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Aaron

How to Pack Food for a Backpacking Trip

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Aaron

Food for any backpacking trip is all about balance: a balance of meals that are lightweight yet still offer a sufficient amount of calories and nutrition, food that will likely not be of the fresh variety but will still bring flavor to the table, and finding that delicate balance between bringing enough food without bringing too much. Once you get the balances right however, planning out food for a multiday backpacking trip can be a simple process while still keeping us well fed and in good spirits out on the trail. One of the most popular ways to get the food right is using a pounds per person per day (PPPPD) equation. Others prefer to pack by the day, and individual meals may all be assembled and labeled in Ziplocs. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and I like to take from the pros of each approach to both take the right amount of food while still creating a sense of proper meals, and all with sufficient variety, while very importantly keeping the packing process...

Tips for efficiently packing your food for multiday backpacking trips, check out the full article below in Issue 39:

Packing Food Efficiently

Packing Food for Backpacking Trips - Technique and How to

Issue 39 Page 1

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ppine

Anything but dehydrated foil pouch food made with rice and beans. 

A good grocery store now has all kinds of things like dehydrated fruit, small packets of chicken, tuna yes, spam. 

Lots of sauces like curry, sweet and sour.  I like quinoa and couscous and dehydrated mashed potatoes. 

I like real food that is simple to make.  New light weight gear allows for some slightly heavier food. 

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Aaron

Ha, I like to mix it up and after a long day of hiking and especially on these shorter fall-ish days I like the convenience of a good freeze dried meal at the end of the day. It pays to do some taste testing at home to avoid a disappointing trail meal experience though. I pretty much reserve pre-made meals for dinner however, doctor them up a bit when needed, and I like to alternate with some grocery store creations as well to keep things fresh. And, with the whole efficiency theme in mind, having some stock on hand to grab when needed / when pressed for time gets the food bag packed and gets me on the trail a bit faster! 

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Dogwood
On 9/7/2018 at 12:02 PM, Aaron said:

Ha, I like to mix it up and after a long day of hiking and especially on these shorter fall-ish days I like the convenience of a good freeze dried meal at the end of the day. It pays to do some taste testing at home to avoid a disappointing trail meal experience though. I pretty much reserve pre-made meals for dinner however, doctor them up a bit when needed, and I like to alternate with some grocery store creations as well to keep things fresh. And, with the whole efficiency theme in mind, having some stock on hand to grab when needed / when pressed for time gets the food bag packed and gets me on the trail a bit faster! 

Indeed. Going on a 900 miler starting next wk. All my food and gear had already been on sale purchased  12-18 months long before I decided to commit to the trek simply taken out of storage and given the once and second over. Same with the daily supplement paks. I'll still set everything out spreading it all out in an organized fashion on the basement floor all set to be pre posted, addressed, and mailed out by someone at home about 2-3 wks before pick up with me mailing out the first three boxes a couple of days before the start.  This also helps quantify and decrease on trail expenditures. 

When considering daily and each resupply food wt with  limited places to buy/supplement(not all hikes have the abundance of road crossings and uber food resupplying ease as the AT and PCT) I have to take into account whether I'm going to be more of a hiker or camper(95% of the time it's 14-18 hrs every 24 on the move), how many hrs I'll actually anticipate being on the move, difficulty of the trail and hike, how far resupply pts are spaced apart, what my body fat % is going in, how long I'll be out on the hike, and season. Daily food wts can range between an absolute low of 1 lb on trips less than a wk to about 1 3/4 lb on LD hikes. When resupply pts are very close together and I'm only hauling 3 or so days chow I might carry more than 2 lbs of food per day. This allows to make up a bit of the calories. Food is aimed at 130+ cals/oz with a sharp eye on overall nutrition beyond just calories. A calorie is not just a calorie. A calorie of simple carb sugar is not the same as a calorie that includes other nutrients in the food. having a good amt of fiber in trail food rather than empty "junk" cals and drinking plenty of fresh clean cool water helps to stay satiated.         

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ppine

Hi Dogwood,

I run into lots of through hikers on the PCT and have talked with lots of them.  It is amazing to me that people can live on ramen noodles and energy bars until they get to a town and gorge themselves on restaurant food.  Through hikers are going many hours a day and usually in the neigborhood of 25 miles a day.  I cannot imagine one pound of food a day, or 1.5 pounds.  After awhile your clothes will not fit. 

People seem to make your plan work,  but it is one of the reasons I have never been interested in through hikes.  I have lived in the woods in a wall tent for a month at a time, but I am working hard I cannot face a little foil pouch of rice and beans.  Yuck. 

Best of luck to you and your adventures. 

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jay

I am personally a fan of MREs.  There is generally a good selection and they are all mostly decent and no requiring adding water to prepare.  They come with condiments and, while a bit bulky, carry enough calories to keep me going.  The only downside for me is that there is a fair amount of waste in the form of wrappers.

They don't seem to be too high on most people's lists but I prefer them to most freeze dried meals.

Add to them some things I dry myself and they get the job done for me.

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