Everyone knows that jerky is one of the best, if not the No. 1 hiking food, but for a little variety while out there exploring what nature has to offer, try some of these other easy-to-carry foods: 
- Trail Mix (Note: Try adding some M&M’s, goldfish crackers or nuts of choice to purchased trail mix to customize it to you taste.)
- Peanut Butter & Crackers
- Candy Bars
- Packaged-in-the-pouch Tuna
- Instant Drink Mixes (Gatorade is good)
For a day of hiking you can get by with foods that are ready to eat. If you plan on an overnight hiking trip you’ll find that in addition to just food you may need to consider more supplies: 
- Tent or sleeping bag
- Cooking options and fuel (open campfire, grills available, etc.)
- Availability of potable water (carry in or available at camp site)
- Amount of food (dried, canned, easy to prepare) with seasonings
Here in Texas there are many hiking trails and camping sites available in the state parks. For information on amenities available in state parks, visit the following links for parks located in the various regions of Texas:
Hiking and camping are great ways for the family to enjoy time together – but remember, if you pack it in . . . pack it out.
By David Moncrief
While it may still be winter outside, you can be sure summer is on the way. And, with that we should be aware of the handling of the meat used for homemade jerky. Whether you are transporting it, defrosting it or storing it . . . the handling of raw meat is very important with regard to temperatures.
To defrost frozen meat for jerky, one of the following methods can be used. 
- Defrost food in the refrigerator
- Defrost in cold water
- Defrost in the Microwave (use defrost setting or be very careful not to start cooking process.)
Note: For foods defrosted in water, place meat in airtight packaging and submerge in cold water.
Storage and Chilling
The following are pretty much just good-old-common-sense, but never hurts to refresh. 
- Meats should be stored in a refrigerator with a temperature of 40 degrees or below. This temperature should be maintained to slow growth of harmful microbes.
- Always refrigerate or freeze the meat as soon as you get home from the store.
- Never let meats sit at ‘room temperature’ more than 2 hours before refrigerating or freezing. Nte: The time should be reduced to 1 hour IF the temperature is above 90 degrees F.
- Never defrost at room temperature. (See above.)
- Never over-stuff the refrigerator as the cold air needs to circulate to keep meat/food safe.
While maintaining a safe temperature at home while working with jerky meat is important, it is equally important to keep meat safe when transporting from the grocery store to home. This can be done by one of the following ways:
- Packing the meats in a pre-cooled, insulated bag cooler
- Storing in a cooler with ice packs If you’re looking for the best, look for a Yeti Cooler
- In a pinch, wrap the meats in thick newspaper or heavy brown paper and keeping it out of direct sun while in the vehicle.
Note: This last method should only be used if no other storage method is available and then the meat should be delivered straight home to the refrigerator or freezer.
By David Moncrief
Ever heard of . . . .
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) 
- Maltodextrin 
- Sodium Erythorbate 
- Sodium Nitate 
These ingredients are to be found in some processed jerky products out there on the market. And, while the jury is still out as to whether or not they are harmful when consumed, they are commonly used ingredients in a variety of processed foods. If you want to limit intake or have allergies to any of the above, check the labels on all purchased food items – especially those containing meat.
With jerky being sold almost everywhere – from gas stations to gourmet shops – one should to be aware of not only ingredients but also quality.
- How is it processed and packaged?
- Does it contain artificial ingredients or flavors?
- Do they use the best natural, healthy ingredients?
- Do they use the best meats?
It would be hard to answer these questions based solely on a visual assessment. However, if you take the time to make your own jerky, you’ll know exactly what goes into your meat snacks. You’ll know you’ve used the best cut of meat, the best spices along with careful handling.
For those who might think it takes too much time or costs too much money to make your own jerky at home, consider this. The basic Nesco equipment needed to make unlimited pounds of jerky , i.e., a Nesco dehydrator AND jerky gun can be purchased on Amazon for a base cost of under $65.00. While a one-time purchase of commercially processed beef jerky will set you back $83.40 for 1-1/2 pounds !!! *
Lifestyle and frequency of eating jerky will factor into determining which choice you’ll make. But for those who want to go ‘natural’ – homemade jerky can’t be beat. To see more jerky equipment and seasonings, visit this link – Top Jerky Equipment & Seasonings.
* These comparisons were taken off Amazon where 2 oz. of jerky sold for $6.95 as of 1/20/2015.
 Maltodextrin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltodextrin
 Sodium Erythorbate – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltodextrin
 Sodium Nitrate – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_nitrate
By David Moncrief