Hiking Essentials You Never Knew You Needed (But Totally Do!)

Hiking Essentials You Never Knew You Needed (But Totally Do!)

Properly selected food is an essential element of a successful hike. Ideally, you must balance your grocery set only to carry a little and enjoy the trip. Let's figure out what to take and what not.

How does camp food differ from regular city food?

Camping food is a sort of spartan lifestyle.The main criterion here is weight. And if you consider that, on average, on a hike, one person takes 600 grams of food for each day; then, in the first days of a 10-day hike, in addition to equipment, he will have to carry about 6 kg of food.

Therefore, when compiling a list, preference is given to the lightest and most compact products: cereals, nuts, energy bars, dried/freeze-dried vegetables, and fruits. Dried vegetables and fruits are easily prepared at home, in a conventional oven, or an electric dryer. After drying, their weight decreases by 10-50! Times and is well restored during cooking. If you want to avoid cooking yourself, you can purchase ready-made freeze-dried meals and ingredients from any dozen companies that produce freeze-dried foods from Safecastle.

Hiking in the USA in 2023

The year 2023 witnessed a surge in hiking popularity across the United States, fueled by a desire for outdoor recreation, stress relief, and connection with nature. The Outdoor Foundation's 2023 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report revealed that 57.8 million Americans participated in hiking, a 7% increase from 2022.

A 2023 survey by the American Hiking Society identified several critical reasons for the hiking boom:

  • Mental and physical well-being

  • Social connection

  • Nature appreciation

Popular destinations: Based on user data from AllTrails, the top 10 most-visited hiking trails in the US for 2023 were:

  • Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

  • Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

  • The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

  • Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

  • John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

  • Old Rag, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

  • Avalanche Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

  • Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park, Utah

  • The Beehive, Acadia National Park, Maine

  • Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

Essential products for a hike

  • whole grain cereals (buckwheat, rice, lentils, barley);

  • cereals in flakes (rolled oats, corn);

  • stew in vacuum bags;

  • biscuits or crackers;

  • tea;

  • salt;

  • sugar.

Also Read:Campfire Cooking Kit

The most complete list of hiking food Products

  1. dry spices (hops-surely, Provençal herbs, etc.);

  2. vegetable oil;

  3. hard cheese;

  4. raw smoked sausages;

  5. coffee/cocoa;

  6. powdered milk;

  7. egg powder;

  8. mayonnaise;

  9. soy;

  10. condensed milk in bags;

  11. bitter chocolate;

  12. chocolate and energy bars (Snickers, Mars, Twix, etc.);

  13. halva and Kozinski;

  14. lollipops;

  15. sweet cookies;

  16. lemon;

  17. garlic;

  18. dried fruits (dates, prunes, dried bananas and apples, dried apricots, raisins);

  19. nuts (hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds);

  20. candied fruit;

  21. ketchup in bags;

  22. spelled lardoon, Sujuk , pastarma;

  23. pasta (some take it, some don't);

  24. Noodles (convenient in a small group);

  25. mashed potatoes;

  26. freeze-dried products.

Emergency Food Storage

I can offer some general guidance on popular freeze-dried and dehydrated foods for hiking that are lightweight, packable, and require minimal preparation

"Never skip a meal, even if you are dead tired - this is an axiom on a hike."

What food should you not take on a hike?

  • You should not take heavy and low-calorie food containing a lot of liquid to the track;

  • perishable foods;

  • fresh vegetables and fruits (of course, there are exceptions);

  • juices;

  • I eat in heavy containers or glass.

Water and hiking drinks

Be sure to bring your plastic container with you. The ideal individual water container is a 1.5 plastic bottle. It is convenient to replenish it in rivers and springs.

In the camp, black tea is mainly prepared, which can be varied by adding young cedar cones, rose hips, etc. Coffee and cocoa are prepared less frequently, and cocoa is also a problematic drink to get drunk on.

Classic breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a hike

The classic writing technique is relatively modest and looks like this for a large group.

  • Breakfast. Porridge from cereals or flakes with raisins, biscuits with cheese or sausage, tea/coffee/cocoa.

