Backpacking Foods

During this class you'll be treated to some great camp food for your first dinner and breakfast.  The rest of the time you'll be getting familiar with freeze-dried breakfasts and dinners as well as whatever day-time snack foods you want to enjoy.

We will be providing the freeze-dried meals as well as dinner on your first night and breakfas that morning.  However, you'll have to figure out the best options for you.  Below is a list of ideas that we love, but feel free to think outside the box.

The only suggestion we'll make is lunch on Day 1.  Yes, you'll be in class, but you won't have to be hauling the food in your backpack.  So, with that said, maybe you should consider picking up a Subway sandwich (leave off the dressings or it'll get soggy), or maybe even some fried chicken (which tastes good cold).  Whatever you bring, just make sure you bring a garbage bag for your waste.

Breakfast & Dinners

When just starting out it's best to bring freeze-dried or quick cook options.  Pre-made meals by Mountain House, Backpacker's Pantry, Next Mile Meals, etc.  Other great options are Ramen, Knorr pasta and rice sides, instant mashed potatoes, and Mac & Cheese.


When selecting candy make sure to consider the temperatures you'll be hiking in.  Chocolate can get messy if it melts.  These are just some of the most common foods you'll see in a hiker's food bag; in no way does it mean you can't/shouldn't bring other favorites.

  • M&M's
  • Skittles
  • Candy bars (a hiker favorite is Snickers because it has both sugar AND fat)
  • Reece's Pieces
  • Starburst
  • Hard candy - this is good becasue you can suck giving you a tasty source of sugar)

Fuel Bars

Fuel bars are a great way to pack in good hiking nutrients in a convenient format - a hand held bar.  There are literally hundreds of videos on how to make your own bars.  They really ARE simple to make and way cheaper.  You might already be familiar with your favorites so go with that.  If not, then of the challenges with fuel bars is that because there are SO many options out there, it's hard to know which one is best for you.  You'll want to start by looking at the ingredients of each bar you're considering.  Pick the ones that you're comfortable with, then try one from 2-3 brands you're comfortable with.  Then, after trying them out decide if the texture and flavor is good enough to try other flavors by that brand.

Pre-made Items

In some cases a fresh, pre-made item is a good idea.  You really have to be careful though as some items become compromised under the pressure of being in a pack.  Just imagine how a piece of cake would do in a zip lock in a backpack.  However, some things can even get better.  Some things are VERY BAD ideas, like fried chicken on the you have to haul out bones. In fact, waste is one of the primary concerns about pre-made items.

  • Pre-made Sub-Sandwiches/Wraps - these can be from Subway, a supermarket, or your own home.  If you are going to do this then you have two choices - sloppy or super-sloppy.  The sloppy way is to somehow pack the meat/bread/cheese separate from the vegetables and leave all of the condiments on the side.  But one of my favorite first-lunch-on-the-trail items is a Subway sanwich with mayo/mustard already on it and the dressing/oil/vinegar on the side.
  • Pre-made PB&J - a PB&J is probably one of the perfect pre-made sandwich items.  Not only is the peanut butter and jelly good macro-nutrients, but there's just something nostalgic about a PB&J; and another plus is that they don't really lose their penache when they've been compressed in a bag.  Pro-tip: do a PB&Honey - the honey crystalizes into the bread if it's been made for a while and it adds some love crunch.
  • Value-meal Cheeseburgers - I know, I know..."a cold cheeseburger?"  Yes, a cold cheeseburger.  No, it's not as good as when it's served hot, but they're aren't THAT much worse.  I'd shy away from the burgers with a lot of veggies on them though.  Those just seem to be WAY worse than the plain 'ole meat, cheese, pickles, ketchup/mustard and bun option.

Miscellaneous Items

These are the most common staples of a hiker's lunch diet OTHER THAN the things mentioned above.  These are items that you want to eat, not what you THINK you should be eating.

  • GORP - now we call this concoction "trail-mix" and there are literally hundreds of pre-made options from a Costco mix, to the bins at your local Winco or Whole Foods.  For the record, GORP stands for "good old raising & peanuts".
  • Meat, cheese and crackers - while some crackers don't fare well on the trail, they're still worth considering.  There are lots of pre-sliced/package options available, but I like to purchase the entire sausage and cut with my knife.  As for cheeses, the harder the cheese the better it will fare in your pack.  You really need to consider the ambient temperature of your hiking conditions.
  • Drink mixes - drink mixes are great for a few reasons; some provide great electrolytes and needed sugars.  They also help mask the unsavory flavor of filtered water.
  • Jerkey - one of the all-time greats on the trail.  It provides protein and is easy to eat on the go.
  • Tuna/Salmon packets - these are new to the scene and are EASY to carry.  There are even some decent flavors out there.
  • Fruit Leathers - again, another easy to eat on the trail food that can be combined with peanut butter and a tortilla to make a PB&J kinda' thing.
  • Granola bars - goes without saying, but granola bars are probably one of the top 3 most carried food on a hike.  There's a reason.


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Backpacking is a very challenging endeavor and each route will require a certain level of fitness, capability and in some cases, experience.  Our goal is to ensure that you do not get in over your head to the extent it requires an evacuation.  Our staff is eager to work with you to put together the adventure that's best for you and your group.


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Arizona Backpacking Company