Sticking to a vegan (or gluten-free or dairy-free) diet can be a challenge at home. When you take it out to the backcountry, it can be downright daunting. But with a little planning (and help from The Good Grocer), you can pack in plenty of nutritious and delicious foods for your adventure. This article helps you pack the right foods and choose what works on the trail.
Convenience is Key
When you’re at home your diet centers around a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and likely requires some prep or cooking. Both of those circumstances will be hard to replicate on the trail – and you’re out there to hike not cook! Think pre-prepped, light to carry, easy to cook, and multipurpose foods. Save the weight in your pack for water not bulky cooking gear or cans of beans. Many foods on this list do double duty (yes you can have oatmeal for dinner!). Experiment at home with a few combinations so you know you’ll like them, then hit the trail for a date with nature.
Think Top Notch Nutrition
You will be using up a lot of calories every day so pack enough to meet this increased demand. Think high protein, high (healthy) carbs, and energy-packed foods that give you the most for the calories. You’ll also need a little more sodium than usual to replenish electrolytes (especially if you’re in high temperatures).
Plan your meals and snacks for your entire time away from home – and don’t skimp!! You will be more hungry hiking up a mountain than you are watching Netflix.
Logistics of Packing Food
Whatever you’re eating for lunch is going to be bouncing around in your backpack as you trek up the trail. Choose foods that can take a little rough handling – anything too crumbly and you’ll be eating it with a spoon. This goes for your packaging too. Consider double bagging the food in case one of the packages break open. Also consider a waterproof bag to hold it in case you get caught in a rainstorm. If you have a food sealer, seal up your food in handy packets to save even more room in your backpack. Remember to pack a knife to open the bag and keep in mind you won’t be able to reseal once opened.
Pack as much premade food as possible so you can just grab and eat and keep going. Granola bars (our favorites are Thunderbird Raspberry Espresso Bars, created by endurance athletes); nut-fueled snacks (try Pasokin Peanut Butter Bites); or premade sandwiches that don’t require refrigeration.
Some trails wind by little way stations that may have a few goodies available. Do some research in hiking groups or forums for hints on where to find food while out in the backcountry. But don’t rely on that as a necessity – you cannot count on the store actually being open when you go by.
Top 12 Favorite Vegan Backpacking Foods
- Oatmeal – choose the instant variety or make your own packets. All you have to add is hot water for an instant meal.
- Dehydrated Soy or Rice Milk – measure by serving size in plastic bags so you can easily mix with water when needed.
- Granola – premade or make your own with your favorite ingredients. Avoid chocolate if you’ll be hiking in hot temps – it will melt.
- Dried Fruits – any mixture will add sweetness and nutrition to your hike. Choose natural (as in no added sugar coating) to get the best carb load. Perfect for adding to oatmeal.
- Dehydrated soup mixes and premade meals – just add hot water and stir. Scour the aisles of your favorite natural foods store for boxed meals that can be easily cooked on the trail with a little boiling water.
- Ramen noodles – good either cooked in hot water or eaten right out of the package for a crunchy snack.
- Nuts and nut butters. Transfer into baggies so you don’t have to carry a bulky jar or look for squeezable packages.
- Tortillas. A great bread alternative and perfect for sandwich wraps or just spread with peanut butter.
- Vegan Jerky (we recommend Primal Spirits). Easy to grab and packs well in any condition.
- Squeezable fruit packets (yes, even baby food works!). These are packed with nutrition and the Mama Chia version also packs a healthy protein and fiber serving.
- Seasoning combos wrapped in cheesecloth, bouillon cubes, or onion soup mix packets for adding extra flavoring to just about anything.
- Multivitamins and electrolyte packets . . . some easy nutritional insurance so your body gets everything it needs to fuel your hike.