homemade biltong jerky

Best Cured Meats for Backpacking & Camping

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2024)

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

I’ve used every cured meat style worldwide and share this knowledge with my writing and videos through this site.

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.

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Dry Dry-cured meat made in a standard kitchen fridge

You can take this type of cured meat camping in a moderate or cool area. It is thoroughly dried to a weight loss of 35%, making the meat ‘preserved

There are so many different ways you can use preserved meats to keep. your 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.

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.

biltong small
Homemade jerky/biltong with smoked paprika & white pepper dusting

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

Italians and many European and Asian countries know about preserving through drying and smoking. Once the meat has dried or appropriately been cold smoked for preservation – you can hang it in a suitable environment or dry it in the fridge. If it is dry-cured salami, it can last quite some time, 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 red meat, salt, vinegar, coriander, an oven, a dehydrator, or a biltong box! But if you want to buy something 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

This type of preservation is for beef, lamb, fish, ostrich, rabbit, and goat (ostrich is supposedly the best if you ask South Africans!). I guess any meat is 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. Making decent salami is quite an involved process; I often buy artisan local styles for the wild.

  • A fantastic 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 a lot of inferior salamis 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. You can dry it out in the fridge before the trip to intensify the flavors even more. The white stuff is natural penicillin (like in hospitals); this is a mold culture that protects the meat. Some prefer to remove it, but it is, of course, safe to eat as well.

Here is the link to Molinari & Son’s 3lb salami

The decent fat level in salami means you get that instant energy boost. Since saturated fat is the most accessible 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 our outdoor adventures.

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)

Like 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 fatty – as long as the hog is a quality animal, you will get great flavors. Speck is superb for cooking with, is dry-cured, and is generally smoked for many days. It develops a rich flavor.

Cut slithery thin like prosciutto; this can bring back severe energy and tastes 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 go for dried pasta packets – add water, and you get a decent calorie intake and carbs.

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

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

We tend to take a large bag of apples for a two-week, four-person snow-hunting expedition since we take a helicopter into the alpine environment. Weight isn’t an issue to start with (only when you are doing the daily climbs up the mountains).

Dried fruit is a perfect option!

Muesli Bars – I have sometimes survived on muesli bars for a day or two. It’s all you need to maintain some energy still. 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 are integral parts of the luxuries, and they are dry-cured and can be cut and fried quickly. If you want to learn more about bacon making, please find a post here.

Related Questions

How long does dry-cured hard salami last?

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


Is it okay for Cured Meat not to be in the fridge?

Certain 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.

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

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