Hiking food

Meat for Backpacking

Meat is a basic source of protein and the star in many dishes, here is a list of different meats that you can take easily into the backcountry for your next backpacking trip.

In this article (or website in general) I don’t get into the politics and ethics of eating meat. I choose to eat meat, and that’s all there is to it. If you do not, that’s excellent. I also have recipes on this site with vegetarian and vegan recipes, and I invite you to share your favorite source of protein in the comments.


There are many different types of meat that you can take with you on a hiking trip, in this article I mainly cover shelf-stable options, that you can safely keep for longer in your backpack. For the first night of your adventure, you could pack frozen bacon and steaks all you want. But that’s not the smartest idea if you go past that first night with hotter temperatures.

I also cover meat that you can find on resupply or in most common stores, specialty items or stuff you have to order is less useful and reachable in my opinion. Or you have a contained hiking trip with a certain number of meals that you can plan out more. Down below are options that you can pick up as you go, or take out with you without much fuss.


Cans are heavy since they contain all the water in the meat and it is usually filled with liquid. It is however very easy to get and incorporate into your meals or just to eat in a wrap, bread, or cracker. The can itself also weighs grams when empty, and can be crushed to save space in your pack. Cans can even be converted into alcohol stoves.

Some options that you can look out for are:

  • Ham
  • SPAM / Luncheon meat
  • Chicken
  • Hotdogs (sausages & knackwurst & frankfurters)
  • Ragout (more of a meal)
  • Corned beef
  • Beef stew
  • Meatballs

Take a look at the canned section in your grocery store and see what is still manageable in size and weight, also check if the can can be opened with a ring. Or carry a Swiss army knife with you that has one. Like the Victorinox Spartan.

Pouched meat products

Something that is not as easily found in Europe in my experience is the pouched meat products that are popular in the United States for backpackers. Pouched chicken and tuna are ready to eat and lighter weight staple for anybody who is grocery shopping along different trails like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail.

In the Netherlands, you can find a few different pouched meat options that are shelf stable, primarily from the brand Unox. Stuff like hamburgers and sausages are then an option.


Shelf-stable sausages and meat products

One of my favorite meats ever is aired or smoked dried salamis and sausages, things like the Spanish Fuet and Chorizo sausages are excellent to take with you backpacking and pack a bigger flavor punch than many other options on this list.

On the Camino Frances and Portuguese, I ate these pretty much every day for lunch (how could you not in Spain and Portugal). I also take them with me on camping trips, since they last a long time and are ready to eat or throw in your pot.

They are also lighter than canned products and can be stored in your backpack easily. Once cut into or opened they will need to be eaten within a day or two, and will heavily depend on the temperature and other factors. Most you can finish within a meal.

The Dutch Rookworst or smoked sausage has also a place in my backpack, not surprising as a Dutch guy. These could be compared to an American summer sausage.


Bifi sausages or comparable brands can be had pretty much anywhere as a snack, these can also form a nice addition to a backpacking meal. Although they can be quite salty and artificial in my opinion.

Pork cracklings are also an option to have some shelf-stable meat, and can be thrown in stews and soups for a bit of a different texture than normal.

Patés and spreads

Shelf stable patés and spreads are my favorite lunch items on hiking trips since these cans (or soft cans) are very convenient and relatively light to carry. I love all things organ meat, and liver paté is one that you could wake me up for. Pair a can of paté with some hartkeks, crackers, bread, or wrap, and you have yourself a great no-cook & no-fuss lunch. Grab the can, your knife, and your bread component, and go to town while enjoying the scenery. Add a lukewarm beer that’s been stewing in your backpack or wine and you have yourself a party.

Patés can be had in a lot of different supermarkets and online and can be quite fancy if you get the nice ones, for example with exotic meats like Iberico pork, or even ostrich liver. Some of my favorites include the brands: Unox, Argeta, and Iberitos.


Beef jerky will often be the most expensive type of meat that you will carry, but it is also the lightest and leanest. Where other cuts or items on this list are quite heavy in fat, beef jerky is leaner. You can eat it as is or throw it into your backpacking meals for an extra flavor and protein boost. Jerky can also be had from other animals.

A worldwide brand for example is Jack Links, but you can find it pretty much anywhere around from different brands.

Homemade dehydrated beef mince

Another option that you can use as a meat source in your backpacking meals is dehydrating your own lean beef mince. Cook it first until well done, and drain the fat off as much as possible. And dehydrate for at least 6 hours. Afterward, you can store it in the freezer and take it out backpacking when ready. You will need a dehydrator for this, and beware of safety while handling this.

If you have any more items to add to this list, then please let everybody know in the comments. Together we can learn from each other!

Happy hiking and Hike for Purpose

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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