How to Plan Your Meals for Your Next Backpacking Trip

hiker and backpacker

A hike is always a great way to spend a vacation, especially if you are in a place with stunning views. All of the hours you spend walking, jumping, or climbing the trail will be worth the vista you get at the end. 

Of course, you cannot achieve this on an empty stomach—you must plan your meals when on a backpacking trip. Here are a few things you must consider when preparing your meals and camping gear for your trip.

Plan your meal by calorie intake

Your goal must be to consume the right amount of food to give you fuel throughout your stay on the trail. You need to have enough food to provide you with energy, but not so much that you will feel sluggish or lethargic during your hike.

Your backpack’s weight, your mass, the hike’s length, the number of hours you intend to spend hiking every day, and the grade of the trail are all critical factors in meal planning.

Choose food based on convenience

It should not be difficult for you to get sustenance while backpacking. Choose food that does not need complex cooking setups. Hikers will have enough time to make simple soups, but nothing more elaborate.

Instead of cooking food, you can also pack energy bars, packets of nuts, dried fruit, jerky, and candy, as these require no prep work and can be eaten straight from the wrapper.

Don’t stick to one type of food

Maintain a balanced diet even when backpacking. Bring calorie-dense but nutritious items. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for eating on the trail. Strive for getting one-third of your calories from natural food like these. You can also bring energy bars, ramen, jerky, and prepared backpacking meals.

Assemble a cooking setup

Bring a portable stove, pot, lighter, and fuel cartridge that does not weigh more than 440 grams or one pound. A UST Duo Cook Kit is the perfect companion for multi-day hiking or anyone on the go.

Hot meals are an excellent way to reward yourself while on a trail. If this is too heavy for you, you can always bring pre-packaged food items and consume them instead.

Plan your meals according to energy needs

Have a light, nutrient-rich breakfast with about 600 to 700 calories. This amount will give you enough energy to start the day but will not weigh you down too heavily. If you get peckish, you can always snack on something on the road; do not overeat during breakfast.

In contrast, it is fine to have a little more for lunch. Eat more protein—in the middle of the day, you need about 1200 to 1400 calories.

Finally, have a carb-heavy meal at night to make up for the energy you spent on the trail. Doing this helps your body store energy for the next day, and allows your muscles to repair overnight. 

Dinner might also be the perfect time to break out the freeze-dried or dehydrated food. All you need to do is boil some water, stir in what needs heating up, and enjoy your meal.


Grabbing a bite on the trail will fuel you for the hours you spend on your feet. Packing the right kinds of food will help you keep your backpack light even as you get the nutrition you need.

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