Contributed by Jennifer Dawson Backpacking is a fun, but strenuous activity, with the average 160-lb. hiker burning approximately 430 calories per hour. Depending on your body type and level of activity, you could potentially burn over two-thousand calories a day. Backpacking requires a lot of energy, and you’ll need to refuel your body with lots of protein and high-carb foods. When you are backpacking, you travel faster if you keep your pack as light as possible. That’s why freeze-dried and dehydrated meals are the best choice for backpackers, as most of the weight in food comes from water content.

Choose High Calorie, Protein-Rich Meals

When you are backpacking, you have to carry all of your water, food, clothing, and bedding on your back. It’s essential that you only bring what you need, and that the items you pack are lightweight and compact. When planning your meals, look for freeze-dried foods that have the highest calorie and protein contents per serving. Carbohydrates are needed to refuel your body, while protein helps repair your sore muscles. Mountain House Breakfast Skillet, for example, is the perfect meal to start your day, with a whopping 400 calories and 14g of protein per serving. You’ll also need to pack a compact camp stove in order to boil water and properly prepare freeze-dried and dehydrated meals.

Pack Foods that Promote Sleep

After a long day of hiking, refueling your body and getting a good night’s sleep are the two best things you can do for yourself. Eat your biggest meal for breakfast when your body needs the most energy. Prepare a lighter meal for dinner, and eat at least a few hours before bedtime to let your body fully digest and relax. Avoid spicy or fatty foods that can cause indigestion and upset your stomach. Stick to foods that promote a good night's sleep, like freeze-dried bananas and nuts.

Load Up on Snacks That Don’t Need to Be Rehydrated

Though you should never backpack without a water filter or method to treat water, there may be a time when you don’t have access to fresh water. It’s wise to bring snacks with you that don’t have to be rehydrated in order for you to enjoy them. Freeze-dried beef, chicken, and ham are tasty snacks rich in the protein needed to repair your muscles. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds provide you with essential vitamins and nutrients. Granola bars are tasty treats with a lot of carbs and a hint of sweetness. If you are backpacking for longer than the weekend, consider buying these products in bulk or making your own granola mix to save money.

Hiking and backpacking are fun ways to experience nature while getting in shape at the same time. When you are backpacking, you are miles away from the nearest grocery store or restaurant. If you don’t properly plan your meals ahead of time, you could overpack and be stuck carrying around a too-heavy backpack. Choose dehydrated and freeze-dried foods that are high-carb and nutrient-dense, and you will have enough energy to fuel your adventure into the great outdoors.