Backpacking Food List – Simple and Nutritious for 7 days

Backpacking Food

NEW June 2016 – Meal Recipes are Posted. See Nutritious Backpacking Meal Recipes here

This list is packed with nutritious backpacking food for a “week long” trip of 7 days

  • 6 nights of dinners and breakfasts
  • 7 days of lunches and daytime snacks

That is you don’t eat breakfast on the day your go in. And you don’t eat dinner on the day you come out. This is equivalent to around 6.6 full days hiking. I’ve organized the food so that it should be easy to scale to more or fewer hiking days.

Note: any entry with a blank in “qty” means the food item is an alternative that may be a) added and/or b) substituted for another item on the list. For example if you are veggie, you could substitute one of the soy jerkies (Primal & Stonewall) the meat jerky. And to easily add vegetables to my homemade dinners I use freeze dried vegetables from Just Tomatoes. I like the “Hot Just Veggies.”

A Simple and Nutritious Backpacking Food List for 7 days

Breakfasts (6 mornings) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Familia Breakfast (with Bob’s Red Mill Muesli) 2 5.5 11.0 125 see Recipe Page
Grape Nuts/Kashi Seven Nuggets (my recipe) 2 5.0 10.0 124 see Recipe Page
Oatmeal Breakfast (my recipe) 2 5.4 10.8 115 see Recipe Page
Coffee, Starbuck’s VIA ($0.72/cup @Amazon) 6 0.1 0.8 4g pkt  = 130-140 mg caffeine
Coffee for gold filter brewing 25g per 12 fl-oz 0.9  alternative to instant coffee, less $
Tea – bag or loose leaf (4-6g per 12 fl-oz) 0.1 if using bags, sealed packets are best
Lunches (7 days) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Dense whole grain bread (lunch serving) 3 2.0 6.0 80
Almond Butter (2 oz serv) 3 2.0 6.0 155 pers fave – eat w bread/crackers
Tuna in olive oil 2.6 oz pkt (2.9 oz incl packet) 2.9 65 eat w bread, oil adds cal’s & healthy fat
Crackers, Dr Kracker (lunch serving) 2 1.5 3.0 125 Awesome, high calorie & indestructible
Cheese (lunch serving) 2 2.5 5.0 115 eat with crackers
TJ’s whole wheat tortillas 2 2.0 4.0 80
Dry salami (without nitrates) 2 2.5 5.0 105 eat with tortillas
Mustard packets n/a to eat with cheese or salami
Bison Jerkey (3.5 oz bag) 3.5 60  online, or TJs and Whole Foods
Turkey Jerky 4.0 90  online, or TJs and Whole Foods
Primal Strips Meatless Vegan Jerkey (teriyaki) 1.0 100 vegan protein option – up to 11g prot.
Stonewall’s Jerquee (soy based) 1.5 110 veggie protein option – up to 14g prot.
Dinners (6 nights) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Black Beans & Rice w Cheese & Corn Chips (yum!) 2 5.5 11.0 115 see Recipe Page
Chili Mac Dinner 2 5.5 11.0 120 see Recipe Page
Curry Cous Cous Dinner 2 6.0 12.0 135 see Recipe Page
Desserts (6 nights) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Snickers Bar or MilkyWay Midnight 2 2.1 4.2 135 daytime snack or dessert
Chocolate (dark) 4 2.0 8.0 153 great when eaten with dried fruit
Cocoa Nibs 1.0 150 tasty when added to dark chocolate
Snakwell Cookie Packet 2 1.7 3.4 123 great with hot chocolate
Hot Chocolate (make your own with Nido) 2 2.2 4.4 130 see Dessert recipe Page
Snack Bars (for ~7 days) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Kind Bars 4 1.4 5.6 150
Lara Bar 1.8 130
Pro Bar Meal Bar 2 3.0 6.0 125 healthy, easy to eat
ProBar’s Base Protein Bars 2 2.5 4.9 114 adds 20g of soy protein
Cliff Builder’s Protein Bar 2 2.5 4.9 115 adds 20g of soy protein
Snacks (for ~7 days) qty oz tot c/oz Comments
Gorp (50% walnuts, 50% dried fruit – raisins?) 7 2.0 14.0 150  usually mix my own
Honey sesame sticks 7 1.8 12.6 150  online or at Whole Foods
Candied nuts (TJs has a ton of varieties) 3 1.5 4.5 150
Almonds, raw 4 2.0 8.0 165
Walnuts, raw 185
Dried mango un-sweetened/sulfered 3 2.0 6.0 90 also great dessert with dark chocolate!
Apricots (dried, un-sweetened, un-sulfered) 4 1.5 6.0 87 also great dessert with dark chocolate!
Papaya (dried, un-sweetened, un-sulfered) 100  at Whole Foods
Raisins, organic (Thompson, TJs) 95
Generic dried fruit 85
Jelly Bellies 93
Tic-Tacs 0 mindless fun to eat on trail
Pringles 150 tasty, high in calories
Lb of food for trip 11.5
Lb food per day 1.7
Calories/day 3,530
Calories/oz of food 127
30 replies
  1. TERRENCE Homebrew Brann
    TERRENCE Homebrew Brann says:

    Typically cured meat that advertises that it was processed without nitrates means that they used celery salt instead. Which naturally contains lots of nitrates.

