So you're planning a multi day trip, but there's one big question on your mind. What do I do for food?
While you should always pack some energizing snacks for a quick boost, getting a full meal in is extremely important. Packing the right kind of food is vital - it needs to be able to last your trip and provide the nutrition you need. There are ready to eat meals, such as military MRE's, or freeze dried camping food that are quickly prepared with boiling water.
While you might think that your custom trail mix should sustain you for multiple days, it's not something you really want to bet on. So let's talk about the different types of non-perishables you can bring, and what type of equipment you'll need to prepare it.
Camping vs. Backpacking
Based on where you'll be staying, and for how long, what you decide to pack can change greatly. If I'm just going to an established campsite area I might bring along a double burner stove top, since I'll be able to rely on my vehicle for storage. I can also carry a large cooler, so having fresh produce and meats is easy to do. This is a great way to relax in the outdoors without the added stress of worrying about your meals.
That being said, there's something special about cooking in a different place every night as you climb towards your destination. For those of you who want to experience backpacking, keep on reading to learn how you can keep yourself properly sustained while out on the trail.
If you're planning a multi-day trek, all of the food you carry should be shelf stable. The luxury of a cooler is a lot of extra weight that most backpackers won't make the room for - although some will, it's normally more weight than it's worth. That being said, I always pick up a fresh steak at a local butcher or grocery store for my first trail dinner. The reason I do this is a small celebration to the beginning of what I hope to be an amazing journey. However, for the rest of the trip, I'll be relying on packaged goods and non-perishable items.
My personal staple is canned beans - which provide a great amount of protein and are quickly prepared. Combined with some quick biscuit batter (the type that comes in a tube), this is a really easy breakfast that provides good nutrition to start your day. Beans are a versatile super food, but if you aren't a fan, keep on reading!
Personally, I like to cook my meals if I can, so I pack some of these items to make sure I can still have a cooking experience when on the trail:
• Packet Meats (Chicken, Tuna, Salmon)
• Salami or Summer Sausage
• Beef Jerky
• Powdered Eggs
• Rice Packets
• Powdered Potatoes
• Instant Oatmeal
• Ramen noodle packs
• Apples, Oranges, Peaches
• Onions, Peppers
These are great staples that pack down small, and can provide all of the nutrition you'll need. ALWAYS bring seasoning, either in packets or containers.
Always carry things that you actually enjoy eating - an arduous multi-day hike is not the time to experiment with your palate.
Don't plan on bringing your trusty cast iron on your backpack. Although great for outdoor and open fire cooking, cast irons are heavy and cumbersome. Specific camp cook sets, like the one pictured above, provide a multitude of uses. They're easy to clean, and pair well with butane burners.
Butane burners, like the one above, are extremely small and boil water in record time. They provide a nice, steady flame for all of your cooking needs, but be careful as they don't have the best support structures for larger pots or pans.
If you're planning on cooking over an open fire, a stainless steel campfire grill can easily be attached to the outside of your pack and placed over a bed of coals for a great cook on fresh meats and veg.
While I do enjoy cooking on the trail, I always carry some pre-packed meals with me. If it was a harder trek than you initially thought, the ease of a pre-packed meal can be important to help replenish the energy you spent. Also, for a worst case scenario, these come in as a potential life saver.
Military MRE's and backpacking foods are commonly sold in all outdoor stores, and picking up one or two of these doesn't add too much weight, but provides huge benefits. The meals are designed to have everything you need in one package, and are nutrient rich to make sure you're properly fed. Having one or more of these as a backup option is ideal, if you don't plan on eating all pre-packed meals, that is.
Some of the best meals I've ever had were outdoors - and although those meals will probably never receive a Michelin star, it's the experience that adds to the flavor.
If you need a quick and easy way to start that camp fire, check out our Fire Starting Kit. Let us help you get your fire going, so you can get cooking!
As always, make sure to plan accordingly and pack 2 times the amount of water you think you'll need, as well as food for an additional 2 days. Start small if you're new, and work your way up to multi-day trips.