If you're looking to keep the weight down, then yeah, dehydrated is best. It's really not all that unreasonable either. If you look at most camping meals... Ramen, MRE's, packaged "sausage and egg" meals from REI... All dehydrated. You definitely don't want to carry canned. The excess water will be dead weight in your pack, and you've got to carry out the smelly tuna-can garbage too. Canned fruit is definitely a no-no. You've got like, three itty bitty pear halves in a cup and a half of sugar laden water. Not an effective use of weight.
A dehydrator from Wal-Mart will go for about $40. I've got a Nesco/American Harvest one that's pretty nice. There are also some higher-end brands you can buy online (I know there's one in particular, but I forget its name; maybe Jay will ring in), if you happen to have money simply oozing out of your pockets.
If you have a Cuisinart food processor, you can use that to help cut the jerky meat easily (like so
). Keep it easy on the salt. Don't forget that you can also dehydrate fish, chicken, etc. not just beef.
I'd recommend drinking a lot of water, since not only will you be hiking (and sweating buckets), but you'll be getting very little water from your food. Also, if you hate the taste of iodine water, half a capsule of a vitamin C supplement will clear that right up, but only put it in after
the iodine has had the appropriate time to kill the bacteria.