  2. Clinton
    Clinton says:

    Just found your site Alan, Your generous commitment to helping others makes this world a better place. I can’t wait to read your full content. As a hunter in New Zealand I am very curious how I can make the trip as light as possible before the heavy carry of my game. Bless you brother.

  3. Emily
    Emily says:

    Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this post and your site! My husband and I are hiking/backcountry camping for a few days on one of the Channel Islands in a few weeks. Packing enough food while keeping the weight down has been a huge issue for us. This post and your others on nutritious meals are such a treasure!

  4. Judith
    Judith says:

    Thank you so much for this great site, Alan! I am preparing our first backpacking-trip with our 12 month old son, hence for the first time we really need to pack down. This is the most helpful advice I have ever found, thank you for all the work you put into this!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Judith, so glad it helped. May this only be the first of many backpacking trips with your son. I backpacked with my mother into her 50’s. Best, -a

  5. T Darren
    T Darren says:

    Alan, Thank you so much for sharing all the helpful info. Planning a similar 7-day menu. Happen to know if your food list above would fit into a BearVault 450?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q. There’s a fighting chance that with all the compact & “moldable” foods (they mold/conform to fit in tight spaces), e.g. dinners, breakfasts, gorp, nuts, etc., that you will be close. Especially after you’ve eaten your first days’s worth of lunch, snack food and dinner and are ready to set out the canister for the night. Trick is to keep your food as moldable as possible. BUT with all the individual variances on packaging, amounts, and food choices… there is only one way to find out for sure! So best to figure this one out at home before your trip :-)

      Wishing you a great trip, -alan

  6. Alan Dixon
    Alan Dixon says:

    Nutritious Backpacking Meal Recipes Have Posted

    These tasty and nutritious backpacking meal recipes are healthier, have more calories and cost less than commercial, freeze dried backpacking meals. Keep it simple — there are enough nutritious backpacking meal recipes here to provide sufficient daily variety to keep meals fun and interesting. But there aren’t so many recipes that I spend too much time buying ingredients and assembling a large inventory of gourmet meals. I’d rather spend my time hiking than fussing with food.

  7. Brenda L Grods
    Brenda L Grods says:

    Hi Alan, love your site too! Wondering if you can fwd me the recipe email as well. Set to do the west coast trail in June. Thanks!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Apologies for the late reply. I was in the backcountry when you posted your comment. Yesterday, I sent you via PM enough info to make your own breakfasts and dinners for your trip. Hope you have a great hike. All the best, -alan

  8. Hilary Britton
    Hilary Britton says:

    Hi Alan! I am a new backpacker and am taking my first 5 day trip with my husband and boys in June in the Trinity Alps here in California. I am wanting to make as many of the “dinner” meals from scratch if possible. Do you have a link to your evening meal recipes? We have been enjoying this website and your advice so much! Thank you!!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hilary, thanks for the kind comments about the food info on my site. And I have been sadly negligent on getting my recipes up. My somewhat lame excuse is that I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking and not enough time writing this year. While not ready to publish on the site, I am going to contact you via PM and get you enough info to make your own breakfasts and dinners for your trip. Hoping it is a good one for you. Warmest, -alan

      • Dave
        Dave says:

        Hey Alan, I’m in a similar situation – would love to try out some of your recipes before an upcoming trip. Any chance you could send me the same info too? I don’t care if it’s disorganized/rough/whatever. I have relied on a lot of the freeze dried meals in the past but have always worried about the crazy sodium levels, so I’m trying to come up with a new meal plan I like and want to use your food list as a starting point – it looks great!

        Also, just wanted to say thanks for this site. I stumbled across it while looking for ways to reduce pack weight (thanks for that – I got rid of several pounds w/o sacrificing comfort, not to mention the increased comfort of a lighter pack), but basically this whole site has proven super useful. Thank you!

