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How to Create a Backpacking Meal Plan like a Pro!

How to Create a Backpacking Meal Plan like a Pro!

It’s a liberating feeling to have everything you need to survive for a few days in a pack on your back. Life feels simpler and achievable because you are 100% prepared and ready for the journey ahead. The planning and packing process to have that freeing feeling, however, can be stressful and frustrating for beginners. The number one struggle for new backpackers is deciding how much food to pack. Bring too little and you will struggle to have a good time. Pack too much and you literally just carried pounds of food into the wild and back home for no reason! After reading this guide, you will be able to successfully create a backpacking meal plan that will fuel your body through your entire trip.

Daily Nutrition in the Backcountry

There is a lot of information about food out there and what our bodies need for everyday life. Although food science is still the same, meal planning for backcountry trips is not the same as meal planning in everyday life as you will be burning a lot more calories each day that need to be replenished to keep up your energy.

Count Calories

No one enjoys counting calories, but when it comes to creating a backpacking meal plan that will sustain your energy level it is an absolute must. There are many variables when it comes to how many calories you will burn on the trail including weight of your pack, incline grade, and duration of hiking. On any normal day, the average active person will burn 2,000 calories. In the backcountry you can assume that you will burn anywhere from 2,500 to 4,500 calories depending on how much extra exercise you will be doing. There are backpacking calorie burning calculators out there that can help you get a bit more accurate with your calculation, but a simple rule of thumb to start with is assuming that for each hour of hiking you will burn an extra 200 calories. If your hike will take you five hours, it is safe to say you need to add at least 1,000 extra calories of food to your 2,000 calorie start.

Understand the Importance of Macronutrients

Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You will want to pack foods that contain good sources of all of these macronutrients to keep your body in performance shape for the duration of your trip.

Carbohydrates are quickly transformed into energy by your body. They are important to endurance and work best when paired with proteins that help prevent muscle breakdown that occurs when working out.

As mentioned, protein helps prevent muscle breakdown and is an absolute must for backpacking food. Since it takes much longer to break down than carbohydrates and fats, proteins are what will help sustain your energy after your carbohydrates and fats are used up.

Fats break down slower than carbohydrates, but provide twice the amount of calories. Packing food that contains fat will give you double the calories with half the weight. It is also important to have fats in your diet when backpacking to replenish any fat stores you burn while hiking.

To have well rounded meals while hiking, you should make sure your daily intake includes plenty of all three macronutrients.

Add Micronutrients

Micronutrients refer to the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, but in much smaller quantities than macros. The main one we want to focus on for hikers and backpackers is salt. Not having enough sodium can lead to dehydration and muscle cramps while on the trail. Make sure that every meal has some level of sodium to keep your body balanced.

How to Choose Food

Energy-to-Weight Ratio

After choosing meal options that provide you with a good source of macronutrients and sodium, the most important consideration for choosing food is the ratio of calories (or energy) to weight. Look for lightweight food that provides a lot of calories.

The main reason freeze-dried foods are so popular within the backpacking and hiking community is because they are one of the best options when it comes to energy-to-weight ratio that provide great nutrition. Freeze-dried meals allow us to bring things like fruits, vegetables, and meats without the waterweight they normally contain so we can have a veritable feast without feeling like we carried one!

Preparation method

The next thing to consider when choosing which foods to pack is how long it will take to prepare the meal. Is it ready to eat, quick cook to eat (15 minutes or less), or long cook to eat (anything over 15 minutes)? If you have never gone into the backcountry before, you may not think 15 minutes is a long time to prepare, but waiting for your food to be ready after hiking up a huge hill can feel like an eternity. Most freeze-dried meals involve adding boiling water to the foil bag they are packed in, stirring, and waiting about ten minutes before you dig in. If you have not yet purchased cookware, we have a great article about selecting outdoor cookware as well as going stoveless in the backcountry. Meal selection impacts the amount of stove fuel you will need to bring on your trip which adds weight to your pack. Avoid any food that requires simmering in a pot to cook.

Planning each meal

Breakfast

Many people skip breakfast in their daily lives and wait to eat until lunch. This is a totally normal and fine thing to do most days, but not when you are backpacking. When backpacking, it really is one of the most important meals of the day as your body performs better when you provide it with easy to burn fuel in the morning. You will be able to go longer and with greater ease when you eat food before taking off for the day.

