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Backpacking Without a Stove: Sample Menu

Squall 2 Tarp Tent

Just before I left on my last trip, one of my readers, WildBBQBill, asked me to post a sample food list that can be eaten without bringing along a stove.

I've listed the meal plan for my last trip. This plan was designed to cover 2 full days and 2 half days, but can be easily chopped down for a weekend trip or extended for a longer period of time.

On average, I was eating about 3000 calories per day and my food bag weight came in under 6 pounds at the start of the trip. Breakfast on my first day was supplied by the people I stayed with the night before my trip and I got off the trail in the early afternoon, so no afternoon snack or dinner was required. I did have 2 extra probars, a snickers bar, 4 pieces of whole wheat bread and about 20 hard candies left over in my food bag at trip's end.

Here's what I ate on this trip. A more detailed explanation of each item is provided below.

 BreakfastSnackLunchSnackDinner
Day 1  Logan BreadLogan Bread2 Chorizo, Bread
Day 2FB Oatmeal, GuLogan Bread1/2 Gouda, BreadLogan Bread1/2 Gouda, Bread
Day 3FB Oatmeal, GuLogan BreadLogan BreadSnickers, Gu2 Chorizo, Bread
Day 4Probar, SnickersProbar, GuLogan Bread  
  1. Logan Bread is a very high calorie quick bread that you bake at home. I made a batch before my last trip using this recipe. It is very filling and provides you with a great alternative to cliff bars or power bars while providing more energy without a huge sugar kick. My last batch included dried cherries, cranberries and chopped walnuts but the variations you can make are endless. A 3 inch square contains about 500 calories.
  2. FB Oatmeal stands for freezer bag oatmeal. I fill each bag with 3 packs of low sugar maple flavored Instant Oatmeal and add about 1 cup of raisins to it. This will rehydrate in about 5 minutes with cold water and is quite tasty. I usually add a pinch of salt to make sure that I'm keeping ahead of my electrolytes since I drink a lot of water when hiking. A serving contains about 600 calories.
  3. Gu is a commercially available electrolyte gel that is an alternative to Gatorade. I was experimenting with it on this last trip since I had some muscle cramps on a very hot day during my previous section hike and thought I might have an electrolyte deficiency because I was sweating so much. I like the gel based formulation because it does not require the use of an extra bottle, but I have since concluded that all of the commercially available electrolyte replacement drinks and powders out there have as much electrolyte content as a single serving of wheat thins and are a rip-off. My cramps are also not electrolyte induced but due to muscular overuse.
  4. 1/2 Gouda, Bread is a small 1/2 wheel of Gouda cheese and 3 slices of whole wheat bread. Gouda cheese is wrapped in wax and has a low level of water in it so it will last for several days on the trail. A meal like this packs about 800 calories and will help you recover after a long day of hiking. I bag every 3 pieces of bread in their own sandwich bag. This is probably overkill but it helps me ration what I eat.
  5. PROBARs are delicious, high calorie, 100% organic fruit and nut bars that have about 350 calories per serving. They are quite tastey and more calorically dense than other commercial powerbar variants.
  6. Snickers. Self-explanatory. These are not the ones with extra caffeine. They are still one of the best values in backpacking food and very easy to resupply.
  7. 2 Chorizo. These are two, 3 inch spanish sausages that are loaded with nitrites, salt, and red pepper. They come shrink-wrapped, require no refrigeration and have a shelf-life of about a year. I eat these with 3 slices of whole wheat bread and altogether this meal delivers about 750 calories.

The advantage of section hiking over thru-hiking is that you are not bound by the limitations of resupply stops and you can bring a greater variety of food. However, the items I've listed above can be easily resupplied or substituted on longer hikes. Logan bread can be substituted with a lot of cliff bars (2 per serving) or a high calorie quick bread like pound cake, banana bread, and so forth, although these will crumble quickly and should be eaten early. Chorizo can be easily substituted with any salami, which will keep a day or so after you open it. The same goes with the Gouda. You can substitute it with any cheese that is completely enclosed in wax.

One final note. Backpacking without a stove should only be practiced in hot weather, when it is so warm outside that you can be completely drenched and not get cold. I do not recommend it across all seasons. Your stove and fuel are an essential element of your safety net in colder weather and should be part of your gear list.

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7 comments

  1. Good suggestions. I've also been intrigued by using a small screw-tight container to rehydrate things over the course of the day (like dehydrated bean flakes, cous cous, TVP, etc.) that I can then garnish with raisins, nuts, cheese, crumbled chips or crackers, and so on.

  2. I don't even think you'd need the bottle. Fantastic Foods dehydrated pinto beans or cous cous (which now bores me to tears)rehydrate so quickly you could probably bring them to life in 5 minutes in a freezer bag with unheated water.

  3. Nice! I am looking forward to trying out a few items you mentioned. I did try the olive oil/bread/parma on my last trip. It worked out pretty well, thinking it could use some 'spicing up' though.

  4. Good suggestions. I might incorporate some of these into my trip in August.

  5. I've been hiking for over 40 years and I have to say with all honesty your Menu would drive me nuts on the trail. There's really nothing to look forward too at the end of a long day.

    I have to have variety!

    I would be begging people to trade their salty/noodle/poison/soup with me and throwing in another $5. rather than eating such a bland diet, not much difference between Oatmeal and a Logan bread… At least stick a Bear Valley Pemmican Bar in there somewhere in lemon flavor or something…I guess you younger folks have no taste buds is all I can say or look at a hike as an "ordeal" to suffer through like the Spartans of Old… Well to each his own is all I got to say…

    "Where is my Shrimp Newburg and my French Vanilla Mousse with Red Raspberries at??? Get back here with that now, let go, now go eat your Logan bread,,give it back, now! Wheres my Derringer!!! Little theif! Lol's

  6. Hi- I do not get Eddie’s comments as we are in our 50’s and we go backpacking without the stove quite often eating delicious slices of cheese with crusty breads, canned oysters and other seafood such as packaged tuna and sardines, a variety of dried fruits and nuts, candy, sausages and more delicious cheese. We love goings sans the horrific dried foods that give people even more horrific gas.We love eating whole foods in nature and find the high fat . content in the cheese and nut laden breads keeps us satisfied and warm. We also brew cold tea by placing tea bags in our water bottles over night. In the morning we power up with more delicious bread, fruits, meats and tea. We love it and prefer this for two to four day trips but have to choose the stinky dehydrated foods for lounger trips to save weight. The difference in weight saving from taking the stove, pots cups, fuel is negated by the fresh foods but oh so worth it to us.

  7. I guess I am trying to say Angie, to much Bread or Starches and sugars and fats for me..I eat a variety of foods as you do, and always include a MRE Entree as well as my favorite smoked Clams and other treats to aid in the variety of freeze dried I carry..But cheese, oatmeal, logan bread, sausage and a snickers bar would have me and my system out of whack in no time at all and suffering some stomach and lower colon issues…..I also pick a lot of wild foods and frequently if able make a nice wild salad dressed with Olive oil and Apple Cider Vinegar.

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