Advice Camping Food and Recipes

Beyond Oatmeal: 6 Hot Backpacking Breakfasts

On my first backpacking trip ever I discovered that I hate oatmeal. I hate the colour, I hate the texture and no matter how much dried fruit or sugar or milk you put in it, I just can’t stomach it. But it’s probably the most common breakfast food for backpackers: it’s light, quick to prepare with just hot water, and it fills you up. Over the years I’ve had to come up with some alternatives that fit the same criteria since I don’t usually want a cold breakfast (although sometimes a bagel with nut butter does hit the spot).  So here are my suggestions for 6 hot backpacking breakfasts for when you just can’t eat oatmeal but still want a quick, hot meal.

Hot Backpacking Breakfasts

Camp kitchen on the Wildside Trail

Instant Noodles

Instant noodles, Cup-o-Noodles or ramen aren’t a typical breakfast food, but who says you have to eat typical food! They are lightweight and tasty and you can add stuff to the typical grocery store mixes to make them more filling. I like to add jerky, bacon bits and dehydrated veggies. At the store look for mixes that you can just add water to instead of ones that require simmering on the stove – that way you’ll save fuel too. You can also repackage the noodles and mix in a single ziplock bag at home.

 

Mashed Potatoes

Here’s another savoury option for a hot breakfast on the trail. 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. I usually buy the Idahoan brand as they have different flavours like garlic and parmesan or cheddar cheese and you can even get ones that come with an add on just-add-water gravy packet.

 

Warm Granola

If you don’t like the texture of oatmeal, try warm crunchy granola. I used to make granola on the trail by mixing powdered milk with cold water, but it was so cold one morning in the Yukon that we warmed up the milk and I haven’t looked back. At home I premix granola with diced dried fruit from the bulk section, nuts, powdered milk and sugar. At camp just add boiling water.

 

Cream of Wheat

If you don’t like oatmeal, you might not like this either as they have a similar texture. It’s basically a wheat porridge. Find it near the oatmeal in your grocery store (although it is much harder to find). 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.

 

Grits

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 grits are far less common in Canada. But unlike oatmeal and cream of wheat, grits are usually served as a savoury dish. If you find instant grits at your local supermarket, package them with bacon bits, butter powder and salt and pepper. And of course you can always add cheese.

 

Freeze-Dried Eggs

Lots of dehydrated and freeze-dried backpacking food companies make breakfast packages that you can buy at your local outdoor store. And most 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. It’s like magic. The breakfast skillet and bacon and eggs meals are the best ones. But they’ll cost you over $6 per person for breakfast!

 

So what’s your favourite non-oatmeal backpacking breakfast? (My favourites are warm granola or noodles.) Give me your suggestions in the comments.

 

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Six Easy and Warm Backpacking Breakfasts - That Aren't Oatmeal. Recipes Included!

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Andy
    May 12, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Hot granola for us 🙂 Like you, we pre-mix in the powdered milk so it just has to have hot water poured over.

    We did come up with a reasonable formula for oatmeal but the granola is so much more convenient. Freeze-dried breakfasts have never worked for us – even a bit too much water into the egg mixture means a breakfast of eggs and water. Yuck!

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      May 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Oh yeah, I’ve been there with the too much water in the eggs – terrible! My husband likes the eggs much more than I do so we often bring one package of eggs for him and even more granola for me. I can’t believe it took me over a decade to discover warm granola! 🙂

  • Reply
    Steve
    May 12, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I haven’t tried a lot of these, some neat suggestions. My goto is dehydrated eggs (make your own, crack and whisk eggs, dehdrate in oven, done and cheap!). Pre-cooked bacon has changed my life (well for camping that is) it’s instant and no mess, A bit pricey bit worth it. I haven’t tried making my own yet. Wrap it all up with some cheese and veggies. It’s incredibly fast but does take a bit longer than just boiling water, but it sure hits the spot 5-6 days into a trip!

    I also have a really hard time with oatmeal, except for the Natures Path packets. Those are amazing and have larger portions. My favourite is the hemp one, i’ve had it cold and it was delicious. Though they seem harder and harder to find in the stores.

    And then there’s pancakes, premix all the dry ingredients, include some dehydrated (or freshly picked on the trail) blueberries and just add water. This requires a stove that can simmer or constant vigilance, and takes up decent amounts of fuel and time, but there’s no better way to celebrate someone’s birthday on the trail 🙂

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      May 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      I hadn’t thought of dehydrating my own eggs. Interesting idea. I have a dedicated dehydrator so I could try it in there. How do they rehydrate? If they aren’t as good as the freeze-dried mountain house ones I’d rather pay the money and save time 🙂

      I also love the pre-cooked bacon (although I agree it’s a bit expensive). I like to add it to instant noodles or mashed potatoes.

