Thursday, November 14, 2013

Vegan Backpacking Foods

Backpacking has been something Josh and I have loved since we first started dating.  Our first Christmas together, his parents bought us gear to get us out in the woods, and we have been loving it ever since.  Arkansas has tons of beautiful hiking spots, and over the years we have done a lot of trail and updated our gear.  Our menu, though, has stayed relatively the same.  Food doesn't have to be overly complicated.  It just has to fuel you and be able to be packed down easily.  Before I ever went vegetarian, our main foods on the trail were refried black beans in a ziplock bag and tortillas.  There are some staples that we always take and love, like apples, and some new things we keep trying out.

Saturday morning, we set out on Section 8 of the Ouachita Trail, heading from Lake Silvia to Brown Creek Shelter.  Currently, Lake Silvia is closed, but we parked our car and headed onto the trail from there.  We hiked about 6 miles, periodically stopping for snacks and photographs, but we were pretty determined to get to the shelter in good time.  Usually, we camp off the trail, but we thought the shelter would be a nice place to set up for the night.  We made sure to wear our hunter orange, because our hike coincided with the first day of modern gun season.  We saw a few hunters along the way and heard a lot of gun shots, but they left us alone and we did the same.

Vegan Backpacking Menu


Breakfast:  We ate luna bars and pita chips in the car while drinking coffee.
Lunch: Wheat tortillas and Tasty Bite packets, unheated.  These are easily warmed up by boiling them, but I didn't want to break out the stove.  I would not have brought this specific flavor, because it's very oily and runny, but the Kroger we went to for supplies didn't have any Tasty Bites.  This was the last of the sample they sent me, and the eggplant was tasty none the less.  I think a potato or chana masala would be better on the trail.  I also looked for peanut butter packets, which would work great too.
Dinner:  Josh and I split a Backpacker's Pantry curry, which was really good!  These work great in a pinch.  We were planning on getting dehydrated vegetables and making quinoa at camp, but we couldn't find any veggies!  I need to order some online.  So, we picked up a curry and a green bean packet and made that dinner.  Backpacker's Pantry has several vegan flavors, and they're all pretty good.  I really like the red beans and rice, and that pad thai is ok too.  They're plenty of food for two people.  They used to have an apple dessert that was vegan, but I can't find it anymore.
Snacks:  We brought a ton of snacks and ate them throughout the day.  Our favorite trail food is an apple, and although it takes up quite a bit of pack space, it's worth it.  We also brought pretzles, pita chips, luna bars and pomegranate seeds.

We even brought a little flask of wine to help with muscle pain and keep us warm.  We often bring whiskey, but we didn't go that route for this trip.  It's best to know how much water you will have available before you go drinking a lot on the trail.

Here is a list of the vegan options from Backpacker's Pantry, from their website.


Breakfast:  We always have oatmeal for breakfast on the trail, because it's warm and filling.  I brought tea and Josh brought instant coffee, and we had a couple luna bars too.  I thought it would be a good idea to mix pb2 in with the oatmeal, but it made it gummy and I didn't like it.  We also snacked on pomegranate seeds.  

We finished up our snacks on the hike out, and we ate lunch at Senor Tequila when we got out of the woods around 2 pm.  I was so tired by lunch time and stopped up from my cold, that I didn't really get to enjoy the reward for our 12 mile hike.  We usually get pizza after a hike, and I think we're going to go back to that standard.

We always make sure to pack out what we pack in, so by the second day we're really just hauling around trash.  Ziplock bags may seem wasteful, but they're really great for packing things.  You can re-use them, too.  

The biggest concern we usually have is water.  We both carry a water bottle, and we each have a bladder in our packs.  I carry 2 liters and Josh carries 3.  We refilled our water at the creek twice during our trip.  We use a simple filtration system to purify it.  They're light weight and great.  We weren't overly concerned with water on this trip, because it had rained a lot before, but if you're going out for an extended period of time, you should make sure that you have adequate water sources.

As we were hiking out, this little guy crossed my path.  I was fairly startled, and after running away, we took our packs off and got a little closer for some photographs.

Pretty neat!

This was my first trip out since breaking my ankle in 2011 on the trail, and I think I did pretty well.  I definitely got tired, but I felt more fit and able to hike than I have in years.

If you live around the area, definitely give the Ouachita Trail a try.  It's beautiful and fairly easy terrain as far as backpacking goes.  If you want more of a challenge, you can head up to the Ozark Highlands Trail and give that a go.  We have done a lot of both trails, and they're really beautiful.


  1. Looks like so much fun. You got some great photos.

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  3. Hi. Nice article. My boyfriend and I are vegan and we are new to backpacking. What is the longest backpacking trip that you both have been on? Have you ever found it difficult resupplying?

    1. Hi! We don't get a lot of spare time to do hikes, so we usually go for 1-2 nights. We carry everything we need. Most of the things we take are pretty light and packable, with the exception of apples, which are the best thing to eat on the trail. I would imagine that if you're going out for longer, it wouldn't be hard to mail yourself non-perishables. Things like oatmeal and instant food pouches are easy to ship. Have fun!

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  5. You guys must have had an amazing time in those woods. The Vegan backpacking menu seems to be an interesting choice for camping. I particularly like your breakfast (luna bars, pita chips, and coffee). Thanks for sharing your experiences. I also found more camping food options here:

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