One growing trend among backpackers is no cook backpacking meals. This method involves ditching the stove and fuel and simply eating ready to eat foods and/or foods that can be re hydrated using cold water. However, if cold water is used when a recipe calls for hot water the food will not reconstitute properly. This will not only taste bad, it could lead to a tummy ache along with gas and bloating. One thing to keep in mind when re hydrating foods with cold water is that it takes time. If you are looking to re hydrate dinner without cooking, try adding water to your meal when you stop for lunch to allow plenty of time for your food to “cook.”
Why Go the Stoveless Route?
There are two main reasons why backpackers might choose this method: weight and simplicity. When you have a lighter pack, you can not only hike faster but you will be more comfortable too. If you opt to leave the stove and fuel behind, you can shave as much as 2 lbs. off your total pack weight. If you are the type of hiker that does very high mileage days, or you simply don’t like doing camp chores then no cook backpacking might be a smart choice for you. You can just roll into camp and if you’ve added water to your food at lunch, it will be ready to eat. More time to spend relaxing, exploring, enjoying the view, or visiting with friends. There will be no setting up stoves, waiting for water to boil, or cleaning pots.
No Cook Backpacking Foods
What does your no cook backpacking meal plan look like when you choose to only eat cold meals? Besides the obvious ready to eat dry foods like bars, GORP, fruit, crackers and cheese, and nut butters some options include:
- dehydrated hummus
- fine grain couscous
- potato flakes
- dehydrated bean flakes
- chia seed pudding made with coconut milk
- Protein powder
- Freeze dried peas
Should You Go the No Stove Route?
This method is definitely not for everyone, however, the weight savings and simplicity make it worth it for some. Having a stove is a bit of a safety net if you get into an emergency situation and are facing hypothermia. The hot water you boil can be put into water bottles or bladders and stuffed in your sleeping bag to warm you up. Contrary to what many people believe, warm food does not actually warm you up. Its more about what the food is made up of. Foods high in fat, carbs, and protein will often heat up the body while digesting. I’ve met a few backpackers sweat by the no stove method. Its a great option to have in your back pocket. If the weather conditions are right and you are not putting your safety at risk you could give it a go for a short distance backpacking trip.
I would love to hear if you have tried any no cook backpacking meals while out on the trail!