fbpx

Backpacking Food UK

Ideas For Backpacking Breakfasts

Need some inspiration for backpacking breakfasts for your next trip? Look no further! I’ve got healthy and practical ideas for you below 🙂

Having a good, nutritional breakfast to start the day off with can really set you up for the day, and help you to achieve more constant energy levels for the rest of the day, especially if you choose a slow release option.

Feel free to mix and match the ideas below to reach your calorie requirements. Try to make breakfast a decent sized meal to set you off on the right foot.

Porridge

One of the most popular breakfasts for long-distance hiking is porridge. It’s cheap, comes in many different flavour options, is easy to prepare and will keep you going. You also won’t waste too much time preparing it.

If you want you can buy ready-made packs such as the Quaker brand Oat So Simple individual packs which come in Cinnamon, Apple & Blueberry, Golden Syrup and other flavours.

However, it seems to me to be an expensive way of buying oats, and it really doesn’t take long to make your own version from the bare ingredients. You also have more control over the quantity than with bought options, and as we’re looking to get a pretty decent sized breakfast in, it would likely take more than one pack to fulfil your needs, which wouldn’t be very practical.

The Apple & Blueberry flavour nutrition info tells me that it will have 221 kcal for a 36g packet if it’s made with semi-skimmed milk. If we’re only having porridge, we’d need to eat three or four packets to meet our needs! So go on, whip up your own flavours with the supermarket own brands of porridge oats and get breakfast sorted in no time.

porridge tips and tricks

Here are a few ideas for you:

Sultana and Sunflower Seed Porridge

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 30 grams sultanas (small handful)
  • 20 grams sunflower seeds (about a heaped tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Method: Mix all ingredients together and place in a ziplock bag or reusable bag before you go.

When ready to eat: When ready to eat it, add 2 cups of water and cook for a couple of minutes on your stove.

Contains approx. 508 calories

Variations:

  • Change up the dried fruit and put in dried cranberries, blueberries, apple, banana.
  • Add mixed nuts if you don’t find them too difficult to digest, chia seeds, linseeds.
  • Add cinnamon, dried milk powder (try coconut milk powder), cocoa powder, powdered ginger to zhush it up even more.
  • Be aware that you may need to add more water when using cocoa powder and other powdered ingredients, as they absorb some of the water.

Overnight Oats

The above recipe template also works for overnight oats – just add the water the night before straight into the ziplock bag and mix it really well before tucking yourself into your sleeping bag.

You can add in some extra things like green superfood powder and cocoa powder to make it really chocolatey and satisfying. Here’s a good recipe adapted from Mary Ellen’s recipe to make it backpacker friendly.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter (here’s one that is on Amazon)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder (check price on Amazon)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered coconut milk (available from health food shops and Amazon)

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to add the same quantity of water as oats, and a bit extra for the powders to absorb some, so in this case about a cup of water total. Obviously, if you like your oats more sloppy, then you can just add a little bit more, even the next morning just before you eat.

Variations:

  • Swap the cocoa powder for a teaspoon of spirulina or super green powder and the peanut butter for dried fruit.
  • Adjust the sugar to your liking.

Homemade Granola

(recipe adapted from the book How It All Vegan” by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer)

Ingredients:

  • 185g/6oz rolled oats
  • 75g/3oz sunflower seeds
  • 50g/2oz chopped almonds
  • 50g/2oz sesame seeds
  • 40g/2oz linseeds
  • 125ml/4 fl oz oil
  • 1 tablespoon carob/cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 50-100g/2-4 oz brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 40g/1½ oz desiccated coconut
  • 65g/2½ oz raisins
  • 75g/3oz chopped dates
  • 115g/4oz dried cranberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180℃/350℉/gas mark 4 .

In a large bowl, mix together the oat flakes, nuts and seeds.

In a medium bowl whisk together the oil, carob powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Add this mixture to the large bowl and combine well.

Spread onto two baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the top layer is browned. Turn it with a spatula, and bake for another 8-10 minutes. The mixture will be moist but will dry and harden as it cools. Mix in the dried fruits and let cool, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent clumping. Put 1 cup into each ziplock bag and shake with 1 tablespoon dried milk powder (can be plant-based). When you’re ready to eat, just add water and mix thoroughly.

