Food! It’s Important!

A typical food load out for a walk. In this case for a 3+1 day walk around Exmoor.

A typical food load out for a walk. In this case for a 3+1 day walk around Exmoor.

I’m no food expert, but I want to let the readers know what kind of food I take with me and how it has evolved over time.

The NHS recommend that the average male eat around 2500Kcal a day. But hiking with a heavy pack up and down hills all day requires more energy than this.

For a typical walk I will take the following per day…

Breakfast

I used to take bacon for bacon rolls. As nice as these are, I found that they would 'repeat' on me during the hike. Plus they made the utensils very greasy, which can be hard to clean away in the field.

I used to take bacon for bacon rolls. As nice as these are, I found that they would ‘repeat’ on me during the hike. Plus they made the utensils very greasy, which can be hard to clean away in the field.

On my earlier hikes I used to eat fruit porridge for breakfast, but I found it never really provided the energy I needed. Plus cleaning up porridge from pots and pans can be quite difficult!

I also used to take fruit porridge, but I found it never really provided the energy that I needed. That, plus cleaning up sticky porridge from pots and pans can be quite difficult!

Typical breakfast food. The porridge top left is no longer taken and has been replaced by the Muesli below it. The muesli can be eaten either hot or cold and does provide much more energy, but the downside is extra weight. Not shown is a fruit scone which I tend to buy the day before a hike starts for maximum freshness.

Typical breakfast food. The porridge top left is no longer taken and has been replaced by the Muesli below it. The muesli can be eaten either hot or cold and does seem to provide much more energy, but the downside is the extra weight. Not shown is a fruit scone, which I tend to buy the day before a hike starts for maximum freshness.

A typical breakfast! These days it consists of fruit museli, a fruit scone, a round of cheese and some coffee!

Breakfast under way! These days it consists of fruit museli, a fruit scone, a round of cheese and some coffee!

  • 1 x Fruit Scone @ 142Kcal
  • 1 x Fruit Muesli @ 300Kcal
  • 1 x Round of Cheese @ 61Kcal
  • 1 x Coffee with sugar @ 83Kcal

Total Breakfast intake: 586Kcal

Lunch

I never used to eat lunch at all. But I was finding that by the late afternoon of a multi-day hike I would start to run out of energy. This often resulted in the onset of fatigue, which was usually followed by poor decision making.

As a result, I now take lunch!

Lunch! My standard lunch consists of 6 oatcake biscuits which are conveniently pre-wrapped, some soup and cheese spread.

Lunch! My standard lunch consists of 6 oatcake biscuits which are conveniently pre-wrapped, some soup and cheese spread.

A typical lunch in progress. I normally make cheese spread sandwiches with the oat cakes and wash it down with some hot soup!

A typical lunch in progress. I normally make cheese spread sandwiches with the oat cakes and wash it down with some hot soup!

  • 6 x Cheese Oatcakes @ 234Kcal
  • 6 x Squeezed Cheese spread portions @ 300Kcal
  • 1 x Hot Soup @ 92Kcal

Total Lunch intake: 626Kcal

On the Go Food (eaten during the walk throughout the day)

GORP!!!! The famous Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts. I used to use gorp a lot, but stopped carry it as it's not always very practical to carry around.

GORP!!!! The famous Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts. I used to use gorp a lot, but stopped carry it as it’s not always very practical to carry around.

The gorp pouch in action! These days I no longer use either the pouch or gorp. Both have been replaced by Nature valley bars and Soreen mini-loaves.

The gorp pouch in action. These days I no longer use either the pouch or gorp. Both have been replaced by Nature valley bars and Soreen mini-loaves as seen below:

Food on the Go! I have a daily allowance of 4 x Nature Valley bars, plus 4 Soreen lunchbox loaves - 2 of each flavour.

Food on the Go! I have a daily allowance of 4 x Nature Valley bars, plus 4 Soreen lunchbox loaves – 2 of each flavour. I find these bars much more convenient than gorp.

  • 4 x Nature Valley Bars @ 760Kcal
  • 4 x Soreen Mini-Loaves @ 376Kcal

Total On the Go intake: 1136Kcal

Supper

When I first started I took 'real' food with me! I hadn't discovered freeze dried food at this point. Whilst real food tastes very good on the trail it does have many downsides....

When I first started, I took ‘real’ food with me. I hadn’t discovered freeze dried food at this point. Whilst real food tastes very good on the trail it does have many downsides….

