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Most travelers dream of hitting the road with the most essentials packed into the lightest load. When planning to travel with only the necessities on your back, deciding what you need to bring on your trip can be an overwhelming process.

You shouldn’t carry too much unnecessary weight on your back or worse, heavy items that take up so much space that you miss out on packing essentials such as sunblock, insect repellant, or your handy pocket knife.

So before you hit the road, run through your backpacking checklist and start filling it up with some of this essential gear.

If you are a first-time backpacker, one of the most important things to start early on is a visa, and if you’re traveling to a neighboring country or going on an expedition with a group of people, it is important that all your travel documents are correctly collated.

Check iVisa.com to apply for your eVisa and Health Declaration.

Here is a list of items that you can pack that will make your trip a light one:

A durable backpack

Your backpack has to fit your body (height and torso length) properly and brave the elements like rain, dust, and a heavy fall if need be. Also, make sure to get a bag that has many zip-up pockets and compartments for optimal packing.

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bags come in a variety of sizes, either spacious or streamlined, and a wide range of materials. For a backpacker traveler, sleep is very important, so you won’t sleep well if you’re cold, so consider these key factors when picking one:

  • Rate of temperature: you should pick a sleeping bag rated a bit lower than the typical low temperatures you anticipate.
  • Insulation type: The big choice is between down or synthetic. Synthetic offers solid performance at an affordable price, but down is more sought after because it’s lighter and more compressible.
  • Weight: The quality of your insulation and the cut of your bag are big factors. When you are comparing weights also compare bags with a similar temperature rating.

First-Aid Kit and Toiletry Bag

Your personal hygiene and safety should come first, so your toiletries and first-aid kit are very important. Make sure to pack a bar of soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, and toothpaste, toilet paper, wipes, moisturizer, as well as any prescription medications you may need. Take along an SPF-rated sunscreen and lip balm.

Clothing and footwear

When packing clothing, pack according to the predicted weather. Keep in mind that gentle hikes on smooth trails usually require hiking shoes or trail runners while steep hikes on rocky, rugged trails will likely require a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

After the year we’ve had, it’s clear that the world is changing. As companies are starting to realize that remote work is a real possibility, more and more people are looking to become digital nomads. If you’re thinking about embracing life on the road, take a look through the essential gear for digital nomads to get you started.

Universal all in one power adapter


A universal power adapter is a must-have travel gadget for anyone who travels regularly. Unless you have a way to charge them, it makes no difference how many phones, tablets, or laptops you own.

The power outlets in different countries vary in shape and size, so making sure you can use your favorite travel gadgets has to be one of your top priorities. A multi-country adapter is a game-changer and removes the worry of having your electronics, run out of battery, no matter where you are in the world.

Universal Sim Card for portable Wi-Fi

The struggle of having to use the poor Wi-Fi at a budget hostel is well known to anyone who has traveled abroad. Make sure to always stay connected wherever you are by bringing along a universal Sim Card that will serve as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

It’s high on the list of essential gear for digital nomads or anyone who spends time away from the beaten track.

Google Fi is one of the best options for digital nomads, plans start at just $16 a month. This powerful device connects to networks in more than 200 countries with up to 22GB of data a month.

Rather than buying a new SIM card in every country, you can use this universal SIM card. You can then use your phone as a hotspot for other devices like your computer or WiFi-connected camera.

Moment Photo Lenses

Transform your smartphone photos into DSLR quality with one of the many snap-on lenses from Moment. With Smartphone cameras getting more and more advanced, it’s no longer necessary to lug around bulky photography equipment as a digital nomad.

You can capture amazing shots with their wide-angle lenses, macro lenses, and more. And since they’re so small, it’s easy to carry them around even when you’re a constant traveler, making it essential gear for digital nomads.

Noise Cancelling Ear Buds

You’ll be happy to have a set of noise-cancellling earbuds if you get stuck behind a crying baby, or need to take a loud and rattly mode of transport. And the compact size is practical for digital nomads on the go.

