehydrate with boiling water right in the ziplock, and I usually stick that in a beanie or a jacket so it stays more insulated.

  22. Just wanted to check one more time on the torillas. Did you ship these ahead of time to the last drop point? How long did you have them (from ship date to when you finished eating them)? Sorry, one last question, what time of year was it? I’m just amazed they stayed good.


  23. If you’re only going out for a night or two, I recommend cucumber. You can put on pitas, tortillas, or just eat plain. After so much relatively dry food, it tastes great. It doesn’t hold too long, but it’s not nearly as delicate as other options.

    Another are the ‘Tasty Bite’ packs. Decent Indian food, veggie options, and you can cram some naan in your pack and (the best part) you don’t need to dirty any dishes. Just toss the pouch in boiling water for a bit and eat straight out of the pouch. Only downside is that Indian food while backpacking doesn’t always make for the best smelling tent later at night.

  24. Hi Kristen, I haven’t visited your blog in over a year and boy has it blossomed. I’m looking for a recipes that I’m pretty sure you posted once for homemade granola. Any chance of a re-post or is it here and I just can’t find it.

  25. Getting into backpacking after 10+ years. So many great suggestions here! Powdered hummus?? I’m all over that… It’s essential for me to have variety, I get palette numb very quickly so this is wonder info.

    My go-to cold drink is Emergen-C. It gives me a healthy, refreshing boost, and like another commenter said, it’s nice to have if youre not feeling too well. But lemonade sounds pretty darn awesome too.

    Doing the JMT is on my bucket list. Through hiking hasn’t really called to me yet but that trail…for some reason it’s like a siren song.

  26. What a treasure trove of information! Thanks for all your blogs. We are doing havasupai next month and hopefully some of your other destinations in the near future as we are retiring this year.

  27. Thanks for a great blog. I keep coming back to this and other posts, and finding new helpful stuff. My problem is that I hate tuna, so the Sunkist stuff gives me the creep. Any alternatives you can suggest with similar nutritional values? Appreciate the help.

    1. Great to hear the blog is helpful for you Herb. I don’t like tuna either. Have you thought about trying beef or turkey jerky instead? There is also Spam or canned chicken–have you tried those yet?

      1. Thanks, Kim. Jerky is definitely a go for me. Haven’t even thought of it as similar nutritional values. I’m new to this calorie stuff. Thanks again.

  28. RAMEN is a favorite base of mine for meals. Add 8 oz container of chicken bone stock (or veggie if you swing that way) and let the RAMEN cook in that rather than pure water. I burn the cardboard in the fire if we can have one, or pack it out. As for what I add. well, tomato paste, garlic and onion powder make Italian Ramen; and cheese, powdered milk, couple envelopes of chicken give RAMEN and cheese; Dehydrated tortellini can be used in place of RAMEN, and makes for new meals; At home make meat sauce and freeze 2 cups of it in the container you plan to cook it in, then add it to the RAMEN cooking in the stock, add a couple tablespoons of frozen ricotta cheese and you get a CAMP ZITI kinda meal. Wonderful on cold nights.

  29. Hi Kristen,

    Always, planning a menu for backpacking is a must. Of course, you are right at the point, no one wants to eat the same food daily. It is a great idea to have a lot of mix of variety food. Your John Muir Trail food list is awesome. Your collection is outstanding.

  30. Dry soup + powered mash potatoes are an old time, change of pace. You can use onion soup, split pea, lentil, vege, whatever. More cals, more hot liquids.

  31. This is so great! I’ve been wanting to hear reviews of lots of the Mountain House meals and other freeze dried packs. The few I’ve tried have been great, but I’ve stuck to what I know. Looking forward to trying a few new flavors in the coming months. Thanks so much for the recommendations!

  32. My family of 3 are getting ready to do the Bubbs Creek thru trip from the west side to the east side of Sierras this weekend. Exchanging keys with a group coming the opposite way. We’ve been doing some meal cooking and sampling to see what works for us and our so-picky-teen eater. Can I share some of what worked for us in cooking and tasting as I didn’t see these items in this particular blog article?
    What worked:
    Easy Mac and Cheese packets (the kind for microwave) 5 minutes rehydrate in freezer ziplock bag for 5 minutes (10 minutes made mush, yuck).
    Mary Janes Farm Organic Garlic Pesto Fry Bread-easy to knead in bag and cut off corner to squeeze on cooking surface (recommend dab of butter or oil on pan). Tasted pretty good like a flatbread, but I found them to be oddly sweet with an overly strong rosemary flavor. The package contains 12gm of sugar?!
    Mountain House Freeze Dried Granola w/ milk and blueberries. Hands down fabulous cold or hot! I think one person can eat a whole bag on their own. A little on sweet side.
    Patagonia Organic Creamy Banana Breakfast Grains- Cooking is slightly more involved than an instant oatmeal and rehydrates slower, but good flavor and not overly sweet. I added cinnamon and brown sugar after tasting. Good nutty flavor and texture. Not a fan though of those rehydrated bananas. They taste sour to me.

    What didn’t work: Barilla Ready Pasta Gemelli shapes. Tried cooking in a freezer bag and they stayed chewy till I transferred them to a pan and cooked with a dab of oil. Didn’t work, too time consuming.
    Simply Organics Alfredo Sauce Mix- although I was able to make this sauce with powdered milk and some oil it contains 4 gms of sugar and it tastes weird with sweetness in it.

    Can I also recommend: Skratch Exercise Hydration Mix in lemon/lime flavor. Single serving packet is for 16oz of water. Does not have that weird artificial sweetener flavor.
    Found at Lassens Health Food Stores: Barney Butter- Almond butter w/ honey+ flax. Artisana Organics raw pecan butter w/ cashews. RXBAR- RX Butters . All in single serving packets.
    Lastly, the Ozery Bakery Morning Rounds (come in 4″ and 2″ rounds). Good for the 1st couple days out. Pack in parchment and then in plastic bag to control moisture. Good to combine with nut butters, hummus, salami, etc.

    Happy trails to you all and thank you Kristen for this great blog (with photos!) It’s given me some MORE great ideas!

    1. Thanks so much for your awesome suggestions! We mentioned Mountain House Granola in our Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hiker Resupply Guide, it is definitely a favorite breakfast on my list. I’ll have to try the Patagonia Breakfast Grains & Mary Janes Farm Fry Bread! Those both sound interesting! I enjoy Skratch as well and RXBars–have you tried ProBars? You might like them as well & we are big fans of Nuun (similar to Skratch).

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