Vegan Backpacking Food

Vegan Backpacking Food Inspiration

When you are living an active and healthy life, you don’t want to miss out on healthy and powerful food when traveling or backpacking/camping right?

While it is nice to have some unhealthy food once in a while, you
really want to stick to healthy and energy rich food when hiking for
multiple days.


So why are so many people actually eating crap food when on a multiday hike?

If you watch videos from multiday hiker and through hiker they mostly eat high energy foods like this well known chocolate spread (full of palm oil and sugar) or sugary chocolate bars, and fast food when they hit a town. It seems to be delicious and yes sure loaded with calories, but if they are thenwondering why they some days lack energy to hike or get cramps and have a sick stomach they don’t see the relation to food?

If you rely on convenience food with quick sugars and “empty” carbs this can actually turn into the opposite than what you actually want. The wrong food can actually make you more tired, can cause lack of energy, cause a blown stomach, problems with your digestion (you don’t want that when you might need to poop outdoors), etc. So it would be great to stick at least 80% to the food you eat on your daily basis.

While this can become a challenge on through hikes where you sometimes don’t know what the small resupply shops can provide, you could send yourself healthier resupply packages along the way.
We haven’t done one of those long US through hikes yet, but we know people who are vegan are doing the resupply packages anyway, so doing that plus using reusable packaging/bags, etc. should be managable too. (Let us know if you have been on a through hike on a vegan and low waste basis.)

"But Backpacking Food needs to be light and easy"

Yes, when you are on a multiple day hiking trip and there is no village you gonna pass where you could resupply, the food you need to carry should be light.
Thats why people who have are following a healthy or low waste lifestyle, use dehydrated food to make their own backpacking meals or even dehydrate their own meals.

But what is actually easy when it comes to food and cooking while backpacking?

-Some people think easy is opening a sachet, pouring some hot water into the sachet and eating the stuff in the sachet…

-Some people think easy is to prepare food at home, do some home made dehydrated meals, and pack these for their trip…

-Some other people like to carry a little bit more or maybe even plan their trip around villages or cities to resupply with some fresh produce, to cook a meal from scratch for dinner.

So what is easy for you? And what is important for you?

While we are trying to reduce our waste as much as we can, we really don’t like to suggest any sachet backpacking meals (but you will find them online anyway if you want them).
We like to inspire you to either cook fresh, or dehydrate you own meals. Depending on where your trip is taking you.

Dehydrated food for backpacking

Dehydrated food is made to last a long time and can just get soaked with hot or cold water to make it it edible.

In some bigger supermarkets you might find dehadrated beans, corn, onions, etc. in bulk bags. I know that Bulk Barn in Canada has some dehydrated stuff in bulk. 

You will also find plantmilk like coconut milk powder* in bulk container and even get peanutbutter powder*.

To make your own dehydrated meals you would need a Dehydrater*. You need to dry food for hours, so thats not possible to do accurate and safely in an oven.

It takes some time if you’d like to make meals for a long multiday hike, but I know a lot of people are actually so passionate about food that they don’t mind and start preparing weeks before their trip.

Convenience backpacking food:

Easy? Definitely, but expensive and heaps of single use packaging=trash involved.
Dehydrated convenience backpacking food are packed in sachets for one whole meal.
Take a good look at the ingredients before you buy any. There is definitely a lot of backpacking food out there thats not very healthy, even though it might be easy.

Single portion sachets are a real pain…  For me… I am so aware about pollution that I can not really see the combination of: I want to explore the beauty of nature, be in the wild, plus extreme amounts of trash!

Sachets are mostly made from mixed materials or materials not recyclable in curbside recycling. So just imagine how much single use trash a single person can make in a week if every coffee, every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner, every snack, every salt or dressing comes in a single portion sachet:
Let´s say: 7x breakfast Oatsachets+ 7xLunch+7xdinner+2 snacks a day(2×7)+2 coffee a day (2×7)+salt, pepper, peanutbutter, etc sachets (lets say 2per day)=84 sachets…
You can do the math if you buy big bags and mix your own meals out of them, that you will end up with way less bags in a week of hiking – or also a home.

