Backcountry Recipes Ideal for a Thru-Hike
Fall is here, which means hiking season is fading into eating season. For those of us who will be dreaming of warmer trails and longer miles, it can be a difficult time of year. We hang up our short shorts and dad shirts for another day. As you turn inward this fall and winter and begin daydreaming about next spring—whether you’re hiking thru or merely wandering in the woods–remember, hiking season may soon be over, but hiker hunger is a year-round endeavor.
We at The Trek, along with you our readers and fellow hikers, have compiled a list of unique, delicious, and delectably trashy meals to satiate some of your hiking hunger. So feel free to follow along, get creative; hell—steal a few extra mayonnaise packets in town, you deserve it. Happy trails and bon appetit!
-Caroline and Anna
- Peanut butter
- Apricots or dates
“This is simply a tortilla stuffed with cheese, salami or pepperoni or beef jerky, peanut butter, apricots or dates, M&Ms, and any and all condiments I’ve snagged from fast food restaurants along the way.” Indigo (@therealkrakes) gave a name to this hefty delicacy; savory and sweet, the dankwich can be whatever you want it to be.
- Knorr Spanish rice
- Hot sauce
- McCormick guacamole mix
The trail can often take you hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles from your favorite taco truck but hiker Orange Blaze (@gingerbreardman) kept the fiesta going with Knorr Spanish rice, tortillas, hot sauce, avocado, and McCormick guacamole mix.
- Ramen (drained)
- Tortilla wrap
- Meat stick
- Crushed Cheetos
If you’re looking to expand your ramen’s potential, look no further than Petra’s (@Adventure.jess) “Jail burrito,” which is comprised of ramen (drained) on a tortilla wrap with mayo, meat stick, and crushed Cheetos.
Salmon Avocado Wrap
- Salmon packet
- Pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Foraged dandelion greens
For the hiker trash who toes the line between human garbage disposal and Instagram-worthy homesteader, Fast Lane (@sophisticatedcaveman) offers a healthy, fatty, foraging fantasy. “Salmon Avocado Wrap- tortilla is avocado, salmon packet, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and foraged dandelion greens (optional).” The healthy fats from the salmon, avocado, and olive oil will keep you warm on wet Washington days and help you burn energy at a steadier pace than your typical high-carb alternative.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
- Crunched-up ramen packet
- Brown sugar
- Crushed-up granola
No offense to the Captain, but this version of your childhood classic offers more fat, complex carbs, and fiber. Who am I kidding? It’s a sugar bomb and it’s delicious. Mix up a crunched up packet of ramen (no seasoning packet), a little bit of cinnamon, a handful of brown sugar, butter, and whatever granola or granola bar you have on hand. – Courageous Planes (@sawyers_r)
- Tuna packet
- Sunflower seeds
- Mayo packet
- Season with whatever you want!
If your tortillas are starting to look lonely and you’re sick of inhaling tuna packets as you hike (miles, not smiles, amiright?). Stop for a second and treat yourself to this tuna treat. Seriously, it rivals anything you might make at home. Combine a tuna packet (lemon pepper tuna is a great choice), sunflower seeds, Craisins, and a mayo packet or two.
- Soy ramen (include the soy packet)
- Scoop of peanut butter
- Bell pepper
- Any spices
After feasting at Thai-Hachapi at mile 558 on the PCT, I became obsessed with recreating a Thai Trail alternative. If your mountain house Pad Thai has run out and you’re craving that tangy/salty/sweet try the following: Soy ramen, one scoop of peanut butter, bell pepper, any spices, and lime if you have it!
- Ramen packet of your choosing
- Heaping spoonful of instant mashed potatoes
We all know it, we all love it, and we all have our own version. No hiking menu would be complete without the tried and true Ramen Bomb. Each Ramen Bomb is as unique as the hiker that makes it, so feel free to be creative. Mix together a Ramen packet of your choosing (tastes better if it’s scavenged from a hiker box), one heaping spoonful of instant mashed potatoes, add any spices to taste… extra delicious with cheese. It’s mushy, it’s carby, it’s the perfect meal for that “I just rolled into camp and can barely take off my shoes” night.
- Ramen packet
- Dollop of curry paste
- Any veggies
- Meat stick for extra protein
Adding curry to almost any savory meal will take it up a notch. Ramen is the perfect vehicle for a little extra heat, and curry powder or paste is a great addition to any food bag, I don’t leave home without it (not true but, ya know…). For this simple recipe I recommend one Ramen packet (no need for the spice packet), a dollop of curry paste, and any veggies you’ve packed out—bell peppers are light and versatile.
Thick and Creamy Alfredo
- Knorr Fettuccini Alfredo
- Cream cheese
- Half an avocado
For something creamy and substantive, cook Knorr Fettuccine Alfredo, add a little bit of cream cheese and half an avocado. Mix that up and it’s thick as hell and incredibly filling.
Heaps’ Trashy Sando
- Everything bagel
- Refried beans
- String cheese
When Heaps (@wilderbound) submitted this recipe, she insinuated that “Trashy Sando” might have been her high school nickname. We may never know. For this midday treat, throw together an everything bagel, avocado, refried beans, and string cheese. This Sando is cold-soak friendly and can be dolled up with any condiment you choose.
Not So Ramen, Ramen
- Maruchan Yakisoba Ramen
- Hard boiled egg (sliced)
- Seaweed snacks
This recipe requires a minimal amount of town prep. If you have access to a kitchen, hard boil eggs for the first few meals on your way out of town. This version of traditional ramen is trail worthy on any cold/wet day. One bowl of Maruchan Yakisoba ramen, hard boiled egg (sliced), seaweed snacks (you can find them in the snack aisle at most grocery stores). Now close your eyes and pretend you’re slurping this soup streetside in Tokyo.
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Instant stuffing
- Gravy (can be mushroom if you’re vegan or veggie)
Don’t wait until November to feast on this fall favorite. This variation on a classic can be eaten hot or cold soaked but it should always be eaten semi-drunk next to a distant relative you don’t really like–or not. Layer the instant mashed potatoes, instant stuffing, gravy, and Craisins on top. Add hot or cold water depending on your stove situation, let it absorb, mix, and enjoy.
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