If you’ve ever done a day hike that stretched your limits, you know that hiking really gets you in touch with your hunger. That’s especially true if you start backpacking, which often requires you to carry more than 20 pounds on your back while facing backcountry terrain. So what do you pack when you won’t have full access to your kitchen fridge that night?
Last summer I backpacked 1,000 miles and ate everything from ramen packets to Snickers bars to fresh ravioli. But even so, on my last weekend backpacking trip, I underestimated how much food I would need and ended up snacking on the extra chocolates my friends had brought along until we got back into town.
To help beginner backpackers avoid making the same mistake I did—and as a reminder to myself—I decided to compile my best advice, plus tips from a few pros, for properly packing food for your first backpacking trip.
1. Stock up on a few basic pieces of equipment you’ll need to cook.
- A stove. Some people do choose to go stove-less, but if you’re new to the backcountry, you’ll probably find a hot, cooked meal comforting. I have a super-simple and lightweight stove that is similar to the MSR Pocket Rocket that screws directly onto the fuel canister. JetBoils are a popular option, too.
- Stove fuel. Your local outdoors store (REI, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops) will have this. Just make sure you buy the right fuel for your stove or you can end up without a flame to cook with. I suggest asking a salesperson to guide you in the right direction.