Plan the Best Snacks and Meals for your Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip
This is an article that I recently published on Associated Content
If you are an avid backpacker, you probably already have a system for planning snacks and meals for your trips. But, if you are like me, you have done plenty of day hikes and camping, but only a little backpacking. You may benefit from what my husband and I learned about food and food prep on our recent backpacking trip down Hermit Trail to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and back up)!
The Plan: Strawberries and Cream instant oatmeal.
What worked: This was great on the day that we spent exploring the bottom of the Grand Canyon (not a major hiking day). It was tasty, easy, and relatively quick.
What didn’t work: On the days that we hiked down and back up, we wanted to leave early to avoid the hot sun as much as possible. We realized that we really didn’t want to take the time to heat up water, sit and eat, then clean up and pack our dishes. We ended up eating chocolate brownie flavored Kid’s Clif bars (We think the bars made for kids taste better than the bars made for adults).
Next Time: Next time, we will have oatmeal on non-major hiking days, & pack something fast and easy like bars and an apple for the mornings we want to get going quickly.
Snacks on the trail:
The Plan: Mini dill pickles, shot blocks, mini chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s, cinnamon toffee almonds, rice cakes with salt, coconut m&m’s, pretzel m&m’s, chocolate brownie kid’s Clif bars.
What worked: By far, our favorite snack was the mini dill pickles. They were tiny (smaller than my little pinkie finger), crunchy, and salty. All that sweating you do on the trail really makes you want to replace your salt. The mini chocolate chip cookies, coconut m&m’s, pretzel m&m’s, & chocolate brownie kid’s Clif bars were also tasty snacks.
What didn’t work: The cinnamon toffee almonds tasted good at home, but we weren’t too excited about them on the trail. Lighter, saltier, and easier to digest snacks were better. The rice cakes were alright, but not that exciting.
Next Time: We will bring the snacks that worked and add some kind of salty home-made chex mix or similar snack
The Plan: Bring 1-qt size packets of Gatorade powder and Vitalyte powder. Add to water bottles as we fill them up.
What worked: Both powdered mixes were good. They replaced the electrolytes we needed to keep going on strong. Also, we were staying super hydrated, and even though the risk of water intoxication was probably small, we still wanted to keep it in mind. If you drink a lot of water without replenishing your electrolytes, your body can suffer from water intoxication (or hyper-hydration), which can cause disturbances in brain function. Replacing electrolytes helps reduce this risk by keeping your blood more isotonic. We set a stopwatch and stopped to refuel every 30 minutes to make sure we drank enough fluids. Not only was it good to drink and eat snacks, but we also got a little rest from our heavy packs!
What didn’t work: They both worked, but we liked the Vitalyte mix better because it had a more subtle flavor, a little less sugar, and more electrolytes.
Next time: We will bring more Vitalyte mix and less Gatorade mix.
The Plan: On Hiking Days: Oranges & mini toasts (like crackers) with small slices of lite sharp cheddar cheese. Exploring Day at the bottom of the canyon: Pasta Salad (cooked vegetable radiatore pasta, stuffed manzanilla olives, sliced black olives, small chunks lite sharp cheddar, foil-packaged ready-to-eat chicken, & Greek salad dressing. All ingredients packaged separately in baggies, then mixed together in the biggest bag to eat out of).
What worked: It was all good! I chose reduced fat sharp cheddar and cut it into thin slices, because I didn’t want my body working too hard to digest the fat and protein when I needed the blood flow elsewhere for hiking. Also, sharp cheddar still has a strong flavor, even when you aren’t eating big slices. The juiciness of the oranges is always welcome during a hike. For the pasta salad, I shredded the chicken and mixed all the ingredients into a large plastic baggie. We ate it while sitting in the 90-degree weather on a warm rock with our feet in an ice cold pool of water at Hermit Creek. It was delicious. I purposely saved the more fatty meal for the non-hiking day. (We did our fair share of hiking around the bottom that day, but not much compared to the long hikes down and up the canyon).
What didn’t work: Nothin’.
Next time: I’ll probably do just the same as I did this time.
The Plan: #1: Ramen noodles with dehydrated shrimp and vegetables, seasoning packet replaced with vegetable bouillon. #2: Couscous (from a boxed meal with seasoning packet) with dehydrated turkey bacon strips and vegetables. Backpackingchef.com has good information on how to dehydrate meat and veggies.
What worked: Both meals were tasty, and easy to make by adding hot water.
What didn’t work: We have origami style plates, bowls, and cups for backpacking. They fold flat and are super light. To use them, you just fold them into the right shape. They pack well and work pretty well, but we didn’t really like having to clean them afterward.
Next time: When we made the couscous, we added the water straight into the plastic baggie and ate it from there. It was definitely faster and easier. Next time, we’ll bring the same meals, but cook and eat them straight out of the baggie we pack them in.