Stoveless Backpacking

Are you ever tempted to go stoveless on a backpacking trip? It can be done!

If you want to save a little weight by not carrying a stove, check out some of our ideas below. Try to start with a low-mileage trip and see how it feels for you. No-cook backpacking may be a lot more doable in the summer, when a warm meal isn’t quite so desirable. Still, it’s not for everyone, and may take away from one of your greatest pleasures on the trail — a hot meal.

Our list excludes some of the no-nonsense basics, like power bars in various formats. If you want to get even more wild, we’ve heard that some people do a long cold soak of dried meals that are meant to be hot, and eat them cold! And speaking from some experience, you may not have a tolerance for cold coffee (or tea). Others may see your food, feel sorry for you, and offer you something hot out of pity. Just tell them you love your cold mashed potatoes!

Keep in mind that because many of these foods are dry, you’ll need extra water for rehydrating in addition to what you need for drinking.

Drinks and Snacks

  • baby food pouches of pureed fruits and vegetables, like these from Amazon
  • cereals mixed up with instant oats or peanut butter and water
  • chips or crackers
  • chocolate bars
  • dehydrated hummus powder (rehydrated, on bread or pita)
  • dehydrated peanut butter powder (rehydrated, on bread or pita)
  • dehydrated instant tea and coffee packets or powder (cold is not so bad!)
  • dried fruits, like the ones from Trader Joe’s
  • jerky
  • nuts
  • sunflower seeds
Cold Idahoan mashed potatoes and a pre-packaged channa masala (in a used container). Unappetizing? Maybe. Photo credit: Carrie P


Some of these were specifically recommended by other DC ULers on our Facebook post.

  • any combination of hard cheeses and charcuterie and wraps
  • mashed cold potatoes via instant potato flakes, like the ones from Idahoan
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on raisin bread
  • peanut butter (crunchy) and spicy thai tuna wrapped in a tortilla
  • peanut butter (crunchy) and pepperoni wrapped in a tortilla
  • pepperoni and Laughing Cow cheese spreadable wedges wrapped in pita bread
  • pizza, packed in foil
  • pre-packaged Indian food pouches, like the ones from Tasty Bite or Trader Joe’s
  • pre-packaged salmon, chicken, or tuna, like these from Chicken of the Sea or these from StarKist

Do you have a favorite no-cook go-to? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook. Photo credit for header image: Shane S.

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