homemade biltong jerky

Best Cured Meats for Backpacking & Camping

Homemade jerky/biltong with smoked paprika & white pepper dusting

I take cured meats camping and fishing often, I also love the outdoors. I want to help you see why certain cured meats are perfect for your journeys and adventures.

What are the Best Cured Meats for Backpacking & Camping?

  • Biltong
  • Jerky
  • Dry Cured Salami
  • Bier sticks
  • Kransky
  • Speck

If you want to learn how to make some dry-cured meat in the fridge, please find a link here to a post.

Dry Cured Meat made in a normal kitchen fridge

You can take this type of cured meat camping if you are going to a moderate or cool area. It is fully dried to a weight loss of 35%, which then makes the meat ‘preserved’.

There are so many different ways you can use preserved meats to keep energy levels high. While also adding some great flavor to your cooked meals.

Below I will give you the easiest dried biltong/jerky recipe – so you can make your own if you like.

Just like dehydrated meals if you want to travel light, using cured meat on your journey, means you are not carrying the weight of the water/moisture which isn’t needed.

My go-to for light mountain snacks – salami, cheese & crackers – so easy, so tasty and full of energy

Italians, many European and Asian countries know about preserving through drying and smoking. Once the meat has dried or been properly cold smoked for preservation – you can literally hang it in a suitable environment or dry it out in the fridge. If it is dry-cured salami then it can last quite some times in my experience.

The Best Travelling Meat to Take Camping or Backpacking

I am generally talking about under 70°F / 22°C environment, if you are in a desert or a sweltering environment, biltong and jerky I find will last a few weeks, it will just dry out more as it is exposed to air/oxygen.  I find salami 4-7 days when it is hot. But if it is under 70°F/22°C – salami will last weeks  (dry cured salami not cooked salami).

Jerky & Biltong

All you need is some red meat, salt, vinegar, coriander, and an oven, dehydrator or biltong box! But if you just want to buy some protein for the trip, check out some awesome tasty packs below.

Here is a super guide I did for curing your own jerky/biltong.

If you want to buy some for a trip, here are my top Biltong picks

Ayoba-Yo Biltong – real classic biltong (keto & paleo certified) – you can order direct from Amazon here

Here is a variety pack of 7, heaps of flavors and keto/paleo-friendly if you’re into that too, here is the Amazon link to the product.

Jerky is generally a sweeter tasting recipe; my preference is to taste either chili or the meat with simple biltong preparation. 

My favorite Jerky is Mighty which is Organic and very natural – they have resealable bags as well. Check them out on Amazon here.

This type of preservation is for beef, lamb, fish, ostrich, rabbit, goat, (ostrich supposedly the best if you ask South Africans!). I guess any meat within reason – but fish jerky, could be a lot of variables but hey I’m not judging.

Dry Cured Salami

After biltong or jerky, this is the easiest for all my camping, hunting and tramping. You get so much out of a fine stick or two of salamis. Quite an involved process to make decent salami, often I will buy artisan local styles for the wild.

  • An amazing addition to lunches
  • On-the-go snack
  • Chop them up and add to rice or pasta meals

Tip  – Don’t cut the salami, it will dry out quicker – just cut it when you need to.

It might go hard a little around the outside after a week or two. That’s fine, it’s just a bit of case hardening.

There are alot of inferior salami’s on the market, made in food factories.

If you want to buy the real deal and are into quality food made with passion, Molinari & Sons sell a 3lb stick on Amazon, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

You can eat the salami as is, it has been preserved. If you want, you can dry it out in the fridge some more before the trip to intensify the flavors even more. The white stuff is natural penicillin (like in the hospitals), this is a mold culture that protects the meat. Some prefer to remove, but it is, of course, safe to eat as well.

Here is the link to Molinari & Sons 3lb salami

The decent level of fat in salami means you get that instant energy boost. Since saturated fat is the easiest fat for us to convert to energy, that is what a surgeon friend told me. I now know why he always wants a big fatty pork chop on the outdoor adventures we do.

Go to salami’s I make are:

  • Cacciatore (Hunter’s Salami)
  • Pepperoni or Picante
  • Sopressata
  • Any quality salami with garlic, pepper & maybe truffles

Biersticks /Meat Sticks (Mini Salami)

Same really as a salami, their smaller size is again great for all the same reasons above. Many are beef-based – in the United States, you may want to check the origin of the beef or stick to alternative meat.  

Kransky – Preserved Pork/Beef Goodness

A European delight, some are hot smoked and some are cold smoked, I prefer to take these on colder winter adventures – they are amazing either cooked or eaten straight away (make sure this is a ready to eat product!)

Speck Smoky Extremely Fatty Bacon (Use it for Frying)

This is like bacon on steroids, it is super smoky and super fatty – as long as the hog was a quality animal, you will get great flavors. Speck is superb for cooking with, dry-cured and generally smoked for many days it develops a rich flavor.

Cut slithery thin like prosciutto, this can bring back serious energy and it, of course, tastes so much better in the wild!

It can be your friend when it comes to an alternative for greasing a frying pan.

Great Camping & Backpacking Foods – Non -Meat Varieties

Of course, it depends on your type of adventure.

I generally always go for dried pasta packets – just add water and you are getting a decent calorie intake full of carbs.

A professional hunter in his 80’s now, said he would just take crackers and a block of cheese for 2 or 3 days – keep it simple I guess.

Fruit – this is an interesting idea generally for traveling in a backpack since most fruit will bruise easily or needs a container. Dry fruit is the way to go for sure.

For a 2 week 4 person snow hunting expedition – we tend to take a large bag of apples since we take a helicopter into the alpine environment weight isn’t an issue to start off with (only when you are doing the daily climbs up the mountains).

Dried fruit is a very good option!

Muesli Bars – I have sometimes survived on muesli bars for a day or two. It’s really all you need to still maintain some energy. Tend to look for the lowest sugar option with nuts & low GI would be my advice.

Dry-Cured Bacon, good quality cold smoked bacon or some homemade smoked pancetta is an important part of the luxuries and it is dry cured it can be cut and fried easily. If you want to learn more about bacon making, please find a post here.

Related Questions

How long Does Dry Cured Hard Salami Last?

For dry cured salami, 3-10 weeks easily. It does depend on the moisture contents initially and how it is kept/what temperature/humidity. If there is more air circulation it will harden and dry out faster.


Is it OK for Cured Meat to Not be in the Fridge?

Certain types of cured meats can easily be hung and stored in a protected non-refrigerated area. For example, prosciutto & salami are traditionally hung in the shops throughout most of Italy.

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