Food Selection For Bushcraft or Hiking

by Derrick | Last Updated: February 5, 2023


This article aims to educate readers on the types of food available for outdoor activities, the considerations to be made when choosing food, meal planning strategies, and cooking and preparation techniques.

Provided is a valuable resource for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as backpacking, bushcraft, and hiking and are looking to optimize their nutrition in the wilderness. This is a clear overview of the different types of food, considerations for choosing food, and meal planning techniques, which can help readers make informed decisions about the food they take with them on their outdoor adventures.

Additionally, the article provides information on the cooking and preparation techniques for backpacking and bushcraft, including cookware and utensils, cooking without a stove, water treatment and purification options, and tips for reducing the weight and volume of cooking gear.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Outdoor Activities

Whether going on a camping trip, taking a hike, or planning an outdoor activity, proper nutrition is vital to ensuring that you have enough energy and stay healthy throughout your journey. Proper nutrition helps with physical performance, maintains mental alertness, boosts the immune system, and promotes overall health.

It’s important to remember that when you’re outdoors, your body uses more energy than it does indoors; this means that you will need more calories and nutrients to stay hydrated and energized. Eating meals high in carbohydrates and protein can provide your body with the fuel it needs. Additionally, adding healthy fats like avocados, nuts, nut butter, or olive oil can help increase your energy levels over time.

Staying hydrated is also very important before engaging in any outdoor activities. Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration and helps the muscles work efficiently. If possible, you should try bringing electrolyte-rich drinks such as sports drinks or coconut water, which helps keep the body hydrated for extended periods compared to regular water alone.

In addition to staying hydrated and having proper nutrition, one must ensure they get enough vitamins and minerals from their meals. This is especially true if you’re outdoors for extended periods where access to whole foods might be limited. Taking supplements such as multivitamins can help fill gaps between what you eat and your body needs for optimal health.

Overall, proper nutrition is essential when engaging in outdoor activities as it provides fuel for the body’s energy needs and protects from illnesses due to lack of adequate nutrition while out in nature.

Types of Food for Backpacking, Bushcraft, and Hiking

Dried and Dehydrated Food

Here is a list of common dried and dehydrated foods for hiking:

  1. Jerky (beef, turkey, or other meats)
  2. Dried fruits (raisins, mango, apricots, etc.)
  3. Dehydrated vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes, etc.)
  4. Instant oatmeal or breakfast cereal
  5. Rice or pasta dishes
  6. Dried soup or chili mix
  7. Dried beans and legumes
  8. Dried fruits and nut snacks (trail mix, energy bars, etc.)
  9. Instant tea or coffee
  10. Instant pudding or fruit cups
  11. Dehydrated eggs
  12. Dried milk or milk substitutes
  13. Freeze-dried meals

Benefits Of Dried and Dehydrated Food

There are several benefits of using dried and dehydrated food for hiking, including:

  1. Lightweight: Dried and dehydrated food are lighter than fresh or canned food, making it ideal for backpacking and hiking trips where weight and volume are a concern.
  2. Long shelf life: Dehydrated food can last for several months, allowing hikers to stock up on supplies before their trip and avoid carrying fresh food that may spoil.
  3. Convenient: Dried and dehydrated food are easy to pack and store and can be reconstituted quickly with water or another liquid.
  4. Nutritious: Dried and dehydrated food can be a good source of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  5. Variety: There is a wide range of dried and dehydrated food options available, from fruits and vegetables to soups, stews, and breakfasts, providing hikers with various choices for their meals.
  6. Energy-dense: Dehydrated food is energy-dense, making it a good choice for outdoor activities where energy is needed to maintain physical activity levels.
  7. Cost-effective: Dried and dehydrated food are often more affordable than fresh or canned food, making it a cost-effective option for hikers and backpackers.
  8. Easy to prepare: Dehydrated food is easy to prepare and requires little cooking equipment, making it a convenient option for outdoor enthusiasts who may not have access to a full kitchen.