Preparing 'real' food is a pain. There is a lot of pot and pan juggling and a lot of washing up to boot!

Preparing ‘real’ food is a pain. There is a lot of pot and pan juggling and a lot of washing up to boot! It requires that one carry additional kit around and the food itself is heavy, takes up a fair bit of volume and will perish long before a multi day walk is over!

My main daily meal, taken at supper is always a freeze dried meal. They are exceptionally light and very filling!

Enter freeze dried food which solves all of the above problems!  They are exceptionally light and very filling!

A typical evening meal being prepared. For multi-day hikes, freeze dried food is the way to go!

A typical evening meal being prepared. For multi-day hikes, freeze dried food is the way to go!

Freeze dried food is exceptionally easy to prepare. Just boil some water, put the water in the pouches, seal them, then leave for around 10 minutes. I tend to wrap mine in a towel so that they retain heat whilst the food is reconstituting.

Freeze dried food is exceptionally easy to prepare. Just boil some water, put the water in the pouches, stir (very important), seal the pouch, then leave for around 10 minutes. I tend to wrap mine in a towel so that they retain heat whilst the food is reconstituting.

The main supper is ready! It really does taste a lot better than it looks. In fact my brother had doubted me on this point until I sent him a freeze dried curry to try. He was very impressed!

After 10 minutes the main supper is ready! It really does taste a lot better than it looks. In fact my brother had doubted me on this point until I sent him a freeze dried curry to try. He was very impressed! An added bonus with freeze dried food is that there is no washing up!

I used to take a freeze dried dessert with me too. But I often found that I was too full from the main meal to eat it!

I used to take a freeze dried dessert with me too. But I often found that I was too full from the main meal to eat it!

  • 1 x Freeze Dried Meal @ 800-1100KCal
  • 1 x Hot Chocolate @ 115Kcal

Total Supper intake: 1115Kcal (on average)

Adding all of the above together results in a daily intake of around 3463Kcal. I didn’t consciously set out to achieve this figure, it’s just the result of the evolution of the food that I take with me on my hikes.

I’m heartened to note that when I visited HealthStatus.com for this blog entry it recommended that for hiking with someone of my size and weight, the overall energy consumption would be 3484Kcal a day, which is remarkably close to what I actually take! Quite a fluke!

I tend to manage my food on the trail by bagging it up into zip lock bags. I normally have two of these bags per day:

All my meals are pre-bagged. This makes food management on the trail very easy. This is a breakfast bag.

Pre-bagged food makes food management on the trail very easy. This is a breakfast bag.

The opened breakfast bag. Note that the muesli is stored within it's own bag within the main one and is already premixed with dried milk so I don't have to faff around in the field.

The opened breakfast bag. Note that the muesli is stored within it’s own bag within the main one and is already premixed with dried milk so I don’t have to faff around in the field.

This is one of my food 'day' bags. It holds all the on-the-go food for the day, as well as the lunch. One of my jobs in the morning is to open this bag up and place the food around the rucksack for easy access. Generally, the bars go in the hip belt pockets, whilst the lunch goes in the under-the-lid mesh pocket.

This is the other daily bag which I call the ‘day’ bag. It holds all the on-the-go food for the day, as well as the lunch. One of my jobs in the morning is to open this bag up and distribute the food around the rucksack for easy access. Generally, the bars go in the hip belt pockets, whilst the lunch goes in the under-the-lid mesh pocket.

It should be noted that I don’t tend to take the full daily allowance for the first and last day of a hike.

The reasons for this is that I usually try to eat as much as I can on the train, so as a result, I don’t generally require much food for the first day.

The last day is normally a spare one of around 5-10km. I find that as I rush to get to the train station on time,  no opportunities present themselves to allow me to eat. This isn’t an issue though as I will buy food once I reach the destination.

I’m sure my food load out will continue to evolve. Especially as I have noticed a rather odd craving for fresh fruit on the completion of a hike. All rather peculiar, given that I’m not normally a ‘fruit’ person!

Laters

RobP

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About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
This entry was posted in Food, Hiking, Tips and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Food! It’s Important!

  1. Robin says:

    Impressive calculations. I’ve no idea what my calorie intake is but probably not as much as that.

