Written by Becky Wood
My favorite part of backpacking isn’t the hiking, the summit, or even the stars: it’s mornings at camp.
It’s waking up to a jaw-droppingly beautiful view that I reached on my own two feet and savoring the sunrise, titanium spork in my hand and a giant smile on my face.
I’m as picky about my breakfasts as I am about my tent views. The classic backpacker’s breakfast is instant oatmeal, but you can only eat so much of that before you’re sick of it.
That’s why I’ve spent the past few years trail-testing other easy, delicious backpacking breakfasts. The best meals share three qualities:
- Easy to pack: big on flavor, low on weight
- Easy to prep: just add water (and an epic view)
- Easy to eat: good for my taste buds, but also for my body.
With those in mind, here are my top 5 backpacking breakfasts for your next adventure.
- Savory Switchback Scramble
Craving a breakfast that’s savory, not sweet? This is an egg-cellent choice. I call it the Switchback Scramble because the first time I tried it, it had me sprinting up steep Sierra switchbacks like a mountain goat.
4 TBSP OvaEasy egg crystals
6 TBSP water
1 pouch Summit Savory Chicken, made according to package
(optional) mini hot sauce packet
(optional) tortilla or spinach wrap
Mix all ingredients together in the meal pouch. (Yup, it’s that easy.) Stuff it in a tortilla or spinach wrap for a backcountry breakfast burrito!
You could also just eat dinner for breakfast —in the backcountry, there’s no one to judge— but the eggs make it feel more like a morning meal. Makes enough for two hungry hikers.
Palisade Pineapple Mango Bowl
With views this sweet, who needs added sugar?
The Palisade Pineapple Mango Bowl is just as nourishing and comforting as a hot bowl of oatmeal, but with a sexy tropical twist. Pecans and walnuts add a pleasant crunch often lacking from instant oatmeal, while the natural sweetness of freeze-dried pineapple and mango tickle my tastebuds.
The best part? No sugar crash en route to the summit.
- DIY Sunrise Smoothie
On sultry summer mornings that have you shedding layers before you even unzip your tent, a warm meal isn’t always appetizing. Enter the backcountry smoothie, full of healthy fats to keep you fueled all morning.
3 TBSP coconut milk powder
1 TBSP greens powder
1 TBSP collagen peptides
1 TBSP flax or chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cacao
(optional) handful Air Dried Tropical Fruit Mix for texture
Add 1-2 cups of water to taste and shake to mix.
I like to pre-mix a couple servings of smoothie mix at home and bring them on the trail in individual quart-sized Ziplocks. When I’m ready to eat, I’ll mix the packet with water in an empty Gatorade bottle to sip on the go.
Some of my thru-hiker friends like to cold soak their morning smoothie overnight so it’s ready to go as soon as they are. Just wake and shake! They’ll knock out the first few miles as soon as they wake up, then stop somewhere scenic for a full breakfast down the trail.
Smoothies are also great if tummy troubles or altitude sickness start affecting your appetite. Even when I’m queasy at elevation and don’t want to eat, I can almost always take a few sips of smoothie to keep my energy up.
Butte Cacao Banana Bowl
If I’m being honest, chocolate is my secret 11th essential on hiking trips. Unfortunately, too much of it will leave me trudging down the trail. The Butte Cacao Banana bowl gives me my chocolate fix via tasty cacao nibs without the side effects of giant Snickers bars. (Though I still bring a small Snickers for the summit...it’s about balance.)
Plus, this breakfast packs a whopping 15g of dietary fiber — significantly more than typical processed, preservative-heavy backpacking meals that can leave you feeling blocked. (Paleo porridge = better poops in the backcountry. There, I said it.)
- Cliffside Coconut Berry
Crawling out of my cozy sleeping bag in the morning is always a struggle, no matter how gorgeous the view. But when there’s coffee and Cliffside Coconut Berry waiting on the other side, I unzip my bag a little faster.
After a few days of eating mostly packaged foods, the strawberries and blueberries add a welcome taste of fresh fruit. They’re freeze-dried so they taste freshly picked.
The best part of this meal, though, is the 13g of protein. That’s more than the protein in 4 slices of bacon, but with flaxseed to give you more long-lasting fuel.
When you’re hiking many miles a day with a heavy pack, your muscles crave protein to rebuild. Starting the day with a protein-packed meal makes my muscles happier, which makes my time on the trail much happier, too.
With breakfasts like these, it’s easy to pack light and eat right in the backcountry. I’ll be taking all of these meals with me on my 220-mile thru-hike of the John Muir Trail this summer, where I know they’ll pair well with a cup of coffee and breathtaking alpine views.
What’s for breakfast on your next backpacking trip? We’d love to hear your favorites.