        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Apologies for the late reply. I was in the backcountry when you posted your comment. I sent you via PM enough info to make your own breakfasts and dinners for your trip. Hope you have a great hike. All the best, -alan

  9. Bob
    Bob says:

    Without this site and others like it–as forums have become nightmarish quagmires of childish routines and crass remarks–I wouldn’t be able to discover the vast vault of information shared by people all over the world as a result of their experiences. Thank you, Alan. Let me try and save everyone a few grams of sense with my two cents, or not…

    I bought the Starbucks Via; sitting right beside it was the Nescafe Taster’s Choice, so I bought that too. At my local wallyworld, the Starbucks Via set me back $6 for 8 packs…that’s a hefty price for a week of one-cup-a-day instant coffee. The price of the Nescafe Taster’s Choice? $3 for 20. Nearly three weeks of coffee for half the price. An additional benefit to the Nescafe Taster’s Choice is its lighter weight at 0.07 oz(2 grams[crystallized]) per pack compared to Starbuck Via’s 0.11 oz(3.3 grams[powder]) per pack. A petty difference in weight I know, and I’m not sure whether or not the Nescafe has far less caffeine for you caffeine lovers, so let’s get to the truth…

    Taste Test Time. First off, let me say that my palate is the most picky I’ve ever seen in action. Many people say ‘I have a picky palate’, so to put things into perspective I don’t eat steaks at steakhouses because those steaks are disgusting; I spit the first bite out while the rest of the table drools over their ‘Delicious steaks’. Nor could I ever drink dad’s instant coffee in my life, because that too is disgusting. That being said, when you take your first sip of Starbucks Via, you don’t think you’re drinking instant coffee. The flavor is rich and bold–I even dare say slightly nutty–and has other intrinsic qualities of that familiar brew made at home. The Nescafe Taster’s Choice has a decent taste to it, but it kinda behaves like crystallized eggs to be honest – a hybrid that isn’t as good as the real thing, but you can still taste the mixed hints of ‘Instant’ and ‘Quality Brew’.

    Verdict: Coffee aficionados on the trail will have their prepped beans along with their brass or silver screens; I’ll have the Nescafe Taster’s Choice(okay, and maybe one 8-pack of Starbucks Via every other month for a week of the rich and the bold).

  10. Chelsea
    Chelsea says:

    Alan! I love this site! I especially love the emphasis on efficient and healthy eating. The usual backpacker diet is not good for endurance or your tummy. I am doing the AT in 2017 and your info has really helped me pare down my shopping list. I did a section of the Bruce trail in ontario with a $30 tent, an old comforter, and garbage bags for rain gear so I think I can tough it out going UL. Thanks so much!!!!!!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for the kind words Chelsea. Have a great thru hike on the AT!

      And apologies for the the late posting and reply to your email.(I am just out from doing the Torres deal Paine Circuit in Chile).

  11. Luke
    Luke says:

    Could you direct me to a discussion on how much fuel per day alcohol and canister option ?
    Thanks for sharing so much of your knowledge

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Luke. Take a look at Best Backpacking Stove System – Trail Designs Caldera vs. JetBoil. Go down to the bottom “Options for the Trail Designs Caldera” where I talk about the Zelph “StarLyte Burner only with lid.”
      The quick answer is about 1/2 fluid ounce (15 ml) alcohol to boil a pint of water in an efficient stove system like the Trail Designs Caldera. Other alcohol stoves, e.g. the “catfood stove,” are less efficient and can use up to a fluid ounce (30 ml) of fuel to boil a pint, especially if it’s cold and/or windy. I highly recommend using a good windscreen with this type of stove.
      Oh, and the easiest way to figure this out for sure is to do a few tests at home. Not that hard! Regards, -alan

  12. Clay
    Clay says:

    Wow! Just returned to your site after a few months… the new design looks great! Surprised that all my bookmarks still work with the new design – that must have taken some careful preparation on your part, so kudos and thank you for the effort!

    Can’t wait until you start posting some recipes… I have my ‘big 3’ weight down to under 4 pounds and I’m trying to get into making my own food to save space. I have a dehydrator and have experimented with some family recipes that I love – chili mac, some hearty soups, etc. with varying degrees of success. These require either access to water sources at camp locations or that I carry my own water in (heavy!). But after reading your article, I am finding myself being persuaded to carrying more food that requires no prep at all. I still enjoy hot meals, but perhaps I could save a few pounds and not need to plan around water sources on-trail.

    Sites like yours are so helpful and I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into it. Don’t stop! :) Thank you!

  13. Bruce Johnson
    Bruce Johnson says:

    Alan, the remodeled site is great! I have followed you for several years, usually through BPL; your work here is clear, clean, and right to the point. Thanks for sharing your labor of love!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Sorry about that. We just launched a completely redesigned site on Sunday. Huge project. We haven’t even formally announced the new site yet.

      Still tracking down some bits and ends after remodeling. And not all content has been transferred over. Thanks for your patience. -alan


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