The Ultimate Guide to Hiking and Backpacking Foods

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Protein bars can only sustain you for so long before you begin to crave variety. While the uninformed can get by on 48-hour trips into the wilderness, there are a lot of advantages to making yourself comfortable during prolonged outings. That means mixing up your diet, understanding how to pack nutritious food that won’t weigh you down and even what to do in an emergency if you run out of food or something happens to render the food you packed inedible.

Despite our reliance on restaurants and grocery stores, you can trace everything you eat back to nature. That means with a proper understanding, you can feel secure about where your next meal is coming from, even when you’re on the trail for weeks on end.

The Basics of Outdoor Eating

Most of the activities we associate with the outdoors are highly active. Hiking, camping, climbing and backpacking all put severe strain on your body, so it’s essential that you carry enough fuel to see the journey through safely. Your choice of activity will determine how sensitive you need to be to things like water usage and weight. If you’re heading out for a pleasant day hike, you can probably get by on a small pack of perishable foods like fruits and nuts, dried meats and nutrition bars. Once you commit to a longer foray into the wild, however, things start to require more planning.

Water is the cornerstone of your outdoor nutrition plan. You might know humans can survive for several weeks without food. However, without water, you’ll be weak and unable to help yourself get home within as little as 72 hours. You should carry water for drinking on any excursion outdoors, but for longer trips, you’ll need to plan to identify water sources and carry equipment to clean water for use in cooking and cleaning as well as for drinking.

Finally, in an emergency, you may have no food, water or both. This situation is when your knowledge of edible plants and water filtration becomes paramount. If something goes wrong and you lose the food and water you brought, your backup plan could be the difference between a safe return home and a tragic ending to your journey. This guide will explore these topics using a few different scenarios to help you craft practical and enjoyable meal plans for your outdoor journeys.

Short Trips and Day Hikes

When you’re planning to return home the same day, you can give a little less precedence to weight and longevity in food. Since your food is the majority of what you’ll be carrying, you don’t need to be as weight-conscious, and it’s best to bring slightly more than you think you’ll need unless your hike is brief — for example, two hours or less.

A combination of simple and complex carbohydrates, along with some protein, will help you feel energized on the trail. It’s best not to choose only sugary options like candy and cookies, which make excellent marathon snacks for outdoor runners, but can lead to spikes in your blood sugar and consequent lows that will have you feeling drained long before it’s time to go home. Of course, pack your water bottle or use a backpack with a water bladder to make sure you stay hydrated.

Packaged items like granola bars claim to fit the bill, and while some do, many of these are mostly sugar. Instead, look for healthy fruits such as bananas that provide potassium to avoid cramps and protein-rich snacks like dried meats. If you are doing a trail run and need some sports nutrition, you can use salt tabs and some exercise nutrition products like gels and fruit chews that contain caffeine as a short-term pick-me-up if you’re comfortable with it.

Weekend Backpacking and Camping

Now the fun begins. Depending on how long your hike into camp is, you may be able to use a car to bring in items that would otherwise be impractical. For the sake of this guide, let’s imagine you need to backpack in. Some of the foods that you would have used in the day hike section will still make excellent on-the-trail snacks, but consider their shelf life if you’re spending multiple days out. Compact munchies like mini peanut-butter packages and trail mix bags hold up well.

When it’s time to settle down for a meal, you have some options that wouldn’t be available for a longer excursion. You will need to pack a camp stove for most of these, which is essentially a grill plate you can place over a fire. More rugged survivalists may choose to use a self-contained fuel-burning unit like those available from MSR and Jetboil. Bring a brush to clean your cooking equipment and a pot to boil some water, as this is a critical element to many camp meals. Bring plenty of water. If you’re car camping, this is simple. If not, use a high-volume filtration device and scout out a water source near camp beforehand using mapping software.

