Enhance your experience in nature by enjoying better hiking food.
Hiking food: Nothing tastes better than a hearty meal at the end of an excellent day’s walk. The trick is to not be too exhausted from having to carry your food.
Day walks are simple. Pack your lunch box, take a bottle of water and you’re off. Some people like to take a thermos of tea, or another option is a small camp stove to make yourself a cuppa along the way.
Flatbreads or cracker biscuits are good lunch options for multiday bushwalks as they tend to travel better. Hommus is perhaps the best travelling dip, and can be carried dehydrated, and rehydrated the day you want it. Cheese is great for lunch, as is salami and anything with a bit of a kick.
Fresh food will generally keep for up to three days, depending on how warm the weather is. Most fresh food is also heavy and some of it does not travel that well. Fresh food that usually travels well for an overnight or 3-day walk includes snow peas, carrots, hard cheeses, hommus and some other dips if they’re in sturdy containers or tubes. Other things can be carried in containers if you can be bothered. Try and avoid fruits that leave pips and stones to carry out again. Fresh bananas, stone fruits and berry fruits do not travel that well.
Sadly chocolate is often not a good option on walks unless it’s cold weather or you can keep it insulated and protected. It’s often best to take this essential supply in a form that has a hard candy shell, such as M&Ns, Smarties or the like. Scroggin with nuts, dried fruit and other goodies can help keep you sustained. Have a few bags with different options when walking for several days, so you have some variety.
Unless you have to take all your own water anyway, it is so much better to take dried or dehydrated food and not the extra weight. While you do not have to live entirely off dried foods, they are definitely worth it on longer walks.
If you have to carry water for all your walk, you may as well take some of that water as part of your food. Choose foods that don’t need too much cooking to minimise the fuel needed.
It’s also a good idea to take food that’s easy to prepare. Heat and eat is a great motto for evening meals on a multiday hike. Take a small camp stove with at least two pots. Trangias of all sizes are a great option, as are gas camping stoves.
People who have dehydrators swear by them for preparing food for hiking. They can make just about any casserole, curry or pasta sauce and weigh next to nothing. Dehydrated food is easy to rehydrate, heat and eat. Mostly it tastes delicious, though most things do after a day’s hiking. On the downside, dehydrators are expensive and you do need to prepare well in advance.
Most camping stores will stock commercial dehydrated or freeze-dried food for hikers. These can be worth it for long walks but tend to be expensive.
Dehydrated foods from the supermarket can be an option. They tend to be salty and highly processed, but they are cheaper, and most people hanker for a bit of salt on a long walk anyway.
Instant soups and tea bags are almost a must for colder evenings. Couscous is great, as it only needs boiled water. When cooking white rice, try the absorption method to reduce the fuel needed. Put two cups of water to one cup of rice in your camp stove and bring to the boil. Cover and set it aside while you cook the rest of your meal. The rice should be ready in about 20 minutes.
Here are a few options that are easy to cook on a hike:
- Pasta with pesto
- Sundried tomatoes, “cream” made from powdered milk with an optional stock cube and dried herbs with pasta
- Instant mashed potato with flour and egg and optionally salami and dried peas or onion, fried to make savoury potato fritters. It’s best to take oil as margarine or butter to help prevent messy spillages.
Hikers often crave something with a bit of a kick in their food. Take extra chilli or pepper, salt or dried parmesan cheese to add extra flavour to a meal if needed.
Muesli and powdered milk are popular for breakfast hiking food for good reason. It is hearty, provides sustained energy and travels well. Another option is instant porridge. If you want to take the effort and have the time, pancakes or apple fritters made with dried fruit are good options for a leisurely breakfast or supper.
There are a variety of coffee options, and everyone’s tastes are different so it’s best to try a few. Unless you’re walking past a café, you’re unlikely to get a high-quality cappuccino with milky froth on top, but the one you get when you return to civilisation will taste so divine, it will be worth it.