Are you planning to hike the Appalachian Trail? If you are only doing a short section, you can pack perishable food. However, if your adventure begins in Maine and ends in Georgia, it is best to put some thought into it.
Snacks and food that won’t spoil after a few days and are easy to pack are your best bet, so leave those bags of chips at home! Instead, opt for packable carbs, good fats, and proteins that will keep you satisfied and energized. Check out some of our backpacking food ideas for Appalachian Trail food.
General Food Requirements
- Lightweight. The ideal hiking food is dehydrated, containing little to no water. Water and packaging contribute to the weight of your food, so focus on dry food and repackaging. If your hiking backpack is too heavy, it can make your trip miserable, so make sure you cut down the weight where possible.
- Ready-to-eat. You will spend most of the day hiking so the food you pack should require minimal preparation. Your snacks and meals should be very simple to make so nothing stops you from moving forward. Most hikers only cook simple meals using backpacking stoves.
- High nutritional value. Hikers can burn up to 6000 calories a day. This means you need to consume a lot of nutritional food to balance out those calories so prepare food rich in carbohydrates, fiber, fats, and electrolytes.
Breakfast On Appalachian Trail
- Grits. This is one of the simplest breakfast options out there. You could make it easily using an alcohol stove for backpacking.
- It is a staple for hiking routes and is one of the most popular vegan camping meals. You can get oatmeal packets which you can use instead of a bowl. It is enough to simply add some hot water, and breakfast is served!
- Dried fruits. Dried fruit is lighter than fresh fruit so it is a great choice for hiking. It also has dense sugar which can serve as an alternative to candy.
- Seeds and nuts. It does not matter whether you go for roasted or salted ones. They are a great tasty way to add calories, healthy fats, and protein to your regular hiking meals.
- Powdered eggs. This breakfast option is extremely popular when it comes to Appalachian Trail food. It is lightweight, cheap, and nutritious, so it is perfect for a long hike.
- Powdered milk. It is possible to pack some delicious milk without adding extra weight! Powdered milk is a great source of potassium, fat, protein, and calories. You could add it to your oatmeal to make it creamier or use your backpacking cookware and be more creative.
Lunch On Appalachian Trail
- Dried meat. Salami, tuna, and beef jerky are some of the most popular backpacking food What is great about them are that they don’t need refrigeration. Besides, they are high in sodium and protein and simply taste great!
- Tuna is a go-to meat option on any hike. It is inexpensive, conveniently packaged, and available everywhere. Get tuna in olive oil for some additional calories.
- Cheese might be heavy for your lightweight backpack. But, it provides a lot of calories and fat which you need to finish your adventure. Aim for harder cheeses because they are more suitable for longer hikes.
- Bread is not among the best options for Appalachian Trail food because it can be too fluffy and bulky. On the other hand, tortillas are compact and lightweight. You can use them to make delicious wraps – just add any ingredient you like!
- These are a great source of carbohydrates and sodium. If you are not sure how to pack your backpack without crushing your crackers, you can hang them with a bandanna.
Dinner on Appalachian Trail
- Instant noodles. Seasoned noodles are better than pasta when it comes to hiking food. Compared to pasta, they do not need much cleanup and are a great source of carbohydrates.
- Instant rice. Rice is another backpacking staple. You could add anything you like to create a delicious high-calorie dinner.
- Couscous. It can be cooked in only 5 minutes so it makes a great option for food on Appalachian Trail. Its light texture can provide you with a nice dinner after a long day, though it is a little less filling than rice.
- Instant potatoes. You could add veggies, meat, spices, or oil to make a simple and delicious dinner. Instant potatoes are easy to pack and contain sufficient amounts of carbs and sodium and are one of the best vegetarian backpacking meals.
- Dried vegetables. It can be difficult to eat healthy food on the trail. But, dried veggies are an exception! Add them to any of the dinner staples (rice, couscous, potatoes, noodles) and enjoy the flavors!
- Energy chews. These are easy to pack and carry and can be loaded with electrolytes or caffeinated.
- Ready-to-eat dark greens options are rare. However, seaweed is light and easy to pack – basically the trail superfood!
- Almond or peanut butter. It is hard to beat peanut and almond butter when it comes to calories, protein, and sodium. They are ready-to-eat and easy to mix with other food for a quick but nutritious gluten-free snack!
- It will give you an energy boost and will make your tea taste amazing. Besides, it has many health benefits.
- Granola bars. This is a perfect hiking snack because it is high in nutrition. There are many options available – energy bars, food bars, protein bars, etc.
- Powder mixes. Some even have mineral and vitamin enhancements. Use them with a hydration pack to stay hydrated throughout your hike.
- It contains the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but cleaning your backpack will not be a problem. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea is great for relaxation after strenuous hiking.
- Instant coffee. Instant options have become better over the years. You could go with Starbucks or Jiva, for example.
- Water filters. Carrying a lot of water is not convenient. Using water filters can be a great choice for your hike because they are easy to pack and allow you to drink water wherever you are.
Getting More Food on the Trail
It is impossible to pack all the food you will need for your hike. But, that shouldn’t worry you because there are many resupply points along the way. You will be able to buy food, gear (such as rain jackets), or get some rest. Another option is shipping the food from your hometown, but that will cost you more and will last longer.
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Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a long journey so make sure to prepare well. You will need a lot of calories daily, so focus on food high in calories, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat.
Also, make sure your food is lightweight, ready-to-eat, and nutritious. You should focus on food that will not spoil in a few days. Go for oatmeal, granola, beef jerky, powder meals, or dry fruits to get enough energy for your hike. Powder mixes, tea, and instant coffee are some great options for drinks, as well. But, don’t pack too much because you will have a chance to resupply along the way.
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