Tortilla Wrap with Banana/Peanut Butter/Jam

Okay, so the clue is in the title with this one (sorry to be cheeky!). Bring some wraps with you along with sachets of peanut butter and jam and spread liberally on the tortilla before eating. If you happen to have passed by a local shop where they sell bananas, then all the better. Go ahead, slice it in on top before rolling and eating!

Smoothie/Protein shake

I love smoothies! I love the ease of eating (drinking) and that powered up feeling that you get after having one. Well why not create a similar experience on the trail?

Simply mix your powders together in a bag before you go, and blend with water when you want to consume it. There are two ways of doing this to get a smooth result: either you can add a little liquid to the powders continuing to mix well while slowly add the rest of the water until you reach the desired consistency. Or you can take a shaker with you (one of the types that the protein powder brands sell with the little sieve inside) and add the powdered mix to the water and give it a good shake.

It’s up to you, but personally, I would ditch the shaker and mix it with a spoon for a better result.

Here’s a recipe that I frequently use:

  • 1 scoop vegan banana and caramel protein powder (or other flavour of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon ground linseeds/flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon greens powder (I use this one from Holland and Barrett)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (optional, if you want a chocolate kick as I often do)
  • 2-3 tablespoon coconut milk powder

If I’m at home then I’d chuck in some frozen berries and a banana, but for a protein boost or as an accompanying drink with your meal, I think this is great.

So, try them out and let me know what you think of them. Do you have any favourite variations or backpacking breakfasts that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

And don’t forget to sign up to the blog to receive the latest posts straight to your inbox!

Where to buy backpacking food in the UK

This article is for you if you are looking for resources on where to buy pre-prepared backpacking food in the UK. Of course, it isn’t just for backpackers, but also bikepackers, and adventurists of all kinds.

At the end of the post, I will also cover some easy to find British supermarket options for lightweight hiking food which will help you keep the costs down, as the specialist meals can be pretty expensive if that’s all you’re going to eat.

Having a variety of options available to you will delight your palate. Looking forward to mealtimes and enjoying your food is a big part of good digestion, not to mention part of life’s enjoyment. So take foods that you know you like, and if possible have previously tried to avoid disappointment.

If you’re looking for more inspiration on camping meals, then check out my other blogs: Trail Food: How To Plan Healthy Backpacking Meals, How Much Food To Take Backpacking Per Day and What Is The Best Food To Bring Backpacking?

So without further ado, let’s get started. This blog contains links to several online shops that deliver quickly in the UK. (All links are non-affiliate, except for the Amazon one ;))

Go Outdoors

Not just online, they have many stores throughout the UK, mainly in England. So if you’re looking to pick up some last minute meals or gear this is a good place to go. They extensively stock gear for hiking, camping, biking and more.

As for the hiking food, the options are fairly limited, especially if you’re vegetarian. But I can recommend the Vegetable Hotpot and Pasta ai Funghi from Trekmates Adventure Food. These are also among the most economical options. They also stock some ready to eat options from Wayfayrer as well as breakfast options from Summit to Eat, Firepot and others. Here’s the link to their full outdoor food page:

Ultra Light Outdoor Gear

This online shop, based in the North-East of England, stocks multiple brands of dehydrated meals. They also have a multitude of other (lightweight) gear available. As well as familiar brands like Summit to Eat and Expedition Foods they stock powdered smoothies from LYO. Although these are a little on the expensive side, they really help to mix things up and get that all-important extra nutrition in.

Base Camp Food

Base Camp Food boasts on their website that they offer “the widest range of lightweight expedition meals in the UK, with free delivery on all orders.”

I have yet to buy anything from them, but the free delivery is attractive. At first glance, they appear to be more expensive than other sites. However, for an extensive range of vegan and vegetarian meals, this may be the favourite place to go, unless you want to eat the same thing everyday from one of their cheaper competitors.

Decathlon

Decathlon is a well-known economical French outdoor brand, with shops all over Europe. In the UK they are mainly located around London with shops also in the midlands and northern England. If you’re based East or West, however, then their online shop is the best bet for you. There aren’t many options for freeze-dried meals, but what they do have is economical.

