What’s for lunch? 40+ favorite ideas

As a hard-charging thru-hiker — when I would hike sunrise-to-sunset, take very few breaks, and cover 30 to 40 miles day after day — food was simply fuel. I carried items that were calorie dense, required minimal or no field preparation, and could be eaten on the go. So I ate a lot of bars back then — energy bars, candy bars, granola bars, cereal bars, and Pemmican bars. And to keep my energy level sustained, I ate precisely on two- to 2.5-hour cycles.

With many more of my backpacking days now in a guided trip setting, my approach has evolved. Our trips are more about smiles over miles, and both clients and guides appreciate a dedicated “lunch,” when there’s enough time to prepare a meal, rest, and maybe tend to things like laundry and bidets.

I’ve found two personal lunch favorites:

  • Ham sandwich on a bun with cream cheese, for the first day or two; and,
  • Avocado with a salty and crunch carbohydrate, like Pringles or Fritos, for later in the trip when the safety of deli ham is more questionable.

But there are many other options, and I recently asked on Instagram for additional favorites. Here are the responses:

What’s your backpacking lunch? Leave a suggestion below.

Posted in on September 8, 2020
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6 Comments

  1. Mike G. on September 8, 2020 at 6:30 am

    I’ll do any kind of sandwich on the first day or two as well. Have not tried anything with cream cheese but like the idea as it would probably make the sandwich a little less dry without being mushy like other condiments (which I avoid for these sammies).

    Also do a lot of salami, pepperoni and slices of hard cheese. I’ll usually take a large block of hard cheese and just slice it straight and use it for lunches and then add it to dinners (beans and rice, et al). I also like to take extra salami or pepperoni and slice that into my dinners too which are usually veggie as my wife is.

    • TAC on September 12, 2020 at 8:16 am

      PB&J on a tortilla is my standard.

      Wondering what the calorie density of an avocado is?

    • Matthew on September 20, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Salami and Cream Cheese is an amazing and high calorie combo.

  2. U-Turn on September 9, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Big fan of some shelf-stable salami with tortillas with some Rx Bar peanut butter packets as dessert. I’ll also go full hiker trash and squeeze a spicy mustard packet into some tuna or salmon in olive oil and just eat that. After watching Gear Skeptic’s video on endurance nutrition for hiking, I changed up what I eat to focus more on proteins + fats at lunch.

  3. ian ivanoff on September 9, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I like to bring smoked salmon, the cold smoked variety. Although its not super calorie dense or cheap its a change from the regular salami and cheese.

  4. Rob on September 16, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    BLAvocadoT on the first day. Did a black bean dip with Fritos Scoops that hit the spot.

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