The Challenge of Gluten-Free Backpacking Meals

Life on the trail is not for the faint of heart! Changing weather, hazardous terrain, and wildlife pose unpredictable challenges. And then, of course, there’s food. No plumbing or refrigeration makes food storage, preservation, and preparation extremely difficult. Those combined with the need for a gluten-free diet can seem overwhelming. Luckily, solutions like gluten-free freeze dried and dehydrated food, carbohydrates, and protein sources are readily available, so you don’t have to sacrifice your health or the activities you love.

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

When we get worn down while hiking or backpacking we are often tempted to eat sugary snacks to get a quick burst of energy. Without diet restrictions, this can be pretty easy. Granola bars and other trail friendly, carbohydrate rich foods are widely available. But when you’re gluten free, many foods are off limits. Consumers may not realize how many foods contain gluten, but the truth is many processed foods, natural foods, and even flavorings, do. A list of naturally gluten-free foods that contain carbs includes: legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), vegetables, and fruits. Unfortunately, in their fresh state, these foods can also be some of the heaviest to carry and the most difficult to store or prepare. That’s where dehydration and freeze-drying come in handy. Freeze dried fruits like apples and bananas – which are normally heavy, bulky, and perishable – provide a delightfully sweet and nutritious pick-me-up at a fraction of their original weight. Plus, they can be stored in your pack for long periods of time.

Gluten-Free Soups and Easy Dinners

At the end of a multi-mile day, a warm, hearty meal is like medicine to aches and exhaustion. Noodles are a popular choice for many hikers because they are filling, lightweight, and easy to cook. When noodles aren’t an option, dehydrated soups like black bean chili make excellent gluten-free dinners. Preparing dehydrated soup may sound a lot more complicated than making pasta, but it can be just as easy – try this: Soak your dehydrated food before you start cooking or earlier in the day to lessen preparation and preserve your camp stove fuel. To do so, open the zip pouch, pour about 1/2 cup water inside, and reseal it. When you are ready to eat, just pour the contents of the pouch into your pot, add the remaining water, and heat it up.

Finding Gluten-Free Products Online

With every trek, gluten-intolerant hikers are learning new tricks that make gluten-free backpacking a much more enjoyable venture and Harmony House wants to help. All of our products, including fruits, vegetables, beans, and TVP varieties are gluten free! Plus, the dehydrated food in our Backpacking Kit won the Editor's Choice Award from Backpacker Magazine, so you know it’s tasty too. If you want to learn about how much mileage you can get out of our dehydrated gluten-free hiking food, check out our rehydration chart. Here’s to happy and healthy backpacking!