Healthy Backpacking Food: Eat Better, Feel Better
Backpacking is one of the greatest ways to get a break from the modern world. Ditching all your devices, completely disconnecting yourself from the overwhelming stream of news and information and just being one with nature is compelling and backpacking is growing in popularity.
Are you beginning to feel the itch? Are you dreaming about fresh mountain air and the wonderful silence of the majestic peaks? The smell of pine trees, soft forest ground, and chirping of the birds?
Spending time in nature just feels right. Moving along using just your two feet gives you a sense of accomplishment that is hard to match.
Getting rid of all the civilization's junk means giving up all its niceties. In my opinion, it's well worth it. But the civilization provides us with necessities, too. You know, like food and drink.
To make a backpacking trip a success, you need to start planning early. There are many experienced backpackers who are happy to share their knowledge. REI also offers a basic guide on how to pack food.
Here is a look at some healthier alternatives to a few backpacking staples.
Classic Backpacker's Fare: Healthy Food?
Every backpacker knows that a long trek is no time for low-calorie foods. Days filled with often strenuous activity require a bit more than a lettuce leaf and a low-fat dressing, a.k.a. "healthy food".
Because you have to carry your own food, you often go with high-calorie fare that doesn't weigh a ton and doesn't require long and fussy prep. That leaves you with a wide variety of convenience food. Let's take a quick look at some popular options:
Instant oatmeal is a popular choice. It is lightweight, and let's face it, having something warm to eat on a crisp mountain morning is marvelous. It's not only warm, it's also filling. Preparation is not difficult, all you need is boiling water.
This is a popular oatmeal brand:
This is our Paleo Meals To Go - Cliffside Coconut Berry.
They both require the same amount of preparation. In all fairness, the Paleo Meals To Go can be prepared with cold water if hot water is not available. You will lose the wonderful warm breakfast but it still beats trying to chew on uncooked oats.
So, what's the big deal?
While the oatmeal is packed with those nice filling carbs, that's pretty much all you are getting. Oh, and some quick sugar.
The Cliffside Coconut Berry will give you whopping 50 grams of fat from the nuts and seeds, plus sugar and fiber from the fruits. Oh, and did we mention the divine flavor?
All joking aside; you will need fat to provide you with energy on those long hiking days. Choose your breakfast wisely.
Meat on the Trail
Yes, we said meat.
Your muscles will need the essential amino acids to recover from the daily strain. Here is the catch: your body gets essential amino acids from complete protein. Most plant sources of protein are incomplete, which means you have to know how to combine them for optimal nutrition.
Here is a shortcut: eat some meat. Meat contains complete protein, plus the coveted vitamin B12. Because meat is a nutritionally dense food, a little bit goes a long way.
Here is the problem: how do you store it?
We don't expect many backpackers to hunt their own food (if you can do it, more power to you).
Realistically, your best bet is some sort of shelf-stable meat - salami sticks or jerky. The problem is, those foods are often filled with things that you may not want to put into your body
If you are a jerky fan, we have a great alternative for you:
Added bonus: these bars have meat AND veggies, which means you will get some fiber and vitamins too. And yes, they are insanely tasty.
Let's say you stuck with your favorite fare of trail mix and such and now you are ready for a meal! That can be a challenge if your kitchen and your pantry have to fit into your backpack.
Freeze-dried meals to the rescue! Freeze-dried meals have been around for a while and chances are, you already tried a few and maybe have a favorite. They are light-weight, pack enough calories, and are easy to prepare.
My question to you: are they tasty? If the freeze-dried meal feels like making-do and its lackluster flavors and strange textures leave you a bit sad, you need to try the Paleo Meals To Go.
Don't take our word for it. Look at this review:
What do you think? Which one of these meals and snacks will make its way into your backpack? Let us know in comments!
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