The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Backpacking Food

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In this article, we share all the plant-based backpacking foods that are now available to vegan backpackers. Discover new products and develop your next vegan backpacking meal plan!

Michael sitting on a rock with a lake and mountains in the background

“Wow, what a view! I can’t believe I get to hike through this spectacular landscape. Now, what’s for dinner?! Does that sound like a familiar train of thought out on the trail? As backpackers, we find that our minds turn to one of two things: the scenery around us, and thinking about what we get to eat next!

Spending a little bit of time before your next trip to plan out your backpacking meals means that you will always have something tasty to look forward to. Unfortunately, if you walk into a big outdoor retail store right before you hit the trail, you may find a limited selection of vegan-friendly options in stock. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist–you just need to know where to look!

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The good news is there are more vegan backpacking food options now than ever before, even if they aren’t always carried in stores. That’s why we scoured the internet to find as many vegan backpacking food options as we could and share them all in one place.

So if you’re a plant-based backpacker, consider this your one-stop-shop

What to Look for in Backpacking Food

While being entirely plant-based is the first criterion, vegan backpacking food should also be shelf-stable, lightweight, nutrient and calorie-dense, and quick-cooking.


If you’re assembling your own meals, it’s important to use ingredients that can be stored at room temperature. In some ways, vegan backpackers have an advantage here because plant-based foods tend to have a longer shelf-life compared to foods that contain animal products. 


Since you have to carry it every step of the way, backpacking food should be as lightweight as possible. Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods tend to be lightest, though there are plenty of grocery store options we’ll review as well.

Calorie Dense

Backpacking takes a lot of energy, so you need food that can properly refuel you. When we plan our backpacking food, we try to average 115-130+ calories per ounce or more to keep the weight down.

Cooking Time 

Consider how much patience you have to cook your food and how much fuel you will be bringing. Quicker cooking foods tend to be preferred by most backpackers for fuel conservation.

A bear canister with a spread of vegan backpacking meals

How Much Food Should You Pack for Backpacking?

For most backpackers who plan on hiking all day with a heavier pack, suggests aiming for 25-30 calories per pound of body weight, per day. For shorter day hikes (less than 2 hours) or if covering less strenuous terrain, you can scale it down to 21-25 calories per pound of body weight, per day.

Instead of eating just three meals per day as you might at home, aim to eat throughout the day and consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour (source) to keep your energy high and prevent hitting the wall.

Again, these are just rough estimations. Everyone’s body burns calories at different rates. So if you are preparing for a longer backpacking trip, you will absolutely want to do a few weekend shakedown trips to get a sense of what your appetite will be like.

Woman cooking over a backpacking stove with a tent in the background.

Vegan Backpacking Breakfasts 

Whether it’s adding boiling water to hot breakfast cereal or cold water to make granola with a milk substitute, the convenience of a “just add water” meal is hard to deny out on the trail. Or you can forgo the water altogether and opt for a no-cook bar. Whatever your preference, there are a lot of great vegan breakfast options to explore. 

Backpackers pantry vegan breakfast

Backpacker’s Pantry

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Farm to Summit

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Heather’s Choice 

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Trail Butter

Trailtopia Breakfasts


Peak refuel granola

Peak Refuel

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Alt Route Meals

Outdoor herbivore breakfast

Outdoor Herbivore

Instant oatmeal package

Quaker Oatmeal

Quaker Instant oatmeal is quick, easy, cheap, and totally customizable. Just add hot water. Pro Tip: Use the packet as your bowl. Just tear off the top, pour the water in, and stir. The bag will get hot, but won’t leak. Up the calories by adding coconut, or stirring in a packet of nut butter.

Laird product image

Laird InstaFuel Coffee + Creamer 

If you are going to make yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, then you might as well add some calories to the mix with Laird Instant Coffee & Creamer

Vegansmart shake

VeganSmart All-in-One Shake

I have tried many different vegan shakes, and this one is by far my favorite. You can either drink this in the morning as a stand-alone shake or mix it up with some DIY or store-bought granola. It’s a great way to incorporate some extra protein into your morning meal. 

Assorted Probar Meals

ProBar Meals 

A no-cook “breakfast” bar is a great grab-and-go option for anyone who wants to streamline their morning routine. It can also be nice for people who don’t wake up hungry and like to wait a little bit before eating. ProBar offers a large variety of flavor combinations–all of which are plant-based.

Vegan Breakfast Recipes 

Here are some of the vegan breakfast recipes we have on our website:

Michael sitting at the top of a mountain pass eating lunch

Vegan lunches, snacks, and bars

When we’re backpacking, a very blurry line separates snacks from lunch. In fact, from the time we hit the trail in the morning until we set up camp at night, the entire experience is sort of an extended, movable feast. So in this section, we’ll cover all the vegan options for snacks and lunches.