Frozen goods like hot dogs can make a fun campfire meal on night one, before they thaw out and get smashed in your pack. Canned goods like chili and soups make a quick, easy meal, too. You can cook and eat an entire bag of easy mac-and-cheese in the plastic bag if pasta is your thing. Just make sure you bring the right equipment to open them or you’ll go hungry.

The team at The Adventure Bite has published a wide variety of recipes dedicated to whipping up premade foil-wrapped meals. These use fresh ingredients wrapped in foil bundles you can place on the grill plate and cook while enjoying a rustic evening around the campfire. They are too heavy and perishable for use in alpinist adventures, but make for a delicious end to your day on shorter journeys.

A true outdoor gourmand will learn to cook on a Dutch oven, which opens up a huge number of options around the firepit. You can cook breads, stir-frys, steaks and pancakes in one of these cast-iron camp stoves. However, before you go all Gordon Ramsay on your expedition, make sure you know who will be carrying the Dutch oven. These things are seriously heavy, and so is pancake mix. If it’s an overnight trip or you’re hell-bent on having flapjacks for breakfast, go for it. If you’re more concerned about how heavy the pack on your back is, maybe choose a different option.

Drink packages are a fun way to expand on what you’ve brought without adding weight. If you’re camping somewhere cold, make sure to stock up on hot cocoa mix, which makes an excellent complement to instant coffee for a mountain mocha to help you rise in the morning. Serve this sweet wake-up call with some instant oatmeal, perhaps with a handful of dried fruit, and you’ll be well-fueled for another day on the trail.

Whether or not to pack a dedicated lunch is up to you, as many outdoors enthusiasts prefer to nibble along the way to cover more ground. You can find easily packable options like mini-flatbread, salami and cheese at most supermarkets for a quick sandwich option you can munch on while moving. Of course, this is one meal you can cover entirely with snack items like those we touched on in the day hikes section. Just make sure you divide what you pack appropriately, considering what you’ll eat on day one and what will need to hold up longer.

Ultralight Backpacking and Mountaineering

Planning for long-duration expeditions where you need to conserve weight to ensure you can cover enough ground begins to narrow the number of options you can get at a conventional grocery store. Nutrition bars are still appropriate, and you should probably pack more of them than you think you’ll need, because they tend to hold up well as emergency rations. Don’t worry — you don’t have to live on tooth-shattering cold Powerbars for the whole trip. It gets better, and the usual dried nuts and fruit still work for a day snack.

Once you’ve set up camp with a nearby water supply, you’ll want to filter off enough water to prepare for the evening meal and for your company to drink. It’s advisable to have multiple water filters as well as backup purification measures like iodine tablets available for this type of trip. A collapsible reservoir is another great addition to your pack that will keep you from having to refill the filter and put things on hold.

Start your camp stove up using a compact fuel canister and get some water boiling. Freeze-dried meals have come a long way since the crunchy porridge of the 1970s, and you can now enjoy everything from beef stroganoff to cheesy chicken noodle casserole in freeze-dried format. The pouches are lightweight, and you can cram them into a compact layer in your bag. To prepare them, you’ll tear off the top of the pouch and pour in the specified amount of boiling water. Reseal the pouch, wait for the specified amount of time and voila, it’s time for dinner. Invest in a set of lightweight or folding utensils and a metal bowl you can wash with boiled water for easy after-dinner cleanup.

Breakfast and lunch take on a more utilitarian format when counting grams. Oatmeal from a pouch, dried fruits and nutrition bars are probably your best bet here. Dried meats are a great way to add some protein and variety to your diet, and can make the outdoor experience feel that much more authentic.

Emergency Rations

Backpacking and mountaineering are challenging and dangerous, and sometimes things go wrong. When they do, your knowledge of your environment can help you feel confident you have a safe way out. Remember to bring those backup water purification measures, if your filter freezes and cracks or fails some other way you’ll need them to avoid getting sick.

