One time, I packed a giant bag of bagels for a two week backcountry trip. They were bulky and awkward, and they immediately smushed in between my camp stove and pan. Bagels aren’t the most common backpacking fare, but dammit was I craving them that trip.
The first few days, it was awesome. Delicious, fluffy and crumbly carbs. Then it rained and the inside of the bagel bag got wet. Seven days of moldy, soggy, questionable bagel breakfasts…whatever, I’d do it again.
Backpackers eat weird stuff. We cut the mold off of things, ignore refrigeration labels and ask questions like “Would I be able to dehydrate this?”
Unless you rely exclusively on Mountain House meals, carrying a kitchen on your back will force you to get creative, especially if you are particular about any kind of food.
So, since we’ve talked at length about the more standard backpacking foods, here are 12 of my favorite ‘weird’ foods to take backpacking so you can mix things up next time you’re on the trail.
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Meats & Proteins
1. EPIC Meat Bars
EPIC Meat Bars — a mix between an energy bar and a piece of jerky — are definitely unique. But what makes them weird? EPIC has somehow managed to infuse them with incredible, creative flavors. And, it actually works. Lamb flavored with currant and mint? Turkey with almonds and cranberries? It’s a pouch-sized thanksgiving!
EPIC is very focused on bringing naturally and organically sourced meats to your camp table. They produce the only energy bars on the market (that I know of) made of 100% animal-based whole protein.
For more beef jerky ideas, check out our guide to the best beef jerky brands. For more bar ideas, check out our guide to the best energy bars.
2. Private Selection Beef Snack Bites
We’ve all packed summer sausage on the trail. Come on, what could be better than gnawing on a delicious meat stick after a primal day of backcountry exploration? If anything, it’s popping a few of these bite-size beef snack bites instead! They’re a fun alternative to drab sausage. People on the trail always end up asking me about these.
Note that this bag is pretty heavy. Split the weight between you and your friends. Its; okay to share sometimes for the sake of a lighter pack.
3. Gopal’s Italian Power Wrap
No longer do you have to be a carnivore to enjoy the pleasures of a backcountry meat stick. This thing is sausage for vegans! Gopal’s Italian Power Wrap is 100% organic and the most delicious vegan wrap in my book. With its cheesy, meaty taste, you would never guess that its made out sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and raw nori — a mild and sweet sea vegetable typically used for sushi.
It comes in six other flavors, including Masala, Texas BBQ, Curry, Honey Curry, Mexican and Japanese.
Snacks & Chips
4. Dang Onion Chips
Did you ever have a sibling or cousin dare (force) you to take a full bite out of an onion like it was an apple? Was it horrible? Are you scarred? If not, Dang makes onion chips straight from the slices of an onion, and they’re actually pretty okay. They come in a variety of flavors from Salt n Pepper to Chipotle Garlic to Applewood Barbecue!
5. Chinook Dill Pickle Sunflower Seeds
There’s nothing weird about sunflower seeds. They’re an awesome, easy way to replenish your body of salt and keep your mouth entertained at camp. Not to mention that the shelling process means the snack will last a long time. What’s weird about this option, then? The variety of flavors you can now find. If you ask me, dill pickle seeds are a staple.
6. Chirps Chips
Move over steak, chicken, turkey, lamb and bison! Cricket energy is where its at. As seen on Shark Tank, Chirps Chips are definitely the weirdest snack I keep in my bag. They are made from cricket powder (yes, like the bug) and apparently for good reason. Cricket powder has 15% more iron than spinach, 2x more protein than beef and as much vitamin B12 as a slab of salmon.
They come in fairly normal flavors like BBQ, Cheddar and Sea Salt. (Bonus — Chirps makes chocolate chip cookie mix too!)
7. Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze
Let’s see, how long would it take you to make some instant oatmeal on the trail? You need to set up the stove (1-2 minute), fire it up, boil some water (5-6 minutes), cook the oatmeal (1-2 minutes), clean the pot (1-2 minutes), pack the gear up (1-2 minutes) and…oh yeah, eat (1-2 minutes).
Or, you can crack the cap on a Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze. It’s a pouch of perfectly made oatmeal, with probably more nutrition than the Quaker stuff you packed. Enjoy your breakfast — suck oatmeal out of a straw.
8. Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze (Green Magic & Cherry Beet)
Chia squeezes are so fun to eat! They’re made of a mixture between fruit and vegetable purees and hydrated chia seeds, which produces a slimy, gooey and fruity experience. Because of the unique texture, you will either love or hate these products. Some people equate the experience to sucking down a snot loogie. Actually, that’s pretty accurate. Regardless, I will always pack these.
Mamma Chia’s Chia Squeezes are gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, USDA certified organic and contain around 1200mg of Omega-3s. That’s the most nutritious snot snack I’ve ever heard of!
9. Ella’s Kitchen Apples, Carrots and Parsnips
What better way to get your daily vegetable intake than to eat baby food. Baby food comes in a variety of squeezable, mess-free packages and is packed with nutrition, even for adults. Sneak in a dose of carrots and parsnips with this sweet apple goo from Ella’s Kitchen.
10. Nutritional Yeast
Nothing sounds more gross than consuming yeast. But, if you’ve been around the trail a few times, you’ve probably heard of this awesome cheese substitute. You can throw this powder on just about any cooked meal to give it a nutty, creamy, cheesy flavor. This is a staple for all backpackers.
11. Coconut Milk Powder
Taking powdered milk backpacking isn’t anything new. After all, turning your boring granola into a morning cereal with some NIDO will always be a nice backcountry treat.
What is new, though, is how many different types of powdered milks you can now find: soy, goat, almond, malted, low-fat, coconut…the list goes on. Powdered coconut milk is my favorite because of its faint sweetness, which can be a great addition to any camp soup, hot chocolate, or camp coffee.
For more powdered milk options, check out our taste test of the best powdered milk brands.
12. Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
Powdered eggs, anyone? Seriously, they are made the same way as powdered milk and they’re awesome! Once you master the ratio of water to egg powder, they’re almost as delicious as the real thing. Fun fact: powdered eggs (aka dehydrated eggs) can be found in camping literature as early as 1912. How’s that for classic?