Best Camping Foods
So, you’re about to go out with your family and friends on a camping adventure to make some memories and enjoy nature. When going camping packing all of the essentials such as a tent, sleeping bag, etc. is one thing; choosing and planning for good food is quite another. Sometimes lugging around cooking gear is not an option and campers need to turn to simpler, yet tasty and nutritious, food options. We’ve taken the guesswork out of your camping grocery list for you and researched, reviewed and compared the top ten best camping foods on the market right now so you can fuel up easily and maximize your recreation time.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Good amount of protein and calories
- Jack Links Original Beef Jerky
- Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
- Mountain House Breakfast Skillet
- Planter's Nuts & Chocolate Trail Mix
- Mountain House Noodles and Chicken
- Folgers Classic Instant Coffee
- Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef
- Harmony House Backpacking Kit
- Wise Company's 60 Serving Entrée
- Patriot Pantry Emergency Meals Kit
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Camping Foods
1. Jack Links Original Beef Jerky
Good amount of protein and calories
Could use more variety, you get sick of beef after awhile
When you're out on the trail and get a meat craving, sometimes all you have on you is a sandwich you made before leaving the campsite that you're trying to keep cold with ice packs so that it doesn't spoil. That's why you need a big bag of Jack Link's Original Beef Jerky in your backpack.Read more
The people at Jack Link's have kept the constant snacker in mind with their packaging of their great tasting beef jerky. This big one pound bag of it is resealable, so you really don't have to stop moving while you eat it. You can pass out some to your friends, have some yourself, then quickly toss it back in your backpack.
Packed with Energy
Jack Link's jerky is one protein packed snack. In just one serving, there are 12 grams of protein and 80 calories, providing you with major energy just from a few minutes of snacking. This makes it very easy to add to your calorie intake for the day, and you don't even have to stop and cook. And, there are different flavors to choose from, such as sweet and hot teriyaki, hickory smoked, and peppered.
A History that Started in the Outdoors
Jack Link's great grandfather, Chris Link, came from the old country to America in the 1800s with lots of meat recipes. He passed down the recipes to his son Earl, then he gave them to his son Wolf, who then gave them to his son Jack, who started the jerky that we love today. Jack was actually out hunting himself when he got the idea from his son (the current owner of the brand) to start making jerky.
2. Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Adding too much water will make eggs runny
When you're at the campsite near the car, then you could easily grab your camping stove and scramble up some eggs and bacon in a skillet. The good news is you can enjoy the same thing when you're out on the trail hiking with Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon.Read more
An Easy Hot Breakfast
It's great to be able to enjoy a good breakfast while you're out exploring, and Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon are very easy to prepare. All you need is boiled water, which is easy as long as you have a portable camping stove in your backpack. When it's hot, pour the recommended amount inside the pouch then seal it closed for the recommended amount of time. Then you reopen the bag, and your breakfast will be right there ready to eat.
The best thing about Mountain House is that their food is authentic. When you're out on long hikes, climbing, swimming, and doing other types of camping activities, you need your energy level to be high. This is why campers and backpackers' have chosen Mountain House for over 50 years, because they know their freeze-dried food varieties are nutritious and delicious.
3. Mountain House Breakfast Skillet
Compact food packaging
Easy to prepare
12 year shelf life for pouches
Some had troubles with consistency
With this Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, you get the whole meal deal for brekky. With hash browns, scrambled eggs, crumbled pork patties, peppers, and onions, you will not go hungry.Read more
Travel light and easy with this meal kit in your back pack, as all you need to do is add water. The serving size that comes with this kit is 2 one cup servings, so it won't feed a huge amount of people. However, the reviewers and testers all seem to agree, this meal prep kit comes in handy in various camping situations. Not to mention, it's the perfect meal addition to any emergency kit situation that you may have at home or car.
You definitely will start your day off with a quick, as this kit includes major essentials of taste, such as eggs, pork sausage, and peppers and onion for taste.
Along with the great reviews and taste tests, if you are looking for a meal that is beyond easy, has a long-lasting shelf life, and is tasty as heck, you won't go wrong with this kit.
