As vegans, we get asked a lot: what do we eat when we’re backpacking? I personally enjoy a witty response like “food,” but I appreciate that that’s not a terribly helpful answer, especially for those who might be genuinely curious about eating plant-based in the outdoors. That’s why we created a whole e-book full of plant-based backpacking recipes! But let’s be honest: 15 recipes are really only a starting point for a lifetime of backcountry meals and if you’re just looking for an idea or two to get your creative juices flowing, well, this post has you covered. So here’s a breakdown of a simple 3-day backpacking menu, including what we actually ate on our last backpacking trip. So chow down, cause there’s no hiker hunger here.
(And if you’re not vegan, yes, you can make these meals, too. You don’t need meat to survive in the wilderness, promise.)
3-Day Backpacking Menu
We keep it quick and simple at breakfast so we can pack up and hit the trail without too much fuss. Oatmeal is a favorite starting point as it’s endlessly customizable.
- 1 packet of oatmeal +1/2 cup instant oats (or two packets of the store-bought stuff)
- Make it more filling by adding almonds or walnuts, chia seeds, dried fruit, etc. and some vegan protein powder
- Instant coffee (or if we’re feeling ambitious, we’ll use one of these methods to brew coffee outdoors)
- A handful of dried fruit
We leave the stove in the backpack for lunch in lieu of an easy meal that requires no more than pulling it out of a pack and enjoying it in a shady spot. Prep ahead of time for an ultra easy trail meal.
- Pita, bagels or tortillas (x2) with either copious amounts of peanut butter and jelly or hummus or avocado with sliced veggies (on the first day out)
- Dried fruit
- Trail mix
Time to cook! We tend to prep our whole meal in a “one-pot” style where all we pre-mix all of the ingredients so we can simply dump it all in a bowl or reusable silicone bag, add boiling water, and let it cook. Too easy.
- Ramen with freeze-dried veggies, a protein like vegan tuna, and seasoning or sauce made with powdered ingredients like PB2 and dried coconut milk
- Black bean chili with freeze-dried beans, veggies and TVP (textured vegetable protein)
You should be snacking regularly on the trail. Bring more snacks than you think you’ll need to ensure you’re getting enough calories, and make sure you’re snacking on a mix of things that contain carbs, fat, and protein.
- Trail mix (we tend to eat a handful every two hours while hiking)
- Dried fruit (a couple of handfuls a day)
- Vegan jerky (one serving per day – we like Primal Strips or Unisoy Vegan Jerky)
- Protein bars (one a day – Check out our review of all the top bars here)
- Ginger chews or vegan caramels (for dessert after lunch and dinner, obvs)
- Packaged pitted olives
If that doesn’t answer the question, “What do you eat when you’re backpacking,” well, you’ll just have to go backpacking with us to find out. But hopefully that gives you a few ideas for a solid 3-day backpacking menu for the next time (or the first time) you hit the trail. Happy eating! And wander on.
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Alisha is a freelance outdoor journalist and photographer based in Ogden, UT. She loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding (even though she’s terrible at it). She’s also pretty sure she’s addicted to coffee. alishamcdarris.com