Vegan Bars

Energy Bars

Our best advice when packing bars is to go for VARIETY. Don’t just load up on your favorite bar for a multi-day hike. Because after your trip, it won’t be your favorite anymore. Find a few you like and mix it up. 

The following companies offer a vegan product line: GoMacro Bars, LÄRABAR, Dang Bars, Bearded Brothers, Aloha Bars, 88 Acres Seed Bar.

Product image.

Powdered Hummus

Just mix cold water with some powdered hummus and drizzle with olive oil, and you’ve got a delicious hummus spread for lunch! Enjoy with sturdy crackers, pretzel sticks, or veggie sticks. Check out uBu Food’s entirely vegan line of powdered hummus, with flavors like Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, Thai Basil, Everything Bagel, and Jalapeno & Roasted Corn. Or, make your own dehydrated hummus (it’s super easy!).

Quinn Peanut butter pretzels

Quinn Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels 

We are absolute fiends for peanut butter filled pretzels. What mad hatter came up with the crazy idea, we don’t know. But they’re amazing. Quinn has a variety of flavors, many of which are vegan, worth checking out.

Love corn snacks

Love Corn

Speaking of something crunchy, Love Corn is an entirely vegan line of crunchy corn. Some of their flavors include sea salt, smoked BBQ, salt & vinegar, and habanero chili. Obviously, these are great by the handful, but they can also be added to any freeze-dried or dehydrated meal to give them a little crispy, crunchy texture. 

Louisville vegan jerky

Vegan Jerky

Just a few years ago, “jerky” was an exclusively meat-based category, but today, there are many plant-based vegan options. A few of our favorite brands are Primal Spirit Food and Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.

Oloves packet


We absolutely love olives when backpacking. Not only are they loaded with calories, but they offer a momentary burst of savory refinement that is hard to compare. Instant morale booster. We are big fans of Oloves packable olives. Enjoy them on their own or with the above-mentioned hummus and chips spread.

Nuts, apricots, and banana chips

Trail Mix, Nuts, And Dried Fruit

Packing an assortment of trail mixes, nuts, and dried fruits is a great way to have some calorie boosts on hand to eat while hiking. If you have a dehydrator, check out these tutorials to make your own apple chips, dried pineapple, dried bananas, and dried kiwi!

Product image.

Cold-Soak Lunches 

Let’s be honest, there’s no way we’re breaking out our stove and cooking lunch. Thankfully, there are a lot of great “cold-soak” lunches, and many of them are vegan! Just add cold water and let stand for 15 minutes. 
Farm to Summit: Thai Carrot Slaw
Good to Go: Carrot-Ginger Power Bowl, Cucumber Chaat Salad
Outdoor Herbivore:  Pacific Crest Vinaigrette, Lazy Lentil Salad, Lemony Herb Quinoa Salad
DIY: Cold-Soak Pasta Salad

Vegan Backpacking Snack/Lunch Recipes 

Michael sitting on the ground with a camp scene and sunset

Vegan backpacking dinners 

Dinner: the meal we’ve all been waiting for! After a long day on the trail, we can’t help but develop great expectations for dinner. Which is why it’s so important to find a meal that will end your day on a happy and satisfying note. 

Backpackers pantry vegan dinners

Backpacker’s Pantry

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Farm to Summit

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Poe & Co

Good to go vegan dinners

Go-to Go 

Nomad Nutrition backpacking meals

Nomad Nutrition

Peak refuel vegan dinner

Peak ReFuel 

Backpacking Recipes

Here are some of our favorite vegan backpacking dinner recipe we’ve developed over the years:

Backpacking Desserts

Not only are backpacking desserts an absolute treat, but they can help you meet your caloric needs for the day (without having to resort to just having more dinner). 

Packaroons package


These macaroons boast 170 calories per ounce, so they definitely pull their weight (pun intended) in your pack. They come in a few flavors including Amaretto, Blueberry Almond, and Sweet Coconut, all of which are vegan. 

Unreal candy bar

Unreal Candy Bar 

It’s not every day that you can eat an entire candy bar by yourself 1000% guilt free… here’s your chance 🙂 These Unreal chocolate coconut bars would be a great dessert or even a mid-afternoon pick-me-up on a particularly strenuous day. 

Treehouse coconut drinking chocolate

Treehouse Coconut Drinking Chocolate 

If you don’t necessarily want to eat dessert, consider drinking it! This drinking chocolate (see: hot chocolate) is an absolutely lovely way to wind down at camp. While Treehouse’s makes other flavors that do contain milk, this coconut chocolate blend is hands down their best product and it’s 100% vegan. 

Annies bunny fruit snacks


The snack we didn’t pack for the JMT, but we wish we did. Candy! We’re not candy people normally, but the calorie and mid-day sugar boost would have been awesome. A few vegan-friendly candies to consider: Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks.

Condiments and extras

These are some of our favorite extras to add either calories or flavor to our meals.

