Backpacking Food: What to Pack and How Much Do You Need.

How to Plan your Ultralight Backpacking Meals

If you’ve read some of our previous blog posts about food you know that we recommend only packing dried food that you reconstitute using water that you boil and steep in the Beer Can Stove.

tjstrailmixIn the article The Top Three Guidelines for Ultralight Backpacking Food, point Number 2 talks about planning by weight. Our product engineer and avid backpacker, Rob, provides these guidelines based on his own experience, and he’s a real detail person. (He sent our backpack design back to the factory 3 times because they weren’t getting ONE stitch correct on the compression straps of the Lightning Access Backpack!)

The point is that you can take his weight estimations seriously when you plan your backpacking meals. If you’re a large active man or teenager, you’re going to need about 20ozs dry weight of food a day. If your a normal sized human, expect to need less.

 When you do your planning based on weight rather than serving size for prepackaged backpacking meals, you’re going to get closer to the calories you need.

In a gear review of the top prepackaged backpacking meals, the review ends with a tale of three men eating the equivalent of prepackaged food for 14 based on serving sizes! The moral: measure by weight of the food minus the packaging rather than serving sizes. (NOTE: this link loads incredibly slowly on my computer, but worth reading.)

If price of your food is a consideration, reconsider prepackaged backpacking meals.

Now, you can take your needs to the store. Using prepackaged meals will probably give you some tasty options, but realize that the cost of your trip will rise significantly – you will NEVER be satisfied by a one serving size package and may not even get by on a two serving size if your a large active man.

Instead, shop the instant soup and prepackaged meal aisle at your normal supermarket or health food store. Any boxed dinner that doesn’t require the addition of anything else like meat, that says it cooks in 15 minutes or less will steep successfully in the water you boil in your Beer Can Stove.

Some favorites include: Near East Brand – lots of whole grain, high carb choices. Trader Joe’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes. TJ’s only sells these around Thanksgiving time, so stock up for your backpacking season – they’re great with a little shot of olive oil for extra calories.

Check out this video for some additional ideas: Hiking Food For Long Distance Backpacking – 5,000 Calories Per Day. This guy carries lots of candy, which seems to work for him. I like slower burning trail mixes myself. (Included is a picture of my favorite aisle at Trader Joe’s)

When you get back home, weigh the food you have left. This is extra weight you didn’t need to lug around. Of course carrying a little extra for emergencies, along with the extra fuel to heat the water to reconstitute is important, but consider the cost/benefit of that extra weight the next time you plan a trip.

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