When it comes to camping food, no cooking and no refrigeration options are a great choice. With the minimum hassle that these meals require, you will get more time to focus on other things while getting the energy boost you need.
Fortunately for all adventurers, there are plenty of delicious and healthy no cook camping meals. But before we get on with the camping food ideas, there are several things that we advise you to consider before packing your camp food.
Planning camping food for a multi-day trip
Let’s start with the two most important food characteristics that will determine the efficiency of the camping food you will bring:
- Calorie/weight ratio;
- Protein and fat content.
To leverage the most energy with the least weight carried, you will need to determine calories vs. weight ratio. To do this, simply divide calories with the weight of the food. Food items with the highest ratio should be on your priority list.
Secondly, it is also a good idea to check out which food items contain the most protein and fat. Protein and fat are processed slower compared to carbs and for this reason, will keep you satiated and provide lasting energy. Furthermore, fats have the highest calorie/weight ratio.
You should be able to find this information on the package of your food items within the provided nutrition value.
Last but not least, you should also consider vacuum packing of your meals. You can save space by vacuum sealing your food. Not only will it prolong the freshness of the food, but it will also prevent excess smells that could attract wild animals.
After researching camping foods that keep your energy levels high while requiring neither refrigeration nor cooking, I have come up with a list of delicious and healthy camping food items.
No refrigeration no cook camping meals
Bringing these backpacking food items with you on your hiking trip will leverage you in many ways such as:
- Being lightweight. You won’t have to carry a stove and fuel in your backpack.
- Less hassle. You won’t need to repeatedly clean your pots and you can enjoy your meal right in the tent or on the trail.
- Saved time. You won’t spend time preparing your meals.
Now, let’s see which camping foods don’t need cooking or refrigeration.
Dehydrated meat is one of the best camping foods you could bring on your hiking trip. It will keep you satiated and the energy value you will get for the weight carried is incredible.
The most popular dehydrated meat is Beef Jerky. It is readily available in most supermarkets and you can easily order it online or make your own. You can also opt for some dehydrated white meat.
There are other meat options as well. You could choose processed meats with a high density such as hard salami. Other options include canned meats, bacon, and summer sausage.
In summary, here is a list of the most popular backpacking meats:
- Dehydrated meat (Beef Jerky, chicken, turkey)
- Canned meat (red meat, white meat, fish)
- Hard salami
- Summer sausage
Pro tip: Make sure that you don’t pre-cut your meat before the trip. This will leave your meat with a larger surface bacteria could grow on. To prevent the growth of bacteria on the exposed salami ends, you can rub them with salt.
There is a common belief that all cheese types need refrigeration. While it is true for soft cheese, hard cheeses can be easily stored without refrigeration.
In fact, hard cheese is a traditional nomadic food that was made with the technology that keeps your food fresh without refrigeration.
Here is a list of the most suitable backpacking cheeses for your trip:
- Grana Padano
- Pecorino Romano
Pro tip: Pack your hard cheese in a paper bag or parchment paper. This will allow the cheese to breathe while simultaneously absorbing any excess oils.
Dried fruit and nuts
Dried fruits and nuts, as well as seeds, are great backpacking food choices. Even though this trail snack is heavier than others, it has a high fat and protein density.
You can either buy a ready-made trail mix, or make your own by combining the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits of your preferences.
Here is a list of common trail mix ingredients that you could use:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Dried plums
- Dried apricots
Pro tip: If you have a sweet tooth, try adding some dark chocolate chips to your trail mix. Chocolate is very nutritious, and it will elevate your mood and energy levels.
Energy bars are another camping food option that won’t need any refrigeration or cooking while providing you with loads of energy. It is a convenient way to lift your energy since most bars contain lots of protein, fats, and carbs.
There are several types of energy bars you can buy. Each one is aimed to boost some aspect of your physical activities.
Here is a list of the most popular energy bar types:
- Meal replacement bars
- Protein bars
- Activity bars
- Endurance bars
- Organic bars
Pro tip: Protein bars are great for the most efficient muscle recovery after long hikes. To get a quick energy boost, opt for activity bars.
Powdered beverage mixes
Powdered beverage mixes are often forgotten while packing food for camping trips. However, enjoying a nice drink on your trip can elevate your mood and energy levels. Pack some instant coffee mix, powdered milk, or even protein powder to dilute in your water.
Adding some powdered drink options to your water can help you to feel energized and refreshed. To keep up with the protein consumption of your body, you can add protein powder to your water.
Common camping powdered beverages:
- Instant coffee
- Powdered milk
- Hot chocolate mix
- Protein powder
Pro tip: Try mixing flavored protein powder and powdered milk to create a milkshake to boost your mood and physical energy.
Nut butter such as peanut butter is a great source of protein and fiber for muscle strength and energy. The amount of fat and calories in nut butter offers one of the highest energy/weight ratios.
There are many varieties of nut butter with the most popular being peanut butter.
Here is a list of commonly available nut butter types:
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Coconut butter
- Hazelnut butter
Pro tip: Instead of bringing the whole jar of nut butter, opt for single-serve packets. They are lighter and eating them is less of a hassle.
Healthy carbs for a backpacking trip
Aside from the food essentials listed above, you could bring some foods that are rich in carbs. Carbohydrate consumption will delay fatigue and give you instant energy.
No cooking, no refrigeration camping foods rich in carbohydrates:
- Instant oats (you can rehydrate them without heat)
- Couscous (you can rehydrate couscous within 15 minutes without heat)
- Seaweed snacks
- Dried vegetables and mushrooms
Pro tip: Eat 30 to 60 grams of carbs each hiking hour to improve strength and prevent early fatigue.
Hummus has become a favorite no cook camping meal for hikers. It is made from chickpeas, garlic, and sesame and has a rich and creamy taste. It is a delicious source of protein, carbs, minerals, and fibers.
You can buy hummus powder in most grocery stores. Hummus powder is a great choice for camping trips since you can easily store it for long periods of time and rehydrate it easily.
Try making a homemade version of hummus powder. It will be much tastier and healthier. You can make it yourself if you have the ingredients, a food processor and dehydrator.
Pro tip: Pack the dehydrated hummus portions in Ziplocks. Add some water to the bag in the morning and by lunch, the hummus will be ready to eat.
Many of the foods listed above are dehydrated or contain little water. This is both for the purpose of lightweight and maintaining the freshness of your food. Therefore, drinking lots of water is very important.
Your body needs water to digest all the dry food you will consume. In addition to that, your kidneys will be working overtime to digest all the protein, and this can lead to dehydration.
Although this article focused on simple foods that need no cooking, it is always a good idea to consider taking something to cook as well. Warm food makes camping more pleasant. You might even want to consider taking a tent heater that doubles as a stove to save space and get some extra comfort.
I hope that this list of camping food ideas with no cooking and refrigeration was helpful for you to plan your food for the next camping trip. Leave a comment below if you have any further questions or things to add.