5 Nutrition Tips For Labor Day Weekend Camping & Hiking

camping nutrition

Do you have hiking or camping on your agenda? Mapping out your wilderness nutrition needs is important: There’s plenty to consider besides simply grabbing an energy bar or a bottle of water. Follow these tips to ensure you have a nourishing and safe food experience on your next outdoor adventure.

  1. Have a plan. Your food and water needs are generally higher than usual on activity-based excursions. Pay extra special attention to packing plenty of fluids for hot weather adventures. Some other key considerations before your hiking or camping trip include:
    • Length of the trip
    • What foods and beverages you’ll carry
    • How you’ll eat and drink
    • If bringing a cooler is an option
    • What food-related tools you’ll need
  2. Pack easy-to-carry foods for a hike — or a day trip. You can actually pack perishable foods, such as sandwiches, just be sure you have a cold source (such as an ice pack) to keep foods properly chilled. The more you stash in a backpack, the harder it is to hike, so opt mainly for non-perishable foods that are relatively lightweight and nutrient dense. These include:
    • Trail mix
    • Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
    • Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
    • Energy bars, chews or gels
    • Granola or granola bars
    • Ready-made tuna salad pouches
    • Whole-grain tortillas
    • Poultry, salmon or meat jerky
    • Bottled water or sports drink … it’s essential to stay hydrated! Pre-hydrate by drinking at least 4 cups of water before your hike so you have less to carry. Then, a good rule of thumb is to plan for about 2 cups of fluid for every hour of hiking.
  3. Pack easy-to-prep foods for camping — or a multi-day trip. It’s a little more challenging to pack food for days at a time. The first day you’ll be able to eat perishable foods. But after that, map out your meals so you’ll have what you enjoy and need. If you have a cooler, you’ll have numerous options. Otherwise, include any of these shelf-stable, easily-packed basics to sustain you:
    • Easy-to-carry foods mentioned above
    • Ready-to-eat cereal
    • Fruit or vegetable puree in squeezable pouches (yes, like baby food)
    • Poultry or fish pouches, or canned fish, poultry or meat in individual or regular servings
    • Individual packets of mayo, mustard, taco sauce and/or soy sauce
    • Whole-grain pasta, couscous, rice mix, pancake mix, hot cereal, dried soups and freeze-dried foods (if you have the ability to boil water)
    • Marshmallows — for a campfire dessert, of course
    • Bottled water, plus powdered beverage mixes
  4. To store, serve or dispose of food properly and safely, bring these essentials:
    • Disposable wipes/moist towelettes or biodegradable soap
    • Bowls and plates
    • Kettle or cooking pot
    • Eating and cooking utensils
    • Can opener, if applicable
    • Ice packs
    • Compostable trash bags
    • Portable water filters or water purification tablets
    • Thermometers for cooler and cooked meat, if applicable
  5. Always follow good food safety practices — from packing to plating. Remember that perishable food cannot be kept out in hot weather (90°F or higher) for more than one hour; in mild weather for more than two hours. And, always practice these four food safety tips:
    • Wash hands often. This includes before and after eating. Moist towelettes work fine.
    • Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Use extra plates that you’ve packed — one for raw and one for prepared foods.
    • Cook to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to be sure cooked food has reached a safe internal temperature.
    • Refrigerate promptly below 40°F. Of course, if you don’t have a fridge, pack perishable food, including meat or poultry, with plenty of ice or ice packs in a well-insulated cooler to keep the temperature below 40°F. Store leftovers in the cooler only if it still has ice. And keep the cooler in as cool a place as possible.

Now, take a hike!

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