Best Backpacking Foods Reviewed and Rated for Quality

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
Test Winner: Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
Amazon Link
When out and about exploring the wonders of the world, your most basic necessities can be the biggest concern you end up having on your adventure. Any survivalist knows the rule of three, it states that you can last for three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. While that is true the reality of the matter is that without a source of protein after three to five days without eating, your body will start to become sapped of energy. The importance of bringing high quality and nutritional items while backpacking cannot be overstated. With this guide, we are on a mission to help you find the best backpack food on the market.

Standout Picks

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
As the number 1 featured item on this list, I’m certain to turn heads with this pack of maruchan ramen noodle soup. Aside from being the only meal inside a college dorm cabinet this extremely cheap soup ramen noodle soup has a shelf life of almost one year. You can buy this soup well in advance of your outing and know that it will be edible when you need it. Ramen noodle soup boasts a whopping 52 grams of carbohydrates per block which will give you the extra bit of energy you need to get out and explore that strange wilderness.
Amazon Link
$17.99
People's Choice Beef Jerky
There aren’t many meats that can provide the amount of protein you can find in high-quality beef jerky. Processed beef jerky has a shelf life in excess of three years. Jerky can be flavored in multiple different seasonings to provide a variety of delicious, quick and meal alternatives. Beef jerky can be eaten easily while on the move allowing for a more adaptable meal.
Amazon Link
$33.99
Starbucks Via
If you’re like me you like to get the show on the road pretty early in the morning when you're preparing for a trip. Again, if you’re like me, you also want to start your day off with a warm and refreshing drink. As the most valued item on this best of list, I chose Starbucks via instant coffee. This blend of coffee uses Arabica beans that have a rich and smooth taste.
Amazon Link
$33.63
CLIF BAR - Energy Bar
CLIF bars are portable and nutritious energy bars that are made to taste great and provide energy for the most avid of adventurers. These bars are made with organic and sustainable products and provide a good source of fiber from nuts like oats, almonds, and dates. CLIF bars don't use artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.
Amazon Link
$23.89
Gourmet Nut POWER UP
This all natural and vegan-friendly bag of mixed nuts is another wonderful addition to the best foods list. This assorted pack contains nuts and fruits like walnuts, dried mango, almonds, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. As an added benefit this bag of assorted fruits and nuts is gluten-free.
Amazon Link
$5.28
7-Piece Cheese & Sausage
While not generally used in hard meats and cheeses are the perfect addition to your outing. These hard meats and cheeses can be stored at room temperature for up to one month with proper packaging. The cheese will provide you with a source of dairy and calcium and the meats will add protein and iron to your diet while preparing for a trip.
Amazon Link
$69.99
StarKist Chunk Light Tuna
The StarKist Chunk Light tuna pouch is a hassle-free and easy to open source of high-quality tuna. Tuna has a huge dose of both iron and potassium but does have a small mercury content so it is not recommended that you eat it daily. While being heart healthy tuna provides a salty and satisfying taste that goes great with salads and on sandwiches.
Amazon Link
$39.00
Sweet Sue Chicken Breast
The sweet sue chicken breast package is a seven-ounce vacuum sealed package of chicken. It is an excellent source of protein and much like tuna is an excellent source of unsaturated fats. Chicken is protein dense and is very lean meat. Chicken, like its bigger brother turkey, contains tryptophan which can enhance your mood and fight off feelings of depression.
Amazon Link
$38.97
Mountain House Chicken Fajita
The chicken fajita bowl made by Mountain House is a freeze-dried meal that is packaged in a resealable pouch. This meal is generally considered an MRE format option and is capable of being stored on a shelf in excess of 30 years. These meals are a little more bulk and will take up more room in your backpack however on a long trip they will provide the nutrients you need and bring the taste of home to the wilderness.
Amazon Link
Seeds of Change Quinoa
The last product featured on this best of the list is the simple addition of a portable package instant garlic quinoa and brown rice. This small package is an instant source of a large number of carbohydrates and makes a great addition to many of the other options on this list. The added quinoa also helps to increase the protein count on this with as the most protein-rich grain you can find.
Amazon Link
$23.16

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Effectiveness

While Stalin may disagree with my approach I went about making this best of list, her quality would be present foremost and quantity would be a secondary concern. With most trips lasting around five to seven days, I wanted to be sure that all the food could be easily stored in a small section of your backpack and wouldn’t increase your encumbrance too much. Each of the products I selected has an amazing or unique taste and will bring you a satisfying breakfast, lunch, or dinner during your trip.

