I have taken some hard cheeses onto backpacking trips quite successfully without spoilage, but I have not dared taking more than I can eat in about 3 days. Eggs I have not dared to take. I am interested in how long people have gone in arid climates before their cheese/eggs became inedible. I don't mind sweaty cheese or even some mold, but I do not care much about food poisoning in the backcountry.

  • I've been told that european eggs aren't refrigerated because the natural wax on the egg is maintained, while it is washed off on North American eggs, which is why they require refrigeration. Can anyone shed some light on this?
    – furtive
    Dec 19, 2012 at 16:59
  • 2
    Europeans don't refrigerate their eggs - I raise chickens, I collect eggs every day, and we put them on the kitchen counter. Once they go in the fridge, they can no longer be sold as "fresh," and they don't taste as good. Refrigeration makes them last longer, but once they are in the fridge, I'm told they need to stay that way. Dec 20, 2012 at 13:40
  • Dr. Chris Braden of the US CDC writes: "You can’t smell or see Salmonella in or on food." He adds that Salmonella "causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical costs each year." Aug 26, 2015 at 15:17
  • In some places, chickens are normally given a Salmonella vaccine; in other places, they are not. Stack Exchange users are neither doctors nor food-safety experts. I recommend that you contact your local doctor or your local public health department, instead of relying upon the anecdotal experience of a bunch of random strangers on the Internet. Even if your doctor says it's OK to cook unrefrigerated eggs, you can still reduce your risk by cooking them until the yolk and white are firm. (Source: US DHHS. Aug 26, 2015 at 15:21

7 Answers 7



Long time. Especially hard cheeses. You can just cut any mold off the edge that might creep up. Cheeses sealed in cheese wax (gouda) are a good bet.

I've had extra-sharp cheddar un-refrigerated in the AZ desert for 8+ days, in the rocky mountains for 15+ days with no issues (aside from sweat.)

Blocks last longer than a pile of shredded cheese.

Be smart. Keep an eye on it. If it smells foul, don't eat it.


With shells intact, raw eggs last surprisingly long.

In the Borneo rain forest (just below the equator = hot) we would get pallets of 300+ raw eggs shipped up to camp that we would store, un-refrigerated in the shade, for 30 days at a time. (This was after however long un-refrigerated in the truck, the shop, and the supply boat...)

Sure, there was some spoilage - but a very small percentage. Just crack them into a separate container first before tossing them in your dish.

Or use an old farmers test: put your raw eggs in a bucket of water, "If they sink, they're safe. If they float, they fail."

Other people suggest cracking the eggs into a sterilized lexan bottle (rinse with bleach first) and then freezing (or not). These reportedly last for several days. (<-I have not tried this).

As a distant last option -- they are doing some pretty decent things with powdered eggs these days...

Caveat: These are my personal experiences. I am sure there are some official FDA guidelines and other related official paranoia. Possibly even tails of death and disease from eating day old cheese. Fine. Follow those if you choose. Or step outside of commercial convention and open a world of gourmet back-country dining.

Related: How long does mayonnaise last unrefrigerated in the back-country?

  • 2
    As someone who raises chickens, I can tell you that we never put our eggs in the fridge. Technically, they can no longer be called 'fresh,' and they lose taste. Eggs will keep for 2 - 3 weeks, even outside of the fridge. Dec 20, 2012 at 13:37
  • 9
    And remember, the reason cheese was invented was because IT WAS A MEANS OF PERSERVING MILK! Dec 20, 2012 at 13:38
  • I've carried raw eggs on many occasion. As long as you don't crack them along the way, you're usually okay. Dec 21, 2012 at 13:05
  • I've read one trick to keep eggs cool is to put them in the bottom of your flour tin.
    – furtive
    May 13, 2014 at 22:36
  • My relatives in northeast Brazil (3.5 degrees south of the equator) don't keep their eggs in the fridge, either. They don't have any problem with spoilage.
    – ErikE
    Jul 24, 2014 at 2:29

I've never tried it myself, but I met people trekking (sorry, tramping) in New Zealand who had pre-scrambled eggs with them, on the 5 day Heaphy track. They were cooked quite hard, and so could be easily carried in a freezer bag without worrying about breaking them, and then warmed up, or eaten as is.

