Food for Thought: Hiking Stoveless

Originally posted on The Trek on February 14th,  2017

To some hikers, it’s the unthinkable! No warm meals? Not on the trail at least. It makes the long haul into town that much more gratifying! Some people dehydrate food before they go, I am not one of them. Why? I’m frugal and lazy. So, what’s in my food bag? It varies as it’s dependent on my mood, but I have made some meal lists of items I’ve tried and didn’t care for (hey, someone might enjoy them!), stuff I tried and loved, and stuff I want to try or do more often during my next hike.

The shelters share only the most important of questions.


Honestly, I’m not a big eater in the morning (unless it involves hot cooked eggs). Even after hiking 15+ miles day after day after day, I still can’t seem to get myself all that hungry before getting a move on. So I usually have to force feed myself, and opt for quick eats or nutrient rich beverages.

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Hated:


  • Oatmeal – I hate oatmeal. No matter how many times I try it, no matter what flavors, I just can’t do it, warm or cold.
  • Grits – I suppose Maryland is just not south enough for this to be my thing.
  • Poptarts – A food of my youth that I’ve definitely grown out of.
  • Bars – I’ve tried so many granola and protein bars, but they always end up the uneaten object left in the base of my food bag weeks later, so I don’t get them anymore.

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Loved:


  • Nature Valley Crunchy Honey & Oat Granola Bars – Yes I know, this is a granola bar after I just said I hated them. This is probably the only one I can semi tolerate (hence the specifics).
  • Honey Buns – Cheap, easy to scarf down, and high in calories. They do get old after a while though.
  • Fruit Cups and Apple Sauce – Messy, but healthy for a hiker. Warning: package with care unless you want to lick the apple sauce out of your food bag.
  • Chocolate Rice Crispie’s Treats – …Because chocolate.
  • Water with Carnation Breakfast Drink Mix – Not eaten, but nutrient-rich and chocolate.
  • Powdered Milk with Cereal – Cereal comes in chocolate flavoring too.

New Stuff I’m Trying:


  • Powdered Milk with Carnation Breakfast Drink Mix – Nutrient-rich beverage with a little more flavor versus using water.
  • Water with Carnation Breakfast Drink Mix and Chia Seeds/Brownie Mix – Nutrient-rich chocolate “pudding”.
  • Loaf of Raisin Bread – Still tastes good smooshed and my road trip go-to.


At home I love the sh*t out of lunchtime. On the trail, I’m more of a nosher and don’t always make it one fixed meal, but rather a bunch of meal breaks (1st lunch, 2nd lunch, and sometimes 3rd lunch). Occasionally I’ll lug in some heavy produce, cheeses, or hummus which will last for about 3 days unrefrigerated as long as you keep it out of the sun.

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Hated:


  • Sardines – I thought I could get down with them. I was wrong.
  • Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit – Don’t get me wrong, they’re healthy and I can get down with some cashews, pumpkin seeds and dried figs on occasion, but it’s yet another thing usually neglected in my food bag for weeks until I decide to give them away.
  • Slim Jims – I loved them in the beginning, but I’ve bitten down on one too many of them with boney bits inside. No more.

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Loved:


  • Burritos – Just mix any of the following: Chicken, Tuna, Pepperoni, Crushed Cheezits, String Cheese, Mayo, Hot Sauce and Taco Sauce and it will be yummy.
  • Cashew Butter, Grape Jelly packets and Crushed Cheezit Burrito – …Because I strangely dislike peanut butter.
  • Avocado, Tomato, Pre-cooked Bacon, String Cheese, with Hummus, or Mayo and Hot Sauce Burrito – Amazing!
  • Hummus – Don’t be me. It’s common sense, but resist your craving for string cheese dipped in hummus (your gut will be screaming, “What have you done?!” later on).


  • Fresh Artisan Bread with Cheese and Salami – Getting fancy!
  • Beef Jerky – Buy in bulk to pinch pennies.
  • Almond Snickers – Did I mention I hate peanuts?
  • Sour Patch Kids – Awesome and interesting fact; they’re vegan friendly! “The more you know.”
  • Powdered Gatorade – Not necessarily eaten, but it’s the one thing I crave more than beer.

New Stuff I’m Trying:


  • Pitas – I might swap flour tortillas for pita bread on occasion since they’re more dense and weigh less.
  • Ketchup, Pepperoni, and String Cheese Pita Pizza – Because pizza is always good.
  • Mustard, Spam, and Cheese Burrito – Why not?
  • Vienna Sausages – I’ve seen hikers eat these, but was too scared to try them. I recently fed these to my dog and sampled a piece. Surprisingly not hateful!
  • Oranges/Apples/Kiwis/Peppers – Sometimes heavier than desired, but I’m dragging out more fresh fruits and veggies this time around.
  • Fruit Roll-ups – Fresh fruit substitute, kinda, sorta.
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels – I ate them on the trail once last year and I think I’ll manage eating them all before they have a chance to melt. Plus, they still taste good if they get all crumbled up.


The meal time that I’m always most excited about! So excited, that I’ll sometimes partake in it 2-3 times so long as I packed enough of it before the next town!

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Hated:


  • Pace Pre-cooked Rice Meals – Really heavy, and the rice is too crunchy when it isn’t heated.
  • Prego Alfredo Pasta with 1-2 Chicken Packets – Too heavy to carry out, but Chicken Alfredo is dank so it seemed worth it at the time!
  • Hormel Compleats Meals – Horrible, I know! Heavy, bulky, not very filling, and you really have to sort through them to find the ones with the most calories. I’m a sucker for variety so that’s why I lugged these around (as well as the ones above).

Stuff I’ve Eaten & Loved:


  • Dehydrated Mashed Potatoes with Protein – Delicious, and there are many flavors of “inflatable potatoes” and protein to choose from (Spam, Bacon Bits, chicken, tuna, pepperoni, maybe even Vienna Sausages)! They can be eaten right out of the bag, but it can get messy.
  • Pre-cooked Indian Veggie Packet with Jasmine Rice Packet – Heavy, but Indian food is amazeballs and veggie-rich, so I will continue to get this on occasion.
  • Burritos – See ‘Lunch/Snacks’.

New Stuff I’m Trying:


  • Carry out Pizza, Subs, and other Packable Foods To-Go – I might do this more often after leaving town. Pizza boxes can be burned in a fire pit anyway.
  • Rehydrating Couscous or 5-Minute Rice with Seasoning Mixes and Protein – One of the few stoveless hiker friends I met would use an empty Talenti Gelato (see cover photo), or a plastic Peanut Butter jar to rehydrate these which would take only about 15 minutes with cold water.
  • Rehydrating Pasta Sides and Ramen Noodles with Proteins – It takes 1-2 hours to rehydrate with cold water (30-60 minutes for Ramen), but they’re super lightweight and flavorful! I can soak them around lunchtime and they’ll be ready to eat when I reach camp.
  • Instant Refried Beans, Instant Stuffing mix, and Dried Soup mixes – More things to get creative with!

Any foods I didn’t mention that are worth trying in the stoveless world? Please do share!

3 thoughts on “Food for Thought: Hiking Stoveless

  1. I’m going to have to disagree with you on oatmeal- its my favorite trail food. But not those nonsense quaker things. However, if you don’t want to faff with a stove in the morning, or aren’t a breakfast person I understand skipping it. If you’re interested in recipies for trail oats I just threw a couple up on my new blog-

    Liked by 1 person

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