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The best meats to take backpacking.

Here are 8 great meat options to take on your next hike:

We are going to discuss the best meats to take backpacking in this article. We will also be discussing why meats, meats sticks and cured meats are a great option to bring with you on a hike. Meat is an integral component of many of our diets when your at home. So, why should that change when you are out on the trail? It has many nutrients providing protein, fats, and much-needed calories to give energy on your hiking adventure, and with the proper planning, meat is simple to transport, cook and enjoy – no matter where you end up. It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating exclusively trail mix, dehydrated foods and prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every time you go hiking, camping or backpacking – these foods can be tasty and easy to transport, it’s easy to get sick of eating the same thing over and over again. The 8 best meats you can take backpacking:

1. Jerky

Jerky, a delectable treat, can be crafted from a diverse selection of meats and enhanced with an extensive array of seasonings. This culinary versatility ensures that it remains an enticing food choice, perpetually warding off palate fatigue. This adaptability has cemented its status as a beloved sustenance among global backpacking enthusiasts, with turkey and beef variants reigning as popular favorites.

For active backpackers, nutrient-rich beef jerky emerges as the quintessential snack. The beauty of properly dried jerky lies in its ability to withstand unrefrigerated conditions, eliminating concerns about refrigeration during adventurous journeys.

Furthermore, crafting jerky at home is a cost-effective option, achievable with either a smoker or food dehydrator. This approach not only helps you save money on backpacking provisions but also empowers you to explore excellent options at your local supermarket.

2. Foil Packed Tuna/Salmon/Chicken

Foil-wrapped meats present an excellent choice for those seeking a convenient and lightweight meal option. The concept behind these meals entails pre-cooking the meat before sealing it in airtight foil packaging, often employing vacuum-sealing techniques to eliminate surplus oxygen and moisture.

Rich in essential nutrients such as iron, vitamins, and protein, the foil packaging ensures that this meat remains lightweight, sparing your backpack from unnecessary heft.

My daughter is a pescatarian and loves this option while hiking. There are multiple options for tuna packs at the grocery store from Asian flavors to Lemon pepper. Some of the brands even come with a mini spork to eat the tuna with so you don't need to pack one. I grab handful of crackers and make it a meal. This is a great option for a easy meal.

These can be prepared at home or conveniently purchased from backpacking and outdoor retailers, as well as online merchants. However, it's crucial to bear in mind that homemade foil-packaged meats, if not vacuum-sealed, will have a shorter shelf life compared to their airtight counterparts.

3. Dry Salami

Hard and dry salami is a fantastic choice for sustained sustenance during extended backpacking expeditions. Its longevity is remarkable; when stored unopened and without refrigeration, it can remain palatable for up to a full year, provided it has a natural casing. However, even without a natural casing, it can still be safely consumed for up to two weeks.

The secret behind salami's prolonged shelf life lies in its preservation method, which involves the use of curing salt. This salt not only imparts its distinctive flavor but also acts as a potent preservative. Nevertheless, the high sodium content in salami is something to be mindful of, especially if you plan to make it a staple of your backpacking diet. To counteract the potential dehydration caused by salt intake, it's essential to ensure you have an ample supply of water readily available.

Despite the salami's saltiness, it remains a valuable source of essential nutrients during your backpacking journey. This dried meat retains its protein, fat, and micronutrient content, offering you a reliable source of energy and sustenance in the wild. So, while hydration management is crucial when enjoying this delectable treat, you can still count on salami to provide the nourishment needed to fuel your outdoor adventures.

4. Pre-Cooked Bacon

Similar to jerky, you can easily find pre-cooked bacon in most supermarkets or online, offering a convenient and shelf-stable option ideal for backpacking. There's a wide variety of choices available, and many of these require no refrigeration until opened, making them a practical choice for outdoor adventures.

Unopened pre-cooked bacon has an impressive shelf life of up to two weeks, as long as it's shielded from harsh sunlight and extreme heat. Once you break the seal, it's best to aim to consume it within 4-5 days, and if possible, store it at a cooler temperature.

If you prefer a DIY approach, you can precook bacon at home with ease. Simply arrange raw bacon strips on a baking tray and bake them at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit until they start to crisp up. Afterward, you can wrap the cooked bacon in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and store it in a zip-lock bag for an extended shelf life.

Pre-cooked bacon adds a delightful touch to a variety of meals and ensures a convenient source of sustenance at any campsite or rest stop. It requires significantly less cooking time than raw bacon, making meal preparation a breeze during your outdoor excursions.

While pre-cooked bacon might not always deliver the same crispy texture as cooking it from scratch, it does eliminate the need to carry large quantities of cooking oil, making it a practical and delicious addition to your backpacking provisions.

