Peanut butter is a backpacking staple because it is cheap, easy to find, doesn’t go bad and incredibly calorie-dense. And there are actually a lot of trail recipes you can make with peanut butter (for example, I like adding it to ramen).
But carrying peanut butter on the trail can be tricky. Here are some of the best solutions, as recommended by backpackers.
- Heat up the PNB in the microwave before putting it into tubes or other containers. This makes it runnier and you’ll be able to get it into the tube easier!
- To clean reusable PNB containers, soak them in hot water or (if the material is microwave-safe) put them in the microwave for a bit. Warm peanut butter is easier to remove!!!
1. In the Jar
If you are going on a longer hike, then bringing an entire (plastic) jar of peanut butter might make sense. The large opening makes it easy to scoop peanut butter out. As the jar empties, you can add things like chocolate chips or Fritos right into the jar. Eat with a spoon for a delicious, calorie-dense snack.
Note: If you use natural peanut butter, you might have issues with the oil leaking out of the jar!
2. Squeezable Pouches of PNB
Lots of brands now sell peanut butter in squeeze pouches. These are easier to pack than jars. If you don’t need the entire pouch, just squeeze out the amount you don’t need. However, a lot of people complain that it’s hard to get all of the PNB out of the pouches. A good amount always ends up stuck inside. You have to cut open the pouch and scrape it with your spoon — which ends up messy and annoying.
3. Individual PNB Packets
This makes it incredibly convenient to add peanut butter to meals. The packets are sturdy and won’t burst open in your pack. It’s also pretty easy to squeeze every last bit of PNB out of the pack. The downside? That’s a lot of plastic waste.
4. Plastic Baggies
This is the low-budget and simplest method of carrying PNB when hiking. However, you run the risk of the bag accidentally opening up. It’s also really difficult to get all the peanut butter out of the bag. Yes, you can squeeze the baggie or cut a small hole in one end – but it ends up all over your fingers.
5. Coghlan’s Squeeze Tubes
The brand Coghlans makes refillable squeeze tubes specifically designed for backpacking. Unlike most other refillable tubes, they open up completely on the bottom for easier filling. They have a sliding clip on the end for getting the contents out.
Backpackers seem to either love or hate these tubes. Natural peanut butter might leak a bit from these. And the sliding clip will break long before the tube develops holes in it. I recommend keeping the tubes in a zip-lock bag in case the tube fails on you!!!
6. Refillable Baby Food Pouches
These are cool solutions. Unlike tubes (which you fill through the cap), the pouches open at the bottom so they are easy to fill. When the pouch is almost empty, you can open the bottom and scoop out every last bit of PNB with a spoon. The bottom opening also makes them easier to clean out when you get back home. There’s a double-zipper closure to prevent leaking. I’d still put them inside another bag in case they burst open (and keep on the top of your pack not the bottom!), but the closure is pretty secure.
The pouches by Simple Modern are popular and seem to hold up well.
7. Powdered Peanut Butter
Peanut butter powder is made by removing the oils from peanut butter. This makes it a lot easier to transport.
The problem is that you’ll need to mix the oil back into the PNB powder before eating. I often carry a bottle of olive oil with me when hiking (to add to pasta, couscous, etc.), so this isn’t an issue. But mixing oil into the powder means an extra step for meal preparation.
Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend PNB powder for backpacking lunches. It would be fine for dinner meals. For example, when making Thai ramen, I could just mix some PNB powder and oil directly into the pot.
Note that some brands of PNB powder have weird additives. This brand is okay.
8. DIY Individual PNB Packets with a Vacuum Sealer
Here’s a cool trick I read in a backpacker forum. You basically use a vacuum sealer to create your own individual packets of peanut butter.
- Get some “continuous bags” for your Food Saver (or whatever vacuum sealer you use)
- Seal one end
- Turn the bag sideways.
- Seal at several places to make channels.
- Load in your PNB
- Seal the top of the channels you made.
- To use, just cut a small hole in the end of one of the channels.
Do you have a good lightweight solution for carrying PNB when backpacking? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Image credit: “peanut butter – the perfect hiking food” (CC BY 2.0) by Rick McCharles,