Can You Bring Potato Chips Backpacking?

Potato chips aren’t high on the list when most people think about backpacking snacks. They’re easy to crush, get stale when taken out of the bag, and are generally unhealthy. So why would anybody think about bringing chips on a backpacking trip? Well that’s an easy question to answer. They taste amazing! Plus they’re high calorie and loaded with fats, but can you carry potato chips in your pack without crushing them?

Can you bring potato chips backpack? You can take potato chips backpacking, but they will most likely get slightly smashed. Just open up the bag to remove the excess air, fold the bag down and smash them a little so they’re easier to fit in the bear canister or food bag with the chip bags tucked in a plastic food container. You may also want to consider chips that resist crushing like fritos and cans of pringles.

There are definitely easier snacks to carry, but nothing satisfies that snack craving like a bag of potato chips. They will probably get a little crushed, but they still taste good. There are ways to avoid crushing your chips

How to Bring Potato Chips Backpacking

There are three main hurdles to bringing potato chips on a backpacking trip. It’s easy to completely smash the chips, open bags go stale fast, and they take up a lot of space. Luckily there are simple solutions to all of these problems. I’ll give you a brief rundown and give more information in the following sections.

  • Avoid Smashing Chips: There are three main ways to avoid smashing potato chips. You can store the chips in a hard food storage container like tupperware in your pack or bear bag. Use a bear canister and tuck individual serving chip bags in the top. Or choose chips like pringles, fritos, doritos, etc. that are harder to smash.
  • Keeping The Chips Fresh: It can be tempting to dump the potato chips in a tupperware container so they take up less space, but that will lead to stale chips. I recommend opening the bags, squeezing out all the air, cut off the excess packaging, and use those sliding chip bag sticks (these things) to seal the bag.
  • Fitting Them In The Pack: Start off by choosing individual serving size chip bags that are easier to tuck into your food storage. Smaller full-sized bags like fritos, cheetos, pringles, buffalo pretzel pieces, and gas station sizes also work. Open up the packaging and squeeze all the air out. Use sliding chip clips (these things) to seal the bag. They come in a bunch of different sizes. You may also want to cut off the extra packaging after using the chip clip.

Where Should I Store My Chips So They Don’t Get Crushed?

How you should store the chips to avoid crushing is entirely dependent on where you’re backpacking. It all depends on whether or not you have to deal with bears. If you’re in bear country, you’ll have to find a way to fit them in the bear canister or bear bag without getting crushed.

Let’s start off with the assumption that you’re backpacking in an area without bear activity. This is going to be the easy one. Just open up the bag to remove the excess air and store the chip bags in a small food storage container so they don’t get crushed. Regular tupperware works, but I prefer the 32 oz wonton soup containers. They’re lighter and the cylindrical container seems to be less awkward in my pack.

In bear country, you will have to deal with bear canisters or soft sided bear bags. Treat the bear bag like if you were storing them in a regular pack. Just remove the excess air and load the chips up in your Tupperware container and you’re good to go.

A bear canister is kind of tricky. You will have to use the tiny individual serving size bags and tuck them into the top of the canister. Try to be careful so you don’t accidentally smash the chips. Don’t be surprised when the chips get slightly crushed removing them and putting them back into the container.

Choose Individual Serving Sizes and Smaller Gas Station Bags

I like to go with the individual serving size chip bags. It’s really easy to tuck the bags into storage and you can bring a variety of chips. Plus I have horrible impulse control so the individually packaged bags make it easier for me to ration them out. I would end up chowing through a full-sized bag on day 1 if I had it sitting in my lap.

Personally, I like to go with the variety pack of Lays, Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, and Sun Chips. Everything in the variety pack is somewhat crushproof (except the Lays chips) and you can find this assortment at almost every grocery store.

You can also go with the small gas station bags if you can’t find anything you like in the variety packs. Gas station bags are usually 8 or 12 oz so they’re still smallish, but you will end up with a little bit of wasted space around the chips.

Open the Bag and Squeeze Out All The Air

Think about all the extra space that’s at the top of most chip bags. Nitrogen gas is pumped into the bag to keep them fresh, but you’re lucky to get half a bag. You need to open up each bag and get rid of all that gas so the chips can fit better in your pack.

Use sliding Chip Clips

Those sliding chip clips are by far the best way to keep your chips fresh. They don’t stick out like traditional chip clips so they take up less space and they won’t fall off the bags. You don’t want to spill a bag of chips all over the bottom of your food bag.

Honestly, I have no idea where to buy the sliding chip clips in a store. They don’t sell them at Walmart or any of the dollar stores I went to. I would guess that there’s some kind of patent dispute or something because I used to see the Gripstic everywhere. Now there’s a bunch of cheap alternatives on Amazon that seem like the same thing.

Find Crush Proof Chips

Think about the types of chips that usually get smashed. Traditional potato chips like Lays Originals can get smashed up around my house. Crushed chips still taste good, but they’d be completely smashed by the end of day 1.

Go with ripples or ridges if you’re looking for a traditional chip style. I’m not a mechanical engineer so I can’t begin to understand why they don’t get crushed. It probably has something to do with the triangle ridges vs flat plane of a regular chip.

Pringles are another great option, but packing more than 2-3 small cans takes up a lot of space. One big can could definitely work if you can resist eating them all in one sitting. I definitely can’t, that’s why I go with the individual serving sizes.

Tortilla chips, Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos, Buffalo Pretzel Pieces, etc. can also stand up to mild abuse. They’re not the same as traditional chips, but they’ll satisfy your crunchy salt cravings. The good thing is you can find most of these in variety packs.