I love food. Hikers love food. I need to eat a lot of food.
Since my trip will send me through some places where shopping for food will not be a very good option I decided to go back to the supply strategy that I used for the Appalachian Trail: the dreaded mail drop.
Mail drops made for all sorts of problems on the AT. Too much food at one stop, not enough at another. I got sick of some foods very quickly, others I wished I’d bought more. Sometimes an idea that seemed great at home turned out to be boneheaded on the trail (a foot-long summer sausage does not pack well).
For those reasons, I’ve decided to go about my food packing in a somewhat scientific (read: nerdy) way. It all started with the NOLS advice of 1.5 pounds of food per person per day. That’s a pretty good start, but I need something a little more specific. After all, 1.5 pounds of pretzels will dry out my mouth, and provide fairly few calories. I need fat, protein, and some sugar. So here’s the system I’ve devised:
First, I take all the foods that I really like to eat on the trail and measure their ratios of calories to weight. This provided some startling discoveries. For instance, raisins yield 85 calories per ounce. Pretzels, 113. Clif Bars, between 100 and 110. Banana chips, 142. Nutella, 146. Snickers bars, 135. You get the idea. Banana chips are nearly twice as calorically dense as raisins, and snickers are significantly more so than clif bars!
From all of this base information, I put together a spreadsheet to show myself just how many calories I would take in from a given amount of weight. From there, it is easy to put together a meal plan. Here’s an example of five days of lunches and breakfasts (I’ll get to dinners later).
10 clif bars (2 per day)
15 instant oatmeal packets (3 per day)
4 oz Banana chips
Guthook Gorp #1 (1 pound, made of peanut M&M’s, craisins, raisins, macadamia nuts, and almonds)
8 oz Dried Mangoes
5 snickers bars
8 oz Sesame Sticks
4 oz Yogurt-covered Pretzels
This works out to:
6 pounds of food (just over 1 pound per day)
11,773 calories (2354 per day)
approximately 123 calories per ounce, average.
I will go through this process with dinners later, but I figure with a 400-500 calorie dinner, I can get close to 3000 calories per day. That’s not as much as a long-distance hiker probably needs, but it’s pretty good!