Our recent hiking trip to the Western Uplands in Algonquin park was such an adventure. It was our first time really hiking & backpacking in Canada. We had done our fair share in NZ, so it was awesome to finally do it on the home turf. It was also an adventure because put together most of our food from scratch. In NZ we mainly stuck with couscous and ramen noodles (yes, I’m cringing too), but I decided it was worth it to switch things up this time around. I borrowed a dehydrator from a friend and went all out creating these homemade vegan backpacking meals!

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Vegan Backpacking Meals

Breakfast

We have oats nearly every single day at home. Why bother messing with a good thing while on the trail? I bought an instant oat mix from Bulk Barn that had ingredients I was pretty pleased with (oats, almonds, barley flakes, wheat flakes, flax, sunflower seeds, dried apple, millet, cinnamon, sesame seeds, and salt). To up the calories and nutrition, I added a spoonful each of soy milk powder, coconut milk powder, and powdered peanut butter. To switch up the flavours each day I added a handful of various dried fruits (blueberries, mangoes, peaches, pears, or bananas).

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

The oats were really easy to make each morning. Just boil a bunch of water, add it to the oats, cover and let sit for a bit, and enjoy! This breakfast kept us fuelled for a solid morning of hiking.

Snacks

Does anyone know what GORP actually stands for??? Eh?? Good ol’ raisins and peanuts! Trail mix has come a long way since then with endless combinations of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I made 5 pre-portioned bags of trail mix for each of the days we’d be hiking. In each bag I added the following: peanuts, sunflower seeds, crispy rice, raisins, chocolate chips, and dried blueberries. It was a nice mix of sweet & salty, and crunchy & chewy.

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Dehydrating & Dinners

As I mentioned above, I borrowed a friend’s dehydrator to make these homemade vegan backpacking meals. I dehydrated fruits, veggies, pasta, and beans to add to our food inventory. The fruits I added to our snack bags, & oatmeal breakfasts, but the veggies, pasta, and beans I used to make up our main meals.

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

This blog post from The Hippy Homemaker was a godsend! I followed the recipes for Curry Lentils, Veggie Pasta Primavera, and Black Bean Taco Mac. These three meals were hearty, tasty, and easy to make while camping.

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

In addition to the homemade meals, we branched out and bought some convenience pre-made foods. I picked up some 90 second quinoa & rice, and rice & lentil packets to add bulk to some meals. We also brought along a few retail meals from Alpine Adventures. We tried the Corn Chowder (with an aforementioned rice packet), and a veggie & rice burrito bowl (which we put into wraps for more calories).

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Lunches?

You’ll notice I’ve omitted lunches. Despite all of our seemingly endless planning, we somehow overlooked the need for substantial lunches while hiking. We brought tortilla wraps with the intention of filling them with peanut butter… but we never actually bought peanut butter. D’oh!! Fortunately we had 2 extra Alpine Adventure meals that Mac could eat (they were vegetarian, but not vegan). Additionally, Mac saved the day when he casually threw together all of the leftover dehydrated pasta & beans. This random mix turned into a (not especially tasty) lunch for me. Furthermore we had exactly one protein-type bar (GoMacro) that we finished about 15 minutes before finishing the hike. Had we not had those extra meals and snacks, we definitely would have been hungry hikers.

Extra Tips // Dehydrator Thoughts

Shopping at Bulk Barn was so beneficial for this trip. It’s where I purchased the premade instant oatmeal (though that wouldn’t be terribly difficult to replicate at home, just more effort and more ingredients…), plant-based milk powders, powdered peanut butter, and trail mix supplies. I also bought dehydrated vegetables at Bulk Barn to supplement the ones I dehydrated at home.

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

I really enjoyed using the dehydrator in making these vegan backpacking meals. It was especially awesome for things like the pasta and beans which are harder (& more expensive) to find commercially (but it is possible! Harmony House Foods is a great option). The homemade dehydrated fruits (I did mangoes, pears, peaches, bananas, & blueberries) were also quite tasty and definitely less expensive than their retail counterparts. I wasn’t too fond of my dehydrated veggies though. I’m not sure if I just didn’t dehydrate them for long enough, but they never seemed to crisp up like I expected.

Dehydrating all of the aforementioned ingredients at home also took a lot of forethought. I dehydrated everything over the course of three nights (with a few things taking two nights). The pasta and beans/lentils had to be cooked first then dehydrated, so it took some careful planning.

Next time, I might branch out and try some of the pre-packaged meals that are readily available at most outdoor retailers. Many of which offer vegan & vegetarian options! Some of the more popular brands are: Backpacker’s Pantry, Good to Go, & Alpine Aire.

That being said, I loved being able to customize my own vegan backpacking meals with wholesome ingredients without needing to use preservatives. Additionally, there is a lot of plastic waste created with store-bought meals. I may have used plastic Ziplock bags for our backpacking trip, but you’d better believe that I came home and washed every single bag to reuse again. #noshame

Vegan Backpacking Meals | A Taste of Trace

Finally, here are a few things I learned in hindsight that I’ll definitely be thinking back to on our next camping trip:

  • Bring at least an extra day’s worth of food. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you’re like us and forget about lunches, it’ll end up being 100% worth it to bring the extra weight
  • You’ll be burning a LOT of extra calories while hiking – plan your meals to be as calorically dense as possible. Try to aim for a minimum of 400-500 calories per meal (with snacks to supplement your day). Backpacking is not the time to be worried about calories or healthy/unhealthy foods. High-calorie foods include nuts, seeds, dried fruits, grains, etc.
  • Homemade or pre-made energy bars are an extremely convenient way to get a quick dose of calories. Our favourites are Clif Bars, Larabars, & GoMacro Bars.
  • Stay hydrated! Mac & I each used a 2L water bladder which I loved. It was so much more convenient than fiddling with a water bottle.

Tell me, what are your favourite vegan backpacking meals? Or camping/hiking foods in general? I’ve recently discovered that adding pretzels to trail mix is an absolute game changer!

 

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