There are vast numbers of people who love backpacking in the wilderness. But for the ones who love to travel lightweight, two things can weigh you down.
Food and water can be some of the most substantial things you are carrying in your backpack.
These consumables will get lighter as your trek progresses, but when you look at the effort people put into reducing their base weight of equipment and gear.
It comes as a surprise there isn’t more effort put into reducing the weight of their consumables.
Here we will run through some of the best hiking food you can take to reduce the weight of food and water while hiking, but first, let’s have a quick look at how heavy some of these items can be.
How Heavy are my Hiking Consumables?
If you are trekking for five days, you can be carrying a minimum of almost 5 kilos of food. When you look at how much does a case of water weigh? Half a gallon equates to 1.8kg.
When you are setting off on your trek, this is almost an extra 7kg in your backpack you need to contend with carrying.
Hikers need to consider all of their FSO (Full Skin Out Weight). This will include the base weight of your gear, the clothing you are wearing when you set off, and your consumable weights.
Reducing Water Weight Without Becoming Dehydrated
Water is essential and needs to prioritize food, but as we can see that it weighs two pounds per liter, it is one area to cut back when doing it correctly.
You can consider four factors to minimize the amount of weight you are carrying throughout your trek.
- Doing your homework: Once you know where you are hiking, you need to know where there are any points that water will be available. Knowing this, you can plan and make these water locations close to where you will be staying. This homework should be done as part of your hiking essential list.
- Camel up in the morning and on the route: Before you set off in the morning, you should make a habit of drinking at least half a liter of water. The more you can drink at the start of the day, and you will need to carry less and be well hydrated. If your trekking path has limited water stops, you need to maintain your fluid levels at each of these, so at least one liter at each stop is advisable, and you are only carrying water packs for hiking you need to reach the next stop.
- Consider the timing: The times of day when you are hiking will affect sweating. If you choose the more excellent parts of the day, you will conserve fluids, and it will be less critical to carrying more.
- Cooking meals: There is a lot of water needed for cooking, so choosing feeding places that are in-between water stops is not advisable. You will add water to carry for little reason.
With experience, you should calculate the amount of water needed to get you to the next watering hole. The more you carry, the more energy you will be wasting over a long distance.
Best Backpacking Foods to Save Weight
The ideal foods are nutritious and are light to carry. This can limit what you can eat at meals, but it doesn’t mean you need to go without tasty cooked dinners.
The other advantage with most of these foods is that they deliver plenty of slow-release energy to power you through the day.
- Dense and High-Calorie Foods: These contain a higher energy-to-weight ratio and are ideal for those midday snacks. Energy bars are high in carbs and fats and will maintain energy. These are a perfect complement after chewing on some beef jerky and then followed by a handful or two of dried fruit.
These can make a great on-the-go lunch before setting up camp later in the day. Vegetable oils such as olive oil can help keep the energy up, and for meals that are a little bland, they can add some much-needed flavor.
- Low Moisture Foods: These are best used when cooking dinner, and there are many backpacking meals you can buy that only require added and heated water. These freeze-dried foods weigh next to nothing and take up very little space.
Trail mix is food that requires no preparation, and you can add other fruits or nuts as you want to give you an extra flavor.
- Minimal Cooking Foods: The more foods you don’t need to cook, the lighter your backpack. Non-perishable food can be found which is also dehydrated and require minimal preparation time.
One healthy option is breakfast cereals, and if you take powdered milk along, this can make a good substitute and deliver a healthy breakfast that will last you until lunchtime.
Healthy backpacking food doesn’t all need to taste dry and lacking enjoyment when you eat it. With some planning, you can take delicious and highly nutritious foods that you can eat at any time of the day. (Read Are Camelbaks Dishwasher Safe)
- Repacking Foods into Smaller Containers: There are plenty of foods you can purchase in small packs, although many would be too large to carry.
Choosing smaller backpacking food containers can make this much more manageable while allowing you to make tasty food along with you.
Peanut butter delivers lots of energy and changing this from a large jar to a smaller container, you can have a tasty snack with crackers that will give you a real boost. (Read Knee Braces For Hiking)
When you look at reducing the weight of your hiking food in the same way as saving weight on your gear, you can save around 30% compared to what a day trekker would take with them.
If you total this up for 5 days as an example, you can save 3 – 4 kgs of food alone inside your backpack.
Hiking food doesn’t need to be dull, and at the very least, it doesn’t need to slow you down.