4. Planter's Nuts & Chocolate Trail Mix
A tasty treat that doesn't need cooking
Packs lots of energy
Bag is resealable
Might be too much sugar
So you're out on the trail, and you start feeling a little sluggish. You're hungry and you don't feel like stopping, but at the same time you know you need something to keep you going. That's when you reach for your Planters Nuts & Chocolate M&M Trail Mix.Read more
Unique and Delicious
Few brands can mix a blend of flavors quite like Planters can, and this nuts and chocolate trail mix is an example of that. Trail mix itself is a popular food when hiking, hence the name, and there's something about sweet and salty mixed together that's just irresistible. People have loved Planters for over a century now, and creative snacks like this one are why they've been famous for his long as they have been.
A Snack that Originated in the Outdoors
There are a few assumptions as to how trail mix was actually invented. One of the more popular ones is that a group of California surfers in the late 1960s needed to keep their energy levels up so they started mixing nuts and raisins together. It's also widely believed that trail mix was created hundreds of years ago by ancient nomads when they would mix up items such as nuts and berries together and eat them. Wherever or whenever it was created, it's still a very well-loved high-energy treat today and will be for years to come.
5. Mountain House Noodles and Chicken
A large amount of food in every pouch
Packed with flavor
Could have a better taste
When you're winter camping, sometimes you may get the sniffles out on the trail. At times like those, there's nothing better than some hot Mountain House Noodles and Chicken.Read more
Mountain House has a reputation for making good food, and their noodles and chicken is one of their most popular items, especially among cold-weather campers. This creamy soup with red peppers is delicious, the bag is very easy to carry, and the meal only takes a few minutes to prepare. There's nothing better than a nice hot cup of soup when you have to hunker down in snowy areas spontaneously.
This is a meal you can eat directly out of the bag, with big hearty noodles and big chunks of chicken. Everyone likes big servings, especially after putting out so much energy hiking. When you do have time to stop, it's great when you have a meal that can refuel your physical batteries. Each bag contains two and a half servings, 33 carbs and 220 calories a serving, and most campers are hungry enough to eat the whole bag after a very physically demanding day.
6. Folgers Classic Instant Coffee
Historically delicious coffee
Does not taste like home brewed coffee, but does the job
About a year before James A. Folger (the originator of Folgers Coffee) died, he wrote a letter to his son James A. Folger, Jr., that gave him some wise advice about running a business. It read that making money comes second to having a good reputation. Folgers is one of the most well-loved brands coffees ever, and their Individual Classic Instant Coffee packs make it easy to take the wonderful flavor camping with you.Read more
Easy to Make
When you wake up in the morning at home, coffee is probably one of the first things you grab for. So you definitely don't want to deprive yourself of it while you're out camping with your friends and family. One of the primary things you need when camping is boiled water, and as long as you have it you can enjoy your nice hot cup of Folgers just about anytime, whether you're at the campsite or making a stop out on the hiking trail.
These individual single packets are better than carrying around the jar of instant coffee, simply because the jar weighs more and you want as less weight on you as possible when out exploring. They also create less waste, and when you're done with one you can simply stick the small wrapper in your backpack until you get back to the site to throw it away.
Classic Mountain Grown Flavor
Folgers is always been dedicated to developing the best tasting coffee possible. It's the thing that stands out the most in the entire Folgers story. James A. Folger, Sr. is said to have started what's called cup testing. He personally taste-tested bean shipments that were coming in to San Francisco in order to develop a taste of coffee that would stand out above the competition. It was 1854 when he found that mountain grown beans is what made coffee smell and taste the best.
7. Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef
12 grams of protein
31 carbs per serving
May require seasoning
There are certain foods that are popular for camping. One of them is macaroni and cheese, and another one is chili. When they are combined, you have one of the best dinner combinations ever invented, and the Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef is one of their most popular entrees yet among campers.Read more
One of the best things about Mountain House meals is that they're easy to prepare, and all you really need is a spoon, fork or spork to eat them without on the trail. As with most of their meals, all you need is boiling water and you're good to go. You can eat the chili mac right out of the bag, then just reseal it, fold it down, stick it into the bottom of your backpack, and throw it away into a recycling can when you get back to the campsite.
