View Full Version : No-Cooking Backpacking??

08-29-2004, 18:27
I'd like to try backpacking without a stove. I've looked around the internet for information and recipes for items that don't require cooking but I haven't found much.

Can anyone recommend any sites or recipes?

How about some tips from those who have tried it?

I don't mind some power bars (Luna and Balance bars are my favorites) but I'm also looking for things that are nutrious and don't weigh much. The dried fruit from www.justtomatoes.com are good and I like the soy-based jerky from www.soybean.com (lightweight, yummy and filling). And I don't even mind dried kelp from the health food store (chewy, but loaded with potassium, iron, vitamins and minerals -- and light as a feather!!).

I haven't really considered dehydrating my own food -- it seems like a complicated hassle.

Any ideas??

08-29-2004, 18:48
Commercial dried fruit can be a bit of a problem. Ahem. You won't suffer from constipation. It is getting late in the fruit season to find enough in cheap enough prices to make dehydrating your own easy, unless you really like bannanas and apples.

There are plenty of options for uncooked food, including a variety of beans, nuts, cheese, dried fruit and veggies, dried meat, candy and such. You will just need some imagination. Several things you can cook also work uncooked, for instance Ramen Noodles are a great source of crunch.

I'd question doing without any stove or source for heating. Hypothermia is a problem that can be aided with warm drink, noodles and quick calories and heat.


SGT Rock
08-29-2004, 19:49
Well I would have to say that if you don't mind going completly spartan that it might work, but I would like to enjoy myself on a hike. Having some hot food is a comfort and pleasure. I could go for a few days without cooking, I don't know that I would want to for a long time.

08-29-2004, 21:04
This past summer on my AT hike, I got so sick of cooking by the time that I got to Pearisburg that I just threw out my stove (it was only a pop-can stove!) Anyway, I hiked 800 miles or so without one and it was delightful. That said, I still carried my pot and ate one hot meal a week or so when someone was kind enough to heat water for me or if someone made a campfire, I just cooked over that. You don't really need to dry your own food, there's enough other stuff in the grocery store that you can find.

The main things I ate:

Cold cereal/granola, powdered full fat milk
Beef Jerky
Granola bars,nutri-grain bars, pop-tarts, chocolate bars, etc.
Tuna with crackers
Peanut butter with crackers or wraps
Dried fruit and nuts in plentiful abundance
Fresh food: fruit, vegetables, bagels, cheese, summer sausage, leftover pizza, etc.
Pretzels/potato chips
Dried Seaweed
Hummus (there's powdered mixes sometimes) and pita bread
Multivitamin (very important for any thru-hiker)

Hope that helps. The things I ate most abundantly were dried fruit and nuts, almost every meal. Also cereal and powdered milk quite a bit.

08-29-2004, 22:17
Just as an experiment, I did two separate one week hikes on the AT without a stove. I enjoyed not having to cook and clean up, and I was usually done eating long before everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I like to cook on the trail...it was just an experiment to see how I would like it and if I could live off a diet of noncooked prepared foods.

The only advice I can give you is two things: One, variety, variety, variety, and more variety. Did I mention variety? If you take lots of the same food then you'll get tired of it and dream about cheeseburgers. (trust me) Two, make sure you and your stomach agrees with the food you take. In other words, before the hike, eat lots of it to make sure you like it. You don't want to get stuck out on the trail with food you don't like. (ok, I did it and it was a stupid mistake)


08-30-2004, 10:08
I forgot one of my favorite "no cook" meals. I have used heated water, but it isn't necessary. Take Carnation Instant Breakfast, a couple of envelopes, a few spoonfuls of _real_ powered milk, fill up a Nalgene and start walking. It can warm you up and get the protein, fat and calories flowing. I usually finish it with a Gatorade/Conquest sort of powder and count myself hydrated for the morning.

Midday is a snack of GORP, dried fruit, and maybe a Snicker. Mid afternoon is burrito bread slathered in peanut butter and honey, rolled up to avoid messiness.

But I'd hate to miss cooking for supper and a hot cider.


hiker dude
08-30-2004, 12:20
www.zoneperfect.com (http://www.zoneperfect.com) I love these bars so much I could eat them forever and ever, yum yum. So funny cause I don't think anybody gets it. Point is; I don't need a hot meal ever now. I would get sick before on their bars if I didn't eat something homemade before. Not today, I'm getting like 500 or more of em to hike the A-T and mailing em to me for the long haul. I like it here in the, thats right, perfect zone. Don't forget your supplyments and pass the pizza shop. I say your fine, But, you do your thing, I'll do mine. Cause you might have to do your thing to.:sun

08-30-2004, 12:54
...is not really that much of a hassle. Some people make it seem really complicated, but often it's as easy as putting some food you like in the dehydrator, and repackaging it in ziplocks when it's dry.

