Carrying all of your food and water can seem a bit daunting if you’ve never been backpacking before. I remember feeling a lost and confused when I first went backpacking. I wondered “What can I bring? Do I just eat trail mix for two days straight?”. And while there is nothing wrong with doing that, I prefer to have a bit more variety while out on the trail. If you search the internet for backpacking food, you’ll most likely come across a list of all of the best dehydrated food. I find that these items are great for multi-day adventures when you are trying to minimize your pack weight as much as possible. However, if you’re just going in the backcountry for a night or two, I like to stick to bringing my own (non-dehydrated) meals. Not to mention, dehydrated meals are incredibly expensive per serving, don’t offer nearly enough calories, AND many of the options are not vegan friendly. So, what do I eat when I’m out in the mountains? Before we dive into that I wanted to mention that I try to create as little waste as possible, even when in the backcountry. This means that I pack a majority of my food in reusable containers. I personally LOVE Stasher Bags and recommend them to nearly everyone that I encounter. If you don’t mind your food being a bit bulkier, simply use some plastic Tupperware.
BREAKFAST When it comes to breakfast, I will pack dried oatmeal 11/10 times. Not only is it a lightweight option, but it is cheap, nutritious, and delicious. Throw in some dried fruit, chia seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, maybe some chocolate chips and you’re sure to have a filling breakfast for a day full of adventure. Of all the items I pack, this tends to be one that I put in a Tupperware. That way all you have to do is boil some water, add it to your oatmeal, close the lid, let sit for about five minutes and enjoy!
With so many fancy backpacking meals out there, I find we often forget about the basics. A classic PB&J sandwich or bagel will always hit the spot for me. Bagels are a great option because they are usually more calorically dense and less likely to become completely smashed in your pack. Like I said earlier, if you are out on the trail for just a day or two, these can easily be made ahead of time at home to be consumed on the trail. If I’m packing a sandwich that I will eat that same day, I’ll make one packed full of hummus and veggies. This is a great way to get in some fresh veggies but I would not recommend saving this meal for day two on the trail as the hummus will most likely go bad. DINNER The latest addition to my backpacking food list is sweet potato burritos. The night before you leave for your trip chop up a medium sweet potato into small cubes. Add the potato, along with chopped bell pepper and onion to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add ½ cup of water or veggie broth to the pan and cover all the ingredients with a lid. Cook/steam for approximately ten minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. If all the water evaporates before the potatoes are cooked, simply add more water to the pan. Once the cooked ingredients have cooled, add to a reusable bag or container.
Once you’re at your camp, heat up the potato mixture in a cup over your camping stove. I like to pack some whole wheat tortillas along with some avocado to make an incredibly filling backcountry dinner. SNACKS Like my other meals, I like to keep my snacks simple. A bag of homemade trail mix is an easy way to pack in the calories, plus it is easily customizable depending on what fruits and nuts you like best. Other simple snacks I enjoy include:
-homemade granola bars
-homemade chocolate chip cookies (a must)
When I’m not backpacking, I tend to eat a very plant-based diet, aka lots of fruits and veggies. However, maintaining this way of eating while on the trail isn’t always feasible and that’s okay! Hiking for multiple hours, often with elevation, while carrying a pack means that you are going to be burning a lot of calories. It’s important to always pack more food than you think you’ll need and to never let yourself get into a caloric deficit. Stay hydrated, stay satiated and you’re bound to have a glorious vegan adventure in the mountains.