You may notice our breakfast line is mostly made of oatmeals. This is because whole oats provide you with longer lasting energy while the fruit will provide the quick energy you need to get moving in the morning. Of course, don’t forget to pair your oatmeal with a caffeinated morning drink of instant coffee or tea from Cusa.

Lunch

Lunch, or as many backpackers call it, during-hiking meals keep you going throughout the day. If you are someone who likes to stop and take longer mid-day breaks, our line of ramens is perfect for you as they provide the sodium your body needs. If you are one of those who only stops to eat lunch because it’s necessary, ready to eat food will be your best lunch option. We love to make PB&Js or a pita/naan pouch packed with Tuna or Chicken on longer hike days.

Dinner

Dinner is the meal where you’ll want to pack in those calories, proteins, carbs, and fat stores that you have depleted throughout the entire day of hiking. You’ll want to make sure it is something you actually like and want to eat because you will need to consume a lot of it. This is the exact reason we created so many different tasty dinner options.

Dessert

Dessert is not the first thing you think of when packing food for a backpacking trip, but we believe desserts on the trail are an absolute must! Backpacking desserts help you reach the calorie goal needed as well as add a little sugar for a nice burst of energy to enjoy evenings.

Snacks

After packing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, snacks might seem overboard, but they will help you stay energized between meals. We like to use snacks as little bursts of energy to get us through a hike. When packing snacks, think salty and sugary with no preparation. Trailmix earned its name long ago, and dried fruit and jerky also make great trail snacks.

Final Thoughts on Creating a Backpacking Meal Plan

Many backpackers love meal time in the backcountry just as much as any other part. Although food is your fuel, eating on the trail should be enjoyable. All our meals are made with premium ingredients, are designed to keep you exploring longer, and are crafted to delicious satisfaction.


Now that you understand the importance of nutrition in the backcountry, how to choose your food, and how to plan each meal it’s time to embark on your next adventure with confidence and delicious meals in tow! Use our Food Planner to plan each day of food in the backcountry and don’t forget to visit the Trailtopia website to order all the food you’ll need for your next adventure.

Essential Camping Cookware: How To Select The Best Tools For Outdoor Cooking

One of the joys of camping is enjoying delicious meals amidst the beauty of nature. Whether you are a seasoned outdoor chef or a novice camper, having the right camping cookware is essential for preparing tasty and satisfying meals during your adventures. This guide will walk you through selecting the best camping cookware, ensuring you have the necessary tools to create culinary masterpieces while immersing yourself in the great outdoors.

Before diving into the world of camping cookware, think about your cooking style and needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you be car camping or backpacking?

  • How many people will you be cooking for?

  • What type of meals do you plan to prepare?

  • Do you prioritize lightweight and compact cookware for ease of transportation?

Types of Camping Cookware:

  1. Camp Stoves: A reliable camp stove is essential for outdoor cooking. Consider factors such as fuel type (propane, butane, or liquid fuel), size, weight, and ease of use. Trailtopia offers a range of portable and efficient camp stoves suitable for various camping styles.

  2. Pots and Pans: Opt for lightweight and durable pots and pans designed for camping. Look for options with non-stick coatings for easy cleaning and even heat distribution. Consider the capacity based on the number of people you will be cooking for and ensure they have lids for versatile cooking.

  3. Utensils: Essential utensils for camping include a spatula, tongs, a ladle, and a sharp knife. Choose utensils made of heat-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or silicone, and prioritize compact designs for easy storage.

  4. Plates, Bowls, and Cups: Look for lightweight, durable, and stackable options to minimize space in your camping gear. Consider materials like enamel or BPA-free plastic for durability and safety.

  5. Cooking Accessories: Remember essential accessories like a can opener, cutting board, and a heat-resistant pot gripper for handling hot cookware. These small additions can significantly enhance your cooking experience.

Durability and Heat Distribution:

  • Camping cookware should be built to withstand outdoor conditions and provide efficient heat distribution. Look for cookware made from materials like aluminum or stainless steel, known for their durability and resistance to rust. Opt for pots and pans with thick bases for even heat distribution and quicker cooking times.

Packability and Weight:

  • If you're backpacking, consider the packability and weight of your cookware. Look for nesting or collapsible cookware sets that you can easily store in your backpack. Lightweight options are ideal for reducing the overall weight of your gear, especially during long hikes.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

  • Camping cookware should be easy to clean and maintain, particularly when resources like water may be limited. Choose non-stick cookware for effortless cleaning, and look for sets with a mesh storage bag to keep everything organized and prevent scratching or damage.

