How to cook while backpacking

PROVIANT & NUTRITION while hiking & trekking

On this page:

On separate pages:

General & special

The subject of catering is a central factor when preparing a longer trekking tour, bike tour or paddling. Here in particular, experience is key. As a rule, the hiker learns through the try & error method. At the beginning you always take too much with you, later on too little. On the first bike tours as a teenager, for example, it is the can of ravioli, later perhaps the professional freeze-dried trekking food ... and there are worlds in between.

The food should of course be nutritious and tasty, but the real challenge usually lies in the weight of the food. It makes a decisive difference whether you have to carry 20 kg or 30 kg in your backpack at the start of the tour. Therefore, with increasing experience, everything that is too dominated by the latter in the ratio of nutritional value and weight disappears. The can of ravioli may then turn into spaghetti with bag sauce, later Asian noodle dishes, mashed potatoes or special products from the outdoor outfitters.

At the same time, the topic is also a logistical challenge: Where can I get refreshments in between? How do I lay out my route for this? Can I create securities accounts? Can I nourish myself from nature (mushrooms, berries, fruit, fish ...)? Is there a suitable fuel for my stove in the target area? ... Etc.

Bergzeit magazine has published an article especially for mountain sports enthusiasts. Here the author particularly addresses the nutritional needs of strenuous mountain tours and expeditions lasting several days.



The consumption of calories on multi-day tours should not be underestimated. I also often lose weight on trekking trips with very good food. It is therefore advisable to regularly replenish, especially carbohydrates. However, you shouldn't get too full at high altitudes. This uses up a lot of oxygen and can lead to nausea and headaches during altitude adjustment. Better to eat less often. Since you often have little appetite at high altitudes, it is advisable to pay attention not only to weight, but also to taste when choosing provisions. If you only want to calculate in calories: you need roughly 2500 kcal / day. But will you be happy with 600 g muesli bars alone?

Trekking food:

What is your opinion of the special trekking food that is offered in the outdoor shops? Due to dehydration, the product loses up to 90% of its own weight. The result is extremely light and takes up little space in the backpack, at least for products with airless packaging. A nice side effect is that the trekking food has a long shelf life because of the dehydration. But of course it is not cheap due to the complex production process. If you are trekking through Greenland for 3 weeks, the trekking food really makes sense. You don't necessarily need that for the bike tour on the weekend.

The different product lines differ in taste and nutritional value. I have had good experiences with Lyo Food products in both respects. Due to the special production, the taste of the dishes is well preserved. Instead of flavor enhancers (glutamate, yeast extract) or flavorings, there are natural ingredients and spices in the bag, and you can taste them! The air has been withdrawn from the bags, so they take up less space in the backpack! You can get the Lyos under Lyo Food on Amazon to order. The cost is 5-10 € / meal (approx. 100 g).

The manufacturer also offers freeze-dried instant food. The good price-performance ratio also makes the offers interesting for normal trekking tours. Many dishes are around € 4, but there are always many special offers such as pasta dishes from € 1.65 and the like. There are also interesting products such as meals or coffee from self-heating vessels (although the latter does not get particularly hot and the vessels very are difficult). Addendum: Unfortunately I no longer recommend Voyager. I have been trying to delete my customer account for some time now, but no longer get an answer.

More trekking and mountaineering food such as the Travellunch brand can be found under Trekking Food on Amazon.

Without the special trekking food, I calculate around 1 kg per person and day for food and fuel. With trekking food, you can reduce this by half, depending on whether you use it for part of it or live from it.

When prepared normally, dry food usually still draws water from the body. Therefore, freeze-dried food should be consumed with plenty of fluids.

Granola bar:

Mischus produces a special kind of "granola bar". The grain is not ground, but only broken up, put into the mash and air-dried at 42 ° C in the machine. This means that all the important components of the grain are preserved, the value increases and it becomes more digestible.

In practice, the bars remind me more of a kind of solid wholemeal bread and less of muesli bars. The taste is very good (especially the tomato and chilli variety), I might find it a bit dry when enjoyed pure. I could well imagine a few dried fruits or spreads to go with it.

Transporting them in a sturdy container is helpful, as the bars are somewhat prone to crumbling. When stored in a dry place, the bars become a little harder, but they have an extremely long shelf life. The weight-performance ratio seems very good to me!

further tips:

Lists with examples of what provisions you need on tour can be found under> Provisions.

For energy values ​​and calories of various muesli bars, see also> Provisions.


On tour you should drink at least 3 liters / day. With heat, great exertion and altitude above 2500 m you need at least 5-6 liters / day. Too little fluid increases the susceptibility to illnesses, makes it difficult to adapt to altitude and reduces performance.

If you are thirsty, you have drunk too late: In order to get enough fluids at the end of the day, you should start first thing in the morning and drink smaller amounts early and regularly during the day! See> drinking bags.

Optimally against the loss of fluids: Fruit juice spritzer made from 3 parts water, 1 part juice for the thirst. Apple spritzer with 2 parts apple juice and one part water is recommended as an isotonic drink during sporting activities.


Light and tasty, that's the motto ... but this is about the weight of the food, not about the diet for the eater. You should also replenish the calories you have used up and not drag yourself to the fuel.

Here are a few examples of ...

Provision lists ...

