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Trail Meals for Dry Camps

For many of us, there’s nothing quite like traveling through remote wilderness areas, far away from the hustle and bustle of life. These super remote locations often provide breathtaking vistas and the solitude many wilderness travelers live for. However, from time to time, and especially here in the Southwest, these trails, camps, and wilderness areas can be lacking in one critical component for a smooth journey: WATER!

Dry camps, also known as waterless camps, are campsites located in areas where there is limited or no access to freshwater sources like rivers, streams, or lakes. Dry camps also present a unique set of challenges when it comes to water management.

Oftentimes, conserving cooking water is the best way to ensure that you’re well hydrated and not running a risk of emptying out your water supply at dry camps.

Tips for Limiting Water Usage at Dry Camps

  1. Plan Ahead: Before your trip, research the availability of water sources along your route and plan your itinerary accordingly. Carry detailed maps and consult trail reports for the latest information on water sources.
  2. Practice Minimalist Cooking: Consider using dehydrated or freeze-dried meals that require less water for preparation. These lightweight meals are not only convenient but also eco-friendly when camping in sensitive areas that do not allow for drawing water from local sources.
  3. Hygiene and Cleaning: Minimize water usage when cleaning dishes or yourself – or even better, eat your meal right out of the bag! Use a small amount of biodegradable soap and a washcloth to conserve water or just lick your spoon clean if you really need to conserve!
  4. Respect Local Regulations: Be aware of any specific regulations or guidelines for water usage in the area you’re hiking in, and adhere to them strictly. Sometimes dry camping means abstaining from utilizing existing area water sources in an effort to protect delicate ecosystems.

Top Meals That Require Under 5 Ounces of Water (and no heat!):

1. All American Works Burger

Requiring only 2 ounces of cooking water, this entrée packs a protein punch, offering campers a quick and easy burger wrap solution in the backcountry! Wrapped in a BYO-tortilla and topped off with “The Works!” [cheddar cheese, ripe red tomatoes and sweet white onions] – you won’t have to wait to savor the flavor of a “burger.” This is one of the highest ratio’d Calorie-to-Water meals out there and uses the least amount of water of any of our meals!

Calories: 480 (without BYO-Bread)

Protein: 37 Grams

Water Usage: 2 Ounces

(this entrée can be prepared with hot or cool water based on preference!)

Shop The All-American Works Burger Here

2. Trailside Bean & Cheese Burrito

Keep it simple and easy at your next dry camp lunch or dinner with the Trailside Bean & Cheese Burrito. Great for sharing as a snack or keeping to yourself 😉 This hearty meal with optional (free) Cholula hot sauce, will have you hiking a bit faster to reach camp by dinnertime! 

Calories: 410

Protein: 23 grams

Water Usage: 4 ounces

(this entrée can be prepared with hot or cool water based on preference!)

Shop The Trailside Bean & Cheese Burrito Here

3. Chicken Salads

Our selection of Chicken Salads offer flavors ranging from Mesquite Smoked Chicken, to Curry Mango, and even a little spice with the Cajun Ranch Chicken Salad! All of these chicken salads are protein packed and only require 5 ounces of cool water (an added bonus for dry camping is not having to bring a camp stove)! Paired with a tortilla wrap, or crackers of your choosing and you’ve got a hearty lunch or dinner, ready to serve in minutes! 

Calories: 320-340 (not including BYO-Wrap)

Protein: 55-56 Grams

Water Usage: 5 Ounces Cool Water

Shop Chicken Salads Here


Take Your Camp Chef Skills to the Next Level

Pizza party, anyone!?

4. Pizza Margherita 

For years they said it couldn’t be done, but here we are – fresh pizza in the backcountry! Become the ultimate camp chef magician at your next dry camp when you turn just 2.5 ounces of water into a caprese-style mozzarella pizza (in a wrap or on flat bread) with classic ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pesto, parmesan cheese & sweet peppers. This entrée can be prepared with cool water but you can really take it over the top by toasting with a little heat!

To Make: Fill a tortilla or wrap with your Pizza Margherita and toast as a pizza roll or half-moon quesadillas until golden brown. Toasting a thicker flat-bread on a bare pan or frying with a packet of olive oil makes for classic thin crust pizza!

Calories: 500

Protein: 38 Grams

Water Usage: 2.5 Ounces

(this entrée can be prepared with hot or cool water based on preference!)

Shop Pizza Margherita Here


Well, there you have it…no more hoarding bars and peanut butter packets to stay fed at your next dry camp. With just 5 ounces or less of water, you can enjoy a hearty meal that keeps your taste buds happy and your body nourished. Just be sure to bring extra spoons for sharing!

Questions? Give us a shout at [email protected]!

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