Read Reviews and Seek Recommendations:

  • Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced campers can provide valuable insights into cookware performance, durability, and overall satisfaction. Trailtopia offers various camping cookware with verified customer reviews, helping you make an informed decision.

Conclusion:

  • Selecting the right camping cookware is essential for enjoyable outdoor cooking experiences. By considering factors such as your cooking style, needs, durability, packability, and cleaning requirements, you can find the perfect set of tools to create delicious meals while embracing the beauty of nature.

A Beginner's Guide to Choosing the Right Tent for Your Camping Adventure

Trailtopia Camping

Camping is an exciting and rejuvenating outdoor activity that allows you to connect with nature and create lasting memories. One of the most important considerations when planning a camping trip is choosing the right tent. With a plethora of options available, selecting the perfect tent can seem overwhelming, especially for beginners. In this beginner's guide, we will walk you through the essential factors to consider when choosing a tent, ensuring you find the ideal shelter for your camping adventure.

Determine Your Camping Needs:

Before diving into the world of tents, consider your camping preferences and needs. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How many people will be sleeping in the tent?

  • Will you be backpacking or car camping?

  • What is the expected weather and climate of your camping destination?

  • Do you prioritize comfort, durability, or lightweight design?

By answering these questions, you can narrow down your options and make an informed choice.

Tent Capacity and Size:

  • Tent capacity refers to the number of people a tent can comfortably accommodate. It's crucial to choose a tent that provides adequate space for both sleeping and storing your gear. While tent sizes vary, a general rule of thumb is to opt for a tent with a capacity rating slightly higher than the number of campers. This allows for extra space and ensures a more comfortable camping experience.

Tent Design and Features:

  • Consider the design and features that align with your camping style:

  • Freestanding vs. Non-freestanding: Freestanding tents are self-supporting and can be easily moved around the campsite. Non-freestanding tents require stakes for setup and are typically lighter for backpacking.

  • Seasonality: Tents are categorized into three-season and four-season options. Three-season tents are suitable for spring, summer, and fall camping, while four-season tents are built to withstand harsh winter conditions.

  • Vestibules and Storage: Vestibules provide additional covered space outside the tent for storing gear, backpacks, and footwear. They help keep the interior organized and clutter-free.

  • Ventilation: Proper airflow is essential to prevent condensation buildup inside the tent. Look for tents with mesh panels and adjustable vents to enhance ventilation.

Tent Materials and Durability:

  • Tent materials play a crucial role in durability and weather resistance. Common tent fabrics include nylon and polyester. Nylon is lightweight and dries quickly, while polyester is more resistant to UV rays. Check for a waterproof rating (expressed in millimeters) to ensure your tent can withstand rain showers. Additionally, reinforced seams and a sturdy frame contribute to a tent's durability.

Ease of Setup:

  • Efficient setup can make or break your camping experience, especially after a long day of outdoor activities. Look for tents with user-friendly setup mechanisms, such as color-coded poles or clip attachments. Freestanding tents are generally easier to pitch than non-freestanding ones.

Reviews and Recommendations:

  • Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations from experienced campers can provide valuable insights into tent performance, durability, and overall satisfaction. Trailtopia offers a range of tents with verified customer reviews, helping you make an informed decision.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right tent is a crucial step in ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable camping adventure. By considering factors such as tent capacity, design, materials, and ease of setup, you can find the perfect shelter that meets your needs and enhances your outdoor experience. Trailtopia offers a wide selection of high-quality tents designed to cater to various camping styles and preferences. So, equip yourself with the knowledge from this beginner's guide, browse through the available options, and embark on your next camping trip with confidence, knowing that you have the perfect tent by your side. Happy camping!

The Essential Guide to Camping: Products and Best Practices for a Memorable Adventure

Introduction:

Camping is a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, immerse yourself in nature, and create lasting memories with loved ones. Whether you're a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a beginner looking to embark on your first camping trip, having the right camping products and following best practices can greatly enhance your experience. In this guide, we will explore essential camping gear and provide you with valuable tips for a successful outdoor adventure. So, grab your backpack and let's dive into the world of camping!

Essential Camping Products:

  1. Tent: A reliable tent is the cornerstone of any camping trip. REI offers a wide range of tents suited for various needs, from lightweight backpacking tents to spacious family-sized tents. Look for features like durable materials, easy setup, and good ventilation to ensure a comfortable stay.

