10 Gluten-free Backpacking Food Ideas


Nothing beats being on a trail in the backcountry taking in all the fresh air, natural beauty, and enjoying the escape from otherwise busy and hectic city life. Part of enjoying your walk is making sure your body is fully energized. This means filling up on some tasty gluten-free backpacking meals which you can enjoy while taking a rest on your backpacking chair.

These are 10 gluten-free backpacking food ideas. But first…

Why gluten-free foods?

If you have celiac and your body simply cannot tolerate gluten, or even if you are slightly sensitive, the last thing you need when you are out in the backcountry is a reaction from eating food that has gluten.

Cutting back on gluten doesn’t have to mean giving up on your backcountry adventures. There are plenty of options out there on gluten-free backpacking foods. These are packed with energy and will keep you well-nourished and on the trail.

You must learn how to pack your food before heading out on the trail. Not only will this ensure that you have sufficient food, but you are also able to keep the smell of food from attracting wild animals. The camping and backpacking food storage guide will teach you everything you need to know.

It may seem like the most daunting task when trying to find the best gluten-free food for backpacking. Before the existence of easily packaged gluten-free backpacking meals, the only choice most people had was to prepare their meals and pack them.

Now there are plenty of companies that make gluten-free backpacking foods such as scrambled eggs with bacon from Mountain House or Buffalo Cranberry Jerky bites from Tanka. These need to be filling as being on the trail can take a lot of your energy and leave you hungry.

Now you can make the most of your time in the outdoors even while being gluten intolerant.

1. Almonds

One thing about packing almonds is that they are super nutritious. An ounce of almonds packs a heavy punch with up to 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Even better is that almonds are good for the heart.

The fiber in the almonds makes them a great choice when you need to stay energized for a long time. The protein helps to rebuild the muscles that break during serious backpacking. This helps you recover faster.

But that is not where the benefits end. Almonds are highly versatile. Whether you plan on adding them to oatmeal or your trail mix, they remain a great and reliable choice for many backpackers.

Not to mention that your bones also receive a healthy dose of calcium.

2. Red Lentils

This is a different variant of lentils that is packed full of protein. Each quarter cup of red lentils provides 13 grams of protein. They are also rich in fiber which means you will stay full for longer.

Red lentils require about 15 minutes to cook on the backpacking stove. They are an excellent source of protein after a long day on the trail.

One good way of preparing the red lentils is to mash them up with a bit of garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt.

3. Chia seeds

When you are on that trail, it’s important to ensure that your body receives its essential nutrients. Chia seeds provide omega 3 fatty acids, protein as well as fiber. Chia seeds also come loaded with other essential nutrients as well as plenty of antioxidants.

Your body is going to take a lot of pressure as you go backpacking. Chia seeds are a great way to help the body recover faster.

While you can add chia seeds to your bottle of water, another great way to consume them is to add them to your food for an energy-packed meal.

4. Quinoa

Quinoa should be on your list of the best backpacking foods for several reasons. Quinoa is one of the few foods that have all the amino acids and thus provides the body with all of the amino acids that it requires.

What’s more, is that this great backpacking food also provides the body with complex carbohydrates. This gives you long term fuel and energy which you need when walking the trail.

Consuming quinoa is a great way to start your day. Simply add it to porridge with dried fruits and warm the mix on your backpacking stove. You can also have a meal before retiring to bed. Add in a few dried beans while you are at it.

5. Peanut butter

Peanut butter is a favorite of many backpackers. One of its main benefits is that while not just being gluten-free, peanut butter is a versatile type of food. It is rich in protein and fat. And these fats are the healthy kind and provide your body with hours of energy.

Peanut butter can be added to different types of food. If you don’t want to spend time preparing a meal, simply take a spoon and eat it straight from the container.

But if you have the time, you can simply add it to brown rice and enjoy the energy-dense meal. You can eat peanut butter anytime of the day as well as for dinner. Try adding it to oatmeal when you are on the trail and you’ll be surprised at how filling it is.

Preparing your meals

Sometimes you may simply prefer preparing your meals when you are out backpacking. These simple and delicious gluten-free backpacking foods provide lots of energy.

6. Honolulu curry

Your taste buds will love this. Honolulu curry is simple to prepare and takes around 20 minutes. What’s more is that Honolulu curry is full of healthy nutrients providing the body with carbohydrates, proteins, sodium, and fat.

There are a few ingredients that you need to start with. Dehydrated shrimp, dehydrated canned pineapples, half-cup dehydrated basmati rice, and 2 tablespoons of coconut milk.