Large Amount of Food in the Pouches
Chili mac is such a loved dish that everyone always wants big portions of it. These pouches are two and a half one cup servings and, although they are meant to serve two people, a camper or hiker at the end of a long day will enjoy an entire bag to themselves easily. When out doing physical camping activities you need your carbs and protein, otherwise fatigue and/or headaches will set in. This delicious Mountain House dish is filled with real noodles, beans, cheese and beef.
8. Harmony House Backpacking Kit
Harmony House Foods have no GMOs
A wonderful value for the price
Vegetables are fresh so you may have to add your own seasonings
Many times when you're out on the trail or back at the campsite, there may be meals where you feel like you're missing something. It's very inconvenient to have to bring a lot of cans with you just to get the vegetables you need for preparing things like large stews. That's why Harmony House has developed this Backpacking Kit with a wonderful mix of all the dehydrated items you need.Read more
A Large Variety of Foods
This backpacking kit is not only good for camping foods, but also to have around the house. Still, they're especially good for camping because they're very lightweight. The kit has a large variety of vegetables, beans, and other fresh food items. for example if you want to add potatoes to a large stew, there's a big bag of diced one in here.
For the price you really can't lose with this loaded backpacking kit. It comes with two bags of carrots, two bags of potatoes, two bags of green beans, and a bag each of diced tomatoes, celery, green beans, corn, cabbage, red and green peppers, onions ,and four types of beans, black, northern, red and Pinto. This large kit is going to last you for a few camping expeditions depending on how many times you go camping a year, and how many people go with you.
9. Wise Company's 60 Serving Entrée
A long shelf life of 20+ years
Food is tasty and easy to prepare
Hard to transport complete
The Wise Company 60 Serving Entrée Only Grab and Go Food Kit is wonderful to have on any outdoor camping trip, whether you eat them at the campsite or out backpacking. They guarantee you a hot hearty meal and anytime you need it.Read more
Large Bag Sizes
This food kit has enough food for one adult to eat for an entire month, or if someone was to split it with three of their friends it would last each of them a week. People like the entrees because they're lightweight to carry on hikes, and because they allow them to prepare a lot of food all at once. For example, if you're in the mountains hiking with a group, one bag could provide a big meal for everyone. Still, some people who camp alone feel that the bags are too big because once you open them you have to cook everything at once, being that they're not resealable.
Great for an Emergency Food Kit
This grab-and-go food kit is not only good for camping but also for emergency preparedness. Many people who live in areas of the country that have frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or floods may at those times need an emergency food supply. So, when they get the kit for camping they may pick up a few extra ones just to have there at the house.
10. Patriot Pantry Emergency Meals Kit
Easy to prepare
Your family, friends, and most importantly, you, will not go hungry with this hearty Patriot Pantry Emergency Meals Kit on hand. With 48 meal servings and seven different options to choose from, you will be prepared with this food kit.Read more
There are seven different meals included in this kit. The meals include chili, mac and cheese, black bean and rice soup, Alfredo, savory rice, stew, and creamy chicken rice. So while you will definitely get your fair share of carbohydrates with this kit, you definitely get a ton of great tasting options to choose from.
These meals are simple, quick, and easy to prepare; you just need to ensure that you have a stove top, pot, some oil, and water, and you should be good to go.
The benefit of this product is that it has a shelf life of 25 years, so even if you don't use it camping, it's a good food option to have on hand for a time when you need meal prep help.
The meals in this pack are all simple to prepare, and should take no more then 15 minutes to make, and it all comes in a slim storage container for easy travel and packing.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The foods chosen above were chosen for two types of camping trips, single and multi-day. They are packed with high energy, (even the s’mores!), and prepare you for whatever activity that you have planned for that day. You want a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. That’s why the trail mix with the M&Ms and nuts in it is so popular because it fuels you up whether you’re out and about moving around or sitting back relaxing on the campsite.
