11 Lightweight Food Options for Backpacking

Camping and Hiking

The ideal food options for backpackers are lightweight, high in caloric content, easy to store/manage, non-perishable, and quick to prepare/consume.

A reasonable goal is 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. of food (or 2,500 to 4,500 calories) per person per day depending on your size, weight and exertion level (according to REI).

No Shell Pistachios! (Or any other nut you prefer)

Info: Nuts offer a great source of protein, calories to burn, are easy to store/manage, and can last up to 3 months, making them ideal for any backpacker. 

Price: $26.49 (for 24oz)

Peanut Butter

Info: One of the most popular food options for backpackers, with a great calorie to weight ratio and ample protein. Often consumed plain or paired with a tortilla, oatmeal, etc.

Price: $4.98 (40oz)

Trail Mix

Info: Another highly popular backpacking food, trail mix contains a more tasteful dry mix of nuts, fruits, chocolates, etc. Can easily be custom made as well to suit your preferences. Contains great source of energy and easy to store/manage.

Price: $20.48 (4 lbs, which you'd mostl likely want to seperate into lighter portions)


Info: Easy to store/manage, good calorie/energy ratio, pairs well with peanut butter, refried beans, etc. 

Price: $11.28 (11 oz)


Info: A very popular, nutrious, protein & energy rich bar which are excellent for backpackers. 

Price: $24.87 (12 pack, 3oz)

Mac and Cheese

Info: One of the easiest cooking options on the trail; pairs well with additional ingredients such as beans and wrapped in a tortilla for additional calories. Lightweight, easy to store/manage.

Price:  $4.73 (5 pack, 7.3 oz)

Enriched Pasta

Info: Similar to the staple mac, pasta is a simple/easy cooking option on the trail that lends itself to other foods/ingredients available. Enriched with additional protein and iron, this offers ample energy for hiking. 

Price: $6.94 (4 boxes: 2 spaghetti, 2 angel hair. 14.5 oz total)

Tuna / Salmon

Info: Nutritious, lightweight, ample protein, and pairs well with pasta/mac meals. Easy to store/manage. Longlasting. Tuna or salmon are both solid options.

Price: $11.19 (12 pack, 2.5oz each)

Instant Mashed Potatoes

Info: Provides ample calories, easy to make, pairs well with other foods, lightweight, easy to store/manage. Longlasting.

Price: $27.99 (12 pack, 4 different flavors, 4oz each)

Sante Fe Instant Refried Beans

Info: Adds a lot of flavor / pairs well with other backpacker foods such as tortillas, mashed potatoes, mac/pasta, etc. Lightweight, longlasting, great source of protein and calories/energy.

Price: $18.09 (8 pack, 7.25 oz each)

Quaker Granola Bars

​​​​​​​Info: Another popular (and cheaper) bar option for backpackers, granola bars offer whole grains, protein, and a decent amount of energy. Lightweight, longlasting, multiple flavors.

Price: $3.74 (18 bars, 15oz total)