Camping food that’s certainly worth the weight

They say that you can feel every pound on your back when you’re on your feet, and when you’re backpacking, you should shave weight off your gear in any way you can. You’ll be way happier if you have a lighter pack, which is why hardcore fast-packers cut off their toothbrush handles and never change their underwear.

Leave the foil packets at home and prepare to step up your game. Photo: Shutterstock
Leave the foil packets at home and prepare to step up your game. Photo: Courtesy of studio0411/Shutterstock

But there’s something to be said for enjoying the camp experience, too. Freeze-dried dinners and oatmeal-packet breakfasts are a recipe for uninspired meals, no matter how hungry you are. The good news is that there are a few food items that, even though they add a bit of weight, will make your nights and mornings that much sweeter.

Or spicier. Your call.

Hot sauce

Hot sauce helps. Photo: Dennis Brekke.
Hot sauce helps. Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Brekke
A little bit of heat makes even the blandest of noodle dinners more delicious. Stick a tiny bottle of Tabasco into your pack to kick up rice and beans — or basically anything you might want to cook over a camp stove. It’s even surprisingly good on breakfast foods.


Nothing wrong with some backcountry guac. Kate ter Harr/Flickr
Nothing wrong with some backcountry guac. Photo: Courtesy of Kate ter Harr/Flickr
Nothing tastes better after a big day of hiking than creamy, fatty avocado. Pick one that’s slightly underripe and it will hold up well in your pack. Smush some into your lunch the first day, then have the rest on top of your dinner.

RELATED: How to bend those food safety rules (a little) while camping

Tinned fish

Sardines for everyone. Photo: mespilman/Twenty20
Sardines for everyone. Photo: Courtesy of mespilman/Twenty20
Tuna and canned chicken are camping staples, but they’re also pretty bland. Up your packed-protein game by bringing smoked oysters or sardines. They’re salty and full of flavor, and they’re good with cheeses and tortillas or crackers (and, as seen above, avocado) or on their own. Call ’em appetizers and embrace your yuppie-ness.


Who need refrigerators? Photo: Dusty Toes/Flickr
Who needs refrigerators? Photo: Courtesy of Dusty toes/Flickr
Contrary to popular belief, cheese doesn’t go bad outside of the fridge. As long as you don’t put your grimy hands on it, it’ll last for a long time in the backcountry. (Harder varieties might hold up a little better in a body-heated backpack — just sayin’.)

RELATED: Access endless camping food ideas


Mmmm, bacon. Photo: Courtesy of Markus Hendrich
As documented by zillions of pop-culture memes, bacon makes everything better. Fry a few strips before you leave home, crumble them into a Ziploc and you’ve got bacon bits to add to everything from your evening mac and cheese to your morning oatmeal. Goes great with maple and brown sugar.

Boxed wine

Stay classy. Photo: Tax/Flickr
Stay classy. Photo: Courtesy of Tax/Flickr
Drinking isn’t a backcountry requirement (you do you), but if you do want to imbibe, boxed wine is your best bet. Lighter than beer cans, less of a butt-kicker than whiskey. And they’re now packing good wine into tetrapak boxes and bags. Bottoms up.

To add to your inspiration, and to find some prime backcountry recipes, check out Dirty Gourmet or Fresh Off the Grid.

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