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16 Backpacking Breakfast Ideas

16 Backpacking Breakfast Ideas

The first time I went backpacking, I discovered that I hated oatmeal. But it’s probably the most common breakfast on the trail so for a while I suffered through. But over the years I’ve come up with lots of alternative backpacking breakfast ideas that are just as easy as oatmeal.

I’ve been on hundreds of backpacking trips over the years (I’m a hiking guidebook author) and I’ve tried tons of different breakfasts in the backcountry. In general, I prefer backpacking breakfasts that:

In this post I’ve got 16 ideas for both hot and cold backpacking breakfasts. Most of them meet the above criteria, but I’ve got a few on the list that take a little longer for those days when you can linger in the mornings.

Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn

A group of backpackers cooking on the beach
Making breakfast on the West Coast Trail

Hot Backpacking Breakfast Ideas


Also known as porridge, instant oatmeal is a no-brainer for backpacking breakfast. It’s fast and easy to make with just boiling water. It’s filling. You can get instant oatmeal in tons of flavors. And it comes pre-portioned in little packets, so it’s ready for the trail.

Instant oatmeal is really easy to customize: You can add nuts, dried fruit, coconut, milk powder… the list goes on and on. But you won’t get any backpacking oatmeal recipes from me! I hate the stuff.

Instant Noodles

Instant noodles, Cup Noodles or ramen aren’t a typical breakfast food, but who says you have to eat typical food! They are lightweight, tasty, and fast to cook.

At the store look for noodles that you can just add boiling water to instead of ones that require simmering on the stove – that way you’ll save fuel too. The quickest cooking instant noodles are ones sold in a cup or rice noodles.

I repackage the noodles and seasoning packet a single ziplock bag at home so I don’t have to bring the bulky cup into the backcountry. At camp, I pour boiling water over the noodles in my bowl or mug, wait a few minutes, then eat.

Since they are often fairly low calorie, I bulk them up by adding pieces of jerky, shelf-stable bacon bits, or dehydrated veggies. You can also stir in a couple tablespoons of nut buttter. This is by far my favourite trail breakfast

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are another savoury option for a hot backpacking breakfast. I buy powdered mashed potatoes at the supermarket and then package it in a ziplock with some add-ins like bacon bits or Parmesan cheese.

The Idahoan brand is my favourite. They have lots of good flavours like garlic or cheddar cheese. You can also combine them with a just-add-water gravy mix packet.

Cream of Wheat

If you don’t like oatmeal, you might not like cream of wheat either as they have a similar texture. It’s basically a wheat porridge.

You can find it near the oatmeal in your grocery store. The original flavour is the most common, but it’s also possible to find it in sweet flavours like bananas and cream and Cinnabon. (No, I haven’t tried them.)

You can add the same sort of things to your cream of wheat as you would to your granola: dried fruit, nuts, powdered milk, cinnamon, sugar, etc.


In same family as oatmeal and cream of wheat you’ll find grits: it’s basically corn porridge. In America it’s easy to find instant grits in most grocery stores, but they are far less common in Canada. Be sure to get the “instant” or “quick-cooking” kind. Otherwise they take a long time to simmer.

But unlike oatmeal and cream of wheat, grits are usually served as a savoury dish. Package your grits with bacon bits, butter powder, and salt and pepper. And of course you can always add cheese.

Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa has a delicious nutty flavour. Plus it has a bit more protein and calories than oatmeal. You can whip up an easy quinoa porridge with quinoa flakes because they cook quickly. Don’t get regular quinoa – it takes about 15 minutes to cook, which wastes fuel and time.

You can add the same types of things to quinoa porridge as you would to oatmeal: dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, coconut milk powder, etc.

Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Eggs

Lots of backpacking food companies dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs that you can buy at your local outdoor store. And some of them are TERRIBLE. I know. I’ve eaten them.

But there are a few gems out there. In particular, I recommend the freeze-dried egg meals from Mountain House as they actually look, feel, and taste like eggs… provided you don’t add too much water when you rehydrate them. The breakfast skillet and bacon and eggs meals are the best ones. But they’re not cheap!

If you want to save a little money, you can buy Ova Easy egg powder at grocery stores and outdoor stores. You mix it with water, then scramble it in a pan on the stove.

If you want to get fancy, you can bring some fresh or dehydrated veggies to mix into your eggs. Or bring tortillas and some hot sauce to make breakfast burritos with your eggs.


This is a good special occasion backpacking breakfast (maybe for a birthday?) or for days when you have time in camp and room in your pack. Making pancakes in the backcountry is doable, but it takes a bit more time.

Bring a ziploc bag of boxed pancake mix. You’ll also need a little bit of oil or butter to keep them from sticking to the pan. And speaking of a pan, you’ll probably need a lightweight frying pan (I have this GSI frying pan) – it’s really hard to make pancakes in a backpacking pot!

Don’t forget to bring a tiny container of maple syrup or jam to serve on top. Or mix chocolate chips into the pancake mix.


