Backpacking Hacks Part 1: Food

It’s backpacking season in Washington, and the Feathered Friends staff is getting out there on adventures big and small. Here is a collection of some of our favorite backpacking tips. Part 1 focuses on food!

Backpacking meal by Claire Giordano Dinner in the Sierras. Picture: Claire Giordano

1. Fun food = happy hikers

You may have been told that it doesn’t matter what food you bring, because you will be so hungry and eat it anyway... no matter how bad it tastes. While we have all choked down our fair share of freeze dried cardboard packs, taking the time and energy to bring exciting food elevates our backpacking experience like little else out there.

From lugging cold pizza to base camp to carrying in a bag of candy, we each have a favorite food that we bring along. If weight is a concern, however, we suggest bringing something simple but fun like Expedition hot sauce or sausages to add to a lightweight freeze dried meal.

 

2. Stash a special food item, and share to make best friends

One of my personal favorite things to do is to carry something special, and keep it secret until midway through the trip. Sometimes this special item is a small bundle of strawberries, other times it is a bar of chocolate or cookies or a beer. In the middle of our trip, when we are all a little tired or stuck in bad weather, I bring out the special food stash. It is a simple action with surprisingly big responses, each time bringing smiles to everyone’s faces and happiness to our tummies.

 

3. Spice up your life

Dont settle for bland food. Bring a small collection of spices to personalize each meal. Rae’s recommendation is to buy a small stackable spice jar, which usually has a diameter about the size of a quarter, and can hold anywhere from 1-5 spices depending on which one you find. Her favorite spices are salt, pepper, and garlic powder. After a long hike in the hot sun, being able to sprinkle on some extra salt is just what our bodies need to replenish for the next day’s adventures.

 

4. Wine and Nalgene bottles do not mix

Some of us may remember making this mistake in college; filling our favorite hiking nalgene bottle with wine or beer on the way to meet friends, only to get home and realize that the smell is never, ever, going to leave the water bottle.

The solution; a flask or a plastic container specially designed to carry our favorite adult beverages. There are bags for wine that are lightweight, reusable, easy to clean, and compactible once emptied.

 

5. Invest in Efficient Cookware

Preparing for a backpacking trip can be overwhelming, between planning a destination, analyzing the weather, and packing all the gear. Sometimes it is easy to overlook our camp kitchen set-up, which makes it a great place to shave ounces from our pack loads.

A good place to start is with the simple (and more affordable) items such as our pot and bowl. While any old thing from the kitchen will get the job done, we might end up carrying a lot of extra weight and bulk. Aluminum pots are a good place to start, and if you don’t mind dishing out a little more cash a non-stick pot makes cleanup easy.

One of our staff members also recommends getting a lightweight foldable bowl. She carries two; on for her, and one for her dog. The foldable design makes it small enough to fit in the dog’s pack too!

 

Next up: A smorgasbord of backpacking hacks from how to make your own fire starter to tips on traveling with dogs.