The Best No-Cook Backpacking Breakfasts

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I’ve long wondered why oatmeal is the default hiker’s breakfast, even though many of my friends seem to hate it. Of course, it’s nutritious, light and easy to prepare with a one-burner stove and a stream water Nalgene. But that doesn’t make up for the experience of smothering sporkful after sporkful of gooey, bland glop just to fill your belly. Breakfast should be enjoyable on and off the trail – it sets the tone and your energy level for the day, after all.

There are plenty of dehydrated eggs and scrambled sausages on the market, but I often find them just as unpalatable: inevitably, I end up with crispy egg chunks or cookie-and-gravy soup. Additionally, the price tags on those commercial meals are so mouth-watering they almost make me go for the oatmeal again.

More often than not, I find myself wanting to skip the morning cooking routine altogether. By packing up the stove and doing the dishes the night before, I can break camp faster, which means more time in my cozy sleeping bag or a boost in my daily mileage. No-cook breakfasts also offer flexibility. Are you not hungry for your start in the mountains or are you too cold to have a cold breakfast? Instead, choose to start the hike and eat at your first sunny vantage point.

Sounds good, you might say, but I’m turn on the stove for coffee anyway. You can always save time by boiling water the night before and keeping it overnight in a thermal mug. It will be piping hot for your instant java in the morning, and you can enjoy the first sip from the comfort of your tent.

Pop-tarts and bars are the go-to cold breakfast options for many backpackers, but these lack well-rounded nutrition and don’t offer much more flavor than oatmeal. Here are 10 energizing no-cook camp breakfast ideas that you can put together in minutes.

avocado toast

(Photo: Miguel Serrano Ruiz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Who said this must-have filler was just for candle cafes? Avocados are great food for backpackers: they’re easy to pack, don’t get crushed, and are ready to eat when you’re hungry. Spread some on a tortilla with salt, red pepper flakes or your favorite seasoning. Add a packet of olive oil for more calories.

Cereals and powdered milk

I don’t understand why this most common breakfast combo is less popular on the trail. The perfect alternative for those who hate oatmeal, a healthy cereal can offer similar nutritional value (plus added protein and calcium from milk), and is as simple as adding cold water. Pack your favorite cereal in the same bag or container as powdered milk, then simply add water and stir. Add dried fruit for a heartier meal.

Smoothies and meal replacement shakes

We’ve been a longtime fan of Backcountry Foodie’s Peanut butter and chocolate shake as a meal alternative at high altitude when appetite is scarce, and it’s also a great way to start the day. You can eat a liquid breakfast on the go, and powdered ingredients like peanut butter, protein powder, and shake mix take up little room in your bag. You can also dehydrate your favorite breakfast smoothie at home – just mix, spread on dehydrating trays, and dry the mixture at 125°F until brittle. The blend will immediately rehydrate for an instant, fresh-tasting breakfast.

Waffles and peanut butter

Prepackaged Belgian waffles are shelf stable, ready to eat, and more filling than their grilled counterparts, especially when paired with a protein-rich spread like nut butter (or Nutella, why not). Need more energy? Stroopwafels are a favorite among endurance athletes for a reason.

Yogurt parfaits

Outdoor takeaway breakfast in a insulated mug. Fresh bananas, yogurt and granola. (Photo: Nick Ocean Photography/Moment Open via Getty Images)

Dehydrated yogurt is widely available, or easy to do at home. (Adventurer? You can also ferment yourself on the wayl.) Add cold water and top with dried fruit, granola, chocolate chips or any toppings of your choice for a luxurious perfect. Don’t want to tinker? This bowl of yogurt from Stowaway Gourmet is the best freeze dried breakfast I have tasted.

Chia Pudding and Dried Fruits

Chia seeds are a good source of fibre, protein and healthy fats, making it a great way to start a day of hiking. Soak them in water, powdered milk, or nut milk as you walk the first mile of the day, and add mix-ins like dried mango, honey, nuts, maple, coconut or cocoa powder. Tip: Too much chia can cause stomach upset, so mix it with your favorite grain to aid digestion.

loaded bagel

If you don’t mind getting stuck in your bag, a bagel makes a convenient and tasty cold breakfast on the trail. Top it with cream cheese (buy shelf stable packets), bagged salmon, or any spread of your choice.

Oats “overnight”

I know I’ve denounced rolled oats before, but bear with me: overnight rolled oats are creamier and easier than their cooked counterparts, with a chewier texture that might convert even the most averse oats. Add a sweetener of your choice when you wake up, plus fruit, chocolate, nuts, or whatever you want, and you’ll have breakfast ready after camp break two hours later (or when you first hiking break). On colder nights, you can soak them overnight to prepare breakfast when you wake up. Still not a fan? Cold soak oatmeal, ramen noodles or dehydrated potatoes and top it with bacon bits for a tasty breakfast.

Breakfast charcuterie

(Photo: Westend61/Westend61 via Getty Images)

A granola bar on its own can make for a sad camp breakfast, but pair it with your favorite trail snacks and you have a hearty meal. We like homemade energy ballstrail mix, fruit and jerky to start the day.

Eggless breakfast burrito or tacos

You don’t need to fire up the stove to whip up a perfectly delicious breakfast burrito. A combination of cheese, salsa, avocado, pre-packaged beans and vegetables is equally good cold. Wrapped and seasoned jackfruit is a great no-cook vegetarian alternative to meat or eggs. Just lay it on a tortilla, add your favorite toppings, fold and hit the road.

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