Eggs are a great way to get your protein when you’re camping. It’s perfectly possible to pack them safely if you know what you’re doing.
I wish I had put more thought into nutrition on my last long-term camping trip. To be honest, I ended up eating cookies, rice, and canned vegetables for three months. (Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit that online.)
I ended up losing loads of weight and feeling too drained to fully enjoy the trip—and I’ll never be able to look at rice and peas in the same way.
To pack eggs for camping, you can crack them into plastic bottles or zip-lock bags, which you can then freeze before popping your cool box. Otherwise, you can bring them in their shells and use an egg case to help prevent breakages. If you don’t have access to a cool box, it’s much safer to bring powdered eggs instead.
There are a few things you need to know before bringing your eggs camping with you. To avoid getting salmonella, you’ll want to read this quick guide before your next trip.
How to Prepare Eggs for Camping
Personally, I find boiling eggs the best way to prepare them for camping. Eggs prepared this way are referred to as ‘hard cooked’ or ‘hard boiled’, depending on which corner of the world you’re from.
If you don’t know how to boil an egg, you just have to pop them in a pan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Then you can remove the eggs from the water from four minutes onward.
They will become less runny with each minute they’re in the water, but you probably don’t want to leave them for longer than 10 minutes after the water starts boiling. (You’ll end up with ruined, green eggs if you leave them too long.)
You can then peel your egg whenever you’re ready for it, and eat it with salt as a protein-filled snack.
Alternatively, you can cut it up and mix it with mayonnaise for a sandwich filling, or include it in salads and side dishes.
Dehydrated Eggs (aka powdered eggs)
I’m not going to pretend that dehydrated eggs are anywhere near as good as fresh eggs. That would be a downright lie!
But they can be handy for a camping trip, as they have a shelf life of up to 10 years. Plus, you’ll have no worries about food poisoning or breakages. (That shelf life plummets to around a year once the packet has been opened.)
You can mix dehydrated eggs with water to make a pretty decent scrambled egg on your camping trip, or you can use them for french toast or baking.
They cost about twice as much as fresh eggs, but the box will last for ages. The convenience is worth it if you’re thru-hiking and want to spice up your meals without giving yourself food poisoning.
If you’re bringing along eggs to cook later, you can break them into a plastic bag for really lightweight camping. It’s a good idea to double up on plastic bags to avoid spillage.
You can also break the eggs into a plastic bottle, so you don’t have to worry about the eggs smashing on your hike. If you crack the eggs into a container first, you can freeze them before popping them in your cool box. That way, they will stay cold for longer.
(You can’t put an egg in the freezer if it’s still in its shell because liquid expands when frozen. That means the shell would crack.)
Risks of Taking Eggs Camping With You
Salmonella is a bacterial infection that you can get from eating undercooked eggs or chicken.
Most people make a full recovery, but salmonella can be life-threatening.
Either way, the symptoms are seriously unpleasant. Amongst other symptoms, you can expect to experience vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, fever, headaches, and chills.
The risk of getting salmonella increases with improper storage, so you need to be careful about not letting your eggs get too warm on your next camping trip.
The other reason that campers are at risk of salmonella is that it’s more challenging to keep your kitchen equipment clean and sanitized, particularly on a thru-hike.
You might find it harder to judge cooking times on a campfire or gas stove too, so take extra care to make sure your eggs are properly cooked!
If you were relying on eggs for breakfast and find that you’ve broken them all on the hike up to your camping spot, you’re going to be hungry and disappointed.
It’s a good idea to bring more food than you think you’ll need, as you’re bound to get hungrier after being active in the great outdoors. Extra snacks like trail mix and candy can be lifesavers if you have problems with your cooking equipment!
No one wants to open their bag to find a wet mess of broken eggs all over their clothes, so make sure to keep your eggs in an extra plastic bag for waterproofing, no matter how you store them.
Checking That Your Eggs Are Good to Eat
If there is any doubt about the freshness of your eggs, especially after a hot day, you should give them a quick safety test.
Just gently place your eggs (in their shells) into a pan or bowl of water. If they sink and rest on their sides, you can go ahead and cook them. If they float, you shouldn’t eat them.
(I know this sounds like an old wives’ tale, but it is an effective safety technique that is taught in food hygiene courses!)
Rather than chucking any dodgy eggs in the bushes, pack them out with you. If you leave them near your campground, you’re only going to attract wild animals to your tent.
How to Pack Eggs in a Cooler
If you’re carrying eggs in a cooler, don’t put anything heavy on top of them. It’s a good idea to break them into a plastic bottle and freeze them the night before setting off, as this will help keep them (and the rest of your food) nice and cool.
You can also get hold of an egg case to protect your eggs in transit.
What is the best way to backpack with eggs?
Dehydrated (powdered) eggs are the safest way to take eggs backpacking with you. They have a shelf life of up to 10 years and taste pretty good once you mix them with water and scramble them.
Are farm-fresh eggs bad for camping?
No! Farm fresh eggs are delicious. So long as they haven’t been refrigerated at any point, they are safer to take camping than store-bought eggs. The animal welfare standards are generally much better too.
Can you transport dehydrated eggs?
Yes, it’s really easy to transport dehydrated eggs. If you don’t want to take the whole box, just bring what you need in a Tupperware container or plastic zip-lock bag.
Taking eggs on a camping trip is a great way to add variety to your meals and replenish your protein levels after a long day on the trails. However, some risks are involved, and they can be as serious as salmonella if you don’t cook or store your eggs safely.
If you’re bringing raw eggs with you, store them in a cooler. Go for farm-fresh eggs, which will keep for longer, taste better, and probably have a better standard of animal welfare than the eggs you find in the store.
But if you’re packing light or won’t be able to keep your eggs reliably cool, it is much safer to go for dehydrated/powdered eggs instead. They aren’t as tasty as fresh eggs, but they’re a lot more appetizing than food poisoning!
Besides, after a long day of hiking, you’ll just be glad to get some hot food down you.
I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many happy adventures. (Hopefully, with better food than I ate during my first camping trips!)
Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.