Summit to eat

To shop directly for Summit To Eat products here is their website:

Tentmeals

Tentmeals use mostly whole ingredients in their meals, such as nuts and dried fruit, which may be an acquired taste if you don’t like fruit in your main meals. They are also very conscious about the environment and reduce the use of plastic to an absolute bare minimum, cutting down on extra weight from packaging too. I’ve yet to try their meals, but would like to as at the time of writing 100% of their meals are vegan or vegetarian. They also cost a lot less than some of their competitors.

Amazon:

Of course, it goes almost without saying that you can find most of the above food brands also available on amazon. If you want to check out the prices and compare the delivery times then this link will take you directly to the camping meals page. Just to give you the heads up this is my affiliate link, so I may earn a few pence if you buy something from Amazon after you click on it. It won’t cost you anything extra though 😉

Supermarket Options

Now that you’re aware of the upper end of the freeze-dried food market, I want to give you a few options that are readily available from British supermarkets. Adding a few of these can boost your calorie intake, add variety and add some tasty treats for desserts and snacks.

  • Cup-a-soups
  • Instant mashed potato packets
  • Noodle packets
  • Custard powder packets
  • Chocolate bars
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Pitas/Tortillas
  • Snack bars
  • Chocolate bars
  • Porridge packs
  • Horlicks/Hot chocolate sachets
  • Coffee sachets
  • Rice and pasta meals
  • Crackers
  • Individual cheeses/olive oil/vinegar etc

Hopefully that gives you some ideas of what’s available in your average, large British supermarket. Of course, there are new items coming out all the time, so keep your eyes peeled for other yummy extras when you’re out and about.

What Is The Best Food To Bring Backpacking?

Ever wondered how people decide what to bring with them when planning food for their backpacking trip? In this blog I discuss the types of foods available to bring with us when camping, and highlight the merits of each one.

In my previous blog I discussed how to calculate the number of calories you would expect your body to use per day during your backpacking trip. I also introduced you to a couple of useful tools to help you arrive at that figure.

If you didn’t do your personal calculation yet, you might want to do that before going through this blog. Just plug your details into the (free) calculators that are included in the blog How Much Food To Take Backpacking Per Day.

Now that you have a figure in your head of how many calories to bring, it’s time to break that down into real food and start to choose what type of food you want to bring with you to sustain you while you walk. Let’s food prep!

Disclaimer: Please note that this post may include affiliate links to products which may provide a commission to me at no extra cost to you. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products I believe in.

What are your choices?

Fresh foods for backpacking?

I imagine it will be obvious to you that bringing the same food/raw ingredients that you eat at home will make your pack really heavy. All that water weight in fresh foods adds up. It also takes up valuable space in your pack. Hmmm, not ideal.

However, adding some fresh food components into our diet as and when they are available to us can increase vitamins and minerals. This could lead to faster recovery from intense exercise.

Dehydrated foods

An alternative is to bring dehydrated foods that you can rehydrate when you are in camp. Taking the water out of the food makes it extremely convenient for us as hikers. An entire pasta dinner by Adventure Food, for example, weighs around 150g for a 600 calorie ready meal.

Food weight example

As a 63 kg, 170 cm high female, walking 15 miles a day on reasonably flat terrain, my daily requirement figure would be roughly 3622 calories. So to give you an idea of how much my daily food would weigh if I took 100% dehydrated food, it would roughly equate to 905.5 grams per day of dehydrated food.

Concentrated foods

Another option we have is to use concentrated foods. These are foods that naturally contain little water, and a high percentage of fat or sugar. They bring a high-calorie count for the weight. For example, nuts, dried fruits, cereal bars, peanut butter, oils.

Combinations

A combination of these three options can help us feel satisfied and content with our food choices when on the trail.

Personally, what I like to do is bring the bulk of my main meals as dehydrated packs. Depending on the preparation time I have available they will be either homemade or bought. Then I take some concentrated foods as snacks and supplement my diet with a few fresh foods along the way. Fruits and salad are favourites that I buy locally as I move along the trail.