Dried bananas and other dried fruits are also nutritious and good to grab at whatever you get the munchies on a camping trip. If you’re trying to make sure your kids continue to eat healthy on the camping trip, then get plenty of dried fruits. Always have granola bars on you – make it a habit to grab a few of them every time you leave the campsite. Just stuff them down in your pockets or your backpack, they’re delicious and really good for you.
Whether or not you make it to your destination by the end of that day is going to depend on how convenient your food is to eat. All those granola bars trail mix and freeze-dried foods will keep you on schedule because they take next to no time to prepare. A good rule of thumb is to try to find the same types of food that you eat at home in freeze-dried form. This way, you’re not sacrificing taste for convenience. Same thing with drinks, such as coffee. Whatever brand you normally have at homebrewing in your coffee pot, get the same instant brand when you come camping.
Sometimes how convenient your food is will depend on what you have to prepare it with. If you have a small camping stove that can fit in your backpack you’ll be able to cook those freeze-dried meals in a jiffy while out on the trail. If you have a nice camping stove with burners that have a good amount of BTUs back at the campsite, then you’ll be able to prepare more of the meals that you like. If it’s snowing, and you prepare hot food back at the campsite that you want to take with you, store it in the part of your backpack that’s closest to your body so that it stays warm and eat it as soon as you can. You should do this with your freeze-dried meals and most of your other food too when camping in winter conditions.
The reputation of the companies that make the freeze-dried meals was thoroughly considered in this evaluation. For example, Mountain House is one of the most popular companies today that make freeze-dried camping food. They started out making food for the US Special Forces during Vietnam when the military started asking for better tasting food for the troops. They needed foods they could carry out with them to the field that weighed less and lasted longer. The company was established in the late 1960s, and have been providing nutritious freeze-dried food for well over half a century. Their items have been everywhere from the Earth’s highest mountain ranges to the Moon and back.
Another well-liked company by campers and backpacker’s is Harmony House Foods. They received the 2007 Backpacker Magazine Award, and they were named Business People of the Year by the North Carolina SBA. Their products have been enjoyed worldwide from Italy to the UK to Germany, and they just started doing door to door business in Canada in 2017.
Backpacker’s Pantry started back in 1951, and helped to initiate the trend of freeze-dried food that was easy to prepare with boiled water. The Wise Company the other brands on the is not only famous for their camping food, but for the products they produce. For example, they produce camping stoves and camping cooking utensils. The other brands on the list of reviews were also chosen because of their rich histories for making their customers happy – Folgers, Hershey’s, Jack Link’s and Planters.
Make sure you take the appropriate types of foods for the stoves or cooking ware you plan on bringing. To make sure you still eat healthy while camping or hiking there are also plenty of nourishing items on our list. Make sure that the food you bring can fit into your pack with ease and will not weigh too much and cause you stress and pain while journeying to your campsite. There are a variety of different foods and packaging on the market, so find one that will give you the nutrients you need and at the same time be easy to transport.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Most of these camping foods are very convenient and taste great but require that you pour boiling water into the package to hydrate the food. If you cannot boil water, you will have a hard time enjoying these tasty camping food options. So make sure that you not only have your camping food handy but also have a way to cook as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don’t want to deprive yourself of too many things that you normally eat, but when it comes to fresh foods, you don’t have the luxury of a refrigerator when you are out hiking on the trail. A few fruits or perishable food items that you do carry with you in your backpack are only going to last like a day and a half, so you have to eat them the first days of the trip. I mean there are other options, such as dried fruits that you can eat on the trail, so you don’t deprive yourself of these fresh items completely.
But, for the most part, for large meals out on the trail, you’ll be more dependent on pre-packaged foods, ones that only need boiled water to prepare. These prepackaged freeze-dried meals give you options so that you don’t have to eat the same thing over and over again. Many of them are packaged in cans, but they’re not recommended for long hikes being that they take up so much space in your backpack. The pouch packs of food are much lighter, are resealable, and don’t contribute to so much waste. When you’re done eating one, you could simply push all the air out of it, reseal it, fold it down and put it in your backpack until you get back to the campsite to throw away. The best thing to do with these meals is to bring your favorite spices with you if you can. Just the basics, salt, pepper, maybe a small bottle of Tabasco sauce. You don’t want to load your backpack up with too much extra stuff, but a few seasonings and spices won’t be a problem.
