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Backcountry camping food includes ingredients used to prepare food suitable for backcountry camping and backpacking. The foods differ substantially from the ingredients found in a typical home kitchen. The primary differences relate to campers' and backpackers' special needs for foods that have appropriate cooking time, perishability, weight, and nutritional content.
Due to the difficulty of carrying large amounts of cooking fuel, campers often require their meals to cook in a short amount of time (5–20 minutes). Many campers prefer a ‘just add boiling water’ method of cooking, while others enjoy a more involved, and therefore often higher quality meal. The amount of cooking time can be disregarded if campers are able to cook over a campfire, however, due to the possibility of a burn-ban being in place, campers do not often rely on this option.
Camping foods are often shelf-stable, that is, they require no refrigeration. Campers may be outdoors for days or weeks at a time, and will often pack food for the entire trip. Campers will sometimes take fresh food that can be consumed in the first day or two of a hike but will usually not risk carrying perishable food beyond that timeframe. Campers hiking in the snow or other cold conditions or campers with access to a cold water source may be able to store perishable food in the snow or secured in a bag and kept in the cold water to act as a refrigeration source.
Backpackers must carry everything with them so they require all of their gear and food to be as lightweight as possible. Campers often turn to freeze-dried and dehydrated meals and ingredients for this reason, but they will also sometimes take a pouch of tuna or some other ingredient with a high water content with them as a treat, providing that the item has nutritional value.
Backpackers, canoeists, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts often cover many miles everyday, consuming thousands of calories to keep their energy level high. Backpackers require an average of 480 calories per hour as well as higher sodium levels. To ensure their bodies are properly nourished, campers must pay close attention to their meal plans.
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