You can go no-cook if you like, but you should probably always take along a small stove like an Esbit in case you do get into a situation where a hot drink would be good to help you get warm.

08-30-2004, 13:10
I hiked most of the trail without a stove last year. For dinner, I lived mostly off variations of things you can eat on a tortilla- packaged chicken, packaged turkey, pepperoni, various cheeses, peanut butter, jelly. I especially liked the different flavor tortillas to add even more variety. After a while I got a little tired of all the same stuff. But it's quick and easy, and it beats the hassel of carrying a stove and cooking (in my opinion).

08-30-2004, 13:56

re "tips from those who have tried it" -- Ray Jardine and his wife tried through-hiking the (?) PCT no-cook. There's a discussion somewhere in Beyond Backpacking. Basically, they got pretty hungry, not very successfull. For energy/weight efficiency, you need to be able to reconstitute some form of dry starch. On shorter hikes no cook meals are pretty successfull. Don't write off drying your own meals or fruit. Less trouble than it sounds, economical, weight efficient, and the meals are good. If you are willing to extend "no-cook" to include a cup of boiling water, then you can have a varied light weight diet. Lastly, remember that the ubiquitous ramen packet can be eaten as a (pre-cooked) crunchy.

Spirit Walker
08-30-2004, 17:28
One problem that I saw with those who did the trail no cook is that since you are basically eating the same thing for lunch and dinner, every day, they got pretty tired of their food. But then, so did I with Liptons. The difference was I had more than a few options. The weight of the food is usually heavier if you don't cook and the cost may be greater -- unless you eat nothing but peanut butter.

As others have said, try before you go. Some people find that eating a lot of dried fruit or nuts can really upset their stomachs. And don't buy six months worth of anything. You will likely find after two months that those wonderful energy bars no longer do the trick after a while. Keep your options open.

Cedar Tree
08-30-2004, 19:58
I sent my stove home at Bland, VA.

I ate:

lots of cereal with powdered milk for breakfasts.

an unbelievable amount of ramen dry with assorted toppings-peanut butter, pb/jelly combos, VT maple syrup... (this was my MAIN food source, I love ramen and still do, I probably ate at least one bag a day either cooked or dry)

pita bread or cooked pizza crusts rolled up with cooked bacon or pepperoni, or tuna or chicken.

Lots of junk food, poptarts, nabs, peanuts, beef jerky, rice-crispy treats, GORP....

And then you are at the next town.

I don't like Liptons or Mac&cheese.

Even though I didn't carry my stove, I still carried a pot. I ate out of it, and often cooked when a fire was available.

I was very content without a stove, except for one time of the day.
I sorely missed my morning coffee.
But I gave it up for the weight of a stove.
A Peak 1 apex II , do you blame me?

Now my Brasslite rocks my beer can pot.
And I enjoy my coffee.

Goodness what a difference 4 years makes.

09-09-2004, 00:23

I read the above entries with interest because I considered but never did it. I think you should their advice about variety, and most of all try it first. do some weekend and one week treks, trying some of the different meals and see what you think. If you don't like what happens it's never to late to take another approach. I would recommend that you re-consider if youare planning a winter or cool weather hike, a hot meal can really lift the spirits on cold wet day.

09-09-2004, 01:10
Demetri Coupounas did this on his recent JMT through hike:

As an experiment, I tried carrying 100% raw, no-preparation required foods with me. The staple was mangoes, but there were also plenty of dates, pecans, macademia nuts, and kelp. The experiment went fantastically. I found that I needed far less raw food than I do cooked food to keep me feeling great and moving well. I consumed only 1.6 pounds per day. Having packed almost 3 pounds per day for an 11-day itinerary, I soon started looking for people I could give food to. These I found, thanks mostly to the fact that I was giving away macademia nuts I suppose. Over the trip, I parted with 12 pounds of food and still had 2 pounds left over at the end! I will pack far less next time. Basic strategy was to (1) eat all the fruit I wanted at each rest stop; (2) then have a handful of nuts to keep my body burning fat all day long; and (3) finish with a piece of kelp for electrolyte mineral balance and to keep my teeth pretty clean in between brushings/flossings. I’d follow this trio up with lots and lots of water. This routine made for twice daily glorious gifts to the Earth in GoLite’s official “Sun” color – too bad they had to go into cat-holes."


09-09-2004, 12:48
Interesting approach!! Would you suggest using dried fruit (i.e. the stuff that is NOTHING but dried fruit, like www.justtomatoes.com) (http://www.justtomatoes.com)) instead of bigger, bulkier whole fruit? I think I would supplement that diet with some tofu jerkey for a protein source. But I agree that kelp is an amazing wonder food....

Rift Zone
09-10-2004, 23:44
Can you find nori in the southern section? I recall the markets down there as being less than diverse.

09-14-2004, 17:38
Call me crazy but I actually like firing up the stove at the end of day on the trail.

Peanut butter on crackers can't hold a candle to a nice, hot meal.