Food + Drinks on Trips

What types of food you can take on a trip depends on a number of factors.

Duration: On short trips, fresh foods can be taken, but for longer trips, dehydrated foods are needed to minimise weight. Similarly, for short trips you can eat whatever you can carry and like, however, for longer trips, more thought needs to be given about the nutritional balance of the food you take, keeping the overall weight low.

Weather: In hot weather, certain foods don’t keep as well as they would in cold weather. Hot weather also brings with it the threat of bushfires — total fire ban days can occur during the summer months so you should take foods which don’t require cooking. The extra exercise you get while bushwalking means you require more energy than usual. The cold weather experienced while ski touring means your body requires more food to provide the energy to keep you warm. A good, well balanced meal eaten before going to bed will help to keep you warmer throughout the night. Beginner walkers are likely to require slightly more energy than experienced walkers as their strides are not as efficient.

With a bit of forethought and preparation, meals eaten while bushwalking or ski-touring can be every bit as delicious and interesting as those you eat at home. It is wise to take an extra day’s food in case of emergencies or delays.

Drinking water requirements can vary from 2 up to 10 litres per day depending on temperature and difficulty of the walk/activity. Additional water will also be required for cooking, especially if using dried foods. You will need to take into consideration whether the water you are carrying, needs purification, depending upon its source. Rain and stream water would usually need some sort of filtration or treatment, such as chlorine-based tablets, boiling, UV-treatment, micro-filtration or a mix of these, depending upon how clean it ‘looks’.


  • Cereal – Muesli, Porridge, Quick Oats etc.

  • Powdered Milk – Full cream tastes better and provides more energy than skim. UHT carton milk is available in 250ml sizes and can be used for short trips

  • Bacon – Unsliced bacon will keep better if you can get it. Wrap in paper to limit sweating

  • Eggs – Powdered if you can get them or fresh eggs wrapped in newspaper and kept inside a mug or saucepan
  • Pancakes – Mix flour, sugar and powdered milk in a plastic bag before you go. Take jam in squeeze tubes to put on them. You can even buy pre-mixed pancake mixes from supermarkets
  • Baked Beans – they are already cooked so can be eaten cold


  • Biscuits, Cakes and Breads – Anzac biscuits; fruit breads, cakes or muffins; date loaf; rice cakes; muesli bars; crisp breads; rye, lavash or pita bread etc.
  • Spreads – Honey; jam; nut butters; Vegemite, hummus, tahini etc. Margarine is easier to spread than butter in cold weather and melts less in hot weather. You can purchase reusable squeeze tubes for holding spreads
  • Cheese – Parmesan, cream or cottage cheese, etc. Cheeses bought in small, individually wrapped portions are less likely to go mouldy on the trip than a large block. However, do also think about the amount of rubbish you will generate and that you will have to carry it all with yourself on a multi-day hike
  • Salami – Cabanossi etc. Wrap in paper to limit sweating
  • Sprouts – Mung and soya beans, lentils and alfafa seeds can be kept moist in a cotton cloth, plastic bag or plastic container to make sprouts as you go
  • Sardine/Tuna – available in small cans from supermarkets and also come in various flavours


  • Rice/Pasta meals – from supermarket or carry fresh or dried meat and vegetables to make your own
  • Alliance etc. style freeze dried meals – These are very lightweight, but quite expensive and usually need some extra flavouring to make them taste good


  • Custard
  • Instant Puddings
  • Jelly
  • Cheese Cake
  • Mousse


  • Dried Fruit – Keeps better than fresh. Can be eaten as-is or soaked in water to soften or mixed with custard to make a delicious desert
  • Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews etc.
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower and sesame etc., provide both protein and energy
  • Chocolate
  • Scroggin – called GORP (‘Good Old Raisins and Peanuts’) in the US – a mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, lollies and pieces of chocolate
  • Breakfast bars, muesli bars, energy bars, etc.


  • Tea, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Soup Powder – for hot drinks
  • Gatorade, Staminade etc. powders – Electrolyte replacement drinks help to combat dehydration
  • Fruit Drink Powder – Helps to break monotony of drinking water and helps to hide the taste of water purification tablets

Preparing Your Own Meals

More often than not, you can find most foods pre-packaged from supermarkets. However, often it is advisable that you pack things in reusable zip-lock bags using foods that you might already have at home. Using zip-lock bags for foods can mean you can carry your rubbish back in them.


  • Vegetables – Fresh for short trips or dried for longer trips
  • Pulses – peas, beans and lentils are good protein sources and a meat substitute. Soak for a few hours before cooking to reduce cooking time
  • Meats – Fresh for short trips in cold climates. Wrap in paper to limit sweating. Dried meats such as beef jerky or smoked meats such as bacon for longer trips
  • TVP – Textured Vegetable Protein or nut meat – meat substitutes for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike
  • Pasta, Noodles and Rice
  • Herbs, Spices and Sauces – Pepper, garlic, tomato paste, pesto, soy sauce, chillies, curry etc. Add flavour – a good selection of flavourings can make or break a meal
  • Flour, Sugar, Salt, Milk Powder – Can be used to make damper, pancakes or pikelets

Packing the Food

I usually measure all my foods out into daily portions at home and place the portions into ziplock bags. To simplify cooking while I’m away, I usually
prepare all the ingredients I require for each dinner in advance and store each in a separate bag. You can also use freezer bags, in which case tie them shut or seal with rubber bands rather than bread ties which can puncture the bags. For powders and other potentially messy things, I’ll use two bags one inside the other to prevent spilling. Bacon, salami and other meats are best kept wrapped in paper as they will sweat in plastic. Remove all unnecessary packaging from pre-packaged foods to reduce their weight.

Pastes such as margarine, jam and honey etc. can be stored in reusable plastic squeeze tubes available from camping stores. When taking fresh or pre-cooked meals, on an overnight walk for example, screw-top plastic containers can be used.


The club has 360° degrees Furno stoves which are simple and safe to use. Isobutane and Propane mix fuel canisters can be used for Furno. These can be purchased from various outdoor stores. Check our sponsors page for a list of some stores. Planning meals that can be cooked in one pot will simplify cooking and reduce cleaning. Another popular cooking set is a Trangia. To reduce blackening of the bottom of your pots add a teaspoon of water to the Trangia burner when you fill it with methanol. Some stockists of Furno are: Backpacking Light, Snowys, Paddy Pallin, etc.


Detergents should not be used for cleaning, unless you buy bio-degradable concentrates such as SeaToSummit Wilderness Wash. Pots can usually be cleaned by boiling some water in them after use and then wiping clean. Burnt on stains can be removed by scrubbing with sand, twigs or leaves. Wash your pots well away from any lakes or streams to avoid food scraps polluting the water.

Last Updated: March 14, 2023