By Michael Lanza

You’re planning food for a backpacking trip—maybe for yourself or perhaps for your family or a small group of friends—and you have questions about how to do it. How much food do you need? What food should you bring? How complicated or simple do you want to make it? How do your food choices affect how much fuel you will need—or do you even need a stove? Drawing on decades of backpacking experience, this article will lay out some general guidelines and detailed advice that will help you plan food for all your backpacking trips.

Over the course of more than three decades and thousands of miles of backpacking all over the United States and around the world, I have eaten thousands of meals in the backcountry—and greatly refined my food planning over time, drawing from my experience as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine for 10 years and even longer running this blog.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker at a camp in the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Jeff Wilhelm eating dinner at a camp in the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker at a camp in the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite National Park.” class=”wp-image-48076″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?resize=150%2C100&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/DSC_3469.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Jeff Wilhelm eating dinner at a camp in the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite National Park.

I’ll offer this caveat in advance: I’m not someone who feels a great desire to eat “gourmet” style in the backcountry. I certainly want food that tastes good and is satisfying. If you’re not hiking far, it’s easier to carry a little more and spend time preparing special meals. I tend to hike all day, sometimes very long days, so I don’t want to spend much time in food preparation in camp.

That said, I do spend adequate time planning my food for a trip, but that’s mostly so that I’m packing the right amount of food that I like.

I’d love to read what you think of my tips or any tricks of your own that help you plan food for your backpacking trips. Please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments. Click any photo to read about that trip.

Plan your next great backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail, Wonderland Trail, in Yosemite or other parks using my expert e-guides.

 

Watching the sunset from a
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