What I’ll Be Eating as a Vegan Thru Hiker

In just about a week, I’ll be setting off on my first thru hike–an attempt to tackle the rarely hiked Backbone Trail (BBT) in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. The Backbone Trail is a shorter thru hike, standing at only about 70 miles between Will Rogers State Historic Park and Point Mugu State Park. I plan to take on the BBT over the course of five days with no zero days.

Out of all the gear I’ve had to put together for this trek, food is definitely what I’ve spent the most time focusing on. I’ve been vegan as long as I’ve been solo hiking–about five years! This means that a lot of the foods people recommend for thru hiking and backpacking often don’t work for me and my body. This is everything I’ll be eating on trail throughout my 70 mile trek this February.


In total, I’ll have 4 nights on trail, which means 4 mornings on trail as well. I wanted to keep breakfast simple, so I put together oatmeal packets that I can quickly make on my stove in my pot each morning before setting out. Oats are a great source of both protein and carbohydrates, so I know this will fuel my first few miles of the day.

In each packet, I’ve added chia seeds, cane sugar, and freeze dried blueberries to make it more tasty without adding a ton of weight by taking fresh fruit.

Lunch and Snacks

This is definitely the bulkiest of my food! I like to have things to snack on throughout the day, rather than stopping for a singular lunch meal. My current obsession are the Barebell’s Plant Based Protein bars from Trader Joe’s, so I stocked up on those so I can have at least one per day on trail. I also put together some baggies of trail mix that I can eat while I walk.

I love to have small snacks that I can grab quickly on trail, so I also have some Annie’s fruit snacks for a quick sugar boost, and some Justin’s almond butter packets that I can either eat while I hike, or add on top of my oats in the morning.


Dinner is my favorite meal of the day on and off trail. Since I’ll only be on trail for 4 nights total, I decided to splurge on the vegan options that Backpacker’s Pantry carries since they’re high calorie and high protein. I’ll probably save the Pad Thai for the last night as a reward for making it about 55 miles already!

My Cooking Setup

I keep things pretty simple on trail, but I do still carry a stove. Rather than spending a ton of money on an expensive camp stove, though, I simply use a Coleman Peak 4 butane/propane stove. It’s compact, and it only cost $5, making it one of the most affordable pieces of gear I use!

LNT Reminder: as with any hike, it’s important to pack out what you pack in. I will be bringing a trash bag with me so that I can bring all food wrappers home with me.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Mark Darrow : Feb 3rd

    I am very interested in observing Halle’s hike on the Backbone Trail,…as it is also in my backyard and a decent “starter” trail for my dream to thru hike the PCT in 2024.
    VERY interested in how to solve the water challenge on the BBT. I have no intention of stealing anyone’s caches,…but could use some guidance on where to stash water on the trail (and the closest trail access pt if l need to pre-position water this way).

    Thanks,…and good luck,


  • Pavel Drnec : Feb 4th

    Hiked the BBT in september 2021, quite challenging as i had to make it in 2 days due to the water situation on the trail. Worth it.

  • Ruth Morley : Feb 5th

    I just now found this post, after reading your later post about gear. I too am a vegan backpacker, now in my fourth year of following a whole food plant based way of eating, free is added salt, oil, sugar. It sounds like you’ve found some great food options fr this trip.

    Let me also suggest investigating dehydrating your own food. I did so for the entire AT, 350 miles of the Florida Trail (still in the process of finishing in 3 long sections), and half (so far) of Ohio’s 1440 mile Buckeye Trail.

    I learned everything from the superb website by the Backpacking Chef and his two cookbooks. My dehydrator is the 9 tray Excaliber, which has been one of my best investments.

    Enjoy exploring the trails and also perhaps dehydrating! You can find all my posts here on thetrek.co/author/ruth-morley.


What Do You Think?