If you’re planning on doing any hiking or camping any time soon, it’s important that you take some time to properly plan your nutritional needs in advance. There’s far more to think about than simply grabbing a protein bar and your water bottle and filter. Be sure to follow these hiking food tips and tricks on your next outdoor adventure.
Make a Plan
Remember that your nutrition and hydration needs will be much higher during physically demanding excursions like hiking trips. If you’re hiking in hotter weather, be sure to bring an adequate amount of water. Here are a few more important things to think about before setting out:
- Length of the trip
- What foods and beverages you’ll carry
- How you’ll eat and drink
- If bringing a cooler is an option
- What food-related tools you’ll need
A great way to start the day is to pre-hydrate by drinking at least 4 cups of water before your hike. You’ll have less to carry and won’t be starting out thirsty.
Lastly, a good rule of thumb is to plan to have about 2 cups of fluid for every hour of hiking.
For estimating nutritional needs for your hikes, check out calorie calculator.
For a Day Trip
You actually can pack perishable foods, such as sandwiches or leftovers from last night’s dinner. Just remember, the more you pack, the harder it will be to hike. Therefore, opt mainly for non-perishable foods that are lightweight and nutrient dense such as:
- Trail mix
- Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
- Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
- Energy bars, chews or gels
- Granola or granola bars
- Ready-made tuna salad pouches
- Whole-grain tortillas
- Poultry, salmon or meat jerky
For Multi-Day Trips
It’s a little more challenging to plan for longer hiking or camping trips. On the first day, you’ll be able to eat your perishables. However, for day two, you’ll have to do a little bit of planning. Try and map out your meals so you’ll have what you enjoy and need. If you have the luxury of a cooler, you’ll have numerous options. If not, try to pack some of these shelf-stable basics to keep you going.
- Easy-to-carry foods mentioned above
- Ready-to-eat cereal
- Fruit or vegetable puree in squeezable pouches (yes, like baby food)
- Poultry or fish pouches, or canned fish, poultry or meat in individual or regular servings
- Individual packets of mayo, mustard, taco sauce and/or soy sauce
- Whole-grain pasta, couscous, rice mix, pancake mix, hot cereal, dried soups and dehydrated foods (if you have the ability to boil water)
- Marshmallows — for a campfire dessert, of course
- Bottled water, and possibly powdered beverage mixes
Hiking Food Safety Practices
Always follow good food safety practices. Remember that perishable cannot be left out in hot weather (90°F or higher) for more than one hour. During milder weather, two hours is the maximum. So, when you’re planning your hiking food needs, don’t forget these food safety essentials:
- Disposable wipes, moist towelettes or biodegradable soap
- Kettle or cooking pot
- Eating and cooking utensils
- Can opener
- Ice packs, if applicable
- Trash bags
- Portable water filters or water purification tablets