Fastpacking & Nutrition | Must Have Food List

Fastpacking Food

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Knowing what foods to take and how much to take could be the deciding factor in the success of a fastpacking trip. You will carry more food than anything else in your pack if it is a multiple-day fastpacking trip.

As an avid fastpacker, I share with you what I do when planning to prepare food for my fastpacking adventures. This is important information you don’t want to bypass.


I won’t bore you with the science behind macronutrients and the foods that contain them, but it will help you plan your fastpacking journey and cut down on the weight you have to carry.

Fat is the most efficient means of carrying food into remote areas. Per gram, it has nine calories, while protein and carbs each provide just over 4g.

If you carry 1 pound of high-fat foods like butter, olive oil, or cheese, you’ll get 160-200 calories per ounce. Carbohydrate-dense meals like rice, crackers, candy, and grains will give you less energy, which surprises some people.

What this doesn’t mean is that we should only be taking fat. That’s a bad idea for a few different reasons. However, it implies that we shouldn’t be shy about including fats in our trail food bag and should liberally add fat to breakfast and dinner. 

Having both protein and carbs in a fastpacking diet is essential since each has a different role in the functioning of the human body, especially under physical stress.

The exact percentages may likely vary based on your individual eating preferences. My ideal diet consists of fewer carbs and more protein and fat than the Standard Western Diet recommends.

However, I plan to eat much more carbs than usual when hiking. It’s because I’m constantly on the go and would immediately put that sugar to good use. In my opinion, this will avert many of the health problems resulting from eating a high-carb diet regularly.

Fastpacking Drinking


Second, I do my best to include a wide range of flavors in my food preparations like sweet, savory, salty, bitter, and sour taste.

Since fastpacking is essentially an eating competition, I make it a point to bring a variety of meals that cover all of these flavors to ensure that I don’t get weary of eating the same thing repeatedly. Maintaining a steady caloric intake is more challenging than it may seem. 

The stomach, in particular, may do some strange things on these fastpacking trips, and you can find yourself craving a specific flavor. All you need may be a little salt. You may pack items you don’t want while fast packing.

I’ve had good results with adding copious amounts of Redmond Real Salt to my meals and water. The cool thing is that Redmond offers a 15% discount to our readers with this link, or use WILD at checkout.

Why Redmond Real Salt? Because they source their salt from an ancient sea bed in Utah and not the polluted ocean, which contains microplastics.

If you don’t feel like packing heavy dehydrated meals (which we will talk about shortly) but still need to maintain your protein intake, Jerky is a good option. 

This brings us to the grass-fed dehydrated meat company Carnivore Crisps. Carnivore Crisps offers a fantastic variety of salted meats, from beef ribeye, fatty chicken skins, and elk, to energizing beef liver. These are perfect for fastpacking and great for the pocket as they offer a 10% discount with this link, or use WILD at checkout.

Carnivore Crisp Meat
A sample of Carnivore Crisps dehydrated meat with Redmond Real Salt

Dehydrated meals

The convenience of dehydrated meals comes at a higher price than that of home-cooked meals.

If you have the time and desire, preparing your own dehydrated meals and dehydrating your own snacks might be enjoyable. A good food dehydrator will quickly zap the water out of fruits, veggies, and meats, making for some beautiful homemade trail food.

When you cook for yourself, you can choose from high-quality ingredients and tailor the macronutrient ratios to your needs. 


Repacking food in zip lock bags is a common practice to save space and make it simpler to reseal containers. If you can’t seal your food containers properly, they will blow open in your pack. So, be careful!

Fresh food

I like to bring some fresh food, even if it’s just for the first day—things like apples, orange slices, and maybe some other fresh fruit.

Fresh fruits can boost your mood, even though they aren’t the best for the weight-to-calorie ratio.

If traveling through a town, I will try to get some fresh food, even if I eat it immediately, and then move on to more remote parts of the trail.


Almost all the fastpackers I know carry some low-weight supplements with them when out on the trails. There are reasons why you may need certain ones as opposed to others.

The cool thing is we made this short list with explanations to help guide you. As with, all supplements, listen to your doctor or nutritionist before partaking in them.

Manipulate tastes

Fasting over an extended period of time might lead to monotony in one’s diet. While you may have thought the food you brought sounded delicious, you may find that you just aren’t hungry while out on the trail.

Therefore, the ability to alter the taste profile is crucial. Including a few small packets of condiments like mayo, mustard, olive oil, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in your fastpacking food list will significantly enhance the quality of your meals.

Avoid canned foods

Canned food is too cumbersome, lacks sufficient calories, and produces excessive trash that must be carried out; therefore, canned food is something to avoid.



It can be challenging to keep warm when venturing out in the cold, so hot beverages and soups are a welcome sight.

If you plan on bringing a burner like a Jet Boil Stash to cook on, you might also want to bring some coffee and hot chocolate sachets as a special treat. All of the following are better options than drinking nothing but water all day long.

My absolute go-to for organic, high-quality coffee is KION. They are also awesome because you will get a 10% discount with this link or use WILDLUMENS at checkout.

One other hack I use is powered and flavored electrolyte mixes. Redmond makes a killer and good-tasting electrolyte blend that you add to water. It’s called Re-Lyte. Remember, they give our readers 15% off with this link.

Side note: You should have a reasonably good water supply and a filter to purify it. These water filter bottles are great for refilling at springs and creeks.

Although I enjoy an alcoholic beverage now and again while backpacking, I rarely bring any along when fastpacking because I prefer to save space for food and other essentials. It’s not only heavy, but it also drains your fluids and makes you less stable on your feet, so it’s best to avoid it.

The rest of the kit

We could only touch on food in this article and not the rest of your fastpacking kit. Do not fret as we made this article, “The Ultimate Fastpacking Kit List,” to help you get started.

Also, it’s a good idea to learn about appropriate pack weights, so read this before you head out: Fastpacking Pack Weight | What’s Too Much?

Fastpacking on a trail
See you on the trail!

Final thoughts

There will be a calorie deficit on a fastpacking trip that lasts more than a few days because of the inability to bring enough food.

Although it’s fine to temporarily go into a calorie deficit, doing so to the point where you run out of steam is not a good idea.

Make use of the available shops, restaurants, gas stations, and cafes. You can determine convenient and strategic food stops when you plan fastpacking routes correctly. This will give you a healthy energy boost and keep your mind sharp while fastpacking.

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