7 Essential Foods That You Can't Camp Without


Originally designed for the U.S Army, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) now come in a huge variety of delicious and convenient snacks and meals for campers looking to lighten their load. They weigh next to nothing, last for years, and can be eaten as-is or heated up. Tasty Bite’s Indian insta-meal entrées and sides are great, ready in three to five minutes, and offer tons of options for special diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher. Hi Mountain sells delicious dehydrated insta-meals like Campfire Chili Macaroni and Caramel Apple Crunch that are highly portable and low in calories. 

Instant Coffee

There’s nothing like the aroma of hot coffee mingled with the fresh smell of the great outdoors, but brew- or drip-coffee is a messy affair that many wouldn’t dare attempt at a camp site. Thankfully, instant coffee is a relatively cheap and simple solution for those who just need a cup of joe. Starbucks VIA’s mixture of instant coffee and micro-ground coffee beans makes for a remarkably “real” taste that’s only slightly gritty, while Java Juice offers a smoother, mellow flavor with its coffee extract base.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is exactly the type of high-protein snack campers should pack to fuel their outdoor activities, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s easy to carry, easy to eat, and doesn’t go bad. Jack Link’s is the jerky choice for man’s men, setting the standard with a wide variety of meats, from buffalo to alligator; jerky-loving ladies may not be as common, but Bombshell Jerky could easily convert any gal with its low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein jerkies that come in classic, spicy, exotic, and sweet flavors and are made specifically with active women in mind. 

Dried Fruits


Fruit is an essential part of the balanced diet any camper needs, but it can be a hassle to store enough fresh fruit for a camping trip. Lightweight, healthy (if you make smart choices), and non-perishable, dried fruit is a must-have for those long trips. It tastes great on its own, but can also be easily added to spice up other dishes, like instant oatmeal. The Crunchies line of freeze-dried fruit, which has a huge variety to choose from, like Very Berry and Pear is a great option. Trader Joe’s “Just Mango” dried slices are chewy, fantastic, and filling; while they’re unsulfured and unsweetened (making them super-healthy), they’ll still do the trick for a sweet tooth thanks to the natural flavor of the mango.

Dairy/Egg Substitutes

You don’t have to forgo milk and butter when camping just because they spoil quickly and are a pain to pack and store. Plenty of ultra-versatile, non-perishable powdered or liquid substitutes exist, making for easy and tasty campsite breakfasts from omelets to pancakes. AlpineAire’s Non-fat Powdered Milk is gluten-free and just needs water to turn it into the perfect coffee mix-in, hot-cocoa base, or cereal-bowl addition. Honeyville offers Powdered Butter that can be used as a replacement in any recipe calling for fresh butter, or to slather on baked goods you’ve picked up from your favorite bakery. Honeyville even has Powdered Eggs that taste just like scrambled eggs and won’t crack or spoil in storage.

Trail Mix

Aside from being a delicious and satisfying snack, trail mix is a fortifying and energy-boosting must-have for any outdoors adventurer. Chock-full of salty nuts and sweet dried fruits, trail mix comes in endless varieties, is easy to pack, and won’t go bad. The protein-packed Eden Foods’ All Mixed Up” blend, with organic almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried tart cherries offers a unique taste. Grandy Oat’s organic High Antioxidant Trail Mix is the ultimate crunchy, hearty, fresh-tasting trail snack, with plump raisins, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Goji berries and mulberries. 

Dried Vegetables

Like fruits, fresh vegetables are a must have for a well-rounded diet in the wilderness, but can also be a total hassle to pack, store, and prepare. Thankfully, Just Tomatoes Etc! offers a fantastic line of non-perishable freeze-dried vegetables that can be eaten right out of the package or added to dishes like soups, rice, or eggs, and also make great salad and baked potato-toppers. Each pack is the equivalent of about 1.25 pounds of fresh mixed vegetables, making them an amazingly lightweight replacement, and they pack the same nutritional value as real vegetables without any additives, preservatives, or sweeteners.With Just Corn, Peas, Tomatoes, Soynuts, Mixed Veggies or Hot Veggies varieties to choose from, it’s like having your own farmer’s market right next to the tent.