How to Pack For the Most Delicious Camping Trip Ever

With warmer weather come outdoor excursions, and one of the greatest things about such adventures—apart from the majestic beauty of the wilderness and what-have-you—is the food. Whether your outdoors-y side takes the shape of car camping or backpacking treks, food tastes better after you’ve spent the day scampering through greenery, when you can scarf down multiple servings and call it ‘fuel.’

Of course, car campers have the ability to lug unwieldy Dutch ovens, grills, and coolers full of steak and beer; you’re just a crackling campfire away from a feast (and here are 20 recipes to prove it). Even if Smokey the Bear limits you to a camp stove, you can make many things ahead of time and keep them cold until you’re ready to reheat. (You can also bring a smorgasbord of fancy cheeses and call it a night, but if you wanted to do that, you would’ve stayed in the city.)

Options are more limited if you ditch your car at the trailhead—when you carry your life on your back, foodstuffs vie for valuable backpack real estate. Food must be filling, quick to make, and somewhat shelf-stable; it should also be lightweight but durable. In my own backpacking experience, gourmet innovations are often just bizarre food combinations: instant oatmeal sweetened with Jell-O powder; ramen noodles with peanut butter and soy sauce; a sandwich of peanut butter, cheddar, honey, sriracha, and crackers. This is how you prove yourself as a rugged denizen of the backcountry and not a lily-livered city mouse. (For the record, I didn’t eat the oatmeal.)

No matter how extreme your planned excursions are, here are some tips for stocking the backpack pantry you never knew you had and making your outdoor meals even better. Think of it as the outdoors(wo)man’s food pyramid. Just watch out for bears.

Read the rest on Serious Eats.

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