The best backpacker snacks can be found at your local Asian market

So you go on a backpacking trip. Before you hit the trail, you’ll need to stop by the camping gear co-op, the sporting goods store, oh, and your local Asian grocery store.

Just trust me on the last one. As an avid hiker, I’ve found that the best fuel for my outdoor adventures doesn’t come from the “performance food” section of REI or Patagonia. It’s right there on the shelves at H Mart, 99 Ranch and Mitsuwa, some of the markets I visit while searching for groceries for my trip.

Asian instant foods are ideal backpacker snacks for a couple of reasons. One is the way they are wrapped. Japan, in particular, is known for its innovative packaging techniques designed to prolong the freshness of foods sensitive to oxygen and moisture. The second reason is more subjective. I just find these snacks tastier than the chewy electrolytes or seed bars or birthday cake flavored energy gels my backpacking friends are taking.

Making a shopping list for your own expedition? These are my top nine essentials, from snacks to meals in the tent.

1. Pocari sweat powder

pocori sweat

When you’re lugging 40+ pounds in the sun, you’re going to sweat. And when you sweat, you’ll need to hydrate. pocori sweat, which I like to call Japanese Gatorade, is my favorite electrolyte drink. It’s slightly salty with a hint of grapefruit – the flavor is much less sweet and more refreshing than its American counterpart. Plus, the powder is efficient to pack and easy to enjoy on the go.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, Seiwa Market

2. UCC Artisan Coffee Drip

UCC coffee drip

There’s nothing like having hot coffee on a cold morning at your campsite. But when you’re cold and tired, you don’t want to wait to prepare it. Get into Artisan drip coffee by Japanese coffee giant UCC. Each box comes with single-serve slimline filter bags that you can easily slide into your gear. As far as camp coffee goes, the pour over process is backpacker zen and the taste is transcendent. Look for three different flavors: Mild (my favorite), Mocha, and Special (which has a richer flavor). For sweeter alternatives, Old Town Malaysian Latte either Vietnamese coffee from Vinacafewhich is nice on the ice.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Marketplace for UCC coffee, 99 Ranch Market for Old Town and Vinacafe coffee

3. Instant Miso Soup

Not in the mood for a morning cup of coffee? Try a cup of miso soup in the morning by the tent. The salty and sweet umami flavor combined with the comforting warmth makes the Japanese staple a perfect backpacker breakfast. Simply pour the powder packet into a thermos of hot water.

For your next group adventure, you can opt for a Shinsyu Ichi Instant Paste Variety Packwhich includes fantastic freeze-dried tofu, wakame (seaweed), scallion, spinach and fried tofu toppings.

Bonus: Want a creamier option? Try instant corn stew of Hokkai-Yamato. This Hokkaido soup mix is ​​ideal for those who prefer something sweeter and milkier.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, 99 Ranch Market

4. instant ramen

Instant noodle packs are essential for all campers. They are affordable, convenient and lightweight. Of course, they’re also high in sodium, so why not go for the most deliciously satisfying option? There are tons of good bets to suit all tastes (instant buy ramen is really a personal quest), but my go-to noodle is Nongshim’s Shin Black Ramen. Although sometimes I go for the hottest original, this premium “black” option is richer with chewier noodles and more flavorful freeze-dried vegetables, making for a hearty meal. While the bowl version is more difficult to pack than bagged noodle blocks, it works well for quick refueling. My ramen finishers: Nissin roast beef flavor Y Sapporo Ichiban Tonkotsu by Sanyo. To elevate your bowl even further, bring your own ingredients, like seaweed or garlic flakes.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, 99 Ranch Market

5. Dried squid

shredded squid

Beef jerky is an all-time favorite for hiking. The sheer amount of protein contained in a corned beef strip makes it hard to beat. While some people venture towards pork, tuna, or buffalo varieties, I’m here to share an even better alternative: dried squid. Like jerky, it’s convenient on the go and high in protein, but it also has Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent joint pain and inflammation. Plus, it’s fun to chew and tastes great. A popular and easy-to-find option is Shirakiku Prepared Shredded Squid. I like the “hot smoked” flavor, which goes especially well with a post-hike beer.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, 99 Ranch

6. Kakipi

On your next hike, instead of popping trail mix like usual, opt for a rice cracker concoction. I like Kaki no Tane with peanuts, aka Persimmon. The crescent-shaped crackers are coated in a savory blend of chili soy sauce, a flavor that pairs perfectly with salty peanuts (which are good protein). I like the classic flavor, but you can try other varieties, such as wasabi, mentai (spicy cod roe), or ume-shiso (plum and perilla).

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, 99 Ranch Market

7. Calbee Jagariko

Calbee Jaga Rice Potato Snack

If you have a long trek to your backpacking site, it’s helpful to load up on carbs to gradually release energy throughout your trip. Jaguaric of Calbee it’s a tasty snack that satisfies that need, while being just plain fun to eat. Similar to French fries, these to-go potato sticks are the perfect combination of airy, crunchy, and crunchy. And they come in a variety of flavors, including the original (often called “salad,” with carrots and bits of parsley), Hokkaido butter, cheese, and tarako (seasoned haddock roe) butter. Backpacking trick: Put the sticks in a cup, add a little hot water and stir. Now you have mashed potatoes!

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart

8. Calorie Mate


When it comes to backpacking snacks, it’s all about efficiency. It’s no surprise hikers stock up on energy bars to get the fuel they need to reach that peak or go that extra mile to camp. Heck, sometimes they just need the calories. Get into calorie buddy. The block cookie with an almost comical name is not only quite filling, but also nutritious, containing protein, fat, sugars, and 11 vitamins and six minerals. Comparable to shortbread, it has a crumbly texture and comes in multiple flavors, including cheese, chocolate, and fruit. You can also find them in jelly or canned form, but you’re unlikely to find them outside of Japan.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa

9. Instant Curry

If you’ve brought freeze-dried rice on your backpacking trip (or taken it to the next level and brought an entire rice cooker), you’ll need a delicious supplement. A personal favorite for camping is curry: S&B offers a popular instant mix with multiple spice levels. Hearty roux stew is easy to cook in your tent and share with your hiking team. You can add vegetables or meat, or just enjoy it on its own.

Where to buy it: Mitsuwa Market, H Mart, 99 Ranch Market

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