Trail Food

Here at, we seem to talk much about food and outdoor activities. In this post in, as part of the Ten Essentials series, we get to talk about both. Trail food is item 6 on the Boy Scout list. On The Mountaineers classic list, it is listed as item 10 – Extra food. On The Mountaineers updated list, it is item 8 – Nutrition (extra food).

When it comes to trail food, there are many options. Aside from making sure that you meet nutritional requirements for activity, the biggest consideration is to take items that are not prone to spoilage. This is reinforced in Jamie Bard’s December 2002 Backpacker Magazine article, which gives several ideas for what will keep well.

At any given time, we carry candy bars (on the trail is about the only time we allow ourselves to eat them) and protein or energy bars as trail food. Other popular food items in our day packs include beef jerky or meat sticks, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh fruit. These work just fine on day hikes. If we plan to have a “real” meal on the trail, we’ll add it to the bars (candy/energy/protein) and be sure to take along anything necessary for cooking and eating. Perhaps, we will bring a stove, cookware, and eating utensils.

Going beyond day trips, in backpacking, more planning is required, with weekend trips simply expanding on the “real” meal concept above – bringing along the appropriate amount of food and additional bars. When it comes to thru-hiking, it can be beneficial to be somewhat of a logistics expert.  Bard indicates that about that 12-13 days between resupply is reasonable. We imagine this is to both avoid spoilage and to be realistic about that amount of stuff that you can, or want, to carry on your back.

Please sound off in the comments if you’d like to tell us about your favorite trail food.


One thought on “Trail Food

Comments are closed.