Lightweight Backpacking Foods

You want to reduce the weight of your pack as much as possible when you’re backpacking. Sometimes you accomplish this by leaving gear out of your pack. Ditching the survival knife you never use can save a pound, and leaving the compact backpacking chair at home can save a couple of pounds as well. You can’t leave food out of your pack, however.

Hiking and backpacking require a lot of energy. Walking around all day with a 30-pound pack on your back burns through calories faster than you can replenish them. While leaving food out of your pack simply isn’t an option, you can reduce pack weight by choosing lightweight backpacking foods.

Here are some lightweight backpacking foods to keep you at your best while hiking or backpacking.

Dried or dehydrated fruit

Generally speaking, dried or dehydrated foods tend to be lighter than other food options. Dried fruit, or dehydrated fruit, is a great way to get your fruit fix without adding extra weight.


This is one of the cheapest, easiest, and lightest backpacking foods you can buy. Plus, it’s super easy to dress up for extra nutritional value or flavor.


White, brown, basmati, minute, flavored, there’s a lot of variety when it comes to rice. Ready or minute rice is the easiest to make on the trail.


Keeping with the theme of dried foods, pasta packs plenty of carbs and calories in a lightweight package that’s easy to prepare on the trail.

Instant potatoes

Sometimes you need to mix up flavors and textures with trail foods. Instant potato flakes add a little variety to your lightweight backpacking foods.


Oatmeal isn’t necessarily the most exciting meal, but it’s  a lightweight and fuss free backpacking breakfast.


Nuts are relatively light, but more importantly they pack lots of the nutrients you need for hiking into a small, ready to eat package. They’re brimming with carbohydrate, calories, unsaturated fats, and protein.

Olive oil

You’re not going to slurp down straight olive oil, but adding olive oil to your foods while backpacking can help you keep your calorie count up.

Trail mix

So classic that it has trail in the name. Trail mix is a standby for most hikers and backpackers because it’s lightweight, tasty, nutritious, ready to eat, and you can customize it to your pallet.

Dehydrated backpacking meals

If you want lightweight backpacking foods that are filling, tasty, nutritious, and easy. dehydrated backpacking meals are the way to go. Most can be cooked directly in their package, which eliminates clean up. We carry a great selection of backpacking meals in store.


MREs – or meals ready to eat – aren’t the lightest option, but they are certainly hearty and easy.


Keep in mind that you want lightweight backpacking foods, but you also want calorie-dense foods. Rice cakes are super light, but they don’t offer enough nutrients to pack for the trail. Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for dehydrated backpacking meals, MREs, trail snacks, and any backpacking gear you need before your next backpacking trip in the Ozarks!

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