35 Best Backpacking Meals of All Time

Backpacking is a great way to spend some time outside, allow your body to recharge, and do something that feels more adventurous than staying in your everyday surroundings.

But there’s one thing you should never forget before embarking on this adventure: food! And not just any food—backpacking meals.

A good backpacking meal will provide lots of energy so you can keep up with the demands of the trail without feeling exhausted or weighed down.

It also needs to be lightweight and compact, with no cooking necessary because, most likely, you won’t have access to firewood or charcoal (and even if you did, it would be too risky).

Finally, it has to taste really good because who wants their trip ruined by bad food?

We’ve compiled a list of the best backpacking meals of all time, so you can rest assured that your next outdoor excursion will be as enjoyable as it is rewarding.

Read more: 40 Amazing Camping Food Ideas for Your Next Adventure


Backpackers and hikers need a lot of energy to cover long distances, so breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. A good breakfast will give you sustained energy throughout the day, help you stay hydrated, and prevent you from getting hungry later on.

That’s why it’s essential to choose a backpacking meal that is both nutritious and satisfying. The best options are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar. They should also be easy to digest, so you don’t get bloated or constipated while hiking.

Here are some of our favorite backpacking breakfast ideas:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Bars
  • Granola & Cereal
  • Pancakes
  • Powdered Milk
  • Breakfast Drink Mix Packets
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Almond Butter Packets
  • Peanut Butter Packets
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Powdered Peanut Butter


The importance of a good lunch for backpackers can’t be overstated. This is the meal that will keep you going until you reach your destination, so you must choose wisely.

A good lunch should be high in protein and fiber to give you sustained energy and low in sugar to prevent a blood sugar crash later on. It should also be easy to digest, so you don’t get bloated or constipated while hiking.

Here are some of our favorite backpacking lunch ideas:

  • Oat Bars
  • Jerky Chew
  • Granola & Cereal
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Peanut Butter Packets
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Bagels
  • Hard Meats – Salami, Summer Sausage, etc.
  • Hard Cheese – Parmesan, Romano, etc.
  • Peanut Butter Packets
  • Jelly or Honey
  • Tuna or Chicken in foil packets (StarKist)
  • Snacks


A good dinner will provide you with enough calories and nutrients for the night, help prevent dips in energy later on, and hold you over until breakfast. You want to make sure that your dinner is easy to digest, so it doesn’t cause stomach problems.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Potato Soup Mix Packets
  • Dried Pasta or Noodles
  • Protein Bars
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Ramen
  • Instant Soups
  • Stuffing
  • Instant Mac & Cheese (Velveeta)
  • Pasta and Rice Sides (Knorr)
  • Couscous
  • Chicken Packets
  • Tuna Packets
  • Dehydrated Vegetables


Snacking is one of the best ways to keep your energy levels up during a long day of hiking or backpacking. Here are some of our favorite backpacking snacks:

  • Instant Oatmeal Packets
  • Bagels
  • Honey
  • Nuts
  • Granola Bars
  • Dried Fruits
  • Cereal
  • Cookies
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Banana

Read more: 5 Best Electrolyte Powders for Hydration During a Hike or Camp

Other Things to Consider

Cost of the meal

The cost of backpacking meals can vary, but it’s important to choose wisely. You don’t want to break the bank buying expensive meals, but you also don’t want to end up eating junk food the whole trip.

Ramen noodles are a classic backpacker’s meal, and they’re cheap and easy to make. But they’re not very nutritious, so you might want to mix them with some other healthy options.

Granola bars are another affordable option, and they’re usually packed with protein and fiber.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, try a protein bar or a packet of tuna or chicken. These tend to be a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it if you’re looking for a high-quality meal.

Packaged vs. Homemade Meals

There are pros and cons to both packaged and homemade backpacking meals.

Packaged meals are convenient because they’re already made, and all you have to do is add water. They’re also lightweight and take up very little space in your pack. The downside is that they’re usually pretty expensive and aren’t very nutritious, so you might need to supplement them with additional snacks or homemade meals like dehydrated vegetables, dried soups, and pasta.

Homemade meals are easy to digest and lightweight because they don’t contain any packaging. They’re also a lot cheaper than packaged meals, and you’ll usually get more variety. But they take a long time to make, sometimes requiring a trip to the grocery store for ingredients. They also need a lot of extra space in your pack if you’re going on an extended trip.


No matter how many dehydrated meals you bring along on your trip, you’re going to have to pack some sort of packaging. Ziploc bags and Tupperware work well, but they can take up a lot of space. Food-safe aluminum foil is a better option because it’s lightweight and takes up very little room. You can also wrap your meals in clothing or sleeping bags to keep them warm.


If you’re camping, chances are you’ll have access to clean water, which means you can make your meals without having to carry extra weight. But if you’re backpacking or rafting, you’ll need to filter your own water or bring along bottled water.

Eating Utensils

You don’t want to weigh yourself down with extra utensils, but having some sporks or disposable chopsticks makes the meal a lot easier. You can also use sticks or rocks to eat your meals if you don’t have anything else.

Read more: Best Camping Knives for Outdoor Cooking in 2021

Cleaning Supplies

If you’re backpacking, you’ll likely be eating out of foil packets which means there aren’t any dishes to clean. But if you’re cooking over a campfire, you’ll need to bring some way to clean your pots and pans. Simple dishwashing soap and a small brush work well for this.

Backpacking can be a lot of fun, but it’s essential to ensure you have the right gear and supplies before you go.

What food should I bring on a 3-day hike?

The options are endless when it comes to what food to bring on a 3-day hike. You can bring anything from instant noodles and granola bars to sandwiches and full-course dinners. It depends on what you’re comfortable eating and what fits in your backpack.

If you’re looking for a light, easy-to-prepare meal, consider bringing along some instant noodles or oatmeal packets. These meals are quick and convenient and don’t require any cooking.

If you’re looking for something a bit more filling, try packing a few sandwiches or a bagel. These meals are easy to digest and don’t take up a lot of space.

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, try bringing along a few protein bars or packets of tuna or chicken. These meals tend to be a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it if you’re looking for a high-quality meal.

No matter what food you decide to bring, always make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks. You’ll need these to help replenish your energy levels, especially if you’re trying anything new.