As for nourishment, if you have a weapon and are comfortable hunting game in an area where it’s legal, meat is at the top of the wilderness food pyramid. That doesn’t mean you should feel compelled to mindlessly kill animals, but in a life-or-death situation, the nutrition meat affords you will be far more substantial than what you can gather from edible plants.

Foraging still offers a variety of good options. Many insects provide a good source of protein. For example, when charred over a lighter flame, caterpillars and grasshoppers are not reminiscent of a crunchy French fry. Look out for bird’s nests, which can yield nutritious eggs, and if there are trees that bear edible nuts in your area, you can forage for those and get more nutrition from those than leafy greens. Pine needle tea is a famous camping recipe that can stave off hunger pangs for a short time and is easy to make by boiling pine needles in water.

You should have a basic understanding of edible plants, which you can gain from reading a guide like this one from Popular Science. Many mushrooms, wild berries and aquatic plants are all safe to eat, but make sure you’ve identified them correctly. If you absolutely must, conduct an edibility test in five steps, allowing plenty of time between each to make certain you don’t react. Smell the plant, rub it on the skin of your elbow or inner arm, kiss it and then take a tiny bite. If all goes well after 15 to 20 minutes, you’re probably safe to eat more.

Plan and Enjoy Your Journey!

Truthfully, modern technology has made what used to be the exclusive province of the hardiest people into a pretty straightforward affair. It’s important that you get it right, which is why we can’t say enough how critical planning is for a longer trip. But if you consider the size of your party and how to accommodate for water needs, all that’s left to do is choose what’s on the menu. Sure, you might have to give up that cherished favorite dish for a week, but the days of eating the same meal thirty times in a row are long gone. No matter what Applebee’s has to say on the topic, eatin’ good can and does happen, far from yours or anyone else’s neighborhood.

Note: This was a guest post.

Top 5 Items for Your Get Home Bag (GHB)

I happened upon the following video earlier today and I couldn’t resist checking out what the guy had to say as I’m always looking to see if I’m missing something in my bug out bag–I’m not–especially something I may not have included in my 53 essentials book.

Unfortunately, the title is a bit misleading because it isn’t a mere five items but more like five areas of preparedness, specifically water (e.g., water container, purification), shelter (e.g., jacket, sleeping bag), self defense, a first aid kit, and food (especially food you don’t need to cook).

Regardless, everything he suggests is good to include. I might also include a pair of shoes you can walk in and a flashlight for sure! Not sure why any sort of light source didn’t make the top five list, lol.

7 Steps to Building Your First Bug Out Bag

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Whether in the event of natural disaster or an invasion, city-wide dangers or anarchy, there are many uses and times in which a bug out bag’s existence and necessity may very well become a reality.

A very familiar element to those that have volunteered alongside of or worked in the military, terms like “go bag” is a common name used, or “overnight bag” which we identify the BOB bag as in the Air Force. However, this is of course designed to be much more than just an “overnight bag” in most instances – while the name may not allude to such.

In this article, we will cover a range of topics and key focus areas for building your first bug out bag, which based on field experience, knowledge, and hobby-like interest combined with a DIY attitude will cover the following topics:

  • Observation of the environment
  • Health hygiene review and modifications, preparations
  • Signals and communications
  • Visualization and planning
  • Movement and cover, evasion and distress
  • Recovery and repair
  • Creation, and angling for long-term survival as-needed

To understand how to build the most efficient, meaningful, light-weight, productive, and effective bug out bag (BOB) it is first critical to know how your settings or environment, personal strengths and weaknesses, environmental changes, and how they interact with the situation. This is the most practical approach to maximize both survival and application of your bug-out-bag.

(1) Observing and understanding your environment:

To get the most out of your bug out bag (BOB) it is worth investing substantial time, consideration, efforts and even funding in choosing the most durable, efficient, lightweight, practical backpack for your last-minute adventures or escape!