A Digital Luggage Scale

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wanted to weigh my luggage on the road. Knowing exactly how heavy my bags were before reaching the airport could have saved stressful packing, repacking, as well as some unavoidable baggage fees.

Since you can’t always be sure to find a scale when you’re on the road, bring along a compact digital luggage scale so that you will never be surprised.

Smartphone Gimbal

If you’re looking to document your travels as a digital nomad, you can take your videos to the next level with a sophisticated travel gimbal. Gimbals are used to stabilize and remove shake from moving or shifting footage.

Whether you’re cruising along in a Tuk Tuk in Thailand or zipping through Hai Van pass in Vietnam, the gimbal can help avoid a shaky and choppy video. Many gimbals come with zoom capabilities, slow motion, and time lapse functions.

Digital nomads who use a smartphone as their primary video content source should definitely consider gimbals since they are small, portable, and are a must-have gadget for traveling.

Phone and wallet waterproof case

A waterproof case for your valuables is a simple, but essential gear for digital nomads, particularly for those heading to a beach location. Keep your phone with you even when taking a dip, and have it on hand to capture amazing shots from the water.

An inexpensive waterproof case you can wear around your neck will eliminate all your worries. It’s a lifesaver, and it holds your phone, wallet, keys, etc.

Travel drone

Use a drone to capture amazing photos of your travels as a digital nomad

Use a drone to capture amazing photos of your travels

Travel drones have gotten a lot more affordable in the past few years, and their cool factor is hard to match. With everyone taking the same photos on social media these days, it’s amazing to be able to capture shots and footage that not many others can.

With drone photography, your video will have an amazing cinematic effect that will impress your viewers. Due to technological advances, drones have become cheaper and foldable, making them easier to travel with. A drone is a great tool for anyone who plans to travel, whether for work or for leisure.

Lightweight Laptop

A Macbook Air is the laptop of choice for digital nomads

A Macbook Air is the laptop of choice for digital nomads

When every ounce counts, you want a durable, lightweight laptop to accompany you on your travels. The most popular laptop on a digital nomad packing list is the MacBook Air. It’s got great processing power, that will allow you to edit photos and videos while being compact enough to slip inside your backpack or suitcase.

Power Bank

Unlike the travelers of yesteryear, today’s essential gear for digital nomads involves electronic devices to navigate. Therefore, it becomes even more crucial to make sure you always have a backup power source.

In cases of power outages, hours on the road, bring along a power bank so that your compass, map, lifeline (i.e., your smartphone!) are always charged and ready.

Conclusion

Picking the right travel accessories can be a challenge with so many options available. Start with some practical gadgets like a waterproof phone case and universal power adapter, and then move on to more fun stuff like drones and gimbals.

If you are interested in fishing and backpacking, why not combine your two passions? Since backpacking requires you to keep your pack weight low, there is some basic lightweight equipment you’ll need if you want to go fishing this season. Check out the details about backpacking fishing rods and then make a perfect lightweight backpacking fishing kit for yourself.

What Is Lightweight Backpacking Fishing Gear?

If you’re going backpacking near a lake or river, you may want the option to go fishing along the way. Whether you want to go fishing out of sheer enjoyment, or you want the opportunity to catch your dinner as you go, you will want to bring along some lightweight backpacking fishing gear.

In your backpacking fishing kit, there is a lot of different gear that you can find, making fishing while backpacking on the trail easier than before.

Especially when backpacking, you’ll want gear that is lightweight or ultralight, as it is easy to carry and versatile too. If you’re just getting started in your research about gear, check out the details about lightweight backpacking fishing rods.

Types of Lightweight Backpacking Fishing Rods

Nowadays, there is a large variety of lightweight backpacking fishing rods available. There are various different styles of fishing rods that you can choose for your backpacking trip. You just need to know about the types of gear so that you can buy according to your need. So, let’s see what the types are.

