The Gear Guide: 5 Easy Ways to Beat the Hunger Games

Adventure Travel, Backpacking & Trekking, Cabins & Camping, Eco-Travel — By on March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Jessica Goldstein
Adventure Editor

If you have been keeping up with our handy-dandy gear guide, you are almost ready to venture into the great outdoors. You’ve got the perfect pack and have settled on an ideal destination. You’ve practiced pitching your tent in the safety of your own backyard. You bought a map, a headlight, and extra batteries. Your game face is on.

Yet, as your stomach suggests, you are still missing one vital piece: food.

Food is the kind of thing you can forget to think about until you really need it, at which point it is maybe too late. We’ve already covered how to keep your food (and yourselves) safe from bears and other creatures of the night, but maybe you’re wondering just what food you should even be bringing with you. What will survive the non-refrigerated trek? What will taste delicious even when consumed raw or cooked over a teeny little stove? Fret not! The answers to those questions, and more, in our food guide below:

1. The most important meal of the day

Breakfast food is the greatest invention possibly ever, not just for ordinary life in your kitchen but also for your camping adventures in the wilderness. Many of your favorite morning munchies are perfect for your backpacking trip: cereal, oatmeal, cereal bars, pop tarts. Fun fact about individual packs of Quaker oatmeal – those bags that the flakes come in are waxed on the inside, meaning you can just pour hot water into the open pouch and eat it from there. No dishwashing required!

2. Mixings and Fixings

Remember the purpose of trail mix is not just to taste good: this stuff is your fuel, so select the ingredients accordingly. Good: unsalted nuts (the salt will dehydrate you), dried fruit, non-sugary cereal (Cheerios are always a good choice). Bad: chocolate chips or M&Ms—the sugar will only give you a quick jolt of energy, after which you will crash. Also, chocolate will melt and the trail mix will stick together in clumps. If you must, throw in a very tiny amount of those chocolatey suckers and it’ll be a pleasant sweet surprise when one lands on your tongue.

3. Drink the Kool Aid

The importance of hydration cannot be overstated. On pretty much every camping trip I’ve been on, whenever someone complained of an ailment, the leader’s first response would always be, “Drink more water.” Even if another kid said, “But I’ve got a splinter!” it was still always water. Water heals all. But you know the real downside to water? After a while, the thought of drinking it might make you want to cry. Plus, if you’ve sanitized the water by adding iodine to it and letting it sit, said water probably tastes disgusting. The solution: drink mixes. Bring Kool-Aid powder, instant lemonade, or whatever you’re into. Bring on the deliciousness and the H20.

4. Flatter Yourself

Since you’ve got to consider how well your food will fit in your pack, opt for flatter foods over bulkier ones. Don’t waste space with bread or buns: you’d be surprised how many things you can eat on a wrap or a tortilla. You can even trick your brain into thinking these are different foods: grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, vegetarian hamburger wraps… the list goes on.

5. Cookables

Bringing freeze-dried food is a good call, as is stuff that expands when you cook it, like pasta. Minimal space in your pack, maximum space in your belly. If you’re going to bring meat, eat it on the first day—E. Coli on the trail would be a downer, to say the least. Canned goods are great, but they can be a little heavy/a lot heavy when you’ve been carrying them for a while, so try not to go overboard on those. Before you hit the trail, mock-pack your backpack and make sure you feel comfortable with the weight.

Thumbnails courtesy of Camping Life and Sphinx Ranch

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