It was only day 2, so perhaps they didn't expect to keep them for long, but I remember them looking a lot nicer than all dried nonsense I was eating at the time! I guess their shelf life would be down to the weather at the time.


Personal anecdotal experience:

hard cheese:
lasts about a week in cool climate

boiled eggs:
lasts 3 (maybe up to 5 days) before they start to get weird

unboiled eggs:
I have never even thought of taking them backpacking, but I know they are safe for two weeks unrefrigerated. (This might be a joke to try to carry with you though?)

about a week, unrefrigerated

  • 1
    I've carried unboiled eggs inside my flour sack (yes, I carry flour, and usually a small cast iron pan - baking over a campfire is one of my delights, for anything up to a 3-4 day trip). The flour holds them in place, and worst case scenario and they break, usually you'll inspect them quickly enough that you can just mix it up and bake something. Also, you can just put them into water to see if they're still fresh - it's something of a lost art nowadays, but this popular image can help educate you: s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/cb/dd/cd/…
    – flith
    Feb 22, 2017 at 13:02
  • 2
    To clarify the diagram a little: if it's on its side, it's great. If it starts to stand on end, use it quickly. If it is completely on end, or floating, you're safer to throw it out.
    – flith
    Feb 22, 2017 at 13:04

To carry raw eggs, leave 'em in their shells, put them in an old peanut-butter jar (plastic, watertight, wide mouthed). FILL the rest of the jar with water and close the lid. The water keeps the eggs from breaking, as long as there isn't any air space, and they will last at least a week in good weather. That's less than 90° greater than freezin'.

This method is For Sure worth the weight and the size - specially if the choice is powdered....Fine for baking, BUT...,'sides the jar is great for water or collecting when the eggs are gone!

  • So you carry around an additional 1kg for some eggs? Do you have any idea how much money and effort went into making my pack 1kg lighter? ;)
    – fgysin
    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:42
  • @fgysin. A rousing yes! I hiked the Appalachian on a very limited budget back in the 70s, At each "food procurement stop" I treated myself to at least a half dozen...., they were always gone by the second day. They are so good on the trail. (+/- 1.25 lb).
    – Scritter
    Aug 26, 2015 at 4:43
  • Fair point, I guess if you can still use the water for drinking/cooking/washing this is actually a neat trick. :)
    – fgysin
    Aug 27, 2015 at 9:57

Fresh Un-Refrigerated Egg Storage: On many wilderness excursions I've backpacked with store bought eggs (in crush-resistant container) for 7-10 days (or longer when coated with mineral oil) with no problem as long as the shell is intact. You can water-test the eggs - Sink’s is Good / floats it’s Bad.

More info can be found here: Safely Preserving Eggs.


The problem with raw eggs seems to be mainly that they dry out. As long as the shell is not cracked, no bacteria can get in

Some recipes from old books:

  1. Cover the shell with vaseline.
  2. Put them in a glass with a 10% solution of sodium silicate.
  3. Keep in a container with slaked lime solution.

The last two are said to preserve the eggs for many months. Luckily I was in no need to try. The slaked lime solution sounds best to me. The solution keeps the eggs moist and kills any bacteria

  • If the eggs weren't commercially washed before being sold to you, you wouldn't have to treat them to keep bacteria out. Washing would be advisable before cracking open, though.
    – ErikE
    Jul 24, 2014 at 2:30

I've gone 3 days with eggs in the backcountry but I live in the Rockies where it stays cool in the shade and night. I've been told if you keep a few eggs in a tin of flour that they'll keep for a week.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.