Protein is a component of every cell in your entire body with your hair and nails being made up almost entirely of protein. Your body uses protein to repair and replace any damaged tissue your body needs in the production of enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Furthermore, protein is critical to your bodybuilding muscle, bones, cartilage, skin, and even your blood. It is considered to be a macronutrient and you do need a substantial amount to stay in good health. Consuming protein will help you speed the recovery of your muscles, reduce your muscle loss, and help you in the process of building lean muscle. In order to allow you to feel the full effects of this wonderful macronutrient, I made sure to provide ample choices that were protein dense.

Carbohydrates are generally found in fruits, vegetable, bread, pasta, and many other products and are an excellent source of energy. Your body will use these carbohydrates to make glucose and glucose is a sugar that can either be used by your body instantly for energy or stored away as fat for later use. Not all carbohydrates are good and generally, the only ones that are recommended for regular consumption are the ones that are highly fibrous. To provide you with lasting energy there are multiple high carb and high fibre options to make an addition to your ensemble.

In order to satisfy the five main food groups and allow you the ideal intake, I sought to include a member of each category. The first category, fruit, was easy enough to include. Fruit is a low calorie, fat, and sodium addition to any product and fruit does not have any cholesterol. The category I tried to include proved to be much more of a challenge but with creativity, I was able to overcome this task. Vegetables are an essential part of your diet and are the sources of many nutrients your body relies on such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and folic acid.

While none of the products on this list are specifically a vegetable there were vegetables added to many of the products. The third group I made sure to add were grains. Grains provide you with nutrients such as several different B vitamins, and minerals like iron, selenium, and magnesium. Grains work hard to keep you in good digestive health and assist with clearing up constipation. Another group that must be included was the protein group. You can find proteins in meats, poultry, fish, beans, and many other places, and many of the products selected provide you with ample amounts of protein. The last product which was quite the challenge to include was dairy. Dairy provides you with calcium and vitamin D, which work in conjunction to increase bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Durability

Combined with its ability to fit in a full backpack, the package that your meals are stored in will need to endure those tight spaces. With the wrong package material, your back will go from neat and organized to full of cheerios from the slightest disturbance in your pack. The items on this best of list use vacuum sealing, resealable plastic packages and are surprisingly resistant to tearing and are sure to withstand the most tightly packed bags.

I did not include this a minimum requirement while selecting the items, but an added benefit to many of these products is extremely long shelf life. The least perishable items on this list were still capable of being eaten in excess of 30 days, while the longest lasting foods could remain unopened and still edible in excess of 30 years.

Features

Should you find a meal that you particularly enjoy in your adventures I wanted to pick items that had the option of either providing multiple servings per package or were capable of being bought in a “bulk” or even simply more than a single serving option. This will allow you to get ample amounts of the food and allow you to decide on the choice of how much you would need for your particular outing.

When I went about deciding on the positioning of this list for the top then, a key trait that helped to increase their potential rating was the number of options you had when choosing a flavor. Meals that had more options for flavors and there were easily interchangeable, were given better ratings than ones that only offered a single taste option.

As an outdoor aficionado, a primary concern I faced while making this list was the amount of waste that could potentially end up in the area with which people like to backpack. I strove to choose products that would produce little to no waste and that wouldn’t further burden you with a bulky packaging that you would have to carry after consuming.

Top 10 Picks

1. Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$17.99
Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
Amazon Link

As the number 1 featured item on this list, I’m certain to turn heads with this pack of maruchan ramen noodle soup. Aside from being the only meal inside a college dorm cabinet this extremely cheap soup ramen noodle soup has a shelf life of almost one year. You can buy this soup well in advance of your outing and know that it will be edible when you need it. Ramen noodle soup boasts a whopping 52 grams of carbohydrates per block which will give you the extra bit of energy you need to get out and explore that strange wilderness.

Portability
With its extremely compact size and density, ramen soup can be easily transported and included in any backpack without being burdensome or slowing you down. This portability makes it a strong addition and solid first place choice for meals.

Extremely Inexpensive
The ongoing joke about ramen soup is that college youth can live off of it for the four years they're stuck not making much money. The extremely low cost means you can buy boxes of this soup for cents on the dollar.

Cost and Value
The value of ramen souped cannot be remarked upon enough. The low cost and vast amount of flavoring options combined with the ease of portability make this the absolute best option for any trip.

