List: Appalachian Trail food

Yeah… not so healthy, but lots of calories

Short backpacking trips lend themselves to fresh fruit and vegetables, tasty and elaborate backpacking meals, and s’mores. A long-distance thru-hike, not so much. You starve yourself because you never carry enough calories to make up for all the ones you’re burning, and the most calorie-dense foods are not very good for you. Here are examples of food that I and other hiker trash lived off of for six months.


  • Oatmeal
  • Grits
  • Starbucks Via
  • Pop-tarts
  • Carnation instant breakfast
  • Honey buns (I never ate them, but they are really popular)


  • Peanut butter (Put it in a ziploc bag and then use the bag as a mitt to smear PB on a tortilla. I know it looks weird, but it weighs less than keeping it in a jar, takes up less space, and is honestly less cleanup. I also found pre-mixed PB and Jelly in a jar and put that in a bag. SO GOOD.)
  • Jerky
  • GORP
  • Tortillas
  • Almonds
  • Gummy snacks
  • Candy bars
  • Clif bars
  • Cheese and peanut butter crackers
  • Hard cheeses (Babybel gets expensive; just a wedge of Asiago or similar works well)
  • Dried fruit and berries
  • Salami and pepperoni (I can’t stand it, but it’s really popular)
  • English muffins
  • Fig Newtons



  • Knorr pasta and rice sides
  • Tuna packet*
  • SPAM (Again, can’t stand it, but it’s popular)
  • Bacon bits
  • Backpackers Pantry/Mountain House meals (occasional splurge; Mountain House Pasta Primavera is AMAZING)
  • Dehydrated vegetables
  • Ramen*
  • Instant potatoes*
  • *Ramen bomb = ramen, instant potatoes, tuna packet or SPAM, along with anything else you can throw in (popular meal when supplies are low)



  • Sugar, salt, pepper, honey packets
  • Flavored water mixes
  • Tea
  • Olive oil
  • When hiking out of town and you’re going to eat/drink it that evening: hot dogs, beer and/or wine in aluminum cans, marshmallows, etc.



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