The meals you pack for a backcountry hunt either make or break your experience, so it’s always important to be thoughtful about planning out your food before leaving for the trip. Food is also one of those things that can give you more energy and lift your spirit throughout the hunt. When you feel discouraged in the afternoon, you can pause for a cup of coffee and rest!
For that reason, we are sharing this guide on meal planning for backcountry hunting with you, so you don’t just throw a bunch of random stuff in a bag.
Why Plan Your Meals?
As mentioned, your food either makes or breaks your hunting experience, since backcountry hunting requires endurance day after day. To meet your body’s demands, you need to choose your food wisely. There are numerous backpacking foods you can buy from places like REI or even most local grocery stores, but we have our own nutritional needs and preferences, so it’s always better to organize your own meals.
Organization is Key
To keep things simple, separating your food into gallon Ziploc bags each day is ideal. This can help ensure you’re not going through your food too fast or help remind you that you need to be eating more. So if you’re on a 5-day hunt, you’ll be bringing five packs of different food in your backpack with you. Each Ziploc bag should have, for example, protein bars for your breakfast, a cup of coffee, waffle and trail mix for lunch, meal bar for dinner, cookies for snacks, and your supplements and medicines. You should also consider energy gel packs and gummy bears in your pocket for when you feel fatigued. Now, there’s no need for you to go back to camp when eating! There’s also no need to spend a lot of time searching for food in your bag.
What Kind of Food Should You Pack?
Obviously, it’s all up to you. If you’re on a slower-paced, early season mule deer hunt, then you may even add some hot oatmeal in the morning. You can bring dehydrated or freeze-dried meals with you as well. These kinds of meals are popular in the community because you only need to add boiling water and let the stuff steep. On the other hand, there are those who want to pack light and don’t bring food that needs to be heated.
There is no one size fits all secret to meal planning for backcountry hunting, but you may want to consider oatmeal, protein bars, trail mix, tortillas, tuna packets, etc. We recommend these because they are easy to eat and require little preparation. Remember, the less you have to do out there, the better.
However, if you’re new to backcountry hunting, this might not be recommended. There is a huge difference between a hot meal and canned tuna and trail mix.
Make sure you are always loaded on calories, but be careful about bringing snacks that you haven’t tried before. Around 3000 calories are important per day when backcountry hunting If you’re trying snacks or meals for the first time while on your hunt, chances are you end up carrying around a bunch of food you never eat. Don’t just get anything from the store for the sake of meeting your caloric requirements on the hunt.
If you want to pack light but also stay heavy on calories, try bringing foods that only have 100 calories per ounce. Remember that you have to carry all those stuff the whole day, so strike a balance between meeting your caloric needs and saving some weight in your backpack.