Amazon Link
$17.99

2. People's Choice Beef Jerky

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$33.99
People's Choice Beef Jerky
Amazon Link

There aren’t many meats that can provide the amount of protein you can find in high-quality beef jerky. Processed beef jerky has a shelf life in excess of three years. Jerky can be flavored in multiple different seasonings to provide a variety of delicious, quick and meal alternatives. Beef jerky can be eaten easily while on the move allowing for a more adaptable meal.

Protein Packed
Beef jerky can provide you with in excess of nine grams of protein per serving. Protein is vital to your bodies ability to build and repair tissues, produce enzymes, and other chemicals your body needs to keep you well.

Easily stored
People’s choice beef jerky comes in a plastic bag and can be added to any backpack without issue. No matter the contents of your bag the beef jerky can rest in even the tightest of spaces without damaging its integrity.

Cost and Value
While beef jerky provides your body with essentials like protein and iron it is more expensive than other products on this list. Depending on the quantity with which you want to consume, it can add more cost to your outing and will need to be considered.

Amazon Link
$33.99

3. Starbucks Via

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$33.63
Starbucks Via
Amazon Link

If you’re like me you like to get the show on the road pretty early in the morning when you're preparing for a trip. Again, if you’re like me, you also want to start your day off with a warm and refreshing drink. As the most valued item on this best of list, I chose Starbucks via instant coffee. This blend of coffee uses Arabica beans that have a rich and smooth taste.

Morning Drink Option
With so many meals overlooking the benefits of a cup of coffee in the morning, it was important to add the choice for the caffeine conscience backpacker. This drink will wake you up and energize you for the long road ahead on your pilgrimage.

Instant Brew
Another very appealing aspect of this coffee is how easy you can make it. Simply add water and your coffee is ready. While warm water would be ideal, you can use cold water and still enjoy this refreshing blend.

Cost and Value
The pleasant and subtle aromas and bittersweet taste accompanied by the energizing and uplifting nature of this coffee provides you with a warmth that should accompany you on every backpack outing. This coffee is certain to pull its weight and become a necessary amenity to any of your endeavors.

Amazon Link
$33.63

4. CLIF BAR - Energy Bar

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$23.89
CLIF BAR - Energy Bar
Amazon Link

CLIF bars are portable and nutritious energy bars that are made to taste great and provide energy for the most avid of adventurers. These bars are made with organic and sustainable products and provide a good source of fiber from nuts like oats, almonds, and dates. CLIF bars don't use artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.

Nutritious Snack
CLIF bars are quite nutritious as far as energy bars go and contain 44 grams of carbs helping to provide energy as well as other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Amazing Taste
While CLIF bars are healthy for you they also taste amazing. With more than 19 different flavors to choose from, there are nearly endless combinations and possibilities.

Cost and Value
These energy bars are some of the lower priced products on this best foods list. Nearly as inexpensive as the ramen soup these bars can be stored easily and be eaten at nearly anytime.

Amazon Link
$23.89

5. Gourmet Nut POWER UP

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$5.28
Gourmet Nut POWER UP
Amazon Link

This all natural and vegan-friendly bag of mixed nuts is another wonderful addition to the best foods list. This assorted pack contains nuts and fruits like walnuts, dried mango, almonds, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. As an added benefit this bag of assorted fruits and nuts is gluten-free.

Fats and Oils
While most people think you should avoid fat, the omega-3 fatty acids found in this nut mixture are one type you never want to cut back on. These acids can help to lower your elevated triglyceride levels which can put you at risk for heart disease. Furthermore, these acids can help to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

All Natural
With so many uncertainties in the world today the last thing you want to worry about is the food you are ingesting. The Gourmet Power Up nut mix uses all natural ingredients which provide you with an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin B.

Cost and Value
This product is priced a little higher than most others on the list. Due to the all natural and beneficial properties, the value seems to be higher as well, however.

Amazon Link
$5.28

6. Piece Cheese & Sausage

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$69.99
7-Piece Cheese & Sausage
Amazon Link

While not generally used in hard meats and cheeses are the perfect addition to your outing. These hard meats and cheeses can be stored at room temperature for up to one month with proper packaging. The cheese will provide you with a source of dairy and calcium and the meats will add protein and iron to your diet while preparing for a trip.

Daily Dairy
Getting your daily dose of dairy is a very important part of everyday life, not only will it provide you will the calcium you need to provide great bone strength but it provides you with fats that are good for your blood pressure health.

Delicious Combo
This spread of meat and cheeses make a great combo for a small snack and compliment crackers quite well. While these snacks are delicious and nutritious, eating too much is never good. This combo is quite calorie dense making it more difficult to burn away throughout the day.

