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
1 Toothpick

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. 

Tea Bag
Instant Coffee
Powdered Sport Drink
Creamer packet
Sugar Packet
Salt packet
Pepper Packet
Hard Candy

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.



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    11 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    ya but i mean how many days worth of food is in the how many of these packs will i have to bring for a week ;)

    1 reply

    I usually take one pack per day. It mostly serves a breakfast and lunch. Then I normally have a freeze dried Mountain House or similar meal for dinner. You can also make your own dinner meals from noodle packs, foil packs of chicken or tuna, instant mashed potatoes, etc. The pack has over 1200 calories. You will need 2000 calories or more per day while hiking so you will need to double up on the packs if you choose to only use them or supplement them with another type of meal.

    Nothing in the pack needs refrigeration so it will last several days. I have been on 10 day trips and had no problems.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm assuming this is for one day. I'd like to know the calorie count. Average activity, sitting still and sleeping burn about 2000 calories a day. I'll put it this way, when I backpack, it's usually a hike to a base camp site. Often, these are a few miles in. Then it's setting up the site, and then gathering water and firewood. What you have listed there would be a light dinner. Last year, on a four day winter trip to the ADKs, I left weighing 170, came back weighing 163. And we ate like kings, including several nice trout.

    Now, I could see a few of these being a good part of your three-day survival ration, but backpacking burns through way too many calories in my opinion.

    Another good addition might be cous-cous, a pasta that's about the size of river sand. Just add boiling water and let sit for a few minutes.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, the pack is designed for one day, but it is more of a breakfast/ lunch/snack pack that is augmented with a full dinner meal. As listed, the pack contains a little over 1200 calories. I generally use 2 oatmeal packets and 2 soup packets which raise the total calorie count. You can also add calories by changing the food bars to higher content selections.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    The zip closure bags should be "freezer" bags-- a little heavier plastic. These can also be used to collect water. A bagged item inside another bag is nearly waterproof.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Make sure when shopping for foods that they are "just add water" types. When repackaging to smaller portions, carefully fold the bag over a couple of times to force all air out of the bag before sealing. Trapped air can take up a lot of space.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I was just searching for any tips for food ideas to take on a 200 mi. bike trip I'm planing to take this summer with my son when I found this. Thanks for your ible. I'm planing on posting
    several ibles on what I pack, make and do for the trip pluse how it goes.

    1 reply

    I do a lot of camping with Scouts, backpacking, hunting, canoe trips, etc. Most of the time spoilage is my first concern, next is the weight. If you're biking you've probably got about the same limitations as backpacking as far as weight and space. One of the things I do is to reduce the packaging down to the minimum. Ziplock bags are great because they are light, you can see what's in them, they can be re-purposed, and reduce in size when empty. If you buy bulk items and make individual servings using zip bags, make sure you cut out the cooking directions and place them in the bag. You can make camp meals pretty cheaply from standard grocery store items like rice and pasta dinners, instant mashed potatoes, Stove Top stuffing, and the like. Anything you can make with boiling water works well. You can add foil packed chicken, tuna, salmon, etc to make a heartier meal. The foil packs are nice because they are lighter and you don't have to deal with the tin can when they are empty. One packet of Lipton creamy chicken noodles and a foil pack of chicken makes a good dinner for two people.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like an awesome way to carry a variety of tasty, lightweight foods in a very limited space. Thanks for sharing a great tip!