What to Eat For Lunch When Hiking or Backpacking
We've got MANY non-sandwich ideas for you
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We (and many of you, our dear readers) have found larches! Based on our recent hiking in the Lake O’Hara area (pictured below) and the photo evidence you’ve been tagging us in, the larches are just starting to turn. So get outside and enjoy those stunning yellow trees while they last!
We had loads of information for you last week on where to find these golden needles (and why they’re so great) and this week, we’re bringing you some tasty ideas for your fall hiking fun.
Annalise enjoyed a few backpacking trips this summer and always struggles with what to take for lunch. The same goes for day hiking, especially if you’re like her and don’t love sandwiches in the backcountry (unless we’re talking fresh grilled cheese…which is hard when you don’t want to pack a camp or backcountry stove.)
Earlier in the year, we turned to our free subscriber chat and Twitter (back when it was known as Twitter) for backcountry lunch ideas and were inundated with advice. Annalise gave some of the many, many suggested ideas a try over her summer hiking adventures and brings you this extensive list of what to eat for lunch when hiking or backpacking. Enjoy!
This was suggested several times and was Annalise’s longtime default before she sought new lunch advice.
Dehydrated cheese (there are several brands now available at grocery stores including Moon Cheese, or you can stick with non-dehydrated cheese like Babybel if you’re on a day hike), beef jerky (or vegan jerky if you’re vegetarian like Annalise), nuts and dried fruit make for a tasty lunch.
For longer backpacking trips, Annalise likes to add dehydrated hummus (you can do this yourself if you have a dehydrator or oven with a dehydrator function) and crackers or pita to the Snackcuterie tray. We also had a reader who suggested adding hard-boiled eggs, which we still have not tried on a hike, but will!
Yes. You read that right. A reader had this advice for us: “I like cold (cooked that morning) oatmeal with fruits like frozen raspberries and blueberries added and protein powder mixed in.
I bring this for lunch to work too. Actually Oat Bran is better. Higher fibre and everything and kind of like pudding.” All we can say is, don’t knock it until you try it!
A reader said they like to go for Pizza the night before a backpacking trip and bring leftovers for lunch. Yum!
Who doesn’t want to enjoy cold pizza when soaking in backcountry views like this, of Mount Amery, near the Norman Lake Campground in Banff National Park photographed this July.
Tuna & Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Here’s a reader suggestion we haven’t tried. We blame the word sandwich.
“Hear me out. A Staple for hiking. Tuna sandwiches with Peanut butter. Mix Tuna with Mayo, chopped celery, green onion and cilantro, pepper and dash of cayenne. Spread PB on bread - enjoy a protein infusion.”
Hot lunches on a Cold Day
Any of our longtime readers know Annalise is a massive fan of homemade hot miso soup on ski-touring and overnight backcountry trips. On cooler hiking days, it’s also a great option (something about that warm salty goodness is next level when you’re exercising. Trust us!)
A few readers suggested bringing dehydrated soups/stews for lunch, and if you’re willing to carry a backcountry stove on day hikes and have time for a little longer lunch stop, it’s certainly a great option.
Premade Cauliflower & White Bean Baked Samosa Burritos
This lunch-idea was suggested by a Tweeter who shared this recipe. Annalise gave it a try while hiking to the Numa Creek Campground (said hiking is pictured below) in July and it certainly hit the spot. She’ll be having it again, for sure.
Tuna or Salmon or Peanut butter/fruit Wraps
This one was suggested by more than one reader. “I’ll carry tortillas, make a wrap with single serving packets of salmon or tuna. You can also use almond butter,” said one person.
“Take the small size tortilla wraps, and add the pouches of chicken or tuna salad filling that Safeway stocks now. Very packable, lightweight, no cooking,” said another.
“I carry tortillas and fill with peanut butter and either dried strawberries or chips. Pro tip: layer parchment paper between each tortilla so they don’t stick together,” was another piece of advice.
We love this idea from a reader.
“Hear me out: croissants. They’re lightweight, and while they absolutely get squashed, they don’t seem to dry out as quickly as bread. Also, if you’re hiking with kids, the promise of a croissant is more effective than the promise of yet another sandwich or trail mix.”
Cold Soaked Pasta Salad
This recipe suggested by a reader solves the I don’t want a sandwich and I also don’t want to break out the stove and cook conundrum. Cold Soaking is a no-cook way of preparing a dehydrated meal, in this case pasta salad.
Do you have any favourite hiking or backpacking lunches not on this list? Want to endorse something that is? Leave a comment below. And if you haven’t gotten your food-related outdoor content fill yet, read this post from 2021.
⛰️🥾️ Go Outside is written by Annalise & Cailynn — writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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