Favorite Backpacking Cooking Gear

We have a whole post dedicated to our backpacking cooking gear picks, but here are some of the basics:

Jetboil product image

JetBoil MiniMo or Jetboil Flash 

We are really impressed with the performance of the Jetboil integrated cook systems. The Jetboil MiniMo is a great option if you plan to eat out of the pot and need simmer control. The Jetboil Flash is great if all you need is boiling water, pronto.

Soto windmaster stove product image

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe & 1.3 L Ceramic Pot

If we’re planning on rehydrating our own meals on trail and need the ability to simmer, then we go with the Soto Windmaster canister stove paired with a MSR 1.3 L Ceramic Pot

Check out our in-depth post about the best backpacking stoves on the market.

Green GSI mug

Backpacking Mug: GSI Infinity Mug

Weighing only 3.5 oz, this is our go-to mug for backpacking trips. It has enough insulation to keep our coffee warm in the morning and costs a fraction of the price of a double-walled titanium mug. 

Looking for more backpacking resources? Check out the index of all our vegan backpacking recipes, our ultimate guide to dehydrating food for backpacking, this complete backpacking checklist, and our favorite backpacking cooking gear!

This post was first published June 25, 2017, and last updated June 19, 2024, with up-to-date information.

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  1. Hi I love it Dad. Voorzichtij

  2. Thank you for including us in your list!!
    Backpacker’s Bistro

  3. Where has this list been all my life?! This is perfect. Thank you so much for the ideas.

  4. Roberta Hamm-Bhonsle says:

    Thank you for sharing this list. It really has been helpful!

  5. Valerie Butcher-Enriquez says:

    Thanks for the great list!!

  6. Hey there, any tips on how to go backpacking, hiking without using all those packaged foods? I am living without plastic, not buying any food that comes in plastic packaging, and always looking for alternatives (if you don’t have bulk bins around town). Would be awesome to hear if you know anything how to be low waste on a trail or maybe could do a post about zero waste/low waste hiking too 🙂

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      That’s fantastic. We are always trying to find new ways to reduce our single-use containers when possible. We’re not always great about it, but it’s a practice we are continually working on. A lot of the mylar bags that these foods come in are either recyclable or even compostable. We’d really like to do a deeper dive into zero or near-zero waste practices for camping and backpacking.

      1. Oh I didnt know these bags/sachets are recyclable. The ones I saw have been mixed material packaging and not easily recyclable (only if dropped by in special recycling places, not around everyweher) Are the compostable bags compostable in compost facilities or only home composting? I live in germany and any compostable plastic is not allowed (yet) in the official compost bins as they dont break down quick enough…. It is a real hussle to find real sustainable packaging, as so much is called biodegradable or compostable but not all of them actually are.. and nobody really knows where you can actually put them into the recycling/compost bins or not… it is so different from town to town and country to country even worse…

  7. Thank you so much!! This list makes preparing a lot easier. Although the organic bare burrito from Mary Janes farm contains cheese so it is vegetarian but not vegan.

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thanks for catching that, Carla! We’ve remove it from the list 🙂

  8. Awesome to see Backpackers Bistro on the list! I’m curious, have you guys checked out Food For The Sole? They make a bunch of tasty meals too 🙂

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      We haven’t heard of Food For the Sole before, but it looks like they are making some great meals. We’ll have to give them a try and add them to this list.

  9. Don Hamon says:

    Great info. After decades of backpacking; 34 of them as a vegan, I’m now motorcycle camping. Your website has been a super repository of useful info. Happy life to you!


    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Thanks! We glad you’ve found the website to be a useful resource! It’s just the two of us working on it, so sometimes it’s hard to cover every angle. We appreciate the support.

  10. You can also buy individual ingredients and make your own meals. It’s usually cheaper, and you can make what you want, mix and match. Amazon sells two different brands of dehydrated foods that come in indivual ingredients; Harmony House is my favorite. This also allows you to make the meals fit how much you eat, and gives you flexibility.

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Harmony House is great resource of dehydrated food. Outdoor Herbivore and are also great places to look as well.

  11. Kris Hawkins says:

    Can you update the list? A lot of the meals are out of stock or the links are broken. Thanks!

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Yes! We are planning on doing a big update to this article in the coming months. So we will make sure to freshen up the list.

  12. Eva Marie Tang Kirk says:

    Hello there.
    Thank you so much for this guide! Do you have any knowledge of web stores within the European Union that sells these vegan freeze dried products?
    Thanks in advance,
    Eva Marie, Denmark.

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Eva, unfortunately, we have very limited knowledge of the availability of dehydrated products within the EU. We are planning on updating this article soon, so we will make sure we do a little research on that end.

  13. Adan Morales says:

    This is awesome. I was going to do the research and publish it but you did an amazing job! Thank you!!

  14. Valorie Lehman says:

    I love how organized this list was! I’m going on my first backpacking trip this weekend and I have a much better idea of what to bring. Thank you!