Plant Based, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free Backpacking meal ideas (Meal Plan #1)

A 99% Plant Based, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free Backpacking meal plan, plus it can fit into a minimalist ultralight weight backpackers plan. This is what I will be bringing on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail this summer, and what I bring on overnights. It comes close to hitting my seven goals:
1-125 calories per oz
2-4000 calories per day
3-2 or less pounds per day
4-Under $10 per day for 4000 calories, $6 for 3000 calories
5-Near perfect ratio of protein (15%), fat (35%), and carbs (50%)
7-takes up as little as possible pack space

More plant based menu ideas here

Take out the Couscous, make sure you have GF oats and you also have Gluten Free Backpacking Meals.

Link to doc with all ingredients with tabs at bottom for 4000 calorie plan and 3000 calorie plan. I use Chronometer to get exact calories, minerals, etc. Sometimes I am off on what I put in the bags and what I put on the spreadsheet so that might make up for some of the differences you see.

On video I forgot to show a tablespoon of Goji Berries in the 3000 calorie plan, that addition makes sure that you get all the Vitamin A you need each day.

I also made a mistake with protein/fat/carb ratio. The 4000 cal meal plan is 15/32/53.


  1. GarouLady on September 16, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    I really wish someone would make a diabetic backpacking/hiking videos. everything is carbs carbs and sugar all big No-nos for diabetics.

  2. Abigail Marie on September 16, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    you can add seaweed wraps(homemade), sun-dried tomatoes, Different homemade nut butters(like almond butter, sunflower butter, pastachio butter, etc.)!!! 😀 miso paste maybe(the real stuff doesn’t need refrigeration). corn tortilla chips with nutritional yeast is an awesome snack too! I make seaweed wraps with nori sheets(get a huge bag of 100 or more sheets at the asian market), a little sunflower butter, miso paste, and just 1 or 2 drops of sesame oil. Those wraps are delicious… chewy too. some people use different filling and make seaweed jerky. You can mix different flavors with the nut butter on the go to make either different sweet nut butters(like chocolate almond), or different savory flavors(like sunbutter miso, or cashew butter miso with nutritional yeast). p.s. you can make homemade sunbutter in a food processor and it only takes 10 min. or less. you can save a TON of money by making everything yourself.

  3. Wouter de Vos on September 16, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    This is so useful. Thank you. Would it be possible to fix the link to the doc, it doesn’t appear to work anymore.

  4. Rimona Gale on September 16, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Amazing! Thanks.

  5. Sumaya Elabi on September 16, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you sooo much! I’m glad to have found healthy on-the-trail meal ideas! I couldn’t stand showing my kids videos of "cool hikers" who only ate junk food! Our reason to hike is to be healthy and one with nature.

  6. Mike Bear Prout on September 16, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Very inspiring.

  7. Jessica Grimes on September 16, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    What an excellent resource! Thanks for the great video!

  8. nala432 on September 16, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    similar to your experience, I’ve been surprised by all the junk food included in other videos – this video was such a refreshing find! As a new backpacker I thank you!

  9. Andrew Dawes on September 16, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Awesome video man. I’m a “hardcore” vegan lol and these cold soak meals are a great idea especially in Australia where it’s not too cold at nights. Do you have any good resources for additional recipes?

  10. vegan ist on September 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks so much for putting this all together!

  11. Weinmaraner productions on September 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    you could grind a lot of that to powder and mix it together to save space so you just have one bag it also makes it playable so it fits in a pack really well. just need a shaker bottle

  12. Mike&Ash Experience on September 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Dope Video! Sending blessing your way, Keep inspiring!🎒🙌🏻

  13. Carole Warner on September 16, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    OMG, I couldn’t agree with you more about the complete junk people eat while on backpacking trips! I can’t believe people can complete a thru hike on that garbage… That said, I couldn’t eat what you’re eating either. Too much sweet, too much processed stuff (TVP, various powders), not enough savory, and not enough veg or animal protein (in my case). And I go on long hikes so I need variety or I’ll totally get sick of what I’m eating. I like to eat real food when I’m out there just like I do at home.

