High Protein Foods For Backpacking
Protein is the body’s primary source for building and repairing muscles – hence why it’s an especially important nutrient to have before and after physical activity. From a general standpoint, protein can be sourced from:
Packing protein filled foods for the backcountry can get a little tricky since most sources of proteins are either perishable, which isn’t safe or realistic to pack out, or they’re canned, which adds a lot of weight to your pack. There are some classic lightweight and relatively non-perishable protein based snacks (did somebody say jerky or trail mix?), but it’s certainly nice to have a few more options and ideas. Below are some fantastic options you can find at your local grocery store – or, in some cases, make your own at home!
Jerky & Cured Meats
1 oz serving = 11g+ protein
Starting off with the most popular and obvious choice… Various dried and cured meats are a fantastic protein source. They typically boast a long shelf life and are okay to be kept out of the fridge for a few – or even up to several – days (depending on curing process, packaging and type of meat). Regardless of what you pack, make sure its stored in your bag in a cool location (away from the heat of the sun and your body heat).
Per 2oz (56g) serving: 12- 20g
It’s best to pack hard cheeses (such as cheddar, smoked gouda, swiss, etc.) as they have less moisture content than other cheese, so won’t spoil as quickly. That being said, softer cheeses can certainly be appropriate for day trips. Like meat, if you do decide to pack fresh cheese, make sure its packed in a cool location (away from the heat of the sun and your body heat).
To be extra safe and worry-free, opt for hydrated or freeze-dried cheese snacks. You can find dried cheese snacks at most grocery stores (keep an eye out for products such as Moon Cheese, Ivanhoe Nothing But… and Cheese Whisps).
Nuts, Seeds & trail Mixes
A handful of nuts and seeds will simply do the trick! Below are the protein contents of various nuts and seeds. Combine your favourites with dried fruits, chocolate, pretzels and other dried snacks to make some creative trail mixes (or simply enjoy the simplicity of pure nuts & seeds).
Protein per 1/4 cup serving:
- Pistachios = 10g
- Peanuts = 9.5g
- Cashews = 9g
- Almonds = 7.5g
- Walnuts = 7.5g
- Hazelnuts = 7.5g
- Brazil Nuts = 7g
- Pine Nuts = 7g
- Pecans = 4.5g
- Macadamia Nuts = 4g
- Hemp Seeds = 12.5g
- Flax Seeds = 12g
- Sunflower Seeds = 10.5g
- Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas) = 9.5g
- Poppy Seeds = 9g
- Chia Seeds = 8.5g
- Sesame Seeds = 6g
Combine the 3 above (meat, cheese & nuts) to build a wicked protein platter. Throw in multigrain crackers (extra protein!) and dried or fresh fruits.
Fresh Farm Eggs
2 eggs = 10g protein
Did you know that North America is one of the few continents that store eggs in the fridge? It’s not because we’re crazy – well maybe it is – it’s because the protective outer layer that keeps air and bacteria out of the egg (called the “bloom” or “cuticle”) is washed off and removed during our processing procedures. If you buy farm fresh eggs, however, they will keep well out of the fridge (but below 20oC) for weeks. The hardest part is bringing the eggs out without crushing or cracking them – but it is possible. If you decide to bring out eggs, make sure they’re packed in a cool location (away from the heat of the sun and your body heat).
Boiling is the easiest, mess-free way to enjoy eggs. Simply bring the eggs to a boil, remove from heat and keep in the covered pot of hot water for 12 minutes. Then peel and enjoy (I like to squeeze a bit of mustard or hot sauce on mine).
Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, Green Peas & More
Legumes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, including kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and lentils, among others. They are highly nutritious and have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. In addition to being an excellent source of protein (as well as fiber, iron and folate), legumes are super versatile and can be cooked in various ways. Plant-based protein powders are also often made from legumes.
Find at the store: (typically in international & organic aisles)
- Moong Dal (fried Mung Lentils) These are one of my favourites for a treat
- Protein Pressels (pretzels made with legume proteins)
- Clean Beans (roasted broad beans)
- Roasted chickpeas or green peas
- Harvest Snaps (baked pea snacks)
Canned Meat: Tuna, salmon, etc.
1/4 cup (60g) serving = 10g+ protein
Canned meat undeniably provides a direct source of protein. There are tons of canned meat options out there: tuna, salmon, chicken, ham… the list goes on. A challenge with canned meat is that it’s heavy and bulky to pack, which may not be desirable for most trips.
If you decide to pack some canned meat, keep in mind that you’ll have to carry the cans back out with you. You may want to avoid strong smelling meats preserved in oils such as smoked oysters and sardines as they are difficult to clean and can quickly stink up your pack.
1 cup = 12g protein
Egg noodles make a great base for various backcountry meals. What makes them so great?
- They’re lightweight
- They’re non-perishable
- They cook in as little as 3 minutes
- One cup has 12g of protein!
Protein Bar or Ball
1 bar = 20g protein (average)
Protein bars and likewise products may be an obvious choice (protein is in the name after all) but it’s important to be mindful of syrups and added sugars found in many store bought products – the high sugar content basically makes them a candy bar. Most are also loaded with preservatives, oils and fillers. Below are some brands that provide healthier options. Making your own at home is easy too!
Find at the store:
- RxBAR (my top choice)
- Daryl’s Bars
- Coming Soon
Sprouted & Whole Grain Breads
2 slices = 10-12g protein
You may be surprised to discover that most whole grain breads contain over 10g of protein per serving! Make an extra protein packed snack by slathering on a layer of nut butter or hummus – or make a sandwich ofcourse! In addition to protein, whole grain breads are a good source of fiber which keeps you feeling full and your digestion track in check!
Instant Bone Broth
1 serving = 10-15g
Instant bone broth is a powdered or granulated form of broth that can be quickly dissolved in hot water to create nourishing and flavourful beverages, soups and meals. In addition to protein, it is rich in collagen, essential amino acids and boasts health benefits for the gut, joint, and skin. Bone Brewhouse is a Canadian company that specializes in instant bone broth.
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The Foodie Behind the Screen
Hi there! I'm Bri.
I create and share nutritious and flavourful recipes for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.