Adding Variety to your Backpacking Menu

The food on my last 3-day section hike was so boring I thought I’d gag on the last day of my trip. I was lazy and brought along the same food for several days.

So this week, I’ve worked out 4-day freezer bag backpacking menu for my next hike that has an enormous amount of variety and very little repetition. In addition, I’ve created a menu that is lightweight and quite calorically dense, at 109 calories for every 1 oz. of food weight.  In general, anthing above 100 calories per oz. is great.

Here’s my menu, broken out my meal and by day. Can you think of any other foods I should try on future hikes? 

Day Item Grams (g) Calories
  Breakfast (cold)    
1 Organic Pop Tarts 104 420
2 Fruit & Nut Granola 90 420
3 TJ’s Granola Snack Clusters 114 580
4 TJ’s Granola Snack Clusters 114 580
1 Ritz Crackers and Gouda Cheese 199 670
2 Ritz Crackers and Gouda Cheese 199 670
3 Whole Wheat Crackers and Honey Almond Butter 139 680
4 Ritz Crackers, Tuna in Olive Oil 251 675
  Dinner (hot)    
1 Annie’s Microwave Mac & Cheese 244 920
2 Refried Beans and Tortilla Chips 238 1010
3 Potato Leak Soup and Chorizo Sausage 256 970
1 Dried apricots 120 270
1 Walnut halves 60 400
1 Snickers bar 59 280
2 Smokehouse almonds 56 340
2 Cheese-its 90 480
2 TJ’s Spicey Buffalo Jerkey 92 190
3 TJ’s Candied Crystallized Ginger 84 300
3 TJ’s Chili Spiced Mango 90 330
3 TY’s Flattened Dried Bananas 80 360
4 TJ’s Australian Licorice 120 360
4 TJ’s Dried Mango Slices 114 360
4 TJ’s Trek Trail Mix 86 420
  total 6.69 lbs. 11,685 cal.



  1. That's a good menu – I'll have to see if I can find some of those items in Japan. The staple mountain food out here is curry & rice, it's all anybody eats. While it's OK for a day or so, it gets old pretty quickly..

    I've been experimenting with home-made energy gel this season, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I powered up and down Mt Fuji over the weekend on just one 300g packet (almost a full 24 hours, climbing from 800m to 3776m and back). The recipe is on my blog at

  2. Very very cool. I'm going to try making this stuff. There are times when I know I need calories but I'm don't feel like chewing anything. I've tried GU but don't trust it. Plus making your own means I can package it in 300 calorie doses. Ingenious.

  3. I thought you might like that :-)

    It works best in small but frequent doses, ideally 25g (100kcal) every 20-30 minutes with a couple of mouthfuls of water. Any more than that and you risk spiking your insulin levels, which is obviously not desirable. I've found it keeps my blood glucose nice and steady, which leads to good fat metabolism and means I can keep going and going…

    I added some amino acids into my last batch too. Pure rocket fuel!

  4. Seems to me, you have a lot of sugar and salt and little protein in your menu..If your body works well with that menu I cannot find fault with it, it is whatever works for you.

    But mine would be lacking energy after the first day for sure and my body would be craving a lot of water in order to flush all that salt out..I would suggest your try and substitute all those processed salty foods and snacks for more natural ones. Doesn't matter which ones, just look for the lowest amount of sodium you can find on the lables..

    I make a nut mix of Almonds, Walnuts and Hazelnuts which I crack open myself.

    I love Gouda Cheese as well, but I use Wheatsworth crackers instead of the Salty Ritz but to each to his own taste as I said. IF your cheese gets a bit moldy on lone trips take along a small resturant packet of Vinegar and wipe the cheese down with it…

    I love instant oatmeal for breakfast with Almonds, Walnuts and Dates. Then I add the same items to Raisin Bran in a Ziplock bag. I pop a few extra raisins into the mix as well.

    How about a dry hard Italian Salami instead of the jerky?

    Well let us know how your trip went and what satisfied you and what didn't I'd be intersted in knowing…

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