However, depending on the nature of your potential scenario may it be a natural disaster or possible foreign invasion, zombie apocalypse or total anarchy, choosing one of the following backpack types for your B.O.B. makes sense!

  • A Kevlar-made bag for resilience, durability, and reliability which will keep you and your belongings safe.
  • A premium grade backpack with high-ratings, reliability, and trust from military agencies that optionally will include a BALLISTIC SHIELD is also preferable, as seen with those bags made to include Tuffy Packs ballistic shield.

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  • An assault pack style backpack, or Mojo Tactical for those fonder of the over-the-shoulder design, an item like the KIFARU EMR II for the long-distance journey and escape, or survival in the wilderness.

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Consider the importance of lightweight solutions for your Bug Out Bag, and research which of these models make the most sense for you, your strengths, personality, and priorities with packing and preparing your bag.

Also, consider the importance of getting a nature-colored bag for both camouflage to protect yourself from predators, and also to prevent or avoid unnecessary and unwanted attention. Depending on where you live, different variations of materials make sense more than others per the regular or average temperature, and typically expected maximum highs and lows of the environments which you’ll be traveling or living in.

To make the most of your ability to observe and report your environment to yourself, loved ones, or authorities make sure you pack the following critical items:

  • Reliable, durable binoculars that are lightweight in design and prepared for the outdoors
  • A compass for direction and measuring distance
  • Durable, reliable waterproof work-shoes or work-boots that are durable but not uncomfortably heavy for long-distance trekking and prevention of injury stainless steel highly recommended and cleats are an option
  • A pair of trusted clear eyewear protection for visibility and eye injury prevention both during the daytime and night time
  • UV proof sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunrays during the day
  • A small, waterproof notebook to record movements, observations, goals, and to leave behind notes or other measures of communicating with emergency personnel or friends and family
  • Fluorescent bodywear ranging from gloves to shirt, hat, or pants, which can be altered or used at different points during your journey to communicate different signals or even use as a flag for gaining attention at some point

This list is extensive, but not conclusive. Also consider the sort of environment, dangers, and expectations you have for your journey this way you can make the best decision with what backpack design, model, weight, capacity, style, and features make the most sense.

(2) Health Hygiene Review – Body Care and Repairs

From duct-tape to tampons, we have compiled a list that makes sense and is sure to be useful when it comes to maintaining the necessary health hygiene, “body repairs,” maintenance (like refueling), and both preventing as well as treating sickness and illness.

Every bug-out bag at a minimum should have a reliable roll of industrial-grade duct tape. From small injuries to severe gashes, broken or disconnected limbs and more, duct-tape has been trusted in the field by soldiers at home and abroad for decades.

Hand sanitizer, a basic medical kit, iodine for destroying bacteria and preventing infection, medical gauze for stopping bleeding or promoting clotting, Q-tips, and even a small package of tampons will go all the way in helping you to prepare for nearly any essential to medium-level injury and beyond. Gel energy packs, salt, water filters, a natural water purifier, and pan, bottle, cup, tweezers, and small necessary splints are also a MUST! Also, consider investing in water filtration tabs to filter and consume water while on the go quickly.

Also, do NOT forget necessary vitamin packs or powders to lighten your load, surgical or a RESPRO allergy mask to preserve and protect your face, lungs, the air you are breathing in, and breathing back out. It is not necessary to purchase and pack a gas-mask or other sophisticated survivalist masks because fitting and carrying one will be a severe inconvenience, weigh you down, and likely deplete both space and time in your bug-out bag!

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(3) Signaling and Communications – Equipment Preparation

It is critical you find yourself at any times able to effectively signal for help, “friendlies,” and also identify others, which is why reliable, efficient, and practical signalizing and communications equipment is a MUST.

Pack your next Bug Out Bag with the necessary light sticks to show your position or lead the way through dark roads and brush; any brand will do barring it has good reviews and is reliable. This should not cost you more than around $10.00 for a pack.

