Preserving Food While Backpacking

Preserving Food While Backpacking
Your food is one of the most important things you'll carry on a backpacking trip. Packaging your food properly can help to preserve your food longer and prevent it from being contaminated. Packaging your food correctly can also help to keep your grub organized and make things a lot easier come meal time.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 2-ply clear plastic bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Variety of Nalgene container sizes
  • Stuff sack or nylon, lightweight zippered duffel bag
Step 1
Repackage all of your food once you have bought it for your backpacking trip. Get rid of all wrappers, cardboard, foil or cans and other potential litter and excess weight. Package all of your food into clean plastic bags and tie them off with an overhand knot if the bags aren't zippered plastic.
Step 2
Handle your food with care when packaging. Be sure to use plastic gloves if packaging stores from, for example, a large bin of dried food and avoid any chance of contamination by stove fuel, soap or other chemicals. Use small, screw-top plastic containers such as the ones that Nalgene makes for your spices. Use wide-mouth, screw-top containers for things such as butter, peanut butter or honey. Make sure all of your containers seal properly, and store anything that needs refrigeration (such as cheese) in your refrigerator as long as you can before you leave for your trip.
Step 3
Label all of your food bags and containers with a black permanent marker so that it's clear what goes where and how much of something there is. This way there is no confusion when multiple people are dealing with the food bags.
Step 4
Pack all of the food together in a large stuff sack or lightweight, zippered duffel bag. This keeps all of your food together in your backpack. You don't want to find that your powdered milk or oatmeal has been punctured on your crampons and has spilled all over the bottom of your backpack.
Step 5
Place your food bag above any possible contaminants in your backpack. The food bag is generally heavy and should be high and close to your body in the backpack anyway, but be sure that such things as fuel or soap are not above your food bag.
Step 6
Eat the most perishable food items first. Plan your meals so that you use the freshest food in the first few days of your trip; if you have a block of cheese, include it in your first few meals instead of reserving it for the fifth day. Harder cheeses last longer and will hold their shape better.
Step 7
Dehydrate as many foods as you can before your trip. If you want to have fruit, save weight and make it last longer by using a dehydrator and drying out such things as apple and banana slices to put in your oatmeal in the mornings. This way, they won't spoil.
Step 8
Always sanitize your hands before handling your food bags and preparing a meal in the backcountry. Often, humans are their own worst enemy when trying to preserve food on a backpacking trip.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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