    For breakfast I never seem to tire of rolled oat/nuts/dried fruits/shredded coconut cereal, though I just mix it with cold water. I’ll have coffee or tea (and hot water in the oatmeal) if it’s cold, and always roll out of camp with 16 oz of water with a scoop of green superfood mixed in.

    For lunches I usually make and dehydrate various kinds of salads that can be cold soaked easily. My two favorites are quinoa cous cous and cole slaw that rehydrates just as crispy and fresh as when you first make it, you just have to make sure you slice everything up uniformly fine. You can make it vinegar based or bring along packets of mayo to mix in for a traditional slaw. I’ll pair those with rehydrated powdered refried beans or hummus with rice crackers or other whole grain crackers, or sometimes I’ll bring a foil envelope containing wild caught smoked tuna or salmon, or some kind of salami or hard cheese, etc. So basically some kind of salad and some sort of fatty protein with crackers.

    Snacks include presprouted and then dehydrated sea salted nuts, dried fruit or home made fruit leathers – my favorite one is a combination of blueberries and banana pureed and then poured onto the trays (I typically mix in some green superfood powder in those too), and JoJo’s dark chocolate bars with nuts and dried cranberries (Costco – bag of 14 bars for ten bucks). I also sometimes make home made bars with various nuts/hemp hearts/seeds/coconut/dried berries/green superfood powder/rolled oats/cacao powder and pureed dates or figs and some kind of nut butter to bind it all together. By altering the ingredients you can make different tasting bars for variety. Once all the ingredients are mixed up I press it into a bread pan and put it in covered into the frig. When it’s hardened up I cut it into bars and toss them into snack baggies.

    I prefer to cook my dinners, but I use a cat food can alcohol stove with a foil wind screen and carry my fuel in a little plastic squirt bottle, so it’s a super light weight kitchen. My meals are usually one pot meals that are the same as what I routinely eat at home. The only difference is that I meticulously cut up my ingredients to very uniform sizes so they’ll dehydrate and then rehydrate evenly/at the same rate. If I have meat in a dish, I typically cut it up to very small, uniform pieces (1/4" or so) and package that separately so I can cook that first as it takes longer to rehydrate, except in the case of ground beef which I just make sure to thoroughly break up so there are no chunks whatsoever and it rehydrates just fine. In other meat dishes, once the meat has been rehydrating in boiling water for a few minutes, I’ll then dump in the remaining ingredients, bring everything back up to a boil for a minute or so and then put the pot in the cozy to continue cooking/rehydrating while I go set up camp, wash up, journal or whatever. Ten minutes later I have a piping hot, delicious home cooked meal made entirely of organic whole foods and without any of the chemicals and preservatives in the various dehydrated backpacker meals for sale. I’ll usually save the chocolate bar for desert.

    As I said it’s the same stuff I make for us at home, just cut up smaller. Another thing I often do when preparing for a backpacking trip is to just bring home extra orders of meals from my favorite restaurants (Thai, etc.). When I get them home I’ll just strain out the chunks from the sauce so I can chop up everything into small uniform pieces before putting it all back together to dehydrate. Once I’ve cooked up a pot of food or chopped up the restaurant food I brought home, I’ll scoop a hearty serving into my pot and pour the contents onto one of the fruit leather trays in my dehydrator; one serving to a tray. This keeps the sauce from dripping through. Note: if there’s a grain involved I go ahead and cook it first of course and then just mix it right in with the dish in my pot before transferring to the leather tray. There’s no need to use instant rice or other quick cook grains. Polenta and even brown rice will rehydrate easily if they’ve been precooked. Remember to lightly oil the fruit leather trays beforehand with coconut oil before dumping the serving onto it so that it scrapes off easily into the zip lock baggy once it’s dried. Otherwise the sauces get so thin and cooked onto the plastic that you practically have to rehydrate it just to get it off! Pre-oiled, you can easily scrap every crumb of the yummy powdered sauces off with the rest.

    When I’m putting together my resupply boxes I’ll take gallon zip lock bags and put a breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks into each bag for as may days as I’ll be out. I carry the appropriate number of scoops of the green superfood powder for the entire trip in one bag and put that, the instant coffee, tea bags & a small container of sea salt altogether in a quart size freezer bag as well. However many days of food need to go in each resupply box, I just grab that many bags and throw them in.