Energy Bars and Snacks

Energy bars and snacks are a popular food option for hiking, as they are convenient, lightweight, and provide a quick energy source. Energy bars come in various flavors, including sweet and savory options, and can quickly boost energy and nutrition between meals. Snacks like nuts, dried fruits, and nut butter are easy to pack and can provide a satisfying crunch or flavor. When selecting energy bars and snacks for hiking, it is essential to consider factors such as calorie count, ingredients, nutritional value, and personal taste preferences. Energy bars and snacks can be an easy and convenient way to add variety to your hiking meals and provide a quick source of energy and nutrition during the day.

Here is a list of energy bars that hikers commonly use:

  1. Clif Bars
  2. Power Bars
  3. Lara Bars
  4. Quest Bars
  5. RXBARs
  6. Kind Bars
  7. Epic Bars
  8. Nature Valley Bars
  9. GU Energy Gels
  10. Honey Stinger Waffles
  11. Nuun Energy Tabs
  12. Skratch Labs Energy Chews
  13. Probar Meal Bars
  14. Oatmega Bars
  15. Patagonia Provisions Energy Bars

Note: This list is not exhaustive, and many other energy bars are available, with new options being developed all the time.

Considerations for Choosing Food

When choosing food for hiking or bushcraft, there are several considerations to take into account, including:

  1. Nutritional value: Choose foods that provide a balanced source of vitamins, minerals, and energy, explicitly if the trip will be extended or physically demanding.
  2. Shelf life: Consider the shelf life of the food you choose, especially if you will be away from civilization for an extended period. Dried or dehydrated foods with a long shelf life are ideal for these situations.
  3. Weight and volume: Choose lightweight and compact foods to minimize the weight and volume of your food supply, especially if you are backpacking or hiking.
  4. Convenience: Consider the ease of preparation and cooking, especially if you will be camping in remote locations with limited resources. Instant and ready-to-eat foods are good options in these situations.
  5. Personal taste preferences: Choose foods you enjoy eating, as you are more likely to eat enough to keep up your energy levels.
  6. Allergies and dietary restrictions: If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, choose foods that meet these requirements.
  7. Cost: Consider the cost of food and supplies, especially if you are on a tight budget. Dried and dehydrated foods are often more affordable than fresh or canned options.
  8. Environmental impact: Consider the environmental impact of the food and packaging, and choose foods with minimal packaging and waste.

Considering these options, you can choose a variety of nutritious and delicious foods for your next hiking or bushcraft trip.

Meal Planning for Backpacking, Bushcraft, and Hiking

Estimating Food Needs Based On Activity Level and Duration

Estimating the amount of food needed for a hiking or bushcraft trip is essential to ensure you have enough energy and nutrition to sustain your activities. The food needed will depend on several factors, including your activity level and the trip duration.

For activity level, consider how physically demanding the trip will be. If you are hiking long distances or carrying heavy packs, you will need more energy and nutrition to sustain your activities. On the other hand, if you are camping in one location and mostly relaxing, you will need less food.

For the trip duration, consider how many days you will be on the trip and how many meals you will need to prepare. It is recommended to bring in at least 2,000 calories per day, but this may vary depending on your individual needs and the type of activities you will be doing. It is also essential to consider the availability of food along your route and plan accordingly.

By estimating your food needs based on activity level and duration, you can ensure you have enough food and nutrition to sustain your activities and avoid running out of food or facing hunger during the trip.

Meal Planning Strategies for Hiking

When it comes to hiking, meal planning should be a priority. The purpose of food while out on a hike is not just to fuel up and stay energized, but it can also be an opportunity to enjoy some delicious food. Here are some strategies that you can use to get the most out of your hike with proper nutrition:

The first step in meal planning is to identify your needs; if you’re going on a short day hike, you might need a few snacks and light meals such as nut bars, sandwiches, or wraps. For longer trips, you may need more substantial meals, such as freeze-dried backpacking meals that can provide enough nutrients without too much preparation.