Backpacking Tenkara Rods

Brook trout caught on a Tenkara fishing rod

Brook trout caught on a Tenkara fishing rod

The Tenkara fishing rod is the most popular option for a backpacking fishing rod because of its simplicity and minimal weight. This relatively new style of fishing has its roots in ancient Japanese fishing techniques, and it is a quick set up with minimal practice or specialized skills required.

The rod is completely collapsible and the line has a fixed length. There is not an expensive and tricky reel to deal with. The best Tenkara rod that we have come across is the DRAGONtail Shadowfire 365 Tenkara Fly Fishing Rod.

The best Tenkara backpacking rods are useful because they are so lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack and carry the rod. That said, there are several pros and cons to the Tenkara rods.

Pros

  • Lightweight product
  • Simple design
  • Protective rod

Cons

  • Similar Technique as the fly rods
  • Location and target of fish species are limited

Pocket Fishing Rods

Pocket sized fishing rods

A pocket fishing rod is similar to a traditional fishing rod and reel

A pocket fishing rod is similar in style to a traditional fishing rod and reel. The main difference is that it is a collapsible pocket fishing rod is compact and lightweight, so that you can carry it easily in your backpack.

You also have the option of attaching higher end reels to the collapsible rod, if you are used to more traditional and sophisticated fishing techniques.

As the size is small, it’s easy and comfortable to use while backpacking. However, there are a lot of variants available. You can find it in different sizes, qualities and even in price so, do some research to choose the best fishing rod for backpacking. This option comes with a convenient carrying case to protect it even when it’s buried in your backpack.

Pros

  • As it is small in size, you can pack it easily
  • The casting technique with a traditional rod and reel is easier to master than fly fishing techniques

Cons

  • Pocket rods are heavier than Tenkara fly fishing rods

Travel Fly Fishing Rods

A collapsible fly fishing rod is perhaps the most popular option for a backpacking fishing rod. Like the Tenkara rods, fly fishing rods are a lightweight option to carry in your pack.

The rods are like simple long fishing rods that can be used easily for fishing. This option comes with a travel pack, as well as bait, line, and small tools you might need when fly fishing.

You need a little bit of practice to make fly fishing work for you. Your goal should be to make the bait look like a fly or insect as it lands on the surface of the water. Once you master the technique, you can catch fish quite easily.

Pros

  • The tackle and fly fishing gear is lightweight
  • The rod is small in size
  • Most backpacking areas are great as a target for fly fishing
  • You can use the fly rods in both lakes and streams

Cons

  • It takes a lot of effort to master the technique
  • Fly fishing needs to have an open space to cast

Where do you catch fish while backpacking?

The beauty of backpacking is that you are often able to find remote spots to catch fish. Small lakes or ponds are the most popular place that people go fishing. Besides that, rivers or creeks are also good places for fishing. Be sure to research whether a fishing license is required for your location.

What are the things you need to make a lightweight backpacking fishing kit?

Assembling your fishing kit is the hardest part of all. You need to get all the backpacking fishing gear together and place it in the right place within your pack.

Also, you must know what things you will need in your lightweight backpacking fishing kit. If you are a beginner, the advice we would like to give you is to think about what elements you will need while fishing.

Let’s talk about the basic things.

Choosing Fishing Line: First thing you need to do is to match your fly line to the rod that you are going to cast. Fly fishing line is very different from the fishing line used on a reel.

Choose your Rod and Reel: You must take a good quality rod and reel so that you can make a good setup. And to select the proper ones, you should check what type of fish you want to catch and what the location would be. Weight is also a matter here.

