There are a vast array of food options for the lightweight backpacker. A very common option is dehydrated prepackaged meals. These offer low weights, often good taste, balanced nutrition and convenience. However prepackaged dehydrated meals are often very costly.
When planning a meal for backcountry travel it is generally recommended that carbohydrates make up 60-70% of your daily intake. These are easily fulfilled by pastas, rice, potatoes and other grains. Fats should make up 15-20% of your daily intake. Cheeses, candy bars, peanut butter, chocolate and other higher fat foods are best. 15-20% proteins are also needed. These are usually fulfilled by dried or canned meats, tinned fish, TVP (textured vegetable protein), peanut butter etc.
One item that can be a great help in prepping meals for the backcountry is a food dehydrator. Food dehydrator allow you to prepare jerky, dried fruits, vegetables, and sauces. This can mean that you only need to boil water to prepare a delicious meal.
Most of the packaging from the grocery store is to heavy and/or bulky. When packing for a trip make sure to repackage in ziploc or other resealable bags. These can also be used to eat out of to save additional weight.
When collecting water in the backcountry, water must be treated in order to protect us from bacteria and viruses. There are a variety of methods for treating and/or filtering your water. Filters are very popular and work by filtering out bacteria and viruses from the water. These are best for larger groups as they work fairly quickly, they filter 1-3 liters of water per minute. Many filters improve the taste of the water as well However there are a few downsides to the use of filters. Filters may become clogged with silt and sand, some companies have solved this problem by making the filter element cleanable in the field. Filters can also fail in the field, if this happens you are left to boil water to kill bacteria and viruses.
Our favorite is the Katahdin Hiker Pro filter, It is one of the lighter models and is cleanable in the field. Also the filter element may be replaced when the old one is no longer usable. The pump design in one of the most efficient pumps we have used.
Many lighter weight options are now emerging. One of our favorites is the Steri-Pen. This product uses Ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses. The Steri Pen is also one of the fastest ways to treat water. This product will treat a quart of water in just over a minute. One disadvantage is you end up drinking the silt in the water. The best way to filter out undesirable matter in the water is to place a bandana over the bottle when you submerge it.
The lightest weight and most inexpensive option is chemical treatment. Chemical treatment is very effective and will kill everything in the water. These treatments either consist of iodine or chlorine dioxide. Our favorite is Aquamira which is now sold in a tablet as well as drops. Aquamira will treat all but the most questionable water within an hour and uses chlorine dioxide. We prefer the drops as they take less time to work than the tablets.