Also, consider adding the following signaling and communications equipment to your bug-out bag:

  • Hand-crank flashlight for constant reliability for lighting the way
  • LED headlamp to light the path in front of you with adjustable settings
  • Solar powered LED flashlight
  • Hand-crank LED flashlight
  • Tinderbox for manually fire-starting when necessary
  • Matches as a backup resource
  • Fire-safe and waterproof lighters to both preserve and create fire at most critical times or weather
  • Firestarter kit

DO NOT neglect the following critical hygiene items:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste with cases for each to keep dirt out
  • Soap bars that are well packaged

It is critical that you keep your teeth, ears, and mouth as clean as possible wild adventuring in the wild or on the road for days or more at a time. This is because bacteria grows most frequently and enters the body in these places, and can pose a severe threat to your immune system which in turn risks you become weaker, unable to function competently, lethargy, a lack of energy, and an inability to focus as well as other common flu and virus symptoms.

An essential Morse-code guide is also suggested, for communicating with other emergency personnel and military as needed.

A FLINTSTRIKE fire-starter kit like the one below is recommended, convenient, practical, and lightweight for your BOB:

(4) Visualization and Planning – Tactical Tools and Supplies

To increase your chances for survival, both planning a route to your destination, the progress you’ve made, and being able to visualize where you are and where you’re going adequately are critical to making the most of your survival in the wild, during a national emergency, or total anarchy! So, do not take this opportunity and advice lightly, and only go with the most reliable, durable, trusted tools and equipment for this section when creating your BOB:

  • Reliable, lightweight binoculars (night vision preferred but costly)
  • A basic notepad, pencils, and a pencil sharpener
  • Local and county maps, districts, and state-wide maps
  • Emergency GPS signaling device
  • Trusted outdoors GPS device

The GARMIN eTrex 20x is a good, affordable and efficient GPS tracking system, but the eTrex ten will also do just fine, and both are lightweight, reliable, and very durable.

(5) Movement and cover, communications and evasion

From equipment to clothing, charges, traps, bungees and more

Pack your BOB with a waterproof raincoat, rain pants, lightweight and preferably foldable rain-boots or covers. Also be sure to pack a waterproof hat, and some of the other following items to preserve your strength, health, agility, and speed:

-Fluorescent gloves and vest for both signaling and being seen as-needed

-2 Bandanas which have a wide range of multi-purpose that are sure to come in handy including for first-aid

-A sewing kit for easy repairs and modifications to clothing and armor or equipment, and if you have enough space, perhaps a small hacksaw as well.

-Kevlar gloves for fast, safe, and active movement through dense brush, rough environments, and terrains

-At least two pairs or waterproof socks so that one may be used while the other dried in the sun before the next use. QUIK-DRY brand highly recommended, especially for cloudy or cold days that make it difficult for clothing to dry.

These waterproof, durable, sports-styled socks are the perfect choice for anyone serious about keeping warm and dry – because without dry socks injuries, rashes, and pain are certain.

EXTRA TIP: An EMERGENCY RADIO is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (Solar Power is your best bet) so finding and adding a lightweight, compact emergency radio can make all the difference in your chances of survival, and identifying to reach your objective.

This EMERGENCY WEATHER SOLAR CRANK RADIO is a good choice, but there are many options available online:

(6) Recover, repair, and create!

Industrial tools, building, demolitions, self-repair and equipment repairs

Maximize your strength, building and survival abilities, and preserve energy where possible by packing the following must-have items and supplies into your bug-out bag:

  • Multipurpose knife for fitting, cutting, preparing food, and first aid
  • Nylon Rope for climbing, grappling, and evasion – also consider investing in a reliable and durable 550 Parachute Cord (50?)
  • Multipurpose multitool for stretching, cutting, and repairing survival materials
  • Zip ties
  • Fishing Line

– A Versatile AXE for preparing food, chopping wood, and creating shelter

A multipurpose camping ax like the one below will mean between life and death when it comes to preparing firewood, cooking, hunting, and even defending yourself.

