Now, technically, 2 main things should be considered when choosing what foods to bring:
- High calorie/weight ratio to leverage more energy per unit weight carried
- High protein and fat content as they're digested slower compared to carbs and hence keep you more satiated  AND fats provide more calories per gram (9 kcal/g compared to 4 kcal/g of protein and carbs)
Micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also very important in the long term, but when we're talking about being on the trail for up to a week, I'd pay them less attention.
Check out Grayson Cobb’s spreadsheet  of his favorite backpacking foods and their kcal/g rating. It's GOOOLD.
But again, be mindful, he focuses on calorie dense foods that keep you from under performing , which he notes is the MOST important purpose of a backpacker’s diet.
Everyone I’ve encountered on the trail has their own preference when it comes to meal planning and gear packing. There's no “right way” to pack but there are factors, like those mentioned above, that should be considered.
After researching camping foods that require neither refrigeration or stove, in this post I'll lay out the most important information and facts I've found, while also linking to some good packaged foods you can order here and there.
Pros of going no-stove
In some cases, you can say that hiking with a stove is a luxury - not a necessity. Here are some advantages going without cookware:
- No cookware: While there are many lightweight stoves available, you can't beat the weight you save by opting to hike without carrying a stove and fuel
- Foods are dehydrated and hence lighter: Yes, in most cases their more "precise" packaging also adds extra weight - but it doesn't add up even for long trips. You're still carrying lighter
- Your pack gets lighter with each meal you eat, while carrying a stove adds weight that sticks with you for the duration of your hike
- You don’t have to worry about your stove malfunctioning
- You don’t have to carry or worry about dispose of butane canisters  neither gas leakage
- You can eat inside your tent - no need to suffer preparing food in the rain
- Rain/foul weather can't stop you
- You don’t have to stop on the trail to heat water and you can eat immediately when you arrive at camp. I know most of you are famished by the time the tent is set up. Being able to eat right away, rather than worrying about cooking a big meal is a big advantage in most cases
- If you're trying to cover a good distance, you can hike for longer and eat as you go. As an added bonus: You can sleep in a little bit later in the morning
But how do I go with water purification?
Find foods that you actually want to eat, but here are some of the most popular no cook, no cooler backpacking foods with hiking enthusiasts (including me) I've collected through research.
One common misconception about cheese is that it requires refrigeration. While soft cheeses does tend to get oily when at room temperature and do turn a lot quicker, that isn't the case for hard cheeses.
Store your hard cheese in a parchment paper or a paper bag, which absorbs the oil and allows the cheese to breathe. The best cheeses to take backpacking are hard AND dry.
Here's a list of some cheeses you can take with you:
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Gouda cheese
- Gruyère cheese
- Pecorino Romano
- Monterey Jack
- Comté cheese
Unless they're just about to turn, it should be OK to pack them in most cases. I'd also keep them in the refrigerator until hitting the trail, because in most (not all) conditions they'll still last longer in the fridge.
In the end, my choice would be Cheddar. It's your most versatile choice as you can snack on it for lunch or grate it into dinners. This waxed cheese on Amazon can be a good choice for most. However, do not pre-shred cheddar as the extra surface area can invite mold and bacteria and hence faster turning.
In addition to cheese, I always bring meat on the trail. The easiest and longest lasting meat for backpacking is Beef Jerky - but some dehydrated white meat would also work just fine.
You can make your own or buy one of the many options. Unless you're going to be camping alone only for 1 night, I'd recommend this Beef & Turkey Jerky combo on Amazon - it's quite simple and the serving size is OK.
Summer Sausage and Prosciutto are two other popular types of meat that don’t require refrigeration and provide high fat and protein for long days on the trail. Pair prosciutto with some dates or have some summer sausage with cheddar and crackers for a quick lunch. I expand more on the best shelf-stable meats for backpacking in this article.
Tuna, in cans or pouches, also makes a great no-cook trail food. But I wouldn't eat tuna more than once a week, because, as some of you might already know, it's rich content in mercury can start being dangerous .
I'd simply eat one can of tuna a week - and less (maybe even none?) if I'm big on mercury intake through the other foods of my diet. You can calculate your so-called "maximum limit" by introducing your weight here .
Trail Mix & Dried Fruit
Trail mix is high in fat, protein (and carbs if you add chocolate). It's a heavier option, but its calorie density and easy-snacking make it an ideal trail food. Some prefer making their own by buying individual bulk ingredients, but there are also many delicious ready-mixed options.
Dried fruit is another great snack. While dried fruit does not have as many nutrients as fresh fruit, it still provides energy and vitamins while hiking. Add some to your oatmeal or keep on hand for snacking. Apricots, dried mango, and raisins are popular go-to choices - but I hate... I HATE raisins. Pls don't buy them.