You will need to take into consideration the area that you are hiking in, what will be available to you shopwise, and how your body reacts to different foods when you hike consistently. You may need to experiment with some shorter trips to get this information, and learn more about yourself through trial and error.

How to choose the best backpacking food

Remember the calorie meal breakdown from the previous blog? Not to worry if you don’t, here it is again. It has an extra column added to give us the calories to aim for (you will need to adjust this figure based on your own needs):

Meal% of Total CaloriesCalories using lowest % (based on 3622/day)
Breakfast25-30%900
Lunch20-25%720
Dinner30-35%1200
Snacks10-25%300-900
TOTALS100%3120-3720
Table showing example calorie breakdown of meals

It may look like a challenge to you to meet those calorie demands daily. However, if you are planning on being out for only a short hike of 3 or 4 days and don’t mind breaking into your body fat reserves, you can get away with undereating a little.

Undereating on your backpacking trip

One thing to bear in mind is that there may be consequences to undereating for a length of time.

Yes, you can lose weight, which could be desirable to you if you are carrying a couple of extra kilos around. But also, your body may find it harder to find the energy it needs to repair itself, and you may be more at risk of injury because of this. It’s for you to weigh up your options and listen to your body while on the trail to see how it responds so you can do things better the next time.

I found, for example, that if I don’t eat some kind of fresh food every day, then I start to feel sluggish, lacking in energy and get a nasty taste in my mouth. A way for me to combat this is to bring something like carrot sticks in a bag with me – they last for a good couple of days if you wrap them well, and satisfy my craving for fresh food.

Next, I will be exploring some exact options for each meal, with easy recipes included to make sure we hit our targets.

How Much Food To Take Backpacking Per Day?

Imagine this, you’ve organised a 5 day hike on one of your local trails. All of your gear is now gathered, and the only thing left to pack is your food for the trip. But wait a second! How much do you food do you have to take backpacking per day?

If you want to make your trip as pleasant as possible, you will benefit from making your pack as light as possible. And yes, that counts even if you’re not an ultra-lightweight hiker. Here’s all you need to know.


To make the calculation and food planning as straightforward as possible, consider the options.

Possible options:

  1. Do an exact (as far as possible) daily calculation based on tested formulas, taking into consideration the terrain, your gender, weight, pack weight etc. Bring all the food you need with you.
  2. Calculate how much you need for breakfast, snacks and lunch. Buy dinner near the campsite/lunch en route to save on weight.
  3. Take a little and buy food as needed as you walk if you are in a well-populated area.

I’m going to go through each option in turn with the aim that by the end of this article you will be informed enough to make the choice that is best for you and whomever you will be hiking with.

Option 1: Calculating how many daily calories you need

Obviously, we are concerned about the weight of the food that we bring with us in the end. But to measure the food we want to bring, first, we need to consider the number of calories we need. Later, in another blog post, I will discuss how to choose the food that will weigh the least and cover your needs.

We have to take into consideration that no matter how exact we try to be calculating the number of calories we will need, there is always a margin for error. We are trying to get as close as we possibly can though, and if it’s a little bit too much or too little, hopefully, the margin will be close enough that our bodies can cope with the difference and delve into body fat reserves if we need more than we have brought. Alternatively, we will be carrying the extra weight of the food that we didn’t need to eat.

These are some of the various factors that can influence the calorie numbers:

  1. Distance walked each day.
  2. Backpack weight.
  3. Terrain – hilly/mountainous/flat?
  4. Time of year. Cold/warm weather?
  5. Metabolism -high or low?
  6. Altitude
  7. Fitness level
  8. Walking speed.
  9. How much excess body fat do you have?/Do you want to lose weight?

Hiking Calculator

Here is a link to a Hiking Calculator that will give you a good indication of your calorie needs per day: Calories Burned Hiking Calculator.

If you have a plan of how many miles you will be walking each day you can do a seperate calculation for each day. Or just make an average daily mileage, which should be plenty accurate enough to allow you to make a good meal plan.

With regards to pack weight, mine tends to be around 15 kg including water, food, stove, tent, sleep system, clothes and personal hygiene. This weight will obviously change as you progress through your trip and become lighter as you eat more of the food you brought, but you can still use it to calculate an average that will work fine.

