Satisfying Path Snacks and Meals for Longer Hikes

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Caitlin O’Malley is goop’s Food Director. She gives us recipes, take-away recommendations, and advice on anything non-food. She makes us laugh every day.

Admittedly, I’m not an outdoor person (my Instagram biography once read “Indoor Kid”). That said, I’ve developed a bit of an interest in it now thanks to the outdoor guy I married. He knew how much I loved packing cool boxes for road trips and picnic baskets for the beach and saw potential for my culinary sense on the trail. Since then, I’ve been his de facto snack liaison and help him find delicious whole food options for his backpacking adventures and hikes together. You could say that I’m a little obsessed with tweaking trail food.

Before you start filling your backpack with goodies, there are a few diet rules you should know for outdoor adventures.

KEEP IT EASY

If backpackers and hikers pay attention to two things, it’s the pack weight and the calorie intake. On arduous journeys, some hikers will not bother bringing food unless it is at least 100 calories per ounce. If you’re an inexperienced hiker (like me) you don’t have to be quite as extreme, but a lighter backpack is undeniably more comfortable on short hikes too.

It’s also important to keep reusable and disposable packaging in mind during this conversation. If you’re going ultra-light for a long trip, some disposable products are likely to be a must. If using reusable products is important to you, it is perfectly possible, but they can get heavy and you may want to do some swaps to make up for the extra weight, such as: B. Packing freeze-dried apples instead of fresh ones. Or reuse plastic takeaway bins – they’re super light and you can make better use of them before they land in a landfill.

AVOID PERISHABLE

Dairy and meat can be really satisfying on a hike, but since you probably won’t bring ice packs, super fresh items should be avoided. Hard cheeses like parmesan, aged gouda, and aged cheddar should be fine at room temperature for a day or so (possibly longer if you’re hiking in cold temperatures). The same applies to sausages such as salami. Otherwise, stick to storage-stable options.

DO NOT THINK OVER

I have to keep reminding myself of that. It’s easy to get lost in ideas for more exciting and complicated foods to recreate on the go (especially when you see TikTokers making gourmet dishes in the woods), but it’s best to curb that. Preparing food outside of a real kitchen can be a bit of a challenge, so keep it simple when in doubt.

LEAVE NO TRACE

Look at the trash you are about to make and always unpack it. Orange peel, plastic packaging, coffee filters – everything has to go with you. I bring a reusable bag for this purpose.

  1. Stasher Reusable Half Gallon Storage Bag

    Look at the trash you are about to make and always unpack it. Orange peel, plastic packaging, coffee filters – everything has to go with you. I pack a reusable bag specially for this.

    Stasher reusable half gallon
    Storage bag Goop, $ 20

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HYDRATION

In addition to considering your menu, package weight, and containers, you also need to keep an eye on the water. REI has many useful tips on how to keep hydrated while hiking. Remember, you will need to bring water for anything you prepare, such as coffee or oatmeal.

TRAIL RATE FOR EVERY OCCASION

FOR AN EASY MORNING HIKE

This was my entry-level hike – mostly because of the promise of a coffee.

coffee and tea

Preparing a fresh cup of coffee or tea at the end of a hike is a pleasure. There are easy setups for pour-over or french press if you’re a fanatic, but you’d be surprised at how many reputable coffee and tea companies are now making instant packages. Sight glass is my all-time choice for coffee beans, and the instant is just as good. Pique has a lot of wonderful teas – matcha and rooibos are my favorites. You can bring a camping stove to boil water or take the hot water with you in a high quality thermos. Both instants also dissolve in cold water if a cold coffee or tea is more your thing. For cream, you can pack a small container of your favorite from home or choose a powdered version such as the Superfood Creamer from Laird.

  1. Sight glass Instant Blueboon

    Sight glass Instant Blueboon

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  2. Laird Superfood Original Superfood Creamer

    Laird Superfood Original Superfood Creamer

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  3. Pique Tea Sun Goddess Matcha Sticks

    Pique Tea Sun Goddess Matcha Sticks goop, $ 58

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  4. Stojo 16-ounce Biggie Cup

    Stojo 16-ounce Biggie Cup Goop, $ 20

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FOR A FULL DAY HIKE

If you plan to be out all day, you need a breakfast like the one above, lunch, and some stimulating snacks to get by. Bonus points for a fun drink.

Sandwiches and wraps

These are perfect for a no-fuss lunch on the trail. I try to avoid super fresh cheese, mayo, and egg because they won’t refrigerate for a while. I pack hearty sandwiches in a reusable bag or wax wrap and use a stainless steel case to protect softer items from smudging.

  1. Prosciutto baguette with chive butter

    Baguette ham
    with chive butter

    A great non-muddy option to pack.