Choosing Lures: You must choose a few lures so that you can make them simple and easy to understand. Again, lures for fly fishing are different than lures used on a fishing reel. There is also some other equipment that you can add as bait:

Fly Fishing Lures for Trout

  • Adams flies
    • Fishing Technique: Fly fishing
    • Ecosystem: Lakes, streams, rivers
    • Species: Best for Rainbow Trout
    • Rated 5/5 on Amazon
  • Nymphs
    • Fishing Technique: Fly fishing
    • Ecosystem: Lakes, streams, rivers
    • Species: Brown or Rainbow Trout
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
  • Caddis flies
    • Fishing Technique: Fly fishing
    • Ecosystem: Lakes, streams, rivers
    • Species: Brown or Rainbow Trout
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon

Rod and Reel Lures for other species like Bass, Pike, and more

  • Wooly buggers
    • Fishing Technique: Rod and reel
    • Ecosystem: Ponds, lakes, rivers, streams
    • Species: Bass love them
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
  • Senko worms
    • Fishing Technique: Rod and reel
    • Ecosystem: Ponds, lakes, used in shallow areas with targets like docks, brush, etc.
    • Species: Bass, Pike, Walleye
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon

What Is The Best Ultralight Backpacking Fishing Gear?

The best backpacking fishing gear

If you are just getting started, you can try getting a fishing kit which, will come with the rod, reel, line, and any lures you might need. Here are two good options:

If you are looking to assemble your own backpacking fishing kit, you can explore a wealth of options, which we’ve outlined below.

The Best Collapsible Backpacking Fishing Rods

  1. Goture Travel Fishing Rods 4Pcs – Casting/Spinning Rod with a case
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $50
  2. CAPACI Portable Travel Casting Spinning Bass Fishing Rods
    • 4.8 oz.
    • Rated 4/5 on Amazon
    • $30
  3. Sougayilang Speed Bass Fishing Rods
    • 6.38 oz.
    • Rated 3.5/5 on Amazon
    • $25

The Best Lightweight Backpacking Fishing Rods

Some companies are focused on making the lightest-weight fishing rods. Here are some options:

  1. OKUMA Celilo Ultralight Graphite Lightweight Trout Rods
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $27
  2. Berkley Lightning Trout Rod – Ultralight
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $38
  3. Fenwicks Eagle Spinning Rod
    • 4.8 oz.
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $50-100
  4. Shakespeare Micro Ultralight Spinning Rod
    • 3.88 oz.
    • Rated 4/5 on Amazon
    • $17-35

The best fishing reels for backpacking

There are some good fishing gear companies such as:

  1. Penn Battle III Spinning Reel
  2. Zebco Platinum Spincast 33 Reel
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $41
  3. 13 Fishing Concept Z Slide Baitcast Reels
  4. Shimano Vanford F Spinning Reel
    • Rated 4.5/5 on Amazon
    • $230

The summer is upon us, which means fun in the sun and amazing hiking and backpacking adventures across gorgeous landscapes. While we love to enjoy the warmer months, caution is of absolute importance.

Currently, heat waves are occurring across the globe, with record-breaking temperatures of over 100 degrees becoming the norm.

Excessive heat can be one of the most dangerous elements you can face, and prolonged exposure may lead to many dangerous conditions that could make you very ill.

That is why you need to be smart about summer backpacking and pack the right items before going out on long treks. Here are some pointers to stay cool while backpacking in hot weather.

Heat Concerns for Summer Backpacking

The first step to staying safe when backpacking during summer is to understand the potential risks of being out in the heat so you know when you need to take a break or hydrate.

Heat exhaustion is the main concern that you want to avoid because, if not properly handled, it can quickly turn to heatstroke, which could create disorientation, confusion, and a high fever that could lead to further sickness.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, excessive sweating, and a headache that gets progressively worse. If you feel these symptoms, it is important to find shade, then sit down and relax and drink water until you are feeling better.

On that note, you also want to watch for the signs of dehydration, which also include fatigue along with a dry mouth and dark-colored urine. If you don’t drink water when these issues begin, it could start to affect your blood pressure and you could become too tired to continue.

Along with the issues associated with activity on a hot day, you also want to avoid a sunburn whenever possible. More than just giving you a little color, an excessive sunburn can cause blisters and swelling and can even lead to chills and nausea.