Another important consideration when making meals for a hike is weight and bulkiness; try packing lightweight foods that don’t take up too much space in your backpack, such as nuts or dehydrated snacks. Additionally, many hikers mix their trail mix with nuts, dried fruits, and cereal for long hikes; this snack offers energy and satisfaction in one handy package!

Finally, it’s best to bring some extra food in case the journey takes longer than expected; this way, you won’t find yourself searching for food midway through the hike due to running out of supplies earlier than anticipated.

Meal planning for hiking can seem daunting if done wrong; however, it doesn’t have to be! Taking into account your specific needs, selecting lightweight foods, and packing extra snacks just in case, you should have an enjoyable experience on the trail without worrying about having enough energy or nutritive value in your meals!

Planning For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks

Planning for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks is important for a hiking or bushcraft trip. Here are some tips for planning each meal:

  1. Breakfast: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that balances carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Options might include oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit, instant breakfast bars, or scrambled eggs with cheese and whole grain crackers.
  2. Lunch: Choose a light and easy-to-prepare meal that provides energy and sustenance without weighing you down. Good options include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tortillas with hummus and veggies, or tuna packets.
  3. Dinner: Choose a more substantial meal that provides enough energy to sustain you overnight. Options might include freeze-dried or dehydrated meals, pasta with a canned sauce, or a rice and bean dish.
  4. Snacks: Don’t forget to pack snacks throughout the day to boost energy and nutrition. Good options include nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, trail mix, or hard cheese.

Cookware and Utensils For Backpacking and Bushcraft

Here is a table of cookware and utensils commonly used for backpacking and bushcraft:

StovePortable stove for cooking and boiling water
Pot or panLightweight and compact pot or pan for cooking meals
Spork or spoonLightweight and durable utensil for eating
Bowl or cupLightweight and durable container for eating and drinking
KnifeSmall and compact knife for cutting and preparing food
Fuel canisterCanister for storing fuel for the stove
Lighter or matchesDevice for starting the stove

These items can be purchased in lightweight and compact versions specifically designed for backpacking and bushcraft, allowing you to minimize the weight and volume of your gear while still having the necessary equipment for cooking and eating. It is essential to consider the weight and volume of each item, as well as the ease of use and reliability when choosing your cookware and utensils.

Tips For Reducing Weight and Volume of Cooking Gear

Reducing the weight and volume of cooking gear is essential for backpacking and bushcraft, as it minimizes the overall load you need to carry and makes it easier to pack and transport your gear. Here are some tips for reducing the weight and volume of your cooking gear:

  1. Choose lightweight and compact gear: Look for cookware and utensils specifically designed for backpacking and bushcraft, as these are often lighter and more compact than regular versions.
  2. Minimize the number of items: Choose the minimum number needed to prepare and eat your meals. For example, consider using a spork instead of a separate fork, knife, and spoon.
  3. Use multi-functional gear: Choose cookware and utensils that serve multiple purposes, such as a pot with a strainer lid or a cup that doubles as a bowl.
  4. Avoid non-stick coatings: Non-stick coatings add weight and can become damaged during transportation. Consider using uncoated stainless steel or titanium cookware instead.
  5. Pack food efficiently: Pack food in lightweight and compact containers, such as vacuum-sealed bags or vacuum-packed pouches, to minimize the volume of food and packaging.

By following these tips, you can reduce the weight and volume of your cooking gear and minimize the overall load you need to carry, making it easier to pack and transport your gear for backpacking and bushcraft.


In conclusion, choosing the right food for bushcraft and hiking is essential to preparing for these outdoor activities. Dried and dehydrated food is popular due to its convenience, light weight, and long shelf life. Energy bars and snacks are good options for providing quick and easy nutrition throughout the day. Planning for each meal and taking into account the activity level and duration of the trip is also vital for ensuring adequate energy and nutrition.