Want to buy sachets but make a difference?

Try to look for organic and more sustainable brands that do try to make all their packaging more recyclable, or homecompostable. (Most compost facilities don’t allow compostable packaging yet!)

But be aware that not all packaging claimed to be recyclable is also recyclable everywhere. So if you want to be absolutely sure about this, ask the local waste management.

Or collect your sachets and find a recycling company that is specialized in recycling sachets where you can send them to.

Want to save money and reduce trash?

If you are on multiple day hikes a lot of times a year, the homemade or dehydrated food will not only make it easier to eat healthier on trail. And it will not only save a lot of trash, it will also save you a lot of money, as the packaged backpacking foods are always more expensive.

Other tips on how to reduce your trash on trail (and in your daily life):
-Reuse Plastic bags. This could be reusing zip loc bags from other foods (flour, nuts, etc.), reusing bagel and bread bags, etc. Clean them, dry and then refill with oats, flour, etc.

-Buy the biggest container, bags and then pack into your smaller reusable bags.

-Reuse any kind of plastic food container. If you buy peanutbutter or anything else in a plastic container, wash them carefully (and don’t use very hot water) and refill.

-If you are going shopping for resupply, try and shop as plastic free as you can. Bring a few very lightweigh produce bags, if there is a bulk bin, use your own clean reusable plastic bags. Maybe buy peanutbutter in a glass jar and because glass is very heavy, refill into your plastic container. Etc.

-If you camp close to a town, perfect(!) you can even buy fresh stuff for your dinner and next day breakfast and lunch!

Breakfast on trail
Reusing a dried fruit bag and a nut container

Vegan backpacking breakfast, lunch and dinner

When backpacking you might want to cook your breakfast before you start your dayhike. A warm meal can be a very nice start into the day. You need more energy than normally when you are hiking day after day for a couple of days in a row, so yeah I would recommend to get at least a small portion of breakfast before you go.

You can make a bigger portion of your breakfast and eat half of it for lunch. For lunch you don’t want to pack out all your cooking stuff, so lunch will most likely be something cold like a sandwich, wrap, leftovers from last dinner, or leftovers from breakfast. 

Dinner again can be warm. If you have prepared your dehydrated meals, perfect. Quick as F***.
If you are cooking fresh, choose ingredients that doesn’t need an extra long time cooking.

You also want to make sure to get all the macros: carbs, protein, fat and enough salt because you might sweat a litle bit..

Vegan Backpacking Breakfast Inspirations

Breakfast is important to get energy for your hike. If you don’t like to eat straight after waking up at home, be prepared that you are burning a lot of calories when hiking so don’t skpp breakfast in your foodplanning!
If you really aren’t hungry in the morning, prepare your breakfast anyway in the morning to take it with you. This way you only need a short break when getting hungry. You might not want to take a cooking break after 2 hours hiking to get some breakfast.

I am not writing down all of the recipes because there are tons already online on blogs or youtube, so it will be easy to find if you are in need for recipes.

And if you are a coffee drinker don’t forget to check out our post about how to make Coffee while camping.

If you just want to stick to instant coffee: again, get a big bag/container/glass and refill into the portions you need (bring milk powder or sugar if you like) and skip the small sachets…

Quick cooking oats/Oatmeal=Selfmade!!

Most people buy quick cooking oats/porridge in sachets. No only are these very expansive, but a lot of single use packaging is involved and mostly a lot of sugar too.
When backpacking you need to carry the trash with you until you find a proper bin. Theres is always a risk that the sachets get caught by the wind and end up in nature.

I was so mindblown when I heard about how easy it is to make your own quick cooking oats out of any oats you have in the house. Oats and blender is all you need!
And then just pack them into reusable ziplockbags, or lightweight reusable plastic container, foldable silicone container.
If you just like to use them at home, store them in glass container. Big empty jam or pickles glasses will do the trick.