Truffles are high in sugar, but I'd pack and eat one of these Trail Truffles a day to diversify my diet. No cook makes already difficult on-the-trail-diversifying even more so anyway.
Most "no-stovers" end up eating a lot of protein and meal bars while on the trail. Most health and outdoor stores have an overwhelming selection so try a few different kinds to find the one you like best.
This is pretty subjective, but the classic Clif Bar (White Chocolate Macademia Nut, for example) is a very popular option with camping enthusiasts. If you want to choose a less-processed, less-sugary snack, it’s easy to make your own nutritious power bars.
Speaking of which... LET'S GET SCHWIFTY...
If you read my other articles, you know I LOVE peanut butter and explained why it's pretty much the ultimate no cook no refrigeration hiking food . On average, peanut butter offers a concentrated source of energy with 190 calories and 16 grams of fat per serving - which offers a sky high energy/weight ratio. Perfect.
Opt for single serve packets rather than a jar - it won't only be lighter but also eating more often will be less of a hassle.
You can eat it plain, have it on a wrap, or squeeze it into your oats. Single serve packets, like this Jif on-the-go peanut butter pack of 12, are easy to carry on the trail or you can make your own by scooping peanut butter into small Ziploc bags.
If you want to go ultra-light, powdered peanut butter is a good option (this PB pack of 7 now comes in different options) but be aware that it has less fat and calories than regular peanut butter. You can also opt to eat plain old peanuts, which are calorie dense and have less messy packaging.
BONUS: If you haven't tried yet, almond butter is also an effective and delicious food choice for you if you love peanut butter.
Hummus is a regular item on almost any backpacking menu. If you have a dehydrator, you can make your own and dehydrate it into a powder (e.g this recipe for Greek Red Pepper Dip , it has instructions for re-hydration as well).
Pack these in individual Ziplocs, add some cold water in the morning, and by lunch it has re-hydrated into a tasty spread.
You can also buy individual packs of powdered hummus, such as Harmony Valley.
For short hikes, bring a pouch of re-fried beans (you can get them at most Latin American food stores) and for multi-day trips, dehydrate and then re-hydrate on the trail (same method as the hummus).
Some carbs considerations
Now besides "essentials" list, these are also good especially for carbs:
- Instant oats with milk or yogurt (for making overnight oats - they re-hydrate without heat)
- Starbucks VIA instant coffee (I don’t know if you tried it with cold milk - but it tastes like a coffee milkshake)
- Some kind of starch - wraps, pitas, crackers (to eat with peanut butter, hummus and/or tuna)
- Carrot sticks (these aren’t light - but I eat them the first day or two for something fresh)
- Seaweed snacks (I take them out of packaging - they are salty, green, and lightweight)
- Couscous (it re-hydrates without heat in about 15 minutes)
Coffee might be an outlier here, but coffee feels heavenly after breakfast in the wild. I'd stop the rush  and enjoy it.
Very little cookware
No-cook backpacking doesn't require much gear - the goal here is to simplify:
- Plastic "spork"
- Fair share mug (this is essential if you'll re-hydrate)
- A knife to cut up cheese and meat
- A pocket knife sharpener 
That’s about it.
3 Day No Cook No Refrigerator Sample Menu
Here is a sample no-cook menu for a 3 day hike:
- Alpen Cereal
- Starbucks Via Coffee
- Chicken Caesar Wrap
At lunch, add water to re-hydrate the beans in your mug for dinner
- Crushed up Fritos Corn Chips with shredded Cheddar cheese
- Beef Jerky
- Protein Bars
- Trail Mix
Before bed, add water to reconstitute the following recipe for next morning's breakfast:
Pre-mixed ziploc of oats, cranberries, powdered peanut butter, shredded coconut and dry milk powder (for instant and regular dry milk, add 1 to 5 and 3 water respectively )
- Meal prepared last night
- Starbucks Via Coffee
- Summer Sausage
- Sliced Cheddar
- Spicy Thai Chili Tuna with crushed Salt
- Vinegar Chips and Pita
- Clif Bar
- Turkey Jerky
- Muesli and with Milk
- Handful Dried Apricots
- Starbucks Via Coffee
Peanut Butter Wrap with Raisins
- Protein Bar
If you're off the trail during dinner time, you can also eat this during lunch.
One really important thing to remember: DRINK LOTS OF WATER. When you're eating dried or dehydrated foods, like nuts and jerky, your body requires water to digest them - and even more so because your protein intake is higher .
Some of you may be thinking also eggs would make a good backpacking food, and you couldn't be more correct. But, if you're going with no stove, no cooler - DON'T PACK EGGS, because:
- Raw eggs, powdered (aka "dehydrated" or "dried") eggs or egg mix require cooking
- Pre-hard boiled eggs require refrigeration
Read my ultimate guide to backpacking eggs  for more information. But the point here is that eggs aren't a good idea if you won't cook or refrigerate.