5. Summer Sausage

Summer sausages present a compelling option for backpackers seeking a flavorful and convenient source of sustenance. Typically crafted from a blend of pork, game, or beef, these sausages offer a unique taste profile compared to more common backpacking meat choices. They tend to be on the heartier side, making them an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking to fuel their adventures.

Packaged in sealed containers, summer sausages are infused with a delightful array of flavors and seasonings. What sets them apart is their exceptional shelf stability; they don't require refrigeration, although they do maintain their quality better in cooler conditions.

Once you crack open the packaging, it's advisable to consume summer sausages within a week to prevent the proliferation of harmful bacteria. However, for extended journeys, you can find summer sausages available in smaller individual portion sizes and packages designed to endure the rigors of life on the road.

From a nutritional perspective, summer sausages are notably high in fats. This attribute proves advantageous when you're engaging in physically demanding outdoor activities and need a sustained source of energy throughout the day. The fat content provides a dense calorie source that can keep you going during your backpacking endeavors, making summer sausages a valuable addition to your trail diet. Best Cheeses to take hiking

6. Prosciutto

Prosciutto, a delectable cured and uncooked ham product, offers a promising choice for backpackers, thanks to its ability to remain unrefrigerated for up to a week. To preserve its flavor and texture, it's advisable to store prosciutto in paper, plastic, or beeswax, preventing it from drying out during your outdoor escapades.

While prosciutto shares some similarities with dry salami and can be used in a similar fashion, it lacks the natural hard casing that grants dry salami its extended shelf life at unrefrigerated temperatures. Therefore, it's essential to be mindful of prosciutto's perishable nature when planning your backpacking meals.

For your upcoming hike or backpacking trip, here's a tantalizing recipe to consider incorporating this flavorful prosciutto into your culinary adventures.

7. Meat Bars

Meat bars are a powerhouse of protein, delivering the perfect energy boost for those demanding hikes. These bars are not only rich in calories but also offer a unique advantage – their low glycemic index ensures a gradual and sustained release of energy, preventing the sudden sugar crash associated with some other energy bars on the market.

If the thought of munching on plain dried meat doesn't quite tickle your taste buds, fear not. Meat bars, despite their name, are a harmonious blend of meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This combination aligns seamlessly with the principles of a paleo diet, purportedly mirroring the dietary choices of our ancient ancestors. To top it off, many manufacturers take pride in sourcing their meats from grass-fed and cage-free sources, emphasizing both quality and ethical considerations.

Convenience is another standout feature of meat bars, such as those offered by Epic Provisions. Individually wrapped, these bars are shelf-stable, eliminating the need for refrigeration while stowed away in your backpack. Furthermore, there's a diverse array of allergen-free options available, ensuring that even backpackers with dietary restrictions can indulge without worrying about adverse reactions.

8. Pepperoni

Hiking demands sustained energy to conquer challenging terrain and reach your destination. Pepperoni provides an excellent source of calories and protein, making it an ideal choice for hikers. Each slice is packed with protein, which helps repair and build muscle tissue during your hike. Additionally, the high-fat content in pepperoni offers a concentrated source of energy, ensuring you stay fueled throughout your adventure.

One of the standout features of pepperoni is its impressive shelf life. Typically, it's sold in vacuum-sealed packaging or sealed containers, which means it can last for an extended period without refrigeration. This longevity makes it perfect for multi-day hikes or backpacking trips where access to fresh food may be limited.

Unlike many perishable foods that require refrigeration, pepperoni can withstand a wide range of temperatures. This means you can carry it in your backpack without worrying about spoilage, even in hot or humid conditions. Its resilience to temperature fluctuations makes it a versatile and reliable trail companion.

Pepperoni's compact size and lightweight nature make it easy to pack and carry. Whether you prefer to stash it in your backpack, pocket, or hiking fanny pack, it won't add significant bulk or weight to your gear. This convenience allows you to stay agile and mobile on the trail.

Pepperoni isn't just nutritious; it's also incredibly flavorful. Its bold, spicy taste can add excitement to your trail snacks and meals. You can enjoy it on its own as a quick and satisfying snack, or get creative by incorporating it into sandwiches, wraps, or even as a pizza topping for a campfire treat.

Pepperoni pairs exceptionally well with other trail-friendly foods. You can combine it with cheese, crackers, or dried fruits for a balanced and satisfying hiking snack. The combination of flavors and textures adds variety to your on-the-go meals, making your hiking experience all the more enjoyable.

While fresh foods are delightful, they aren't always practical on long hikes. Pepperoni can serve as a reliable backup option when your other food supplies start to run low. It can be the difference between a hungry hike and a well-nourished one. FAQs

How do you store meat for backpacking?

To maintain the safety and freshness of preserved, dried, or prepared meats like those mentioned earlier, the crucial factor is minimizing their exposure to moisture and oxygen. This includes ensuring that any self-prepared meat is adequately dried and preserved.

