Need some camping food tips? Grab these inexpensive items and make backpacking food actually good.

When you’re backpacking for days at a time, you’re burning calories and expending energy – so you need a good meal at the end of the day. Plus, when the sun sets and you’re starting to get chilly, a Clif bar won’t exactly hit the spot. But neither do soggy, dehydrated meals. Hope you enjoy these camping food tips!

So, without further time wasted, here are five items I recommend for a camping trip to make you actually look forward to your next meal. Plus, these items won’t add much weight or bulk, so you’re getting camping food tips AND backpacking food tips!

Pop Up Camping Bowls:
Image of backpacking bowls as part of camping food tips

I use these for everything from feeding the dog to making oatmeal for myself in the morning or sharing camp food. These are lightweight and fold up, and they have a carabiner so you can clip it to your bag rather than smushing it in. They’re also silicone, so they (a) float and (b) can get squished and not break. A+

Best review:

“I have a confession to make. I don’t have dogs. I do have 2 cats but they like traveling as much as sharing their food with our neighborhood raccoon. So these collapsible travel bowls are not for them. They are for me. I wanted to reduce the load and size of stuff I put in my backpack for hiking/camping so I went looking for collapsible bowls. They make some for camping, but they are way more expensive and don’t look much different. I had seen them for $15-30 for a single bowl. I thought that was crazy! These being BPA free and food grade silicone, I figured they would work for a few weekend get-aways a year. As a bonus, my collapsible cups fit almost perfect inside the bowls. This now gives me more room for little packs of oatmeal and rice I would store inside my stove where I once stowed my previous bowls. Sure, I could lie and say they were for my “dog” but I guess it makes more sense to fess up and say that these are 100% for human use. I imagine other people are doing the same or considering it, so go ahead people, don’t be ashamed… get these bowls and use them.”

Get a two-pack here for $7 (plus prime shipping): LINK

Water Purification Tablets:

Not sure if the water near you is safe to drink? Use one of these tablets to make sure you won’t wake up sick in the middle of the night. These are especially great for camping near still water (ie: lakes) and when it’s cold and filters might freeze. If you’re backpacking for more than a day or so there’s no way you’ll be able to carry as much water as you’ll need, so you NEED to have a plan for where your water will come from.

Best review:

I have a very nice hand pump filter that cost me around $350. On my last long distance backpacking/camping trip we were dealing with temperatures around 15-20 degrees for a few days while we made our way through the mountains and my pump’s inner workings froze. We heated water up on our camp stoves but just to be safe I busted these guys out and they worked like a charm – no GI distress whatsoever. We even used them when we got back down on pond water, I used a t-shirt to filter out the large particulate matter and then used these guys. Not only did they keep us from puking/pooping our brains out but the neutralizer left almost no after taste which was a pleasant surprise.

Get a 50 tablets for $10: LINK

A collapsable drip coffee maker


If you’re anything like me, you need coffee in the morning, especially when waking up in a tent on a chilly morning. We all know that instant coffee is a pale imitation to fresh brew, so make your own. This drip coffee accessor is super light and collapses down flat, but allows you to make your own fresh drip coffee, and works with regular coffee filters. Throw a filter and some coffee grounds in a bag and look forward to a vast improvement over watered down instant java.

A picture of a fold up drip coffee maker - a pro camping food tip

Best review: Whomever invented these deserves all the money he/she is making from inventing them, they are the simplest and most reliable method to brew coffee by simply boiling water and pouring it threw this Java Drip. It is compact, nearly flat, although a little bigger in diameter than I imagined. However,, it will pack nicely into anybody’s travel bag, knapsack, backpack or whatever. With paper coffee filters, this makes a wonderfully delicious cup of coffee! And I know coffee, I am 65 years old. I like this so much that I bought two of them. They collapse down to the size of a small pancake. I cannot say enough good things about this. BUY TWO at least, you will wish you had bought more to give as gifts. Anybody who drinks coffee or hot tea will LOVE this thing.

Get one for under $13:  LINK

A super small camp stove

It goes without saying that you’re going to want hot food and not live off Clif Bars all weekend. Snag a cheap, small, and shockingly light weight burner and heat up hot water for coffee, food, and disinfecting water. The JetBoil is super small, packs up into itself to save space, and even has a foam coating around the outside so you can pick it up with your hands, even when full of boiling water. One canister of propane will easily last you a weekend.

Best review: I love my Jet Boil Flash! Just took it out camping for a second year and it did not disappoint. Event in wind and high altitude it worked perfectly. We went camping in areas with fire bands so could not have a campfire for cooking. I needed to invest in something to use with the Jet Boil. I had a hard time finding the right information but here it is for the next person. If you use the Jet Boil pot support, you can cook with ANY pot on the Jet Boil. Just be sure to watch your heat so you don’t burn your food. It worked perfectly. If you want the Jet Boil skillet or sauce pan, you do not need the pot support. I had a hard time finding the pot support in Denver. Maybe it was just the time of year. For $20 I got the support and an inexpensive non-stick skillet. It worked great. I also have the coffee press and use my Jet Boil to make omelets in a baggie. Love the function and quality of this stove.

Get it here for under $100: LINK 

Make-your-own backpacking food kit

Having trouble finding dehydrated (ie: lightweight) food you like? No problem – just make your own. This kit comes with veggies, spices and ingredients to make your own backpacking food in advance based on what YOU like: bye bye, blah prepackaged food. If you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, it also comes with a recipe card to help you out a bit. It’s vegetarian, so you can add it to meat dishes if you’re the protein-loving type. It’s the ultimate in camping food tips: ditch the camping food!

Best review: This box of quick to prepare food is impressive. It comes in a sturdy box that’s easy for storage. The packages themselves are in heavy bags with efficient, high quality zip locking tops. There’s a wide variety of vegetables, all of them fresh tasting. How long this would last would of course depend on the number of persons, but at my household this will last for months. I noticed some reviews saying that a few items didn’t cook well after ten minutes or soaking or heating. I soak and cook them a few minutes longer than the directions and they’re fine, like fresh vegetables bought at the produce market. They’re a high grade of vegetables. My favorite is the tomatoes. I’m not sure how they’re prepared, but to me, they have a sun-dried, sweet basil soaked flavor. I’m planning to buy the thirty pack version of this kit because it’s wonderful to know that whatever vegetable I want for a casserole, soup, or pasta dish, I’ll always have it on hand, fresh.

Get 18 spice/veggie packs for $52: LINK

Have other camping food tips? Let others know in the comments below.