Before heading out, ensure that these are mixed and stored in a freezer bag and that the packed food fits nicely in your backpacking backpack.

When backpacking and you feel like you need to fill up on your energy reserves, simply add the mixture in 1 cup water and place it on medium heat. Let the food boil. Stir for around 10 minutes and remove the meals.

Leave it covered for the next 5 minutes. This ensures that the meal rehydrates.

7. Smoked salmon and potato pancakes

Note that preparing this delicious meal will take some time. Once ready, however, it is super filling and delicious. Start by grating potatoes. You might need to use around 9 average-sized potatoes.

Grating the potatoes in very small sizes means that they will cook faster. It also keeps them from falling apart.

Drain any extra fluid once you are done grating the potatoes. Take 2 eggs and beat lightly. Add in a bit of salt to the eggs, a small onion, and a handful of oats. Mix the ingredients with the potatoes.

Now take a bit of oil and add it to a warm frying pan. Take the mix and add onto the pan and fry as you would regular pancakes. Wait until they turn golden brown.

8. Cheese sticks

If you are searching for a great bang for your buck, then try cheese sticks. They are energy-dense and full of protein. What’s more, cheese sticks have a super high calorie-to-weight ratio. This means a small pack can provide your body with plenty of calories.

You can also pack many cheese sticks into a very small space making them easy to carry.

9. Dehydrated refried beans

Beans are a superfood that is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and some trace minerals. When it’s finally time for you to cook your beans, start by boiling water, add some corn chips, and then add the dehydrated beans. Stir and make sure that they absorb the water fully.

10. Grass-fed beef sticks

If you are tired of traditional beef jerky, you will enjoy grass-fed beef sticks. They are a great protein and energy source and come spiced. When you want to munch on something as you walk the trail, these are a great choice.

If you are vegetarian, and animal products are simply not your thing, then you can still pack and carry vegetarian backpacking meals.

What to look for in Gluten-free backpacking foods


Whether you’ve decided to cook your gluten-free backpacking meals or you prefer to buy dried meals, there are several factors that you need to consider.

Simple to cook

Some people will view preparing meals when backpacking as pain due to the processes of setting up the stove and cooking. Other people simply don’t like cleaning the dishes when out in the woods. Many people, therefore, will prefer non-cook meals.

That said, there are plenty of backpackers who still enjoy taking the time to cook their meals. If you are one of these people who knows how to cook outdoors, always ensure that the meals are simple to prepare and that they do not take too long.

Cooking from home

If you prefer preparing your meals at home, make sure that they are simple to pack and carry, and when it’s finally time to warm them, this should also be quick and easy to do.

When it’s time to have your meals, reheating them should be hassle-free. However, food must remain safe to eat. One of the ways to make sure that this happens is by letting the food cool down completely and then putting it in the fridge.

When you are reheating, it’s a good idea to bring the homecooked meals to a boil. This will help keep you safe from food positioning.

Water availability

Some areas will have more water available than others and this can influence the type, as well as the amount of food and weight that you will carry.

Always have a good quality water filter if you will be using water from a stream or river for drinking. When cooking, make sure to boil the water to kill all the pathogens.


Not only should the food be easy to prepare, but it also needs to be nutrient-dense. Walking takes a lot of your energy and the average person can burn as much as 2500 calories when walking a trail that is 5 miles long.

Your body should, therefore, be well energized to be up for the task. You can consume enough calories in the form of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Food rich in fiber will digest slowly and keep you feeling full for a long time.

Lightweight food

Make sure that the food you bring doesn’t wear you down. Prioritize nutrient density as you can pack a small amount of food that will provide you with all the nutrients that you will need when backpacking.


You must have fun even when you are backpacking. The last thing you want is food that doesn’t taste good. Ensure that you carry food that you love to eat.


Some gluten-free backpacking meals will take longer than others to cook. You must have the fuel for cooking your meals depending on how long it will take. The best backpacking stove will have enough fuel to last you the trip.

Consider using an alcohol stove for backpacking. Not only are they compact and lightweight, but they also run on an eco-friendly fuel source.


Note that frozen, dried, and canned foods can be quite costly. However, sometimes you may be so tired and weary that you don’t have the energy to cook. When you need something to eat fast, then the cost is justifiable.

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There are plenty of different options for backpackers when it comes to the food they can carry. While it might seem like a hard task to find the best gluten-free backpacking food, it is simple once you focus on nutrient density, lightweight, and simple to prepare.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. Best Gluten-free backpacking foods, hiking-for-her.com
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