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Calories/Day Estimates
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Ray Crampton
(rcrampton) - F

Locale: Creedmoor, NC
Calories/Day Estimates on 08/13/2008 21:34:17 MDT Print View

I've read BPL's Lightweight Backpacking and Camping which references a study that estimated 6500 calories for a 225 lb person hiking 18 miles with 3000 ft elevation gain in 1 day.

I'm planning a backpacking trip at ~10 miles/day, 2500 ft elevation gain/day and figure that's roughly half the calorie expense (my total pack weight + my weight will be close to 225 lbs).

I'm assuming 3200 calories/day is a reasonable estimate, and is inline with what I've done on similar trips in the past, although I never paid attention to the numbers.

Are there any other estimates that are generally accepted by backpackers that would be a good check against this?

I've looked at threads into late last year and haven't found any discussion on this topic.

Thanks in advance!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Calories/Day Estimates on 08/13/2008 21:51:39 MDT Print View

One thing to consider is that while a long distance hiker would need that much, for weekend and week hikes it isn't such a big issue. Often the appetite goes down at first as well.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
calorie on 08/14/2008 01:49:32 MDT Print View

I am just back from a similar hike. My average body/pack weight was about 175 lb. I took 3000 calories per day for 8 days stretched it to 9 days resupplied at about the same rate (but I did not measure things so well) for another 6 days. Eat 3 refuge meals and lost 2 lb. I was climbing 3-5000 ft and 12-15 miles every day except 2 half rest days. So I think you are in the right region. I also think people vary a lot some are more efficient, I dont think I am.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
calories on 08/14/2008 02:04:40 MDT Print View

Bryan and I generally try to keep the caloric intake around 3500 to 4000 calories a day when trips are more than 3 nights long.

Edited to add... that's for a 10 to 12 mile day.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 08/14/2008 02:05:56 MDT.

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
weight on 08/14/2008 07:58:03 MDT Print View

Ditto what Sarah said.

I know a lot of people measure their food by weight - 2 pounds of food per person per day.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:calories on 08/14/2008 08:20:04 MDT Print View

oh, so that's why i lost 3 lbs in 4 days. i only take about a lb. of food per day to keep my pack weight down...i was a tad hungry, but wait, what a great wt. loss tool...

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
food weight per day estimate on 08/14/2008 08:49:33 MDT Print View

If you only take "dry" food with lightweight mix of carbohydrate/protein/fat say 65/10/25 3000 calories would be about 1lb 8ounces If you go nearly fat free it would be more like 1lb 12 ounces. If you add things like bread with more than a few percent water the weight of course will go up more.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
choices on 08/14/2008 10:06:21 MDT Print View

your food choices within that weight are extremely important too... things like oatmeal aren't the best choice. why? because while it is light and easy it doesn't offer much in the way of calories, protein and other nutrients that you need when hiking.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Another consideration..... on 08/14/2008 11:01:24 MDT Print View

Is that while calories are touted, as I noted often the appetite goes dowm. I know for me it takes at least 3 days to get "hungry". Now if you are stick skinny with a rabbits metabolism this won't apply - but for most of us trying to shovel down 3,000 and up in calories is hard to do. especially if you are eating high fiber and higher protein/fat.

I carry about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs per day and while I lose weight I am full. The longer and harder the hike the less I want to eat is my issue.

My son, who eats to live (super skinny) is carrying about 2 lbs a day. Yet...even he'd have issues eating 3K a day!

So my windy point? Learn how much you eat, eat all day in small snacks/meals to keep your energy up. Don't worry about reaching a goal that may not be what you need :)

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Another consideration..... on 08/14/2008 16:07:01 MDT Print View

This is so true. Aside from town binging (which was only really another few thousand calories max), I only ate maybe 15k doing the entire CT in 5 days and change. I was riding 20+ hours a day and still I max out in the 3-5k calories/day range for the most part.