To avoid sunburn, apply sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 before you leave to protect against the sun and dangerous UVB rays.

What to Bring To Stay Cool While Backpacking in Summer

When preparing for your adventure, it is essential that you take the time to create a packing list of everything you need, with an emphasis on first aid supplies and tools that will keep you cool while hiking or backpacking in summer.

The most important items involve hydration and that means bringing plenty of water you should drink during the course of your adventure. Moderation is key, as drinking too much can actually lead to over hydration, which can result in fatigue and cramps as your blood cells are so inundated that they lose functionality.

If water is too plain for you, then at least bring hydration packets that contain electrolytes as they replenish some of the fluid and minerals in your body that you lose when you sweat.

There are smart ways you can ensure that you have the water supply required for the hottest days. One idea is to get a hydration pack which is either part of your backpack or a separate entity that houses an extra water supply.

That way, you won’t have to hold it in your hands and it can balance your weight as you walk. If you want the water to remain cold, then freeze a water bottle the night before and it will last longer during your hike.

If you plan to camp during your summer backpacking adventure, then you will want to find a tent that will keep you as cool as possible. That means finding one that is a light color as it will reflect the heat.

Dark fabric will absorb the heat and make the interior warmer. A lightweight model like this heat-blocking tent has a mesh interior so you can allow a nice breeze to enter. Set the tent up in the shade and open the vents so the air can flow through.

Backpacking in Hot Weather? Plan Accordingly

In addition to packing the right equipment, you will also want to take the time to plan your hike accordingly, so you can avoid the warmest parts of the day.

Generally, it is hottest between the hours of noon and three in the afternoon, so you either want to return home by that time or wait to take a night hike as the sun is setting.

Early morning hikes are ideal because the sun will be rising, it won’t be too warm, and you will generally have the trail to yourself. If you are planning on an early morning hike then you will want to ensure that you get enough sleep, so you can have the energy required to climb those peaks and observe the beauty of nature.

One way to make sure you get enough rest is to use a sleep calculator, which will tell you when to lay down so you can get the 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye that the doctors recommend.

It is also a smart idea to plan the clothes you will wear during the hike, as what you choose could drastically change how warm you get during your adventure. Just like with your tent, you want to choose lighter-colored clothing that will reflect the light instead of absorbing it.

Also, opt for loose-fitting clothing, and if you can find hiking apparel with vents, then that is the best option. If you have especially sensitive skin, then make sure to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts so your arms and legs aren’t hit with those harmful UV rays.


There is nothing more exciting than celebrating the bright summer months with an exciting hike, but caution must always be present. Try the tips above to stay cool while hiking and enjoy your summer backpacking adventure without worry.

Whether you’re just getting started with your backpacking hobby or have already explored the great backpacking routes of the world, you may have realized that something is lacking in the world of packaged backpacking food.

Either they’re too expensive, too bland, or too artificial. The good news is that making your own DIY dehydrated backpacking meals is not as complicated as it seems! Read on for all the pointers you need. Plus, we’ll provide you with a few DIY backpacking recipes to get you started.

Method #1: Dehydrate a Home-Cooked Recipe

There are generally 2 approaches to assembling a DIY dehydrated backpacking meal. You either prepare a meal at home, dehydrate it and then rehydrate on the trail.

Or, you assemble a meal made from individual dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients. Both have their pros and cons, so we usually bring a combination of meal types on the trail with us.

Dehydrating a recipe that you can make at home is generally the most fool-proof and inexpensive way to go. It doesn’t require you to buy individual dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients, it just requires your own kitchen equipment plus a good food dehydrator.

And you can control the taste of the recipe before your trip, so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised when you’re ravenous on the trail.

