Backpacking 101: How to make backpacking meals: Chicken Carbonara

Many day hikers head out to the trail, put in about 5 miles and have to turn around before they would like to. I imagine that the question that hangs in their minds at this point is,

“What would it be like to hike for days on end without having to turn around?”

Backpacking in the Smokies is a deeply rewarding experience if done competently and correctly.

Making a mistake in the deep backcountry is at best highly uncomfortable and at worst downright deadly. (Refer my prior blog post about the mishaps and misadventures that lead me to competence when it comes to backpacking.) One of the barriers to becoming a competent backpacker is food preparation. When most aspiring backpackers head out to the trail they’ll take ramen and spam. Mmmmm…. Delicious….

This is the first in a series of blog posts dedicated to cooking on the trail. I’ll title it,

Backpacking 101: How to make backpacking meals.


I give you Backcountry Chicken Carbonara!

( This recipe is a one person serving. For more people multiply the recipe by the number of backpackers.)

You will need :

6 slices pre cooked bacon

1 packet of pre cooked chicken

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

half an onion

1 eggs double ziplocked

quarter box of angel hair pasta

Dry parmesan cheese, (the stuff you put on pizza)

quart size ziplocks

gallon size ziplocks

2 backpacking pots. One can be used as a fry pan in place of carrying the extra weight.

How to prepare it:

The first step to any backpacking meal is home prep. Most of the work for the meal, aside from actually cooking it, will be done in your kitchen!

1:Take out a quarter of the angel hair from the box and break it in half, put it into a gallon size ziplock.

2: Chop Garlic and onion up and put in a quart size ziplock. Set to the side.

3: Pack bacon in a quart size ziplock.

4: Crack egg into ziplock. Take out the air then double bag it.

5: Pack up Parmesan into a ziplock. Olive oil into a small spill proof container.

6: Place the chicken packet into the bag with the angel hair. Put the packet of Parm in the ziplock into the bigger bag with the pasta. Same goes for the bacon.

7: Freeze a water bottle and put all ingredients that need to be kept cold into the fridge overnight.

Now that you are done with prep and its the next morning its time to pack everything up. I always carry a small cooler with a frozen water bottle in it in my pack. This keeps cold foods cold for around 2 days. Pack up all the cold ingredients into the collapsible cooler with the water bottle. All the unrefrigerated ingredients can go in your food bag.

Prepping at camp:

1: Take the pasta and boil it. I always eyeball the amount of water necessary. Boil for 8 minutes and drain.

2: While the pasta is sitting covered on the side take out your second pot. Put it on the stove and add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the chopped pre cooked bacon, the garlic, onions, and chicken. Cook until the onions begin to brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions are browned, stir in your eggs over medium heat. Let sit and stir every 30 seconds so eggs don’t stick. Once the eggs are fully cooked and mixed in, turn off the burner and toss in the Parmesan.

3: Combine all ingredients into one pot. For one person you can eat straight out of the pot. For multiple people, dish out into bowls or onto plates.

4: Enjoy!!!!

This is one of my favorite meals in the backcountry. The parmesan cheese makes it really stand out and adds extra zing to the dish. One thing to keep in mind while in bear country is to keep your cooking area away from your sleeping area. Bears are cuddly but they make horrible sleeping partners…

We will be releasing more recipes periodically so check back often! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Happy Trails!