Ray Crampton
(rcrampton) - F

Locale: Creedmoor, NC
Calories/Day Estimates on 08/14/2008 22:39:02 MDT Print View

Thanks for the great replies. I do recall eating a surprisingly small amount of food for the work my body was doing. When I go biking I eat like a horse, but backpacking we actually eat pretty light.

I'll plan for around 3,000 calories per day, and based on the stacks of food so far it looks like at least as much as we've taken in the past.

I've finally gotten our pack weights down to the point that I really need to start working on food weight. Here's to going from 30 lbs to 15 lbs over the last 4 years. It's amazing to see some of the gear I used to carry in my pack (50 oz thermarest, 32 oz cookset, 13 oz stove....).

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
And hey..... on 08/15/2008 08:10:34 MDT Print View

Then you have a real excuse to go pig out after hiking ;-) Gotta put the weight back on :-D

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Michael Phelps Caloric Intake on 08/20/2008 17:09:21 MDT Print View

I read that Michael Phelps, the US Swimmer for all hikers that don't watch any sort of TV, read papers, magazines, talk to people or have been in the back country all summer, eats 12,000 calories a day.

Makes 3,000 look like nothing.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Michael Phelps Caloric Intake on 08/20/2008 22:24:40 MDT Print View

When you are at home and can eat, train and nap, that becomes a lot more possible. It's still a huge number. Many RAAM athletes have, well there is no way to put it nicely, "blowthrough" at that calories level.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Calories/Day Estimates on 08/27/2008 15:33:56 MDT Print View

>I've read BPL's Lightweight Backpacking and Camping which references a study that estimated 6500 calories for a 225 lb person hiking 18 miles with 3000 ft elevation gain in 1 day.

I'm planning a backpacking trip at ~10 miles/day, 2500 ft elevation gain/day and figure that's roughly half the calorie expense (my total pack weight + my weight will be close to 225 lbs).

I'm assuming 3200 calories/day is a reasonable estimate, and is inline with what I've done on similar trips in the past, although I never paid attention to the numbers.

Everyone IS different in this respect, but keep in mind that just because you halve the distance you hike each day doesn't mean you can halve the calories. A lot of those calories go towards maintaining you basal metabolism which is how much you would burn doing absolutely nothing. You really should figure out how much you "usually eat" in calories, and then add in the extra calories needed to hike 10 miles and 2500 feet with a pack on. If you are 200lbs and very lean, you will need a lot more calories than someone who is 200lbs and overweight. 3200 sounds low to me, but maybe I've just got a higher metabolism??

An average male will normally burn around 2500 calories per day doing 'normal' activity. It is estimated our male ancestors may have needed closer to 6500 calories per day to hunt, keep warm, and avoid predators, and these were not fat guys!

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:calories per day-a recipe for breakfast on 08/27/2008 20:04:04 MDT Print View

i have a great recipe for oatmeal that adds calories to get you through a morning of hiking:it's from the cookbook called "stop the clock!cooking". i've tweeked it a tad.....in large ziplock bag place: 4 c.instant irish oats,1c. oat bran,1/2c.nonfat dry milk,1/2c.soy flour or vanilla whey powder,1/2c.almond meal,1/2c.flax (i can't eat flax so i substitue 1/2c.hemp seeds) and 1/4c.black sesame seeds. shake well to combine. use equal parts cereal and H20. bring to boil water and add to cereal and place in cozy. let sit for 5 min. add more water if it seems to dry. i also add to dry ingre. various dried fruits to each daily ration for variety. store leftover cereal in freezer....enjoy

Edited by clt1953 on 08/27/2008 20:05:07 MDT.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: re:calories per day-a recipe for breakfast on 08/27/2008 21:35:40 MDT Print View

There is always an exception to the rule.... the almond meal and seeds really add to the nutrition here.

I'll have to look for instant Irish Oats and try this one.

Thanks for posting it. I like how you used the Hemp Seeds in place of Flax.