Backpacking Food Storage Ideas

backpacking food storage ideas

Backpacking meals are meant to be enjoyed without the worry of food being spoiled, crushed or leaked in a backpack. Here are some ideas on how to get your vittles  from grocery shop to the trail.

There are many ways to deal with food for backpacking trips. I prefer to use plastic bags and containers that can be reused to minimize the impact on the environment.

Here is a selection of containers I usually bring on my hiking trips:

1. Zip lock freezer bags are suitable for most backpacking food storage including trail snacks, rice, pasta, dehydrated meals, baking mixes and many others.
Zip lock bags could be washed at home and reused. Take some extra bags on your backpacking trip for leftovers or emergencies.

2. Small zip lock bags or mini containers are good for salt, herbs and spices storage. GSI Outdoors offer a Spice Missile Set – three lightweight, dual-chamber modules that are watertight and screw onto each other.  You can carry with you up to six different spices and herbs.

3.  Travel-size leak-proof bottles for vegetable oils and liquids such as soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, etc.

4. Squeezable tubes for condiments such as pesto, ketchup or mayonnaise. GSI Outdoors offers incredibly compact, lightweight condiment bottles that could be flattened and rolled for storage.

5. Hard-sided containers for fragile items such as crackers, Oreo cookies or for delicate fruits and vegetables. They are widely available from Ikea.

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  1. Lynn on January 23, 2021 at 3:45 am

    I was so happy to find this site. I was already making my own backpacking meals but needed some new recipes and fresh ideas. For those like me who care deeply about having a smaller planetary footprint and see the hypocrisy in using so many plastic bag s, supporting the petroleum industry, and creating more trash for the landfills, I pack my individual meals in natural paper sandwich bags. They do not contain paraffin wax, and not chemically treated. I cook with a stick stove ( small wood burning back pack stove) so I don’t burn petroleum fuels or have to carry canisters. I use the paper sandwich bags to help start the stove. I keep working to refine my backpacking skills at the same time being conscience of the wilderness I love. It is a learning process but it works! My backpacking partners always pack out a ton of garbage. I am on the right track.

  2. mccorpsman on October 28, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I found 8 ounce reusable ziploc bags at The Container Store. They claim 300 uses and food safe. I pack 6 ounces of GORP per day in them.

  3. Mark Whitcombe on October 19, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    I’m struggling with how to reduce my use of limited-use plastics, especially ziplock bags. I’m using various of the approaches you’ve suggested in this brief post. Perhaps I’m not careful enough, but I’m wasting far too many plastic bags from ripping and tearing. I’m lucky to get an average of two repeat uses from a good quality ziplock bag. This isn’t good enough …
    Have you experimented with bulk storage of backpacking meals? I’m wondering about selecting, say, three core meals (e.g., a la Skurka), and having each one stored in a reusable hard plastic box such as you picture. Condiments that could change a common set of ingredients from a chili to a curry to a jerk could be carried in small reusable bottles or boxes.
    I spent a day hiking with someone working towards a zero-waste lifestyle, and she was carrying food in reusable waterproof fabric bags in the fashion of the canvas gunned sacks my father used to carry when he was wilderness paddling way back in the 1920s. Got me thinking …

    • Tanya Krezevska on October 19, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Hi Mark! Dehydrated food needs special storage and packaging. At home you can store meals in a bulk, in airtight glass jars or plastic containers. I’d not recommend to keep dried food in fabric bags in order to avoid food reaction with oxygen. Here you can find some main rules for packaging and storing dried foods:

  4. Crystal on August 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Just a note; those Ikea plastic containers with the green lids are not water-tight. They leak if you put liquids in them.

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