Hummus is an exceptional protein source that just so happens to also taste amazing. You can pair hummus with chips, crackers, and veggies, or you can add it to a wide range of sandwiches and wraps to liven up your hiking meals.
But can you take hummus backpacking?
Hummus is not a recommended food to take backpacking, especially if you’re headed out for a long hike or if you’re trekking in hot weather. Fresh hummus has a very short shelf life and is also both heavy and messy. So, it’s not a good option for most backpacking trips. If you really want to bring hummus into the backcountry, consider bringing dehydrated hummus instead.
Packing food for any backpacking trip isn’t easy, though, especially when you’re trying to use nutritious ingredients like hummus. So we’ve put together this quick article to everything you need to know before you take hummus on your next backpacking trip so you’re ready for all your upcoming adventures.
Why Hummus Is Not an Ideal Backpacking Food
Unfortunately, hummus isn’t a good food for backpacking.
While hummus is both super tasty and jam-packed with protein, it has two major flaws from a backpacker’s perspective: its weight and its refrigeration requirements.
Hummus tends to be quite heavy since it contains a large amount of water. If you’re going car camping, this might not be a big deal, but for backpackers—many of whom try to keep their pack weights at a minimum—carrying around a hefty container of hummus, no matter how delicious it might be, is simply out of the question.
Additionally, hummus is considered to be a perishable food item, so it needs to be constantly refrigerated. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t directly address hummus in its food standards guidelines. But as it’s a perishable food, you generally shouldn’t eat hummus if it’s been left out of a refrigerator for more than about 4 hours.
Since most backpacking trips last more than 4 hours, it follows that hummus isn’t a great option for backpacking—especially in hot environments.
Of course, people can and do bring hummus backpacking (or at least on shorter day hikes). However, when you bring a perishable food like hummus into the backcountry, there’s always a risk that your food could get contaminated and that you could get food poisoning.
How Long Does Hummus Last While Backpacking?
Hummus does not last very long while backpacking. As a general rule, fresh hummus can only be unrefrigerated for about 4 hours before it’s at risk for developing pathogens that can cause food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses.
While some people opt to bring hummus on day hikes or overnight backpacking trips, it’s not recommended, particularly if you’re trekking in a warm environment.
If you’re on a winter trip where the temperature outside is at standard refrigerator temperature (less than 40ºF/4ºC), you might be able to keep your hummus sufficiently chilled. In these situations, store-bought fresh hummus may last for a few days or even a week. But there’s always a risk of food poisoning when you bring perishable foods like fresh hummus into the backcountry, regardless of what the temperature is outside.
Does Hummus Have a Long Shelf Life?
No, hummus doesn’t have a long shelf life.
If you’ve made your own hummus, you can generally expect it to last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before it starts to go bad.
Most store-bought brands in the US will last about 1 week after opening, but this depends quite a bit on what kinds of preservatives, additives, and stabilizers are added to your hummus. Natural and organic brand hummus tends to go bad more quickly than recipes that are made with lots of stabilizers.
The short shelf life of hummus and the fact that it needs to be constantly refrigerated are two of the reasons why it’s not a great food for backpacking. That said, on a backpacking trip, you can always opt for dehydrated hummus, which doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of about 4 to 6 weeks.
Can You Dehydrate Store-Bought Hummus?
Yes, you can dehydrate store-bought hummus. Doing so is actually one of the best ways to bring hummus into the backcountry without needing to carry around extra weight or worry about food poisoning.
To dehydrate store-bought hummus, you simply need a quality dehydrator. Then, you need to spread out the hummus onto your dehydrating tray, pop it into the dehydrator for about 4 to 10 hours (depending on the specifics of your dehydrator) and wait until your hummus turns to a dry, crumbly powder.
That said, you should always follow the directions that came with your dehydrator for dehydrating hummus as those will be more accurate than any other information that you might find online.
If you don’t have a dehydrator or if you simply don’t have the time to dehydrate food, you can also get store-bought dehydrated hummus powder.
Hummus powder (also called instant hummus) is a very lightweight and nutrition-packed staple that you can bring on any backpacking trip. Re-hydrating it is as simple as adding water and mixing well, so it’s great for both an end-of-day meal or an on-trail snack.
If you want to have hummus for dinner, you can also bring dehydrated falafel powder and fry up some falafels on your camp stove for extra vegetarian-friendly protein on the trail.
Is Hummus the Ultimate Backpacking Food?
Hummus is an excellent food, but we wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a great backpacking food. The problem with hummus is that it is heavy and that it requires constant refrigeration to prevent foodborne illnesses. This makes hummus fairly impractical for most outdoor adventures besides a short day hike.
Ultimately, if you love hummus and want to add it to your repertoire of backpacking meals, consider using powdered hummus instead. You can either dehydrate your own hummus or buy the powdered version at the store. Either way, you’ll end up with a shelf-stable and lightweight form of hummus that’s a perfect addition to any backpacking trip meal plan.
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.