Introduction: Lightweight Backpacking Food Pack
This is an easy to assemble packet of lightweight nonperishable food suitable for backpacking, camping, canoeing, hunting trips, etc. This packet weighs about 13 ounces and contains over 1200 calories with plenty of protein, carbs, and fiber. It will keep in all kinds of weather and it is fairly waterproof. Best of all it tastes good and I'll eat everything in it. I've lived on these packs for extended trips of up to 10 days. I normally use this as a combo breakfast/lunch/snack pack and augment it with a hearty dinner meal. When weight is an issue, I often use a freeze dried meal like those from Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry. I've also gone the DIY route using instant noodle or rice packs, instant mashed potatoes, foil packed tuna or chicken, etc. But of course, nothing compares to a fresh brook trout or an elk steak cooked over a camp fire.
Step 1: Assemble Your Ingredients
My packet includes the following
1 Pkt Instant Oatmeal
1 Pkt Instant Soup Mix
2 Soft 6" Flour Tortillas
1.15 oz Pkt Peanut Butter
1 Pkt Honey
1 Pkt Jelly
1 oz Beef Jerky
2 oz Tropical Trail Mix
2 Granola Bars
1 Tea Bag
1 Pkt Instant Coffee
1 Pkt Non-Dairy Creamer
1 Pkt Sugar
1 Pkt Powdered Sport Drink (Propel, Crystal Light, etc)
1 Pkt Salt
1 Pkt Pepper
2 Pc Hard Candy
1 Wet Nap
You will also need the following zip closure bags:
1 ea Quart Size
1 ea Snack Size
3 ea 3"x5"
Step 2: Use the Foods You Like & Will Eat
I often use commercially prepared components, but you can always make your own. I've used home made jerky of various types, made my own granola and trail mix, and also repackaged items from bulk sources like instant tea & coffee, condiments, etc. If you have a vacuum sealer anything is possible. I have also scavenged components from leftover fast food meals and convenience store condiments (i.e. honey & jelly packs, salt, pepper, etc). The most important thing to consider is that however you acquire the components of the pack, you will most probably not use it all during any given trip. So, buy things that you will normally eat anyway. That way you won't have a lot of waste or expired food stuffs.
Step 3: Assemble the Drink & Condiment Pack
I place these components in a separate 3"x5" zip closure bag to help protect and organize the smaller items.
Powdered Sport Drink
Step 4: Measure & Pack the Jerky & Trail Mix
Measure out 1 ounce of beef jerky and 2 ounces of trail mix then place them in separate 3"x5" zip closure bags. I weigh these out because it helps keep the packs even in weight and calories but it is not necessary.
Step 5: Roll-up the Tortillas
I like tortillas because they travel better than bread and are lighter and take up less space than bagels. Take two of the 6" flour tortillas and roll them up together then place them in the snack sized zip closure bag. Do this quickly as the tortillas can dry out and crack when you try to roll them up. If you are not going to use the pack right away, keep them in the refrigerator until you're ready to go.
Step 6: Assemble the Complete Packet
Place the condiment pack, jerky pack, trail mix pack, and tortilla pack, along with all the other items into the quart sized zip closure bag. I prefer the kind with a pleated bottom. You can, and I often do, add an additional instant oatmeal and instant soup packet. The added items will fit nicely in the zip-lock bag and will add another 180 calories and about 2 ounces in total weight. Nothing in this pack requires refrigeration. It will keep for extended periods, however, the tortillas will tend to dry out after a few days.
Step 7: Final Thoughts...
The items listed and the brands displayed in no way constitute an endorsement. These are merely items that I have used successfully in the past, were on sale, or just had on hand. Please use items that you prefer. It is the concept more than the content. Many items can be substituted, added, or deleted as you like. If you prefer hot chocolate to coffee, replace that component. If you're vegetarian, substitute some string cheese for the jerky and tomato soup for the chicken flavored. You see the pattern, anything is possible. This set up is based, in part, on the ability to have hot water and a vessel to heat it in. If you are cold camping you'll have to make some substitutions. I also use a variation without the soup, oatmeal, tea, and coffee in my day pack while I'm on a hunting or fishing day trip. If I don't use it that particular day, it will keep until next weekend. One variation or another stays in my pack all season.
Also, as should always be practiced when enjoying the outdoors, please be responsible and pack out your trash. All the packaging will reduce very easily and the zip-lock bags will contain your refuse very well in your pack. I recommend that you place the peanut butter and jelly packets into an empty 3"x5" zip bag and then place that in the quart sized bag. It will help keep the inside of your pack from getting sticky. The empty quart sized bags can also be used to keep wet socks or other smelly trail items from fouling the inside of your pack. Even though every thing is in a sealed bag, remember while in bear country, store your food stuffs elevated and away from your camp site.