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…
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 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 The porridge top left is no longer taken and has been replaced by the Muesli below it.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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 Both have been replaced by Nature valley bars and Soreen mini-loaves as seen below: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. 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
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! 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!
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!
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.
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!
- 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:
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.
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!