Best Backpacking Food Tips and Hacks - Greenbelly Meals

Backpacking Food Tips and Hacks

Here are a few lesser known tips to keep you eating easy on the trail.

1. Keep it ALL to one cup.

Forget the multi-pot cook kits. They are heavy, bulky and unnecessary.

All of your meals should be able to be cooked in one cup with water. ie - heat water and then add noodles, rice, potatoes, etc. 750 ml with a lid and wide base is ideal.

Drink from your collapsible water bladder. Otherwise, you can enjoy a hot drink after you finish eating. 

2. Eat the Heavy Stuff First.

Lay out your meals at home beforehand. Then sort them by weight. Plan to eat the heaviest food first on the trail.

If you bring luxury foods (fresh fruit, meats, etc), its best to get them in your stomach and off your back asap.

Prioritizing what and when you eat can shave pounds off your pack by the end of a trip.


3. Hang the "Delicates".

Those brittle crackers will turn to powder after a couple days at the bottom of your pack. Squishy fruit, fluffy bread, soft greens need some extra TLC as well. 

Bring a bandana (can double up as a dish rag) and hang your delicate food off the back of your pack.


4. Only Cook at Night.

You want to crush miles and enjoy the scenery in the day... not stop and fiddle with your stove. Keep your day food quick, easy and cook-free. 

The time to relax is at the end of the day. This is also when you will really want that hot meal. Sprawl out at camp and cook dinner at your own pace.


5. Leave the Soap at Home.

As long as you don't cook overly messy meals and wipe your cup clean, you should not need soap. You can give your cup and spork a proper sudsy scrub back at home.

And as far as your personal hygiene is concerned, you're not hiking outside to smell pretty. Hand sanitizer is the only thing you need. Again, scrub back at home. 



6. Cut the Trash and Consolidate.

Most foods come in layers of packaging. You want to leave as much of this at home for two reasons:

1) Less weight and bulk to carry, but more importantly, 2) you don't have to pack it out.

Throw away the box cases and bags. Consolidate as much food as you can into one bag.


7. Windscreens Increase Fuel Efficiency.

I backpacked for nearly a decade before realizing how helpful these can be. 

Particularly important during winter. Your fuel itself flows much slower in cold weather. Not to mention that your stove is already fighting an uphill battle against the colder elements. The combination can drain your fuel while your water slooowly heats up.

A folded piece of aluminum foil will act as a windscreen - effectively blocking the wind and channeling the flame to heat your pot much more efficiently.

8. Get a Spork with a Straight Edge.

When you don't have soap and don't want to wipe that dirty cup out with your one clean rag, use your spork. Some sporks come with a firm straight handle that is perfect for scraping the walls of a cup clean.



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"a whopping 645 calories with a balanced mix of carbs, protein, sodium, fats and fiber"


Feel free to leave a comment or question and we'll figure out how to help. Safe hiking.


Chris, Founder Greenbelly

chris cage greenbelly

By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine and Bicycling Magazine to Fast Company and Science Alert. He recently wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.

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