  • Lunch-snack. Biscuits with cheese or sausage, dried fruits and nuts, energy bars.

  • Lunch at the camp. Soup + biscuits with something, tea.

  • Dinner. Cereal porridge with stew, biscuits with cheese or sausage, tea.

Of course, for a small group, the menu can be varied. It is more complicated for a large one for 15-20 people. In a small group, it is convenient to quickly prepare breakfast and dinner using packaged cereals (such as Uvelka), which must be poured with boiling water.

A simple recipe for delicious camp soup over a campfire.

What's best for a midday snack?

Creating a "delicious" snack menu is not difficult for a one-day hike. For a multi-day hike, it is monotonous and differs only in chocolate bars.

  • biscuits with hard cheese or raw smoked sausage;

  • dried fruits and nuts;

  • candied fruit;

  • energy bars or chocolate bars

Also Read: Essential Survival Skills

Calculation of products per person. 

 A food set for one of the meals for the whole group. Knowing the route, the group size, and the duration of daily marches and rest days, you can decide on a set of products in layouts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day and type of meal are indicated on the packaging of each design. This ensures a balanced menu for the entire duration of the trip.

How many products to take?

Depends on the difficulty of the hike. On average, from 500 to 800 grams of uncooked (dry) foods per person daily.


  • Approximate weight of products for laying out.

  • After the daily menu has been compiled, multiply the food weight for each meal by the number of hikers. 

Category Item Weight Range (grams)
Breakfast Options Cereals 80-100
Hercules and others 60-80
Mashed Potatoes 60-80
Snack Choices Hard Cheese 30-40
Salo/Basturma 20-40
Smoked Sausage 30-40
Lunch/Dinner Picks Stew 50-60
Dried Meat 20-25
Powdered Milk 20-30
Candied Fruit 20-30
Nuts 15-30
Dried Fruits 40-50
Chocolate Bars 50-60
Biscuits/Crackers 40-50
Pasta 90-110
Semolina 50-60
Condiments Garlic 5-10
Lemon 5
Daily Essentials Salt 5-7
Sugar 20-30
Tea 8-10
Spices 5-10

When drawing up the layout, consider the possible allergic intolerance of some products by the hike participants and the presence of vegetarians.

What to consider in the hike food for children?

  • Take care of mandatory hot lunches;

  • add additional vitamins and proteins to the menu;

  • portions in the layout for preschoolers can be safely halved, except for sweets.

Freeze-dried products

More than a dozen companies produce freeze-dried products in the USA.

During sublimation, most moisture is removed by vacuum, but all taste, color, minerals, and trace elements are preserved. The weight of the products is reduced by 5-10 times. Next, everything is packaged in vacuum bags.

The products and ready-made dishes include freeze-dried pickles, sour cream, shrimp, and omelets.

What's the best way to store and pack food while camping?

Usually, everything is packaged and packed in plastic bags, preferably two or three. Some people prefer to pack it in sealed plastic containers. It is better to pour liquid products from factory packaging into sparkling water bottles.

In the camp, it is better to put food in durable plastic containers at night or hang it in a backpack on a tree to protect food from animals. Under no circumstances should you leave food near or in a tent overnight in areas where bears are found.

"Proper" food on the track. What is "fast" and "slow sugar."

During a hike, our body requires quite a serious supply of energy. The main help here is provided by carbohydrates, which are contained in all foods but play different roles. As soon as we eat something, "fast" or "slow" sugar immediately enters the blood. "Fast sugar" gives an immediate burst of energy, while "slow" sugar comes gradually, over several hours, and steadily maintains our energy level.

  • "Fast sugars" include many sweets, foods high in starch, cookies, and sweet fruits.

  • "Slow sugars" include many cereals and cereals, pasta, non-starchy vegetables, mushrooms, and unsweetened fruits.

  • Boiled or baked vegetables have a higher glycemic index, meaning they contain more sugar than fresh ones.

When choosing food for your hike, focus on cereals, particularly buckwheat- an ideal energy source and microelements. And the monotony of porridges is perfectly brightened up by spices and fire smoke.

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