The Best Dried Foods for Camping

Whether you’re planning an overnight camping trip to a nearby national park or a week-long excursion into the wilderness, packing the right food is essential for sustaining energy. From fruits and vegetables to elaborate meals, packing freeze-dried and dehydrated foods can reduce your food weight by 60 to 90 percent, while typically lasting much longer than other foods. With ample preparation and an eye for detail, anyone can pack a tasty and efficient food inventory to fit their camping budget.

Dried Fruit

Perhaps the most common trail food, dried fruit—such as raisins, cranberries, bananas and even mangos—remain a staple among camping and backpacking enthusiasts. High in vitamins and sugars, dried fruit can provide a quick boost during outdoor excursions that may involve hiking or climbing. For best results, combine dried fruit with such nuts as high-calorie peanuts and almonds for a trail mix that is both energy sustaining and high in protein. Get creative when selecting dried fruit by picking and sampling the varieties in a bulk section of a grocery store. Popular dried fruits for camping include papaya, pineapple, cherries and, of course, raisins.

Instant Oatmeal

While considerably less diverse than expensive freeze-dried food packs, instant oatmeal is a cheap and nutritious backcountry camping snack that can save a significant amount of weight from your shoulders. Made up of ground oat groats precooked and dried, instant oatmeal requires only a few cups of boiling water and provides a considerable quantity of carbohydrates for energy burning. According to studies reported by, the soluble fibers found in instant oatmeal may also improve your overall health by lowering cholesterol. For campers bringing a stove, simply boil a few cups of water and add to the mix while stirring.

Freeze-Dried Food Packs

From hash browns and scrabbled eggs mixed with pork sausage to pepper curry, pad thai and Mexican cuisine, freeze-dried food packs are a delicacy among serious participants of adventure sports. Though considerably more expensive than other dried-food options, these freeze-dried food packs come ready to serve with meals ranging from entrees and breakfasts to snacks and desserts. These packs are often streamlined for light-weight efficiency and generally come sealed in laminated polyester and polyethylene with a resealable zip closure to help protect the food from oxygen, moisture and heat to prolong freshness. Although a number of brands currently manufacture freeze-dried food packs, the most commonly found are Mountain House, Enertia Trail Foods and Backpacker’s Pantry.

About this Author

Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Brian Connolly is a certified nutritionist and has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a licensed yoga and martial arts instructor whose work regularly appears in “Metabolism,” “Verve” and publications throughout the East Coast. Connolly holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.