Dehydrating Your own Home-Cooked Meals

Dehydrating Your own Home-Cooked Food for Backpacking

The simplest way to get started with DIY dehydrated backpacking meals is to brainstorm a few of your favorite dishes that you can fully cook at home which you can dehydrate using a food dehydrator. To rehydrate on the trail, all you need is a lightweight camping stove, water, and a cooking vessel!

Since the rehydration process will require adding boiling water back to the mix, you’ll want to prepare a dish that is sauce-based and full of hearty ingredients. Stews, pasta, and casseroles work best for this method. 

Cooking your own food at home is the easiest method in terms of simplicity, but it’s by far a more time-consuming option. Not only do you have to cook everything at home first, but dehydrating the final mixture at home can take up to half a day per portion. 

For a week-long trip, you might need to start weeks before you embark on your trip, depending on how many meals you plan to bring with you. If you have the time, we say go for it! 

The Guide to Preparing and Dehydrating Full Meals at Home

The good news for those interested in DIY dehydrated backpacking meals, is that it’s really not rocket science.

Some of our favorite dehydrated backpacking recipes that we prepare ahead of time are spaghetti with meat sauce, chili, curry vegetables, but you can generally cook your favorite stew, sauce, and casserole recipes, dehydrate it, crumble it up so that it’s uniformly small, and throw it in your pack to cook on the trail.

While you can generally use your food dehydrator to prepare just about any meal, there are a few crucial adjustments you should make to ensure your meals dehydrate and rehydrate properly.

  1. Don’t use butter or oil when cooking! Doing so will cause problems during the dehydration process. Cook with a little bit of water in the pan only. If you really want, you can bring olive oil packets or powdered butter and add it to the recipe on the trail when you rehydrate the meal.
  2. Use plenty of seasoning. Dehydration will reduce the flavor, so add more seasoning than you normally would to give the food a robust flavor on the trail.
  3. If the recipe includes ground meat, combine it first with plenty of breadcrumbs and seasoning before adding it to the overall recipe. This will help with the rehydration and help prevent the dreaded crunchy or grainy rehydrated meat. 
  4. If the recipe includes noodles, chop them up after cooking, this will help with the dehydration and rehydration process
  5. Let your finished recipe sit overnight in the fridge, will give let the flavors combine, and will allow mixins like pasta or rice to absorb the sauce and flavors.

At-Home Equipment for DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meals: A Food Dehydrator

The only extra equipment you’ll need for this method is a food dehydrator. There are plenty of low-cost dehydrators available on amazon which will certainly do the trick.

If you’re going on a longer trip or know that you’ll be using the food dehydrator many times in the future, you might want to invest in a larger, more high-quality machine. We have this food dehydrator from Cosori and consider it essential backpacker equipment.

Method #2: Assembling Meals using Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried Ingredients

DIY Backpacking Meals

DIY dehydrated backpacking meals

With this method, you can combine various dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients, and rehydrate them together on the trail to make a complete meal. If you have a variety of freeze-dried or dehydrated ingredients on hand, the combinations are endless!

You can still go the full DIY route by dehydrating individual ingredients using a food dehydrator, or you can purchase the dehydrated ingredients in most grocery stores and camping supply stores.

If you plan to make a variety of backpacking meals, you can even purchase sampler kits that include a variety of ingredients. This food sampler from Harmony House includes a variety of beans, dehydrated veggies, and meatless options for vegetarian meals.

Another option is this freeze-dried fruit and veggie kit that comes with freeze-dried strawberries, bananas, peas, broccoli, and corn. There are 120 servings in the kit, and you just need to add water to rehydrate. 

At-Home Equipment for DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Food Dehydrator

Most of the dry ingredients required for these cold soak meals can be found at camping supply stores. However, specialized dehydrated ingredients can be pricey.

Investing in a low-cost dehydrator will help you save money in the long run and will allow you to get creative with your ingredients and DIY dehydrated backpacking meals. This food dehydrator comes highly recommended by fellow backpackers and can be found on Amazon for around $50.