    • RobP says:

      To be honest I had no idea how many Kcals I was eating until I wrote up this blog article. I do seem to eat a lot – even at home, but for some reason I don’t seem to put on the weight 🙂

  2. Jools says:

    All good advice, I see a lot of similarities with my own strategy. Though perhaps I slot in too many peperami sausages! A touch of olive oil to add to anything possible helps knock up the calories too. And, no Birds Custard powder! Got to have that, would go with the Soreen beautifully. I take it you are not a lover of peanut butter, the squeezy packs of that or the John West tuna pouches work well with tortillas, especially for lunch

    • RobP says:

      I do like peanut butter, just never considered bringing it along 🙂 I have heard about the olive oil trick but haven’t used it yet. As for the tuna pouches they sound like a great idea. Tuna is one of my favourite fish and I always worry that the ol’ protein intake suffers on a walk. The tuna would be perfect for that.

  3. jake1963 says:

    Rob, where’s the Peperami? The holy trinity of backpacking lunch is oatcakes, Primula and Peperami. No utensils or cooking required.

    I agree that dried food is the way to go. Have you considered getting a dehydrator and making your own dried meals? Much cheaper and you can tailor them to your taste preferences.

  4. RobP says:

    I do like Peperami, especially the hot one, but I haven’t had it in a long time. Come to think of it that would be a perfect accompaniment to lunch!

    I have thought about getting a dehydrator especially as I like to cook, but I think it’s the convenience of just being able to buy off-the-shelf, that prevented me from trying, that and I’m not sure that I have room in the flat for one! 🙂

    • jake1963 says:

      The biggest obstacle to home dehydrating is not knowing how to cook. Obviously that does not apply to you. A home dehydrator takes up about a 40x40cm footprint. I bung mine in the garage when I’m not using it. There’s quite a bit of fun to be had making your own dehydrated meals.

  5. Tusc says:

    Hi Rob,

    Great blog – as an Aussie who has recently moved to the Bristol area, its been great to read up on some of the areas one can walk locally, as well as further afield.

    My partner is not a big fan of the freeze dried meals (I think its something to do with how they look!), so we usually take tuna pouches, cous-cous, quinoa and some fresh veg for dinner, and cook ‘real food’ for the evening meal. As you say, its tasty but can be a pain to clean up!

    I concur with the other commenters – pepperoni or salami of some kind is a great lunch food, and peanut butter is a tasty, high calorie addition. You can even get it in tubes if you know where to look.

    We also like to take a small block of chocolate for each evening that we will be out. Its something to look forward to!

    T

    • jake1963 says:

      Good point about the chocolate. I take high cocoa solids like Green & Black. It does not melt in warm weather and packs a real chocolate punch for its weight.

      • RobP says:

        Chocolate is something to look forward to, but I always find its either too hot or too cold :/ On one trip the entire bar had melted in its wrapper into a purely liquid state. Luckily cadbury had the chocolate completely foil wrapped and air tight. Had to wait until late on in the evening before I risked opening it.

    • RobP says:

      I have often thought of using cous-cous with a stock cube and either tuna or salami as a change from freeze dried. I’ll have to test it indoors first though 🙂

  6. Russell says:

    Hi
    Enjoyed reading your blog and always enjoy reading about food ! Went wild camping first time last year for few nights in Dartmoor Oct 14. Really enjoyed it ,hadn’t done camping for 20 years since ACF and TA days 🙂 I’m going again in a few days to Dartmoor this time solo , looking forward to it. On my first time I took different types of food styles out to see what worked best and what was most enjoyable. On our first evening we ended up eating some bagettes and pate I’d bought for the car journey and turned out tasty so didn’t bother to cook first night just a hot tea. Decided will do the same again for first day , take a baguette ,pate, cheese and a cured sausage which hopefully be good for a few days, in France cheese sausage and baguette seems a common theme in hilly parts . we found the mini cheeses in your photo a great idea and good for moral after constant Dartmoor rain 🙂 . my main next day was boil in the bag dried rice and a sainsburys Thai green chicken curry sachet, which tasted great and was quite light. In the morning I ate a mountain house freeze dried breakfast , found that to be horrible ! :). Good comments from all will try out all the recommendations , yummy 🙂 thanks

    • RobP says:

      Yeah, the Mountain House breakfasts are pretty bad on the whole, especially their egg and ham one. It’s one of the reasons I don’t use them for breakfast too, otherwise I would 🙂

      Good luck with your forth coming walk. I’m hoping to be out and about too, but the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating much!

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