If you have concerns about moisture, consider bringing along some paper towels to wrap around meat products. These towels will help absorb any excess moisture, though it's essential to remember that any waste you generate must be disposed of properly. Additionally, strategically placing food items in the center of your backpack serves a dual purpose: it keeps them relatively cool and evenly distributes weight on your back, ultimately enhancing your overall comfort during your backpacking adventure.

Can you bring steak backpacking?

Bringing steak along for your backpacking journey can be a delectable treat, provided you plan to savor it on the first night. The key here is careful preparation: freezing the steak completely in advance, followed by secure wrapping in plastic (like a Ziploc bag) and layers of freezer paper or newspaper.

Once your perfectly prepped steak is ready to join your backpacking adventure, it should be placed strategically in the center of your backpack, away from direct sunlight. The idea is that, by dinnertime, it should have thawed out just in time for cooking over a hot fire or grill.

Now, you might wonder how to maintain meat's freshness while backpacking, especially when refrigeration isn't an option. In general, it's best to avoid carrying raw meat unless you can guarantee it stays at refrigerator-like temperatures. Warmth fosters the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. Coli, which can pose health risks.

If you're determined to bring raw meat ingredients and intend to consume them on the trip's first night, some backpackers have found success by meticulously freezing their meats. Storing them in the coolest part of their backpack allows for gradual thawing throughout the first day, and having an insulated pack can be even more advantageous.

While ice packs may seem like a solution, they come with trade-offs. They add extra weight to your backpack, and once they melt, they become rather useless. So, it's essential to weigh the benefits against the added weight when considering their inclusion in your backpacking provisions.

7 Tip for backpacking with meat

When you're venturing into the great outdoors, it's essential to have a reliable source of protein to keep you fueled for your adventures. Meat can be an excellent choice, but it requires some extra care to ensure it remains safe and delicious throughout your backpacking journey. In this guide, we'll share seven tips to help you enjoy meat on the trail responsibly. 1. Prep and Freeze Ahead of Time Before you hit the trail, prepare your meat at home. Freeze it solid to help it stay cold and fresh for longer. This works well for steak, chicken, or any other meat you plan to enjoy on the first day of your trip. Properly sealed Ziploc bags, followed by layers of freezer paper or newspaper, will help insulate and protect your meat during the hike. 2. Central Packing When packing your backpack, make sure your meat is stored in the middle of your pack. This positioning not only keeps it away from direct sunlight but also helps maintain a more consistent temperature, reducing the risk of premature thawing. 3. Keep It Cool If you're going on an extended trip and have access to a well-insulated backpack, it's worth considering. Insulated packs can help maintain a cooler internal temperature, preserving your meat for a more extended period. However, remember that it's not a substitute for refrigeration. 4. Plan for Early Consumption The safest approach is to consume meat on the first night of your backpacking adventure. By then, it should have thawed out just in time for cooking over your campfire or portable grill. This minimizes the risk of bacterial growth that can occur when raw meat is exposed to higher temperatures. 5. Consider Dehydrated or Cured Meats For longer trips, consider dehydrated or cured meats like beef jerky or summer sausages. These options have a longer shelf life and can withstand a wide range of temperatures without spoiling. They're also lightweight and easy to pack. 6. Go Vegetarian or Vegan For those concerned about meat safety or looking to simplify their backpacking experience, going vegetarian or vegan can be a viable option. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources available, such as nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans, which can provide you with the necessary sustenance for your journey. 7. Ice Packs with Caution While ice packs can help keep meat cold, they do add weight to your pack and become useless once they melt. If you decide to use them, do so sparingly and consider their weight against their benefits. Backpacking with meat can add a delightful culinary dimension to your outdoor adventures. By following these seven tips, you can ensure your meat remains safe, delicious, and ready to be savored amidst the natural beauty of the wilderness. So, plan your meals thoughtfully, pack responsibly, and embark on your backpacking journey with confidence!


Even though meat may undergo freeze-drying, preservation, or vacuum-sealing processes, it's vital to remember that subjecting it to prolonged exposure to high temperatures isn't advisable. While the risk is considerably lower compared to handling raw meats, there's still a chance of bacterial growth in less-than-ideal conditions.

Ideally, most of the meat products we've discussed should be stored at or below 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit (18-20 degrees Celsius), which is commonly referred to as room temperature. This is typically manageable when hiking in cooler regions. However, it's a factor to seriously contemplate if your journey takes you to a warmer and more humid climate.

In such cases, it might be prudent to plan your meals so that you use meat on the first day of your trip. For the remainder of your backpacking adventure, you can explore a vegetarian diet or aim to restock your supplies as you go, whenever feasible. This approach helps ensure the safety and enjoyment of your meals while minimizing the risks associated with storing meat in less-than-ideal environmental conditions.

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