Also known as fry bread, Indigenous groups all across North America make bannock. My husband wowed me by making bannock on one of our first backpacking trips together.

It’s really simple to make the dough – it’s just a mix of flour and sugar with a little bit of baking soda and salt. (There are lots of recipes online.) We package the dry mix in a ziploc, then add water in camp and knead it inside the bag.

Then you fry the dough in a little bit of oil, then serve with jam. You can also add dried fruit (my husband uses currants) into the dough.

Person cooking on a camp stove on a backpacking trip.

No-Cook Backpacking Breakfast Ideas


Energy bars, granola bars, and protein bars are some of the easiest things you can eat for breakfast when backpacking. They require no cooking or prep (besides unwrapping) and they are generally fairly filling. The only downside – they’re a little boring.

Granola or Cereal

Granola or cereal with milk is an easy backpacking breakfast. Just bring a ziploc bag of your favourite granola or breakfast cereal and some powdered milk.

If you do dairy, bring powdered whole milk – powdered skim is disgusting. If you’re dairy-free, powdered coconut milk is the easiest to find, but you can also get powdered oat milk and soy milk.

At camp, mix the powdered milk with water before adding to the granola – otherwise it can be a gritty. On cold days, I use warm water to make my milk.

Backpacking granola and milk in a ziploc bag
Granola, milk powder, dried fruit, and nuts is an easy backpacking breakfast.

Freeze Dried Yogurt

I recently found out that you can buy freeze dried yogurt at the grocery store. It turns out it’s hiding in the baby food aisle! Look for Gerber yogurt melts – they come in lots of flavors.

If you grind up the yogurt melts into a powder at home in your food processor, you can rehydrate it with cold water on the trail. Mix in dried fruit, nuts, or granola to make it a full meal.


Classic peanut butter and jelly tastes great on the trail – plus it’s packed with protein. Or mix it up and go with almond butter, tahini, or even nutella.

Instead of regular sandwich bread, bring bread that won’t get squished. Bagels are great. Or use tortillas if you want to save space. Or skip the bread altogether and just eat peanut butter off a spoon.

Smoothies and Shakes

Why bother with chewing when you can drink your breakfast? Powdered smoothie and shake mixes (like Carnation Breakfast Essentials) come in all kinds of flavours. Or you can make your own with protein powder, powdered milk, freeze-dried fruit powders and more. There are lots of recipes online.

Pop Tarts

My friends’ kids love going backpacking because their parents let them eat all kinds of things they don’t normally get at home. And some mornings in camp, that means Pop Tarts for breakfast. Of course there are no toasters in the backcountry, so they just eat them cold. But they don’t seem to mind.

Pop Tarts are high calorie, portable, and arguably, pretty tasty – all factors that make them a great backpacking breakfast idea.

Baked Goods

Sometimes I’ll pick up a muffin or a scone at a bakery on my way to the trailhead. I carefully nestle it inside my cooking pot to protect it from getting squished, then savour it for breakfast in camp the next morning.

If you’re looking for something a little more shelf stable but still gourmet, you can buy packaged shelf-stable Belgian Liege-style waffles (not the frozen kind).

Or go cheap and buy Little Debbie or Hostess cakes, twinkie, donuts, etc. They last forever and they’re fairly high calorie. You just have to be careful not to squish them.

So what’s your favourite non-oatmeal backpacking breakfast? (Instant noodles are always my choice.) Give me your suggestions in the comments.


Taryn Eyton

Christian Wilkin

Wednesday 12th of June 2024

Ova Easy egg powder - huge fan. I bring little ziplock bags with spices for all meals, including dehydrated chives and onion flakes. And little boxes of dried hashbrowns are a snap on the trail. My breakfast staple: tortillas rolled with peanut butter and M&Ms inside.. Carnation Breakfast Essentials powder comes in various flavors (I like the chocolate) mixed with powdered milk & water for a great breakfast drink.


Wednesday 1st of May 2024

Literally my hero!!! I'm planning the menu for my camping trip to Yellowstone and all I could think of was oatmeal 🙃. I will definitely be trying some of these!


Wednesday 1st of May 2024

Am I the only crazy person who brings actual eggs still in their shells, nestled in the cute little, yellow egg container? Admittedly not practical for long hikes but 6 fresh eggs are good for a week . I scramble them with green peppers, onions and/or mushrooms. Yum yum!

Taryn Eyton

Wednesday 1st of May 2024

I definitely use those egg containers for car camping and I've used them for some short backpacking trips, but in general I find fresh eggs too bulky, heavy, and messy. But they definitely taste good!


Monday 10th of October 2022

hot cheesy quesadillas, lots of carb lots of protein, add dehydrated salsa (reconstituted) for a punch; we sometimes add freeze dried eggs for a real treat

Rosy Sekhon

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

Chia hot chocolate is my go to hike breakfast. Chia seed, dried coconut, a bit of hot chocolate mix. Oatmeal and eggs don’t agree with my stomach so my choices are limited. I’m excited to try mashed potato mix.