Quick cooking oats/oatmeal recipe

Oats (use any oats you like, spelt, wheat, glutenfree, etc..)
Add ins: optional
-Plant Milk Powder
-any seeds you desire
-dried fruits
-dehydrated blueberries*
-chocolate powder
-brown sugar/xylith

I did not add any amounts, because the amount depends on how long you will be backpacking.

Put oats into blender or use a hand mixer. Then pulse until you have the wanted size of the oats. You can even make instant oatmeal if you blend long enough.

Mix in any of the optional Ingredients for your desired taste.

Pack into your chosen bags, box, etc. and cook on your camping stove in the morning with water. If you are camping close to a town you could even buy some fresh fruits to add on top.


Pancakes when camping? Yes, very easy… Bring your favorite flour (I would pack spelt and maybe mix with coconut flour) mix with some natron/baking powder and your favorite sweetener and then just add water. I like to add banana slices before I flip the pancake. Spread some peanutbutter for some protein and fat and you got a great power breakfast.

1cup flour
1tsp baking powder
1cup water
and some oil for frying

plant milk powder, sweetener, fruit you desire… you can also make savory pancakes with mushrooms or spinach, etc.

Mix the dry ingredients, then whisk up with water, heat the pan and heat the oil. Then pour one part of the batter and fry until you see bubbles (approx 3 Minutes). Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Top with your extras and enjoy.

Tofu scramble

Tofu is maybe not the lightest to carry, but definitely worth for a great breakfast or also dinner. Good for your protein intake as well.
If you pass a town on your trip with a bigger supermarket or organic store, perfekt, just buy some then. (and don’t forget some fresh veggies;)

For a tofu scramble take the tofu and crumble into smaller pieces. Mix with salt, pepper and optional other spices. And fry with red pepper, tomatoes, onions, or anything you are having.
Eat together with a bagel or slice of bread.

Tofu scramble
Homemade power/energy ball

Vegan Backpacking Lunch Inspirations

Lunch should be a quicker meal where you don’t need to do some cooking.
Sandwiches, Bagel, Wraps, leftover dinner or breakfast are perfect for this.

Wraps are a little better for trips as they don’t dry out as quickly as bagel or white bread. You can eat Wraps sweet or savory.

-Veggie Hummus Wraps

-Bagel with hummus or other veggies spread

-Tofu Sandwich

-Wrap with peanutbutter and banana

Vegan Power Snack Inspirations

Banana or apple slices with peanutbutter
Make your own trail mix (Nuts and dried fruits from bulk)
Homemade cookies
Energy Balls (check out this easy 5 ingredient energy ball recipe)
Homemade protein Bars
Dried fruits

Check out our 13 favorite power snacks for hiking.

nut mix hiking snack
Selfmade trailmix -nuts from bulk bins
HomemadeProtein Bars

Vegan Backpacking Dinner Inspirations

Beans, Red lentils (the red ones cook a loot quicker than other lentils), buckwheat, chickpeas, bulgur, quinoa, Rice, Couscous, pasta (choose small ones, they cook quicker), chickpea flour, tofu chunks, dehydrated mash potatoes, dehydrated veggies (you can find all kinds of dehydrated veggies: red and green peppers*veggie mix*, peas, beans, etc…)
And don’t forget your favorite spices. You could either mix your favorites or bring a few smaller reusable container or bags with different ones (chilli, curry, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic powder, etc.)

What you can make out of these ingredients? Depending on what you can carry and if you can buy fresh food around your camp the meals can vary. One Pot Meals are definitely a win situation when camping.
Put all the ingredients in a pot, cook, use all your favorite spices and enjoy with a view 🙂

Just a few inspirations:
Vegan Chilli with Quinoa or Rice
Buddha Bowls with Buckwheat
Rice or lentil bowls
Tofu veggie pan with quinoa or buckwheat or rice
Pasta with veggies

Remember no to leave anything behind in the wild. Not even food leftovers or peels.
Check out the Leave no Trace principles for more informations.

So tell me about your favorite trail food.

Or have you managed to finish a through hike? Tell us all about it how you reduced your trash and what kind of vegan meals you loved…

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