Or if you know you’ll be relying on dehydrated backpacking food and want to get a more robust machine, this food dehydrator from Cosori comes highly recommended.

Freeze-Dried ingredient sampler pack or a dehydrated ingredient sampler pack

To get started with a variety of meal options, you can start with this food sampler from Harmony House.  It comes with a variety of beans, dehydrated veggies, and meatless options for vegetarian meals.

For freeze-dried ingredients, start with this freeze-dried fruit and veggie kit. There are 120 servings in the kit, so you’re bound to be able to come up with some exciting backpacking recipes.

DIY Recipes Using Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried Ingredients

The staple of DIY backpacking food is a good sampling of freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients. After you assemble a good collection of ingredients, you can basically throw things together as you would when cooking your typical dinner at home!

Start with a Base:

  • Dehydrated meat
  • Dehydrated meat-free alternative (tempeh, tofu)
  • Dehydrated beans, lentils, or starchy vegetables (black beans, pinto beans, lentils, potatoes
  • Dehydrated pasta or grains (pasta, couscous, semolina)
    • The smaller the pasta pieces, the better they will rehydrate.
  • Dehydrated rice (Knorr Minute Rice sides are a staple for all backpackers)

Throw in Some Nutrition with:

  • Dehydrated vegetables

Add Flavor

For creating a variety of flavors, there are a few versatile ingredients that will come in handy for your DIY backpacking food

DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meal Recipes

If you’ll be mixing dry ingredients in a bag to later combine on the trail, you’ll need to give some thought into the recipe. Luckily there are gourmet-loving backpackers out there who have come up with lots of delicious options.

When preparing the mixture, it’s best if you stick to either dehydrated or freeze-dried components within 1 recipe. It is possible to mix and match, but then you’ll have keep an eye on the rehydration time for each ingredient.

As a general rule of thumb, freeze-dried ingredients take around 5 minutes to rehydrate, while dehydrated ingredients can take between 10-20 minutes.

Chili con Carne

  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated meat of choice
  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated veggies of choice 
  • Your favorite chili seasoning
  • Knorr’s minute rice
  • Bring cheese on the trail to add to the mixture

Curry with different types of meat

  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated meat of choice
  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated veggies of choice 
  • Knorr’s minute rice
  • Curry, Coriander, and Cumin powder

Chicken Fajitas

Thanksgiving Meal

Pad Thai

Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Ingredients

The starting point for any DIY dehydrated backpacking meal is a selection of freeze-dried or dehydrated ingredients. Both of these methods remove the water weight from your food supply, helping ensure the lightest weight in your pack, and transforming perishable ingredients into a long-lasting food supply. 

Cooking Time

The cooking time varies significantly for dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients. Freeze-dried ingredients are actually much easier to rehydrate than dehydrated ingredients.

While the method is generally the same (just add boiling water), the time to cook varies between the two. If you’re planning to combine freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients, keep in mind that freeze-dried ingredients will rehydrate pretty quickly, taking an average of 5 minutes or less.

On the other hand, dehydrated ingredients can take closer to 10-20 minutes to fully rehydrate. 

Shelf Life

The shelf life of your meals may also be a concern, which is more relevant if you plan to keep the meals as part of a survival pack in your home. If you intend to consume the food within a couple of months, dehydration should be sufficient. However, if you’re thinking much longer term, you will want to go with freeze-drying. 

Nutritional Value

The other tradeoff between dehydrated backpacking meals and freeze-dried food is the nutritional value. Freeze-dried ingredients retain more of the nutrition compared to DIY dehydrating. Luckily there are plenty of options for freeze-dried food from Trader Joe’s Amazon, and even Costco.

We have tried dehydrating canned chicken and it just wasn’t for us. Once we took the plunge and bought a supply of freeze-dried chicken we were much more excited about our DIY backpacking concoctions.

