There are quite a few things to think about when choosing what food to take. It needs to be tasty (of course), preferrably sterile so when you heat it up in a half-assed way over a little stove in the driving rain you’re not going to contract something. It needs to be relatively quick to prepare, as by the time you get to this you’ll really, really be wanting to get your head down and get some kip where it’s warm, not hanging out the flap of your tent.
Then there’s the wet food or dry food question. Wet food is heavier, but nicer. Dry food can be truely appauling to eat, but at least it packs down well. It also has the drawback that you have to use hot water to cook it. Cold water just doesn’t work for some reason, and eating it cold isn’t feasible. However, you can always force wet food down you even if it’s cold and greasy. Sometimes that’s a godsend.
A recent innovation in wild camping food tech is self-heating stuff. I first came across this when I tried an American MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), their equivalent of our rat packs (ration packs.) Those were lovely, although they never really got that hot no matter how well you mix the chemical heater that sits at the bottom in a separate compartment.
But in terms of getting your head down, these can’t be beaten. Get your tent up, bag out, climb in and zip it up. Then with the tips of your fingers reach for your self-heating meal, open it and wait. Eat it, then hug the pack for extra warmth. All of it done, crucially, from within your tent without once having to poke out of it. So the only time after zip-up that you need to brave the outside is when you need a pee, and even that you can do in a bottle. Lovely.
There are also some self-heating drinks. These can be variable, and definitely aren’t as good as a straight brew, but again heating them up inside your tent is definitely a major plus.
Emergency food is just another name for food that you’re going to leave to last, usually because it’s a bit rubbish or has a long shelf life so can be used on the next exped if you don’t eat it.
It also covers nutty, which is the generic term in the Royal Navy for any kind of sweetie, chocolate or trail mix regardless of nut content. This is a matter of personal taste, although being Scottish I’d truely recommend the miraculous properties of tablet when eat outside. It’s poor cousin macaroon, which is a bit like the English Kendal mint cake with more suger and less mint, is also worth a try.
Try to make it last, though. Running out of nutty/emergency food can really hit morale.
Water carriers can get quite fancy, or they can be as basic as you like. For the real do-it-on-a-budget types, just get some sports cap water from a shop and keep refilling it. For playing survivalist stuff, the armed forces canteens can feel cool, but they leave a truely terrible taste in the water. It’s also hard to see the bottom of them as they’re opaque and green, like most army kit. This makes them difficult to clean, and difficult to see if there’s anything growing at the bottom.
Going up to more gucci stuff, camel backs are pretty good. These are back-mounted bladders with a drinking tube out the bottom of it. The idea is that you fill these up, stick it in your pack and just poke the tube out. You can then walk along happily, sipping away and keeping hydrated. Only draw back of this is that, when I do this, I tend to over drink and want to pee a lot. Still, it’s good to be truely, truely hydrated for once.