Cost and Value
This seven-piece pack comes with four different hard kinds of cheese and three uniquely seasoned hard meats. With a mid ranged cost, the value of this addition is clear and makes this a good average addition to the best of list.

Amazon Link
$69.99

7. StarKist Chunk Light Tuna

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$39.00
StarKist Chunk Light Tuna
Amazon Link

The StarKist Chunk Light tuna pouch is a hassle-free and easy to open source of high-quality tuna. Tuna has a huge dose of both iron and potassium but does have a small mercury content so it is not recommended that you eat it daily. While being heart healthy tuna provides a salty and satisfying taste that goes great with salads and on sandwiches.

Complete Protein
The most redeeming quality about tuna is that it provides your entire bodily protein needs. It contains all of those amino acids your body needs yet cannot produce on its own. With nearly 22 grams of protein per pouch, you are sure to meet your daily protein needs with these hand pouches.

Heart Healthy
Tuna can benefit your cardiovascular health immensely because of the healthy fat content that it provides. It is low in the harmful saturated fats that clog your arteries and lead to cardiovascular disease. Tuna helps you by providing you with the two types of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, that reduce inflammation in your cardiovascular system.

Cost and Value
These small packages are very easy to use and readily available for order. They are extremely inexpensive and can be added to any backpack with ease and without breaking your budget.

Amazon Link
$39.00

8. Sweet Sue Chicken Breast

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$38.97
Sweet Sue Chicken Breast
Amazon Link

The sweet sue chicken breast package is a seven-ounce vacuum sealed package of chicken. It is an excellent source of protein and much like tuna is an excellent source of unsaturated fats. Chicken is protein dense and is very lean meat. Chicken, like its bigger brother turkey, contains tryptophan which can enhance your mood and fight off feelings of depression.

Beneficial to Health
Chicken is very rich in phosphorus which is a critical mineral for your body that supports various aspects of your body like your central nervous system, teeth, bones, kidney, and even your liver.

No can Opener Required
This unique and easy to open package offers a nondripping package. This package will not require a can opener making carry this highly adapt package of goodies perfect for backpacking.

Cost and Value
While it is extremely good for the nutritional benefits and the portability this product is on the higher priced end of this best of guide. This food does mix well with other products and while it does cost more, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks making this a wonderful addition to any backpackers assortment.

Amazon Link
$38.97

9. Mountain House Chicken Fajita

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Mountain House Chicken Fajita
Amazon Link

The chicken fajita bowl made by Mountain House is a freeze-dried meal that is packaged in a resealable pouch. This meal is generally considered an MRE format option and is capable of being stored on a shelf in excess of 30 years. These meals are a little more bulk and will take up more room in your backpack however on a long trip they will provide the nutrients you need and bring the taste of home to the wilderness.

Full Meal option
While many of the other foods on this list are snacks or portioned for a smaller sitting this fajita bowl is a full meal that will provide a satisfying fullness that you can only achieve after a long day of backpacking.

Ready in 10 minutes or less
These wholesome meals are very easy to prepare and simply require the addition of a little water and some time. For the best results, hot water is the best option however in a pinch you can eat these meals with cold water if needed.

Cost and Value
These meals are easily the most expensive product to be featured on this list. While they are higher than average in the pricing department they are full meals and seem to be valued appropriately for what is offered in them.

Amazon Link

10. Seeds of Change Quinoa

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$23.16
Seeds of Change Quinoa
Amazon Link

The last product featured on this best of the list is the simple addition of a portable package instant garlic quinoa and brown rice. This small package is an instant source of a large number of carbohydrates and makes a great addition to many of the other options on this list. The added quinoa also helps to increase the protein count on this with as the most protein-rich grain you can find.

Compact
With two servings per package, this garlic quinoa and brown rice addition allow for you to carry more rice in a smaller amount of room.

Unique Flavor for Rice
The addition of garlic and quinoa provide a unique and yet refreshing taste without the addition of excessive calories or expensive consumables.

Cost and Value
While commonly rice is regarded as a cheaper ingredient for cooking, this quinoa and garlic infused rice is rather costly. The cost isn't offset by much other than the flavor making this a strong last place for this best of buying guide.

Amazon Link
$23.16

Sources

  1. Editing Team, Choose my plate,
  2. Editing Team, Detour,
  3. Editing Team, Backpacking Skills, Gear Reviews, & Trip Guides,
  4. Editing Team, Fresh off the grid,
  5. Editing Team, Backpacker magazine,