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Easy Backpacking

By Diane Spicer

Easy backpacking recipes - one of the holy grails of hiking!

If you're a seasoned backpacker, you know the reality of trail time: by the time you're ready for that hot satisfying load of nutrients, you're tired!

Backpacking reality

Here's how it usually goes at your campsite:

  • Boil water while taking off boots and setting up tent.
  • Pour the water into foil pouch without burning fingers, or plunge burned fingers into water bottle while propping up hot pouch.
  • Impatiently hop around while hunger (and possibly finger) pains are driving you to distraction.
  • Check your watch frequently as you bemoan the fact that 10 minutes feels like an hour when you're tired and hungry.
  • Finally rip off the lid or open the pouch
  • Whip out your trusty spork, or rummage around in your pack while your food is cooling down.

Rehydrated meat and vegetables make an appetizing backpacking meal when you're hungry


  • Set a world's record for ingesting the contents of aforementioned pot or pouch, despite frequent bouts of blowing forcefully upon it in an attempt to keep the cellular lining affixed to the roof of your mouth.
  • Moan and massage your sore abdominal area until food moves deeply into digestive tract, thus allowing other more pressing chores to rise to the top of the "must do before dark" list.
  • Extra points for ignoring the following:

    • lashing rain,
    • brisk breezes,
    • subtle moves toward your food by your trail buddies,
    • bugs dropping out of the trees into your bowl,
    • icy cold fingers,
    • overly friendly wild animals (in addition to your trail buddies).

    Reality check, please

    Which is why easy backpacking recipes, and the hikers who consume them, have two important attributes:

    • speedy,
    • minimal time and effort investment

    Let's roll those into "fast and easy" to save time.

    Foody alert

    Heads up: Some backpackers are trail foodies.

    They don't want to choke down something just because it fills the gnawing emptiness in the belly.

    Or because it's nutritious.

    They deserve their own category: gourmet trail meals.

    It's in your best interests to disclose this information if you're a trail foody, or to ask your backpacking buddies if any of them fall into this category.

    Because meal prep will take time, and can lead to frustration as on both sides of the stove.

    And that's no fun for anyone.

    Can you have it all?

    Here's my two cents about the tussle between lightweight, nutritious, and tasty.

    And if you're curious about how to make smart food choices without sacrificing taste on a backpacking trip, read more about this important topic here.

    Now that you know which category of backpacking food consumption you're in, let's get back to those easy recipe ideas.

    I'm guessing most backpackers will fall into the "fill my belly fast" category, so here are my recommendations for websites that get right to it.

    Category #1:

    For simple recipes and lots of tips on how to prepare backpacking meals, visit this site.

    Tip: Fast, easy backpacking recipes depend upon preparation and efficient bagging at home. Plan lots of time to figure out, and prepare, your backpacking meals before you leave for the trail.

    Category #2:

    In every hiking crowd, there's an overachiever.

    Hint: That overachiever's trail name has something to do with food.

    Here's an example: fast backpacking recipes are morphed into delicious backpacking recipes by this guy: "Chef Glenn".

    I am fascinated by his descriptions of "backpacking food for the soul." Check out his list of best backpacking recipes.

    Be forewarned! Lots of ingredients!! Lots of prior planning, too.

    • But that's why there's lots of taste, right?

    Another source of easy backpacking recipes which do not skimp on flavor: Wild Backpacker. I like this site because it has a "do before you leave" list, and a "do at your campsite" list of chores.

    • That allows a few calculations of the time investment required to pack, then enjoy, each recipe.

    One final tip

    OK, one more that's high on my "go to" list for ideas for tasty recipes.

    The name pretty much gives it away: "Dirty Gourmet." But what's a little bit of trail dirt between friends, right?

    This site uses an interesting approach for outdoor foodies: they use a short list of "base" ingredients (think starches), then a list of protein sources, with a punch line involving a variety of seasonings and spices.

    • AND you can print out their detailed recipes.
    • Again, a nice tool to use when estimating time and weight investments.

    That leaves you more time to figure out how to cross a fast flowing creek like this one!

    Fast flowing milky white river running off from steep mountains through a green and lush valley

    Your turn to share!

    If you have great recipes you'd like to share, or great sources of easy backpacking recipes, send them to me!

    Disaster stories and "avoid this at all costs" tips are also welcome.

    I'll be sure to pass them along to our virtual trail buddies, right here on this page, or in my free monthly newsletter.

    • Signing up for it falls neatly into the "fast and easy" category! Use the box at the top of the page.

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