Backpacker’s Test Kitchen: My Resupply Strategy

Yesterday, I took a trip to a few local retailers to evaluate resupply options. I needed to pick up a fuel canister, and items to prepare a few test recipes using my backpacking stove.

 Shopping for Resupply

I was less than impressed with the selection at my local Target and walked out with water, almonds, dried fruit, and a few items for my first aid kit. They didn’t carry fuel canisters, so I headed over to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick one up. I was shocked to discover that Dick’s did not carry backpacking stove canisters. They had MSR stoves sitting on the shelves; but no canisters?! Strikeout number two. Next, I headed across the street to Academy Sports, where I purchased a fuel canister, coffee packets, and a rain suit for an upcoming trip to Mount Rainier. Finally, I stopped by my local Kroger on the way home and picked up the bulk of my resupply test items.


My Resupply Strategy

When I start the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in early April, my plan is to shop locally for most of my resupply needs, including all the required gear for the Sierra. There are several benefits to using this method.

Limited postage costs: Postage can be expensive, and if I end up not needing those items it costs more money to send them back.

Reduced food waste: Food tastes and preferences change, and I don’t want to waste money, or food because I thought five months of oatmeal sounded reasonable.

I’ll be supporting the economy of trail towns; I want to encourage and support the communities that support hikers. Supporting these towns and businesses helps these locations to thrive and allows them to continue supporting the next generation of hikers.

Logistically, it’s easier: Shopping as I go allows me more freedom. I will not be concerned about assembling resupply boxes, limited post office hours, or stopping in towns I want to pass because I sent myself a box.


Test Kitchen: Backpacking Recipes

Inspired by recipes I enjoyed during REI backpacking trips (Seriously, the food was amazing!), and the YouTube vlogs of Hurlgoat Hiker, I decided to test a few recipe ideas. Both REI and Hurlgoat used fresh ingredients to supplement their recipes. It’s best to choose ingredients that can be used in a variety of recipes over the course of two to three days. I’m not suggesting you carry fresh items for every meal you make on trail that would be heavy, wasteful, and inefficient. However, using fresh ingredients for select meals improves the nutritional quality of those meals and I find it to be a morale booster to use fresh ingredients for a few days.

This week I decided to try Southwestern red beans and rice and baked potato soup. Both recipes have ingredients in common so I can maximize fresh ingredients. I used the following items to prepare these meals: a backpacking stove, cook pot, fuel canister, lighter, bandanna,  a small knife, and two-quart freezer Ziploc bags. Optional items: a small frying pan, cutting board, and pot cozy.

Southwestern Red Beans and Rice

I used the following ingredients in this recipe:

  • Boxed red beans and rice mix
  • Water
  • 1/4 of a finely chopped red pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • One green onion stalk chopped
  • Five grape tomatoes ,halved
  • Half an avocado
  • Half a lime
  • Avocado oil


To make this hearty recipe, I added two and a half cups of water to my cook pot. Using the stove, I brought the water to a rolling boil. While the water was heating up, I dumped the contents of the beans and rice mixture into a Ziploc bag. When the water was boiling, I turned off the heat and dumped the boiling water into the Ziploc bag containing the beans and rice. Zipped up the bag and placed it in a pot cozy to soak.

While the beans and rice mixture was soaking up water, I started chopping the fresh ingredients. To the frying pan I added the avocado oil, white ends of the green onion and some red peppers, and sauteed them on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Once cooked I added them to the beans and rice mixture. My beans and rice mixture was still watery after 10 minutes so I may need to adjust how much water is used the next time (remember I said this was a TEST kitchen). I ended up tossing it on heat again to evaporate more water.

When the mixture was a nice fluffy consistency I put it in a bowl and added the fresh ingredients on top. Optional additions that you might like to add are grated cheese, a tuna packet, and your favorite hot sauce packet. Additionally, you could wrap this mixture in a tortilla and eat it on the go. It won’t look as pretty in a Ziploc bag but I can assure you it tasted amazing!

Baked Potato Soup

I used the following ingredients in this recipe:

  • Package of potato soup mix – use half of this mix
  • Water
  • 1/4 of a finely chopped red pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • One green onion stalk chopped
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bring two cups of water to a rolling boil. While waiting for the water, divide the soup mix in half and add half the mixture to a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag. Add boiling water and chopped red pepper to the Ziploc bag with mixture and stir well. Garnish the top with cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Optional additions: fresh chives, kale, or bacon bits Serve it up!


I am not a chef, and I am a LAZY cook! If it’s not simple I don’t do it. These were really easy ways to amp up a basic meal. Got tips or tricks to cooking rice and beans? Please share them! Also, what’s your favorite backpacking recipes? Let me know below!

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To learn about my first backpacking experiences see my previous post an Introduction to Backpacking: My Fears, Therapy, and Friends

Want to know how I saved $8,000 in four months for my 2020 PCT hike? Click here!


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