    GET A RECIPE

  2. Spicy hummus Kyerito

    Spicy hummus Kyerito

    Vegetable and trail ready.

    GET A RECIPE

  3. AB and J sandwich

    AB and J sandwich

    My childhood Sammie still hits the spot.

    GET A RECIPE

  4. Onyx Medium 2-ply sandwich box

    Onyx Medium 2-Layer Sandwich Box goop, $ 12

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  5. Stasher reusable sandwich bag

    Stasher reusable sandwich bag, $ 12

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  6. Snacksheet Reusable vegan snack wraps

    Snacksheets Reusable vegan snack wraps goop, $ 18

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Tortilla FTW

If you’d rather assemble something simple in a snap, toss a few tortillas in your pocket. They’re a hiker’s favorite: they’re pliable and sturdy, and they’re great for anything from peanut butter and banana chips to citrusy tuna.

Back Country Charcuterie

A snack board has long been my favorite lunch item, so it’s no surprise I love the trail version too. Some dried meat or salami, with a hard, mature cheese and crusty bread. You can give anything and bring some olives for a salty treat. A packet of mustard for the meat and honey for the cheese make this a very sturdy but small proposition.

  1. Moku Plant-Based Jerky

    Moku Plant-Based Jerky

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  2. Creminelli salami minis with black pepper

    Creminelli salami minis with black pepper

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  3. Gaea Green Olive Snack Packages

    Gaea Green Olive Snack Packages

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Nuts and fruits

They call it trail mix for a reason. It’s easy to eat, has a nice variety of textures and flavors (crispy, chewy, salty, sweet) and that combination of nutrients should keep you energized throughout the day. Granola bars and date balls can do the job too. Nosh on this every hour or so to keep you going.

  1. goop Gorp

    goop Gorp

    We like this mix with gemstones
    Pistachios, cherries, chocolate,
    Cashew nuts and cardamom.

    GET A RECIPE

  2. Date balls

    Date balls

    Think of it as a trail truffle.

    GET A RECIPE

  3. Toasted almond butter bars

    Toasted almond butter bars

    These are full of delicious and
    healthy ingredients. And so
    easy to do.

    GET A RECIPE

A funny bev

What bothers me about typical hiking and backpacking food is the lack of acidity – I love finishing it all with a dash of lemon or a dash of vinegar. I came across this True Citrus powder that absolutely does the trick. It comes in four flavors (I’ve only tried lime and lemon so far, but there are also orange and grapefruit) and it’s made using only crystallized citrus juice and oils – no sweeteners whatsoever. A pack of True Lime is equivalent to a slice of lime, dissolves in water and tastes bitter and refreshing like the original. I like it as a makeshift lemonade to freshen myself up after lunch, but I think there’s a lot of potential to cook with to add a little zing to dehydrated backpack meals.

  1. Real citrus Real lime

    Real citrus Real lime

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FOR ONE NIGHT

You’ve sat down with all the delicious snacks, but now it’s time for dinner. You’re likely fully booked, especially after you’ve set up camp, so let’s keep it simple. Delicious – but simple.

Backpack meals

There are plenty of handy backpack dehydrated meals out there – you literally just add water and go and eat them straight out of the bag. Sounds a little unattractive, but they have gotten so much better over the years. The best brand I’ve found is Good To-Go. These are developed by chefs using real whole foods and made in Maine. There are vegan and gluten-free options. Flavors like Indian Korma, Chicken Pho, and Chicken Gumbo offer an exciting variety compared to the beef stews that other brands rely on.

  1. Good chicken pho.  take away

    Good chicken pho. take away

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DIY backpack meals

Homemade backpacking food isn’t necessarily difficult to prepare. It’s like solving a puzzle – putting together quick-cooking ingredients with some great flavor sets. There are probably a lot more ingredients in your closet that have potential than you think.

Couscous and rice noodles are great as a base. Both are quick to make – all you have to do is cover them with boiling water and let them set. Throw in a handful of dehydrated or freeze-dried vegetables for color, texture, and extra nutrients, and then it’s up to the flavor enhancers. Try sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil for an Italian vibe. Peanut butter, ginger powder, soy sauce and sriracha for a situation inspired by Thai satay. Here, too, you can pack them in reusable packaging or find many ingredients – such as olive oil, peanut butter and soy sauce – in single-portion packs.

Drinks and dessert

A bottle of whiskey or tequila may sound a bit extreme if you don’t normally drink it neat, but when you have honey packets and true citrus you can make a delicious brew. Or bring a small (delightful) canned cocktail like the one from Tip Top Proper Cocktails.

If you want something sweet, Unreal’s dark chocolate covered peanuts are my favorite, but in general anything should go down well with a candy shell and save you a mess of melted chocolate.

  1. Tip top real cocktails

    Tip top real cocktails

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  2. Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems

    Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems

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