Food! Probably one of the most important things a hiker thinks about. And hikers get HUNGRY. It's the nature of the high level of activity. Your body is using lots of calories, and in colder weather, calories to stay warm too. Muscles are getting torn to shreds by constant abuse and the need of good protein to heal. Food is a necessity, and good food is a requirement to keep the hike going.
But sad to say, a lot of hikers seem to think that they can hike huge miles subsisting on potato packs and ramen. Have you ever read the back of those packages and the nutrition they contain?
Zip, zero, zilch. Nothing. No protein. No vitamins and minerals. No bone and muscle preserving calcium.
And this is what your body is saying when all you eat is that stuff. "HEY!! How do you expect me to move for you if you don't feed me right?"
Good nutrition is a must on a long arduous hike in the wilds. A good balance of proteins, carbs and fats to make everything work in sync.
Okay, so how does one accomplish that on a hike? After all, you must carry what you eat. And thankfully its a lot easier then it was some 30 to 40 years ago. Reading Ed Garvey's book when he hiked in 1975, he had to carry little cans of tuna and chicken. Now we have foil packets that are light and easy to use. Canned chicken dried in a dehydrator makes a good addition to rice and couscous mixes. Ever been to any of those Mennonite or Amish farmer's markets? Especially if you plan to have some mail drops - they have fantastic dried foods for hiking - everything from well balanced trail mixes (salty, sweet and spicy) to dehydrated veggie flakes, couscous in various flavors, to soup bases, and even these highly concentrated tiny squares that when I eat one, boy it can keep me going for a good long while. Trader Joes and Whole Foods have a great selection of dried fruits (I have become partial to dried cherries of late). Target has Simply Balanced fruit strips with no added sugar, made of fruit puree (check the labels on the strips to make sure they are fruit based). Of course there are old standbys like PB and Nutella which give good protein and fats. Some hikers even carry olive oil when the weather is really cold to add fat to a diet. And of course bars are everywhere, from the Luna bars (which are actually pretty good and last a while; even my hubby liked it though they say nutrition for women which means nothing) to Cliff bars, Power Bars, and I like Nature Valley granola bars for crunch and also the Sunbelt bars pack a good carb punch for the weight. But all the bars tend to be heavy, so watch how many you carry.
These are typical foods stuffs I have had for my meals on the trail -
Breakfasts - Cliff bar, Pop Tarts (if I carry them I take Annies), oatmeal (when cold out, add dried fruit and nuts to fortify it), trail mix, granola bars, granola cereal, small bagel and PB, and usually I eat a piece of fruit like a the all natural fruit sticks from Target or simply dried fruit, granola
Snacks - trail mix (both salty variety and sweet, though I much prefer salty like sesame sticks, flax seed chips, cheese crackers), mixed nuts, mini candy bars, Snickers, sometimes a Power bar or Luna bar if I have a tough hike that day
Lunch - the small whole wheat bagels; I found the thin round sandwich bread then have now to be very packable, tortillas, pepperoni (put in a ziploc if hot out as it can get greasy), cheddar cheese, beef sausage, jerky (I make my own), PB, raisins
Dinner - I dehydrate beef mixtures and canned chicken to add to mixes. I dehydrate peas and green beans also to add to rice mixes. I use tuna packets. I used to use Knorr mixes that have FINALLY cutout the msg. I also make my own using good noodles, non MSG broth bases (look for them in health food stores), a little cornstarch as thickener, some spices to taste, and add in dehydrated veggies, chicken or beef. There is also couscous, a turkey dinner recipe, Annie's mac and cheese (much better than Kraft and you get more in the package. Bring some dried milk to add to it and noddle mixes.). I've gotten a pesto mix (watch for MSG though or dehydrate some bottled pesto) and added it to a bag of dried tortellini for dinner. If I eat Ramen, I discard the flavor packet and bring my own seasoning in a snack size Ziploc bag, and fortify it with dried peas and green beans and dried meat. I sometimes use the Mountain House / Backpacker Pantry meals, but they are pricey for long distance hikes. Dessert - Rice Krispy bar, Little Debbies oatmeal pie, packets of Oreos, snack size candy bars, etc
For more ideas and recipes on eating healthy while backpacking, check out my article at Mother Earth Living magazine.
Extra - take a good multi vitamin with iron if you're out for a long time. Some hikers use the kiddie gumdrop ones. I use ones I know are good from a Vitamin shop and are in my maildrops.
|Trail Magic rocks! Especially fresh fruit.|