As an example, when I plugged my numbers in, choosing 6 hours of cross country walking at 2.5 mph = 15 miles distance, this is what I got out:

Your Weight63 kg
Backpack Weight15 kg
Hiking mins360
Distance15 miles
TerrainCross Country
Calories2054

2054 x 5 = 10,270 calories needed for a 5 day trip.

If you have a play with the numbers, you will see that as soon as you start to do any climbing, this number will increase quite a lot.

I recommend spending a few minutes doing this and changing the different variables in the calculator, going up and down with the pack weight and the terrain to see how it affects the calories.

Add your base rate calories

The number of calories from the hiking calculator refers to ONLY the amount you are likely to need for your walk.

You will therefore need to add your base rate calories to this number. To find this out you can use this calculator below. Choose the sedentary option and then add it to the calories needed for your hike, that you discovered above. These figures combined will give you a good idea of how many calories to bring with you on your backpacking trip.

My example

When I plug my numbers in to both calculators, I get the following information:

Base metabolic rate = 1568 

Hiking calculator average per day = 2054

TOTAL Daily Calories Needed = 3622

multiply by days backpacking (x 5 = 18,110)

Considerations for adjustments

I know that although the terrain is relatively flat here in Norfolk, there are still hills to consider. I also know that I have quite a high metabolism and when the weather is cooler I need to eat more. So I will make sure that I bring a little bit extra with me in the way of snacks. I know that if I’m passing through villages that have cafés I like to stop for tea and cake at times, so I’m not too worried if what I bring just covers the basic calorie need. I know that I will top it up with extras on the way.

Just in case, I will make a note of where I can buy extra food on the route in case I start feeling too hungry and feel that I don’t have enough.

Now we have a figure to work with, we can start to plan what we will take with us, and how we will divide these calories up into the day. (See upcoming blogs.)

Percentage Food For Each Meal

Here is a good breakdown to use when planning how much food to take backpacking for each meal. (This is based on calorie content and not weight of food.)

Breakfast25-30%
Lunch20-25%
Dinner30-35%
Snacks10-25%

Option 2: Estimating the quantity of food

It is likely with this option that one of two things will happen, either

  • a) you will bring too much food, or
  • b) you will bring too little food.

However, this still may seem like a good option if you are passing by several shops/food outlets as part of your trip and you decide to carry the bare minimum and snacks that you can top up as you walk.

You may base your trip food on what you usually do at home or for day hikes.

Example:

At home you eat three decent meals a day, with one or two snacks in between.

You can decide to keep the same structure when you hike but are aware that you will likely need more food because of the extra calories used while hiking. So you bring more snacks with you and plan to eat dinner out every day, perhaps bringing your breakfast and lunch with you to help keep the costs down.

This approach can work well when walking in well-populated areas, such as the Norfolk Coast Path in summer. There are many choices available to buy food close to the trail and near campsites: supermarkets, small shops, fish and chip shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes en route. Of course, one of the downsides is that you may have to walk a little further to find your dinner or a shop. It will also likely take more time out of your day to find somewhere adequate to eat.

Disadvantages:

  • It will likely be more expensive.
  • You may not get very healthy food.
  • Unless you plan where you are going to eat in advance, you may not be near a place to eat at mealtime, or when you need to be.
  • You have to make more effort to get your dinner organised on arrival, and may not feel like it if you’re too tired.
  • There are few options for backups, in case something happens that prevents you from getting to the shop/restaurant.

Advantages:

  • Lighter pack.
  • Chance to mix with local people more and find out more about the local area.
  • Little to no preparation time before leaving home.

Conclusion

For shorter trips in well-populated areas, deciding to carry only part of your caloric needs may be a good plan. However, if you care about eating healthy meals and are not planning on camping near towns or restaurants, you may find that it’s better to calculate your calorie needs and bring what you need with you.

In general, your food weight could be between 600g and 1 kg per day. This will vary depending on your height, build, metabolism, terrain and general fitness levels.

To get a reasonably accurate reading of your average hiking day, plug your stats into the Hiking Calculator. Then add the number to your basal metabolic rate to give you number of calories per day.

Scroll to Top