      I’m not a huge pancake person (or bannock) but I know that others really enjoy it. I don’t usually want to spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning up in the morning unless I am car camping.

  • Reply
    Suzy Allman
    May 12, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Oscar Meyer makes a shelf-stable, cooked bacon that’s pretty great. Just drape over a stick, and hold over an open fire til it sizzles. We prepackaged oatmeal with almonds, chopped dried fruit and spices (also really good).

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      May 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      It doesn’t matter what your prepackage oatmeal with, I still won’t like it 🙂 But yes, adding spices to oatmeal (or in my case granola) is a great idea!

      I’ve also tried the shelf stable bacon – it is tasty and so easy. I often backpack in the alpine where you can’t have a fire so I usually just add the precooked bacon to noodles or mashed potatoes so it gets heated up.

  • Reply
    Kristine Kirkby
    July 3, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Scrambled muffins are my favourite. Basically fry up bran or oatmeal muffin mix, with fruit, nuts, maybe even chocolate 🙂 , just like you would scramble eggs. It’s so good, and warm, without the texture of oatmeal, if you’re not into it.
    Also bannock pancakes or cinnamon rolls are delicious but they take a bit more time.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      July 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Oh interesting! I’ve never even thought of that. I think it would be a bit more time consuming than I’d want since you’d have to clean up afterwards and if I’m going lightweight I don’t have a frying pan. But definitely something to try on more laid back trips instead of pancakes.

  • Reply
    Ed
    July 3, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Another good backpacking meal from the dinner side that an be adapted for breakfast is stove top stuffing.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      July 3, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve made stove top stuffing for backpacking before as part of a dinner but I had never thought to make it for breakfast. I’ll have to try this!

  • Reply
    Huck Baldwin
    July 7, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Taryn, not sure if you also can’t stomach steel cut oats, but I’ve got a way to prepare them without the usual 30 min+ cook time. All you need to do is pour 2/3 of the needed water over the oats the evening before and cover. Then, in the morning add the remaining 1/3 water, cook for 5 min, and let sit for 5 min.
    I also add coconut manna and chia seeds for fat and protein. Steel cut oats are much more filling and the texture is vastly better than the mush of instant oats.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      July 7, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      I have tried steel cut oats and my husband likes them but I’m still not a fan. Although adding coconut anything to breakfast does help! I’m also usually camping in bear country so I can’t leave oats out over-night before to soak unless I bring a dedicated sealable container to do that in, then put it in my bear bag. But I guess it could be ok in ziplock bags?

  • Reply
    Sarah
    January 3, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    On my last section of the AT, I weirdly enough fell in love with the Mountain House biscuits and gravy for breakfast (though super lightweight, you’re right — very expensive!). Personally, I generally crave savory over sweet foods. So sure enough, after many days of eating more sugary snacks than I usually do on the trail (GORP, protein bars, nut butters, chocolate, and the like), starting the day off with a more savory breakfast made me more enthusiastic about the sweet snacks during the day. Plus, I felt like a cowgirl having biscuits and gravy with instant coffee to boot on those early mornings. Love your site! Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      January 3, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks Sarah! I also love savory in the morning, which is why there are lots of savory things on my list. Another one that requires a bit more prep work up front is mashed yams – make them at home, dehydrate them, then rehydrate on the trail. I sometimes eat them with pecans for extra protein 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeannie
    January 21, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I know this probably won’t do you any good, but my favorite way to make oatmeal on the trail is with whey powder, died fruit and nut butter. It tends to give it a thicker, creamy consistency, more like cream of wheat. Honestly, I love breakfast and will eat just about anything, as long as I can make coffee. 🙂

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      January 22, 2017 at 1:10 am

      Interesting idea for oatmeal additions Jeannie! Whey powder doesn’t appeal to me but adding nut butter just might! I sometime carry a small tub of almond butter mixed with nutella on long trips – I just eat it with a spoon for extra calories – but adding it to breakfast cereal is a great idea.

  • Reply
    Lauren M
    January 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Great ideas, particularly like the idea of warm granola. Also loving all the suggestions in the comments, so many fab ideas 🙂

  • Reply
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges
    February 26, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Do you know about Packet Gourmet? They have some really good meals – a bit pricy, but so it Mountain House. Their Migas del Sol (Mexican Egg scramble) is my favorite breakfast! Second is Mountain House Blueberry Granola – I’ve tried making it at home and can’t replicate, so I keep buying theirs 🙂

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      February 26, 2017 at 8:26 am

      I hadn’t heard of them but I just looked them up and their stuff looks good. Thanks for the recommendation. Are they only sold online through their site or can you also buy them at REI or similar?

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