Camping isn’t supposed to be easy. For the adventurous spirits among us, that’s precisely why we choose to head into the Wilds. In order to spend a long day hiking and setting up your camp, you are going to need fuel, but even without a full kitchen at your disposal there are foods you can bring with you to maximize taste and nutritional value in the field.
It’s even more important to receive all the proper nutrients as you’ll likely be expending far more energy than usual. There are the classic options, like trail mix, of course, but if you are looking to be more mindful in your choices and want something that is tasty, nutritious, and more convenient than ready-made meals requiring cooking, check out this list of better dried foods.
A quick note, food drying is a method of food preservation that has been practiced worldwide since ancient times. It works by removing moisture from the food, which inhibits the growth of bacteria without depleting its nutritious value. Due to its retention of natural vitamins and minerals, low weight, and calorie density, dried foods are an important addition to your pack that will keep you satisfied and help you recover faster.
Want to maximize the nutrition and taste per ounce of your field meals? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In the list below, you’ll find healthy, convenient and delicious dried food options that will keep you energized on your next adventure.
Looking for a savory snack fix that packs a protein punch? Take a look at a new snack on the food landscape: fish jerky. Loaded with all the nutritional benefits of fish, without the saturated fat and cholesterol of red meat, fish jerky is as filling as it is nutrient dense. The best fish jerkies out there are shockingly delicious and have higher protein, up to 100x the omega-3s, and more important micronutrients than beef, while keeping your environmental footprint low. No wonder the vikings always had some handy.
Beyond Dried Fruit
In general, dried fruits contain 3-4 times the nutrition per ounce of fresh fruits, so leave your bruised bananas at home. The idea of carrying dried fruit with you on the trail is nothing revolutionary, but not all fruits are created equal when it comes to nutrient density and energy. For example, dried figs are a great source of iron, folic acid and potassium, while blueberries are hard to beat when it comes to antioxidant properties. Here are some tips for your summer trips. To get a rich mix of antioxidants, vitamins A-E, fiber, and essential fatty acids, our list is: cranberries, figs, mangos, plums (prunes), and tomato! Also, avoid dried fruits with added sugar whenever possible.
Ounce for ounce, oats are one of the healthiest grains on the planet--not to mention they are gluten free. Rich in important vitamins like Manganese and B1, plus minerals, fiber and antioxidants, there are a lot of reasons to be sure to pack your oats. We love to add water to steel cut oats as we’re breaking down camp (complemented with some dried fruit and nuts) to have a super convenient, delicious, and energy packed snack ready for the first hiking break of the day.
Our Favorite Dried Veges
Have you been on one-too-many backpacking trips where instant mashed potatoes were your ‘reward’ after a full day on the move? These days you can find just about every type of dried and dehydrated vegetable imaginable, so there’s no reason to settle for tasteless and nutrient-poor options. Yo can even dehydrate your own with an oven or commercial dehydrator. Our top picks are: broccoli, carrots, asparagus and whole snap peas. All of the above are great as snacks (especially seasoned) and they rehydrate marvelously for a meal. If you must have your instant mashed potatoes, now you can add some real nutrition and taste to the culinary equation.
You soaked those Almonds in what?
Nuts are another common addition to the hiker’s kit that is not the least bit surprising. We’re here to remind you that your pre-made mix from the grocery store doesn’t have your health in mind. Rather than going with a mix of cheaper, less nutritious nuts, try throwing together the best in class. For example, macadamia and hazelnuts stand out for healthy fats, brazil nuts and pistachios pack impressive mineral content, and almonds lead the way with protein. Pro tip: want to enhance the taste and calorie density of your snacks? Try soaking your nuts in oil (don’t be immature) like olive or avocado. This is a trick used by avid through-hikers on the Pacfic Crest Trail and others. You’ll feel the difference!
Nikumaroro is one of the wildest places left on the planet. On the island, I encountered thriving seabird colonies, eels lunging from the lagoon-edge like crocodiles to drag crabs from the sand… I even faced-off (and backed down from) a terrier-sized coconut crab that I met on a jungle trail. But forget all of that—something else I saw on that island stays with me today, and affected the course of my life.