    Examples of some of my favorite meals include:
    * Chili (well spiced!) with beans, onions, broccoli, red & green peppers & carrots (sometimes with ground beef too) and polenta. If I have any cheddar cheese along I’ll add some to it just before eating.
    * Chicken coconut butter curry (Indian) with peas, carrots, garlic, onions, spices and basmati rice
    * Shepherd’s pie – I make the meat & veggie part and then package up the dehydrated mashed potatoes separately, but just mix it all together when I’m rehydrating it.
    * Turkey & stuffing stew – I make my grandma’s stuffing recipe (UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS) which has celery, onions, butter (LOTS), salt, pepper, sage, black currents, gluten free bread (or sometimes GF corn bread or even rice instead) & raw egg tossed in. I bake the stuffing with the deboned turkey (or sometimes chicken) sitting on top of it so all the drippings get absorbed into it. Once it’s all cooked, I chop the meat up separately into small uniform pieces and weigh all of it (in oz) and divide the total by 6 as that tells me how many servings of meat I have altogether. Then I dehydrate the meat separately and when it’s done I reweigh it and divide that weight by the number of servings I had so I know how much to put in each baggy by the new dried weight for one meal. With the stuffing I put a nice big serving into my pot and then dump two servings on each tray (that’s what fits well) and then divide the dried results of each tray into two different baggies. So I have a baggie with the stuffing and one with the chicken/turkey for each meal. On the trail I put the meat in when the water is still cold, bring it to a boil for a few minutes with about 3 cups of water. Then I dump in the stuffing in, bring it back to a boil and have an absolutely amazing hearty savory soup that tastes like thanksgiving.
    * Many different kinds of thai curries with a variety of veggies and sometimes meat or just green beans and nuts
    * Pad thai (with veg & legumes &/or meat) with either a peanut or coconut sauce and rice noodles
    * Various lentil dahls with rice

    You get the picture. I eat SO well on the trail! The only spice I carry is sea salt and sometimes a tiny bottle of hot sauce, but for the most part I make and season everything back in my kitchen at home so all I have to do on the trail is boil water and eat…gosh, I’ve gone and made myself hungry talking about all that food. : – D

  14. Jon Carmean on September 16, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Well done, Paul – thanks for the suggestions and info.

  15. Taylor Wayne on September 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Dude thank you so much for this video! I’m planning on fastpacking the JMT in 7-10 days this August and you’ve saved me a crazy amount of time figuring how I’d meet my nutritional needs 😁🙌

  16. Amelia's Menagerie on September 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Even some kroger brand dark chocolate chips are vegan just fyi 🙂 just in case you wanted to know

  17. Backcountry Staples on September 16, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    You should check out our gluten-free, plant-based, quick-cooking breakfasts! I think you’d really enjoy them:

  18. Virpukka on September 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    THIS!!!! Man I can’t even say how many thru hikers I have tried to get to understand this that they need to look the quality and the nutritional value of their food too. Not just calories! You actually don’t need as much calories either when you look after the nutrition part AND you avoid the hiker hunger. I have done a lot of research with this stuff after I stumbled into a site that was done by one raw food hiker who has done the triple crown. You could actually find a lot of good information from his site, , though it has not been updated in years. The info he has there is still valid though. Thank you for posting this. I think I will try few things from your examples for sure. 🙂

  19. RobinEsch on September 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm


  20. Jordan Ross on September 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    carob pls no

  21. Ila Uronen on September 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    This is unbelievably helpful and has saved me countless hours of time! Thank you good sir!!!

  22. Victoria Nixon on September 16, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Couscous is usually made with wheat and not gluten free. Also Oreos aren’t gluten free either. I just want to make that known Incase there are any new gluten free people seeing this. Although I do think this is a great vegan hiking meal video! Very helpful!

  23. TainoXtreme on September 16, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Awesome video. Very good subject. I’m glad there is a backpacking menu for vegan people like me I found powdered hummus in the supermarket among other Partner In foods like peanuts, bins, coconut milk and many others. I think, there is dehydrated vegetables that you can add to this vegan meals. Thank you so much for sharing your video. Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to seeing all the recipes from you. God bless you.

