Jump to content

Backcountry Travel - Part 4




Backpacking stove - a few hardy souls survive without one

Pot - used for cooking and eating out of (no need for an extra dish), usually between one and two liters

Potholder - a bandana will do if you want to save an ounce

Lighter or matches - unless your good at rubbing sticks together

Spoon - no fork needed

Spices - your choice, I like adobo as a good all around spice mix

Vitamins - a helpful supplement on long treks

Food bags- filled to your own tastes, get rid of extra packaging by storing food in Ziplocs


When asked what I thought about most while hiking, the easy answer is always food. The average thruhiker burns between 4000-6000 calories per day. I could only carry about 3500 calories/day without my pack getting too heavy. This leaves thruhikers in a constant deficit and explains why all you can eat restaurants are so popular amongst the hikers. I once measured the calories I ate during a typical layover day in town. Breakfast, lunch dinner, and multiple snacks added up to 10,000 calories. By the middle of the trail I had lost 20lbs, including much of the muscle in my upper body.


The funny thing is that during the first couple weeks of a long distance trek, most people are not that hungry. Exertion, heat, change in diet and routine all add up to lack of appetite. You sometimes need to force yourself to eat enough. But once you burn through your fat reserve, hunger strikes with a vengeance and your body starts craving what you need. For instance, I was brought up in a very meat and potatoes family. But on the trail I started craving salads. I had also given up adding any salt to my food, but on the trail I found myself needing a lot more to replace what I was sweating away.


Low weight, high calorie foods are a must. Canned foods just do not have a good weight to calorie ratio. Pasta is probably the most carried, followed by instant rice dishes. The dehydrated backpacking diners are ok but pricey. Regular rice and beans take a long time to cook and require a lot of fuel. On an extended trip it is easy to get bored of the usual meals so variety is important.


As I said, on the AT I lost about 20lbs and was not that out of shape to begin with. Before the PCT I bought a dehydrator and had a much better variety of nutritious veggies, beans and meat. I was able to maintain my weight for most of that hike.


It is just about impossible to forage for food and hike a lot of miles in a day. Hunting and gathering is a full time job. If you need to get somewhere, do not count on being able to find much food along the way.

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue., Guidelines