Tips for High Protein Backpacking Meals

Tips for High Protein Backpacking Meals
Protein is important to any healthy diet. Protein builds muscle and plays a crucial role as enzymes and amino acids in nearly every chemical reaction in your body. Active athletes, like backpackers, need to consume more protein in order to repair muscle tissue and provide long-lasting energy for multi-day excursions in the outdoors. Here are a few tips for adding protein to typical backpacking meals.

On the Trail

Many backpackers like to have a bag of trail mix within easy reach. Typically, trail mix includes a combination of dried fruit and nuts. Nuts of all types are a fantastic source of protein and calories for a long day on the trail. For an added boost of protein, add seeds as well. Try this combination: dried cranberries, dried apricots (chopped), lightly salted cashews or almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (or "pepitas") and sesame sticks. This mix is sweet and salty, packed with protein and calories--quite satisfying on the trail.

Don't forget the jerky! Whether it be beef, buffalo, elk, turkey, or even salmon, jerky is always a quick and easy protein boost.


Bring a tube (like the Coghlan's Squeeze Tube) of peanut butter with you. Peanut butter, just like the nuts in trail mix, is a good source of protein. Try it mixed in with your morning oatmeal or spread it on a tortilla or bagel with honey and raisins.
Powdered eggs are also a good option for adding protein to the first meal of the day. In a pan, mix water with powdered eggs and some powdered milk, add a little bit of cheese, onions and peppers and you'll have a gourmet backpacker's scramble.


Hard salami and cheese in pita bread is a quick and delicious on-the-trail meal. The hard salami will last a long time but it's important to eat soft cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella during the first or second day of a backpacking trip. Hard cheeses, like Asiago or Gouda, will last longer without being refrigerated.


Most backpacking dinners usually revolve around grains and pasta like couscous, rice, spaghetti or macaroni. Carbohydrates like these are essential for quick energy, but adding protein will also help your muscles to heal after a long tough day on the trail. Protein will also provide lasting energy for the next day. To any grain or pasta-based backpacking meal, you can add chicken, tuna or salmon, all of which are now available at most grocery stores in backpacker-friendly foil packets. These packets are easier to open, a lighter weight and easier to carry than their canned counterparts. You can also find packets of pre-marinated tuna that will add a flavorful kick to usually bland rice or couscous dishes.
Some pre-made freeze-dried backpacking meals are also a good source of protein. Try the Backpacker's Pantry's Kung Pao Chicken, Wild West Chili with Beans, or Beef Stroganoff.


Article Written By Carson Bennett

Carson Bennett is a hiker, backpacker, rock climber, writer and writing teacher in Colorado Springs, Colo. He has been published in the Colorado Springs Independent, New West Magazine, and the Santa Fean Magazine, to name a few. He earned his M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of New Mexico.

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