A good rule of thumb when camping is to bring just a little bit more than you need. If you’re an experienced camper and you’re traveling by yourself, then you probably have a good idea how much food to bring. But what if you get stuck out there for longer than you expected for, say, unexpected heavy rain that keeps you hunkered down in the same spot in your tent for an extra day or so out on the trail? Having to sit tight for a but to let the weather pass could easily happen, and those extra food pouches, granola bars, and trail mix will come in handy.
But in general, calculate three meals a day plus snacks. Then, to be on the safe side, pack one more day worth of food. If worse comes to worst, you could always eat that slowly if you’re out there unexpectedly for an extended amount of time. If you’re traveling in a group, make sure that everyone in the group follows this rule, and everything should go fine.
If you’ll be spending more time at your primary campsite than out hiking, then you can be even more cautious with even a little more extra food, because you don’t have to physically carry it around with you, you can just leave it in the car. When you’re spending more time at your campsite you may opt to get the bigger cans of freeze-dried food, because you’ll have a place to throw away the trash. Every person on the trip should have at least a pound and a half to two and a half pounds of food for each day. Campers eat enough food to fuel them for the activity they have planned for that day. That activity might be fishing, and you may even catch a few to toss over the fire and broil.
The amount of money that you spend on camping food should depend on whether or not you’re going solo or with a group. It also depends on your activities while you’re out on the camping trip. If you are going to be hanging around the campsite a little more than hiking, then you probably won’t spend that much on freeze-dried foods, but if you’re going to be on the trail more then it’s a good idea to stock up on them.
How many times you go camping a year should also determine cost. While they’re going on the camping trip and already buying this type of food, some folks decide that it’s a good idea to go ahead and stock up on some of it at the house in case of hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters that they’ll need emergency food for.
Campers like to eat traditional camping food (such as beans, chili, broiled fish, macaroni and cheese, s’mores, and others). But the truth is your taste buds aren’t just going to change because you’re going on a camping trip, so you should plan to make at least some of the things you normally eat at home. Still, what you should pay the most attention to is getting the correct amount of calories, between 2,500 and 4,500 every day you’re on the camping trip, whatever you decide to eat.
There’s nothing worse than being hungry out on the trail hiking. You feel light-headed fatigued and your muscles will start to ache. It may be important to you to cover a certain amount of ground everyday, but if you get a headache out of nowhere or feel faint, stop, hydrate and eat. You’ll feel revitalized once you do, then you can continue on your path. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that women get 2,000 calories each day and men get 2,500. So, if you’re doing the physical activity all day like most campers, then you should up that number, because you’re burning more calories than you normally would on a regular basis.
When you’re back at your primary campsite and you have a good camping stove, then there are dozens of hearty meals you can make for your friends and family. When you’re out on the trail is a little different, because you can only carry so much. Still, good breakfast choices are hot cereal, pancakes, smoked sausage eggs and grits, just to name a few. This will start your day off with a lot of energy and have you ready to take on the fun, physical day ahead of you. If you’re out on the trail, it’s good to start your day off with something hot and hearty as well, but sometimes you’ll be pressed for time and just grab a granola bar until you have a chance to eat heavier at lunch.
At lunchtime there’s a good chance you’ll be out and about, away from the campsite enjoying activities like fishing, hiking, swimming, and hunting. You probably have packed a few sandwiches that you eat right then. Or, depending on if it’s cold, you may want a nice warm chicken noodle soup, an item that you can buy pre-packaged and freeze-dried. You don’t want to spend all your time cooking and miss the good time and all the activities you and your crew planned. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then dinner is probably being the second most important when camping. A nice sized dinner will help you to charge up for the next day, and sleep well that night. Pasta, beef stew, fish, chicken dishes…anything with a good amount of carbs and protein will be good to put on your stomach before going to sleep.
- 101 STRESS FREE CAMPING FOOD IDEAS, Jul 18, 2018 ,