  2. Sleeping Gear: A good night's sleep is crucial for an enjoyable camping experience. Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag and a comfortable sleeping pad or mattress.

  3. Cooking Equipment: Cooking over a campfire or a portable stove is part of the camping charm. Garage Grown Gear offers a selection of camping cookware, including lightweight pots, pans, utensils, and stoves. Consider factors like size, durability, and ease of cleaning when choosing your cooking gear.

  4. Lighting: Proper lighting is essential for safety and convenience during camping trips. Don't forget to pack headlamps, lanterns, and extra batteries.

  5. Outdoor Apparel: Dressing appropriately for the outdoors is essential. Backcountry offers a range of outdoor clothing, including moisture-wicking and quick-drying options. Remember to layer your clothing to adjust to changing weather conditions and pack appropriate footwear for hiking and exploring.

Best Practices for Camping:

  1. Plan and Prepare: Research your destination thoroughly, including weather conditions, local regulations, and available facilities. Make a checklist of essentials, pack efficiently, and inform someone about your camping plans, including your expected return date.

  2. Leave No Trace: Preserve the beauty of nature by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and stay on designated trails. Trailtopia supports sustainable camping practices and encourages campers to tread lightly on the environment.

  3. Stay Safe: Prioritize safety during your camping adventure. Carry a first aid kit, familiarize yourself with basic wilderness first aid, and be aware of potential hazards. Follow fire safety guidelines, avoid wildlife interactions, and be prepared for emergencies by carrying necessary supplies.

  4. Respect Quiet Hours: Respect fellow campers by adhering to campground rules and observing quiet hours. Keep noise levels to a minimum, allowing everyone to enjoy the tranquility of nature.

  5. Embrace the Experience: Disconnect from technology and embrace the serenity of the great outdoors. Immerse yourself in nature, explore hiking trails, engage in campfire conversations, and indulge in stargazing. Camping provides an opportunity to reconnect with yourself, loved ones, and the natural world.

Conclusion:

Camping offers a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature, rejuvenate your spirit, and create cherished memories. By investing in quality camping gear and following best practices, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable camping experience. Remember to respect the environment, prioritize safety, and embrace the simplicity of life outdoors. So, pack your gear, find your perfect campsite, and embark on an adventure that will leave you with unforgettable experiences for years to come. Happy camping!

8 Great Additions to ANY Trail Meal!

While we are confident our meals are pretty dang spectacular as is, there are some additional items we occasionally carry along! Some change the flavor, some change the texture, and some just help you pack in as many calories, protein, and fat as possible. Have your own favorites? Let us know! Here are 8 of our favorite add ons!

Olive Oil - While a staple of frontcountry cooking, olive oil is a great high calorie and high-fat addition to pretty much any backcountry meal. Simple to mix in, olive oil adds substance without vastly altering the overall flavor. Have some leftovers that are a little dried out? Squirt in some olive oil to give it new life! Worried about the mess of transportation? Subway has single serves packets, and you can always repackage it within a little plastic bottle! Vegetarian? Olive oil is your best friend.

Tortillas - In the never-ending quest to consume more calories and give your body more fuel, tortillas are a vital component. Not only do they taste wonderful, but they allow you to turn every meal into a burrito meal. Who doesn’t love wrapping carbs inside more carbs? Plus, there are few things better than using a bit of leftover tortilla to absorb the last refinance of food in your pouch (or bowl)! Pasta burrito? Beef stroganoff burrito? Don't knock it until you try it (preferably after a long and physically grueling day).

Salt & Pepper - The classics! Enough said.

Hot Sauce - Need some truly ultralight flavor? Few things alter the taste of food more than hot sauce. A little bit goes a long way, and a small bottle can last a long trip! Sriracha? Franks? Find one you like, or pick a couple and put them in a handful of different small droppers!

Parmesan - Nothing makes you feel more human than adding parm to a trail meal. While we aren’t about to make a health food argument for parm's integration into your trail diet, its delicious, and goes with pretty much everything.

Chia Seeds - Great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, Chia seeds are packed with fiber, protein, and plenty of good fats! Sprinkle a handful into your dinner, and your future energy levels will thank you! Similar to olive oil, chia seeds punch well above their weight class.

Nutritional Yeast - Some people love it, some people hate it. While controversial, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Shake it on top and gobble up.

Side Packs - Want to pack your meals with a little additional meat? Sprinkle one of our side packs into your meal. Freeze dried and precooked, they also make a tasty snack!