Cost of Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Ingredients

Store-bought freeze-dried ingredients are also significantly more expensive than dehydrated ingredients. If you can afford a home freeze-dryer, you save money in the long run. Dehydrators for DIY backpacking meals are a much more affordable option, but unfortunately, dehydrating cooks out many nutrients.

If you’re worried about this, you can always buy bulk freeze-dried meat, vegetables, and fruits in bulk off of amazon. Then all it takes is coming up with a few different combinations, adding flavor, seasoning, and some sauce options. 

So which is better? Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated?

As you can see, if you have the budget, freeze-dried meals are superior to dehydrated meals in terms of nutritional value, shelf life, and time needed to rehydrate (which translates into fuel and water costs). You can read more about the differences between freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients here. It might be all about finding the balance between freeze-dried ingredients that you can buy online, dehydrating some of your own food.

How to Cook your DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meals on the Trail

How to cook DIY Backpacking Meals on the Trail

How to cook DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meals on the Trail

Whether you’re bringing a dehydrated stew that you prepared at home, or will be adding a combination of ingredients, cooking your meals on the trail is super easy. Since these are all ‘just add water’ dehydrated backpacking meals, the only cooking equipment you really need is a device to boil water and a cooking vessel. 

Lightweight Camping Stove

The most popular camping stove among backpackers is the Jetboil Stove. We don’t go backpacking without it. It’s lightweight, compact, and simple. It comes with a simple burner and a vessel for preparing boiling water.

Another option is this lightweight backpacking stove is under $20 and is popular among the Ultralight Backpacker community. It’s compact and weighs just .96 ounces (25 grams), but don’t forget to factor in the weight of fuel and a cooking vessel.

A Cooking Vessel

Once it’s boiling, you will then just add water to your dehydrated meals or freeze-dried food in a heat-tolerate cooking vessel that you can reseal. The ultralight backpacking option is the prepare the meals in individual bags, which you can later use as the cooking vessel.

Of course, you could always cook them over a campfire in a camping pot or a pan, but this would use more fuel. It’s much more energy efficient to boil the water, add it to your mixture, and then let the mixture sit to rehydrate.

You’ll want to prepare your meals in a heat-tolerant vessel, that will retain as much heat as possible during the rehydration process. Each option has pros and cons, so you’ll have to decide based on your preference.

  1. Mylar bags with moisture-absorbing packs Mylar bags are heat tolerant, so you can store your meal in the bags and then just add boiling water directly to the ingredients when on the trail. These bags can tolerate boiling water, are resealable, washable, and reusable. Since rehydration usually takes at least 20 minutes, the Mylar bags are great at retaining the heat during this time.
    • Pros: affordable, convenient, and good for ultralight backpacking.
    • Cons: Plastic, difficult to wash and reuse
  2. Resealable silicone bags, be sure to add oxygen-absorbing moisture packets to each bag. These are reusable, easy to clean and their closure is very durable so it can last you multiple backpacking trips.
    • Pros: Reusable, sustainable option.
    • Cons: Expensive, not the most lightweight option
  3. Freezer bags with an insulating bag to retain heat during rehydration –  Some people transport their mixtures in freezer bags and just add boiling water directly to the freezer bags. If you go the freezer bag route it’s important that you have an insulated bag that you can put it in while it rehydrates to retain the heat while you wait for it to rehydrate. Some make a DIY coozie out of a car windshield shield! Pro: The lightest weight option for those concerned about their pack weight.
    • Pros: Cheap and easy to find in the grocery store, lightweight
    • Cons: Not as sturdy, difficult to eat out of. Plus, conflicting opinions about how safe it is to heat plastic for food consumption
  4. Stainless steel camping pot with lid
    • Pros: Environmentally friendly option, healthier than cooking in Ziplock bags, gives the feeling of really cooking on the trail
    • Cons: Added weight

The cook time will vary depending on the type of ingredient. The general rule of thumb is that freeze-dried meals take around 5 minutes to rehydrate, while dehydrated meals will take 10-20 minutes.