September 16, 2021

How Much Food to Bring while Backpacking

How much food to bring while backpacking? This is a question that many people ask themselves when deciding what to pack for their next hiking or backpacking trip. 

You’ll need enough food for the time you spend in the wilderness, but how do you know what’s enough? 

I will provide some tips on calculating your caloric needs before packing your backpack with too much or too little.

How Much Food to Bring while Backpacking

Should You Bring One or Two Extra Meals in Case of an Emergency

You will need to consider how many calories you burn a day rock climbing, bouldering, or backpacking. The average person burns around 2000-2500 calories in 24 hours, so if your trip is longer than this, plan on bringing some extra food. 

You also want to make sure that the foods you bring are high enough in calorie density to eat them without feeling like you are overeating. 

You don’t want to bring foods such as candy or chips because they will not be satisfying enough for the time spent hiking, and therefore won’t keep your energy levels up throughout the day.

Options for figuring how much food to bring when backpacking

You can use the following calculators to figure out how much food to bring when backpacking:

  1. Calories per pound of bodyweight: This is a simple formula that you can use to get an estimate of how many calories you burn each day. Make sure the activity level matches your own. For example, if you are a very active person and plan on burning more calories each day than the calculator provides for, make sure to pack extra food.
  2. Pounds of food per day when backpacking: This calculator considers your weight, the number of days on your trip, and your desired calorie intake. It then calculates how many pounds of food you should pack.
How Should You Store Backpacking Food Overnight

How Many Calories Does Backpacking Burn?

One of the best things to bring on a backpacking trip is dry fruit because it’s high in calories and will keep you full for a long time. You can also try trail mix, granola bars, or crackers with peanut butter as other options with good calorie density. 

Also, remember to figure out how many calories you’ll need every day and plan your food supply so that there are adequate meals available throughout your journey. 

Consider not only the nutritional value of the food you’re taking backpacking but also its weight when deciding what sort of meals to bring. Because this should influence how much room you leave in your bag for other goods.

How to Figure Out How Many Calories You Will Need

To figure out how many calories you’ll need:

  1. Consider the weight of your backpack and multiply that by the number of days you plan to be backpacking.
  2. Divide this amount in half because there is a good chance that it will take twice as long for you to return home as it took for you to go into the wilderness.
  3. After arriving at this final caloric intake value, think about what sorts of foods would best meet those needs and bring them with you on your trek.
Options for figuring how much food to bring when backpacking

Should You Bring One or Two Extra Meals in Case of an Emergency?

In case of an emergency, you should always bring a little extra food. 

Remember that the number calculated above is for your average day on a backpacking trip and doesn’t account for any unexpected circumstances such as getting lost or dealing with inclement weather. 

Bringing one more meal would be sufficient in most cases to keep yourself going until help can arrive if needed.

What Food to Consider When Backpacking?

There are many different foods that you could bring on a backpacking trip, and it’s important to consider your options carefully. 

It would be useless to bring food with you that is unsatisfying, or worse yet, doesn’t have enough calories to keep your energy levels up. 

Here are some foods that will provide you with the most energy:

  • Dried fruit;
  • Trail mix;
  • Granola bars.
Making a Backpacking Meal Plan

What if I Become Hungry?

Many people get concerned about how much food to bring backpacking. If you don’t pack enough food, you will starve and become weak. 

Pack enough food for your trip, but don’t be too excessive to ruin the whole journey with a too-heavy backpack. No one wants to hike with a 40lb pack on their back! Read further on how to pack light for a backpacking trip.

A little extra food to carry may include:

  • Bean and rice with Fritos and cheese;
  • Noodles with Peanuts;
  • Noodles with Pesto Sauce;
  • Polenta and Peppers.

How Should You Store Backpacking Food Overnight?

It is a good idea to have a gap between the food and the top of your backpack. If you cannot find a gap, try placing the food at the bottom of your bag. 

If you are using a backpacking or outdoor stove, it is best to have an extra layer between this and your food.

How Many Calories Does Backpacking Burn

What Is the Best Way to Carry Backpacking Food?

It might be a good idea to bring an extra pack if you will be backpacking for a long time. 

You can then use this as your food pack and place it at the bottom of your main backpack. 

This way, the food will not be in your sleeping area, and you’ll have lots of room for other things like clothes or a sleeping bag.

Making a Backpacking Meal Plan

There are many options for backpacking meals. However, the most important thing is to have enough food so you can stay strong and energetic throughout your trip. 

One way to ensure this is by using a meal plan for your backpacking trips. Create meals ahead of time, so you know what you’ll be eating. 

To make a backpacking meal plan:

  • Figure out how many calories you’ll need;
  • Choose three meals and two snacks per day to meet your calorie needs;
  • Plan your menus;
  • Add up the total calories of all three meals and two snacks per day to make sure they equal your calorie needs (if not, adjust accordingly);
  • Pack your meals in individual plastic bags;
  • Mark each meal on the outside of its bag so you know what you are eating.

There you have it—the best way to figure out how much food to bring when backpacking.

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About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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