The added tools and versatility of a screwdriver, combined with duct tape, zip ties, and a plastic tarp will work miracles when it comes to making a water-proof shelter that’s likely to keep you warm and alive at night – and safe from PESTS and PREDATORS!

(7) Resistance and Survival, Existence and Maneuverability

Self Defense and Enhancing Speed

To protect yourself and your assets are sure to invest in the following items, tools, or multi-use weapons that will promote resistance, survival, and maneuverability!

-A durable, static and waterproof tarp to quickly set up a fort or tent soon in all weather and climates

-Bug spray and repellent to protect yourself and prevent serious infections or illness and diseases

-Pepper spray as a choice non-lethal weapon to defend yourself against bears, and other dangerous animals or persons. This is a compact solution and most practical for a bug-out bag but does not exclude the possibility of carrying a handgun and ammunition if possible.

Remember…

Observe, Signal, Visualize, Move, Cover, Escape, Recover, Repair, Create, and Survive!

NOTE: THIS WAS A GUEST POST

Get Home Bag Real World Examples

Understanding the purpose behind a “get home bag” or “bug out bag” will help you decide what to include and why.

In this video, SensiblePrepper emphasizes the reasons why you should have such a bag ready at all times with several worthwhile examples.

He also briefly discusses items to include–medical items and self defense–especially the medical supplies which can be useful for helping others who have been injured after a disaster.

Clearly, there are many potential reasons why such a bag could be useful, including a personal SHTF situation, environmental disasters (e.g., tornadoes or blizzards), riots, and more.

Here’s why you need to have a get home bag or bug out bag ready…

53 Essential Bug Out Bag Supplies: $0.99 Kindle Countdown Deal

I’ll keep this short and sweet, I’m running a $0.99 Kindle countdown deal on one of my more popular books, [easyazon_link identifier=”B0783583YY” locale=”US” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″]53 Essential Bug Out Bag Supplies[/easyazon_link], and there’s less than 36 hours to until the price rises again.

So, if you’ve yet to take advantage and to grab the book, now’s the time to do so because the price goes up in about 33 hours as of this writing.

Built upon four tiers of gear and supplies, this book will show you precisely how to build a survival pack you can rely upon.

Besides the “53 essentials” we’ll also cover…

  • The Problem with Creating an “Ultimate” Bug Out Bag List
  • Choosing a Bag: Which Comes First, The Bag or The Gear?
  • 13 Unnecessary Items Most Go Bag Lists Include But Don’t Need

…and plenty more.

Don’t wait, grab the book while you can…

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53 Essential Bug Out Bag Supplies Book FREE on Amazon

Bug Out Bag Book

Would you believe I’m now releasing my third survival book on Amazon? And I’m happy to say this one is a good one, covering a topic many preppers struggle over.

But, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with my latest Kindle book, 53 Essential Bug Out Bag Supplies, and it’s currently FREE on Amazon Kindle today through Friday.

All I ever ask of folks who take advantage of my free giveaways is that they give it a quick rating or review on Amazon when they’re finished.

Built upon four tiers of gear and supplies, this book will show you precisely how to build a survival pack you can rely upon.

Realize, however, that this book tackles the topic a bit differently than most bug out bag books. In fact, if you live anywhere near a city or town and have no expectation of actually evacuating into the wilderness, then it’s time get your bug out bag right with these 53 essentials you won’t want to be without.

We’ll also discuss:

  • The Problem with Creating an “Ultimate” Bug Out Bag List
  • Choosing a Bag: Which Comes First, The Bag or The Gear?
  • 13 Unnecessary Items Most Lists Include but You Won’t Need

Grab yourself a copy while you can and discover precisely how to build a “go bag” you can rely upon…

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