  24. Meg Hikes on September 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Do you have any plans to do a video on what TVP is, why a dried flattened banana not banana chips, what are plantain chips, why sea salt etc?
    Also what’s your dessert? Is it a mouse or a milkshake? I’m not sure sorry!

  25. David Andersen on September 16, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    This is good.

  26. Dr Spaseebo on September 16, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Excellent ! Many thanks.

  27. Alexander Sage on September 16, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Dark chocolate chips at trader Joe’s are vegan

  28. Margaret Pulley on September 16, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    So grateful for what I am learning from you from watching your videos. I have bought a few of the items you recommended: bidet, cathole trowel, $13 Arpenaz Quechua backpack (!!!love!!!), and I believe you recommended the long-handled bamboo spoon at one time. And here you have the ultimate food guide! Thank you so much!

  29. Weinmaraner productions on September 16, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    that reminds me i need some raisins mega cals

  30. Maria Schreiner on September 16, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you so much! I’m just starting out, and was pretty horrified at most backpacking food suggestions. I have to learn more about cold soaking.

  31. Kristin Nicholson on September 16, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    This is wildly helpful!

  32. Doug Underwood on September 16, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Just reviewing this superb video again. One other way to get high quality greens on train is powdered Matcha. Blend it into your water bottle and drink it all day!

  33. Chris C on September 16, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    This may be the most useful vegan backpacking food video ever!! No junk and cheap. Most I’ve seen that aren’t junk are $20 a day and consisting of hard to find bars and powders. Thanks so much!

  34. Meg Hikes on September 16, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Really appreciate the reference to how to make it gluten free and 100% vegan. I don’t think Oreos are gluten free though. Love the attention to detail and the white backgrounds – lots of effort clearly went into this thank you!

  35. Gear Tips on September 16, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Paul!
    So, you don’t have lunch? Just snacks? Or the couscous is the lunch?

  36. Nick Patrick Cooper on September 16, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Hey Paul, what kind of cocoa powder do you use? Is it baking cocoa powder? I’m trying to find some at my local WINCO.

  37. Chase Barber on September 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Really great resource, love it!

  38. Julie-Roxane Krikorian on September 16, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you so so so sooo much for this. You obviously put a lot of work into it and I am eternally grateful that you took the time to share!

    Would be able to tell me where you got the gravy powder?

    Thanks again!

  39. Kate Bird on September 16, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Couscous generally isnt gluten-free, but I love these ideas

  40. Norma Rinker on September 16, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    You are really giving me a lot of ideas. I am gonna binge watch a bunch more of your videos on my next day off 😊 thanks so much!

  41. Karl Espernberger on September 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    This is awesome man, thanks!

  42. Worklesstrekmore on September 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you Paul, I eat a vegan diet as well. I agree the food eaten on the trails are nutritionally deprived. You have some great meal ideas here. I will be consuming a vegan protein powder that is not soy based though, powdered dehydrated greens … A good protein source is crucial not only for nutrition but that of muscle repair.

  43. Ayde on September 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    I also appreciate how you limit foods that come pre-packaged. I always thought it was kind of hypocritical: eating from packaging that cannot and will-not be recycled or composted (while being surrounded by relatively pristine nature).

  44. Sam Newell on September 16, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you for this

  45. Hunter Thomsen on September 16, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you!! I was looking for ultralight, vegan, no stove backpacking meals and this is spot-on! Appreciate the google sheet as well. Awesome!!

  46. RYB Life on September 16, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    there are enough vegan chocolate chips 😉 no need for carob

  47. KT Ho on September 16, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    WOW. This is awesome! Thank you!

  48. Beards and Branches on September 16, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Holey crap man, that is awesome!

  49. Elijahtree on September 16, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Gold, ty.

  50. chowderfaceable on September 16, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Paul thank you so much ! I’m planning my first backpacking trip to Yosemite and I refuse to eat like garbage and just focusing on "calories" and "protein" when they themselves can’t define what’s protein is and why they need it. I mean it only makes sense to Eat garbage + look like garbage = feel like garbage.

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