Bread is great for sandwiches, French toast, or even just with some peanut butter for a super quick snack. But knowing exactly how to pack bread for camping can be kind of tricky.
First of all, you don’t want your bread to get squished. This is easier than you think when you’re trying to save room by packing as much food as you can into a tight space.
Overall though, bread is a relatively shelf-stable food that’s both nutritious and versatile. With a little extra planning, you can make sure it doesn’t take up too much space in your pack and will still taste great when you’re ready to eat it.
Here are a few tips on how to pack bread for camping.
Check the ‘best before’ date
Fresh baked bread that you buy from bakery won’t last as long as your standard, prepackaged grocery store bread. So, if you’re planning on packing bread for a longer camping trip, you may want to forgo fresh baked bread for the store-bought variety so that it lasts longer.
Use airtight plastic containers
An airtight plastic container will help keep your bread from getting squished or going stale too quickly. You can also get airtight plastic containers specifically for bread, like this one on Amazon. You can store a whole loaf of bread in there.
Put your bread in resealable plastic bags and store them at the very top
If you’re not keen on carrying plastic containers around, you can instead use resealable plastic bags to keep your bread fresh. You’ll just need to be extra careful not to squish it. The best way to do this is to pack all of your other food first, and then place your bread flat on top so that nothing is compressing it.
If you’re not a fan of plastic bags, you can also wrap your bread in:
- Aluminum foil
- Wax paper
- Bread bags
- A clean and dry cotton tea towel
We’re canoe trippers, so we use a canoe food barrel to store our food. Our strategy is to place the heavier items at the bottom and then leave room at the top for our bread. Because the barrel is made out of strong plastic, there’s no chance of our bread getting squished even as it rolls around in our canoe.
Keep your bread out of direct sunlight
Just like any other food, bread will spoil faster if it’s left in direct sunlight. If you’re packing bread for a day hike or short camping trip, you can likely get away with storing it in a cool, dark place Examples include:
- A lunch box
- The top of your backpack
- A dry bag
- A cooler
- Your car (in cool temperatures)
Don’t keep your bread in a hot car if you’re car camping
In the summer, temperatures can sore into the 100s. For car campers, this means that anything kept inside the car is subject to those high temperatures too. Make sure you take it (and any other food) out of the car during the day and let it rest in the shade, in a pack, or inside a cooler.
If you’re bringing a cooler, place bread in a container or otherwise flat along the top
It’s generally not recommended to refrigerate bread since this can make it go stale faster, but if you’re camping in hot weather and have a cooler, you can store your bread inside of to keep it cool and prevent mould from growing.
Placing the bread on top so that nothing is pressing down on it will prevent it from being squished and may also help insulate the items beneath it so they potentially stay cool for longer.
Consider freezing your bread before you leave for your trip
A great way to prevent bread from going stale is to freeze it. Bringing frozen bread is also a good way to avoid squishing it along the way since it will take some time for it to thaw.
If you want to keep your bread frozen for as long as possible, make sure to store it in your cooler. Just be sure to keep it at the top to prevent it from being squished as it thaws.
Don’t let your bread get wet
This seems like common sense, but it’s worth mentioning. Water is the number one enemy of bread since it can cause mould to grow. Your biggest risks of wet bread comes from thawing it from frozen, spills that happen when it’s stored with other food (or ice), and rain or humidity if left out in the open.
In addition to storing your bread in an airtight container, bag, or wrapper, you may want to consider adding a silica packet or two. These are the little white packets that often come in dry food packages, which help absorb moisture.
If you do happen to get your bread wet, you can try to save it by patting it with a clean towel and then letting it sit out in the sun for a few hours. You could also toast it on the campfire, but you’d most likely need to eat it right away.
Bring squish-proof bread instead of softer bread
Loafs of bread and burger/hotdog buns are most likely to get squished, but there are all sorts of other bread products that are much more resistant to being squished. Consider packing:
Flatbreads like wraps, tortillas, pitas
- English muffins
- Crusty bread
All of these options are less likely to get squished and can still be used for sandwiches or with dips and spreads.
Make your own bread over the campfire
Homemade bread at camp? It’s possible! We’ve done it—and when done right, it’s incredibly delicious.
The easiest way to do this is with a pre-packaged mix that only requires water and no kneading. We recommend something like Krusteaz No Knead Sourdough Bread Mix, which only requires mixing with water and a yeast packet that it comes with.
You can then bake it over the fire in a dutch oven or an aluminum foil baking dish. Just be sure not to burn it! For tips on how to achieve the perfect fluffy and crusty bread, go ahead and check out our guide to ;how to cook pizza over a campfire, which includes an extensive section about how to cook bread over the campfire without burning it.
Plan to eat your bread within the first couple of days
This tip isn’t a must, but it’s best if you want to enjoy your bread in its freshest form. Keep in mind that the best before date is your guide—not a hard and fast rule. If you’re eating bread that’s a few days past the best before date, it may not taste as fresh as it once did but it will probably still be perfectly safe to eat.
With that said, bread can go stale or mouldy quicker than expected—especially if it’s stored in less than ideal conditions (i.e. high humidity, squished, etc.). Plan to inspect your bread first before eating it. If you see any mould, it’s best to avoid eating it.
That’s a wrap!
Learning how to pack bread for camping isn’t complicated, but it does take some preparation. Just follow these tips and you’ll be sure to have fresh and squish-free bread for your next trip. Bon appetit!
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Is it okay to eat stale bread?
Yes, stale bread is perfectly safe to eat. As long as there’s no mould on it, it won’t make you sick. It just won’t taste as good as it would if it were still fresh.
Can you reverse the staleness of bread?
You can for some types of breads—such as those that have a hard crust on the outside. The trick is to douse it in water, wrap it in aluminum foil, and bake it at a low temperature (250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will help re-soften the inside of the bread without overcooking the outside.
You can do this over the campfire as long as you have a bed of coals with no flames.
If there’s mould on my bread, can I break that piece off and still eat it?
No, it’s best to avoid eating any bread that has mould on it. Mould can cause serious health problems if ingested. If you see even a small amount of mould, it’s best to throw the entire piece of bread out.
What temperature should bread be stored at?
Ideally, bread should be stored at a cool room temperature—between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 21 degrees Celsius). If it’s stored in a warmer environment, it will probably grow mould. If it’s stored in a cooler environment, it will go stale.
It’s fine to store your bread in a cooler in hot weather because the cooler will help keep it at a consistent temperature.
How long does bread last when stored properly?
Bread will last anywhere from 1 to 4 days when stored properly, but perhaps even up to a week. The exact time will depend on the type of bread and how it’s stored. For example, bread that’s stored in a cool, dry place will last longer than bread that’s stored in a humid environment.
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).