Let me demonstrate some do's and don'ts of packing food for backpacking through the following example packing lists and show you how to cut the weight of your food in half. In both cases, we have enough food for two for an overnight backpacking trip. That includes (per person) two lunches, one dinner, one breakfast, and a variety of snacks.
Scenario #1: Way too heavy
- Don't bring too many cans.
- Don't bring too many fresh fruits or veggies. Apples are heavy, grapes make your hands sticky and are easy to squish in your pack.
- Bread spoils easily. For a single night, you'll be fine, but this would definitely get mouldy by day 3.
- Whatever you do, don't bring any glass jars!!!
Scenario #2: Ultralight
- Do replace fresh fruits and vegetables with dried ones, e.g. dried apples, raisins, and sun-dried tomatoes.
- I've noticed pita spoils less easily than bread. Leave the bag open so that it dries and doesn't collect condensation on the inside of the bag.
- Cans can be replaced by instant meals where you just add water.
- Carry only as much Nutella spread as you'll eat, and that too in a lightweight plastic container. Better yet, bring individual-sized packets of honey or jam.
- Lots of calorie-dense trail mixes, granola bars, chocolate and crackers: good!
That's a weight reduction of 52%!
Scenario #3: Happy medium
In reality, I usually strike a happy medium between the two scenarios and go mostly ultralight but bring a single apple and/or a carrot or two, as well. Or, if I go no-cook, I'll bring packets of Indian food, which do have some water weight, but at least I don't have to carry a stove and fuel.
Do you have any favourite lightweight backpacking staples you always pack, or any foods you can't live without and bring despite the weight? Share in the comments!