... which I used on my trekking tours. You can then adapt this to your own tour by extrapolating.

example 1: for 6 days at Mount Kenya we and 2 people needed:

Bag meals rice, noodle (from Aldi) 6 pack
Asia noodle snack 12 pack
Nutella 100 g
Margarine 100 g
Muesli 1 pack
Soluble coffee powder 0.2 l
Milk powder 0.2 l
White bread 1.5 pieces
Cookies 4 pack
3 apples
Cartridges for camping gas stoves 2 x 190 g
Vitamin tablets
and lots of water

Example 2 (Information per person / day):

Breakfast: 100 g muesli plus raisins, dried fruits, nuts, powdered milk, sugar. 2 slices of crispbread or pumpernickel with topping or spread. Coffee or tea.
Lunch: 1 sachet of soup, 2 slices of bread with spread. Tea or coffee.
Afternoon: coffee, cookies.
Evening: 100 g pasta with bag sauce or 1 ready-made meal, 3 slices of bread with spread, tea.
Emergency reserve: muesli bars, power bar or similar ...

Example 3 (Iceland food packing list for groups) (P = person, Fri = breakfast, L = lunch, AE = dinner)

Large glass of coffee (200 g) / 10 p / 3 days
2-3 packs of tea / 10 p / 3-4 days
Sugar, sweetener
1 cup of milk powder (500 g = 6 l) / 10 P / 3 days
1000 g muesli / 10 P / Fr
1500 g pasta / 10 P / AE
750 g rice / 10 P / AE
Tortellini (Barilla) 5-6 x 3-portion pack + 2 x tuna + 5 x sachet sauce + salt / 10 P / AE
6 pack trekking food (2 pers.) / 10 p. / AE
1 bucket (900 g) jam / 10 P / 3-4 days
1-2 jars of Nutella / 10 P / 3-4 days
250 g margarine / 10 p / day
4 loaves / 10 p / day
3 packs of cheese (3 x 12 slices) / 10 p / day
2 pack sausage / 10 p / day
1 cup of honey (possibly)
Fruit for the 1st day, e.g. B. 5 apples / 10 p / day
packing material
3/4 l denatured alcohol / 10 p / day
1 Trangia cooker

Bar comparison

Calorific value kJ / 100 gkcal / 100 g g protein / 100 g g carbon hydrates / 100 g g fat / 100 g
Powerbar bars Harvest cherry1514 358 12 67 5
Powerbar bar wild fruit148235515653,8
Powerbar banana bar142834215653,1
Powerbar Peach Passion Fruit Bar147134713,764,83,7
Müller nut cuts1912   8,2 53,1 23,5
Crunchy crown fitness bar (Aldi Süd)1962 47013,5 40,1 28,4
Hahne muesli bars fruits17234095,272,011,1
Schneekoppe fruit slices Blueberry vanilla14703504686
Schneekoppe fruit slices banana13903304,5654,5
Corny Chocolate Banana (Schwartau)1710 406 6,0 65,0 13,6

Tips & tricks for catering on trekking tours

In addition to the usual dishes for trekking tours - usually dry food to which you add a lot of water such as muesli, pasta, ready-made meals - here are a few tips that you may not immediately come across:

Noodle dishes from the Asia shop (or convenient and inexpensive, in a pack of 10 for less than 5 euros, from the Internet: Asia Noodle Snacks - Top Ramen). Here you can add a little more water than what is written on the packaging (0.5 l). A little sausage or tuna will improve the taste. I always leave out the chilli in the separate bag.

As an instant powder, mashed potatoes are very light and nutritious, and easily edible with just as light gravy out of the bag.

Aldi also has small sausages (salametti) in different flavors. Very tasty as a change from a muesli bar!

Balisto, Snickers or Bounty can add variety to all kinds of muesli bars. But be careful: when it gets warm, there is a lot of animal graffiti.

Canned bread: not ideal if the backpack shouldn't be too heavy, but tasty if there is no good bread (by our standards) in the target area.

Instant espresso: tastes better than I thought.

Polenta is a weight-saving alternative to pasta.

If you only want to calculate in calories: you need about 2500 kcal / day. But will you be happy with 600 g muesli bars alone?

Petrol stoves are quite efficient and use around 50 ml / day / person. But that fluctuates a lot, depending on the wind, temperature, etc.

Tip for cold areas: Sugar in the drink lowers the freezing point!

Universal soap is available for rinsing (e.g. Care Plus Bio Soap, also at Globetrotter), with which you can wash clothes, hands, hair and everything else.

literature for nutrition while traveling

Cooking 1 from rucksack and pannier  

Cooking 2 - for campers: basic knowledge for outdoors: The handy little book from Conrad Stein Verlag was very well received and was therefore published in its 4th edition in 2015. The author concentrates on 84 dishes (34 of them for vegetarians) that can be prepared with minimal kitchen equipment and without a lot of effort, and yet go far beyond the taste sensations of bag soups or canned ravioli. Somewhat more convenient than "Cooking 1", this recipe manual is aimed at people who are on vacation with a camper, caravan or tent and car. The cookbook proves to be just as helpful for holiday apartment tourists, since you usually cannot use the equipment and ingredients of the home kitchen.

In addition to many variants of pasta dishes, there are recipes for potato and rice dishes, salads, soups and stews, vegetables and meat. A simple camping oven is presented with the associated recipes, and it is explained how pizza can be made in the pan. Of course there is also dessert. Lists of ingredients, lots of photos (which make the reader's mouth water), equipment and packing lists (separated by motorhome, holiday apartment and tent) and instructions on how to make your own dried fruit, for example, complete the manual.