PPPPD (Pounds Per Person Per Day)
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Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD (Pounds Per Person Per Day) on 11/07/2008 08:52:55 MST Print View

This Thread is to create some discussion about how much food to bring on a backpacking trip.

================

The acronym PPPPD means Pounds Per Person Per Day. I work at NOLS and this is the heart of our rationing process.

I know some folks work off calories, but honestly, I just can't figure that out. Especially when I make so much of my own food.
I've gone out on a 13-day NOLS trip in the Wind River Range with 1.4 Pounds Per Person Per Day (PPPPD).

That's about 22.2 ounces of food PPPPD.

We were a team of 10, and at the end of 13 days we had a tiny bit (not much) left over. It worked out perfectly! For lightweight summer camping,

For the exact same course in 2006 we took 1.6 PPPPD, and in 2007 we took 1.5 PPPPD. This summer we went down to 1.4 PPPPD and we found that to be just about perfect. Any lower and we would have run out of food.

The way to gage success is how much food is leftover at the end, and with 1.4 PPPPD there was almost zero. We run four LW courses per summer at NOLS and this proved this to be a very good number. The higher numbers (from the LW courses in previous years) came back with a just enough extra food to make us redo the math.

My goal is ALWAYS to walk out of the mountains with absolutely ZERO food. If I do that, I'm doin' something right!

I have absolutely no idea how many calories this works out to. All I know is we ate well, and ate it all! (Yummy)




There was a discussion with other forum users (on another thread) and a few folks were skeptical of the 1.4 PPPD formula. But, I gotta say - after 3 years of testing, it worked out great!

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:23:41 MST Print View

taking your food by weight is only less effective than counting calories if you include some none dehydrated food (like bread) or use more or less fatty food some times than others.
Mikes 1.4 figure is 627 grams and on the assumption that average dehydrated food is 4 calories per gram that comes out at 2509 calories. If you are exercising strenuously most people will loose a little weight at that, but I bet I would eat all my share, and any that anyone else did not want.
I tend to take 2800 calories per day for mountainous walking that is about 700 grams 25 ounces 1.6 PPPPD.
I still have none left but my partner usually has a bit left.
I bet bigger men than me might eat more.

I would add to Mikes goal of walking out with Zero food, the goal of having enough food to maximize your energy for your pursuit.
You also need to take food appetizing enough to eat it all. Not that that is usually my problem.

Edited by Derekoak on 11/07/2008 09:30:31 MST.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:29:30 MST Print View

I bet my wife wouldn't eat 1.4 PPD and I'd eat her leftovers at 1.4PPD myself. I usually tell people to start at 2 PPPPD if they're nervous about running out and quite often that's more than they'll eat. Good rule of thumb but like any rule of thumb, you need to incorporate some thought into it as you gain experience.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:50:25 MST Print View

Christopher,

I would say 2 PPPPD is way too high for summer, especially a short trip.

I take 2 PPPPD in the winter where calorie gorging is essential for metabolic heat production.

= = =

And for Derek,

Your needs 1.6 PPPPD is pretty good. By the standards of "traditional" campers, that would be considered too low. But, if that works for you - right on!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:53:35 MST Print View

Here's some data from two different NOLS Light-Weight 13-day courses. Both using 1.4 PPPPD for food. These were high milage courses doing bold routes in a big mountain Wilderness environment.

Here's a link to a trip report from this summer:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=15837

... and another one too:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=15159

- - - AND - - -

Here's a recipe and ration article, this matches (sorta) what the LW NOLS courses take:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/quick_healthy_meals_with_an_ultralight_cook_kit.html

This article link (above) has the math from the summer of 2006, when we went out with 1.6 PPPPD. We had a "medium" pile of leftovers at the end of that trip, enough to make a slight change the following summer in '07 (and again in '08).

This kind of data is important, and it's good to keep records of what you take so you can use this info when planing (and refining) your next trip. If I was doing the PCT I would bump up these numbers, but not much.

christopher shive
(cms432)

Locale: Along the AT in PA
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:56:11 MST Print View

Mike,

I arrive at my food requirements using a different method, but I end up at around 22 ounces of food PPPPD for a warm weather 5 day trek.

Ever since I took up weight lifting in college, I've learned to gauge my bodies caloric requirements in order to maintain, lose, or gain weight given a certain activity level. Based on my general dietary knowledge, I try to hit 3000 Kcals per day while backpacking, which should result in a minimal amount of weight loss for me. I'm 5'11" and 180 pounds.

Up until a few years ago, I was not a lightweight backpacker. I carried foods that seemed to work ok for being in the woods for 5 days, but paid no attention to how much weight I was carrying in food. Since moving toward a lighter pack weight, I realized I needed to look at the weight of food I was carrying. And since my total Kcals were pretty much already dialed in, I needed to look at how calorie-dense my food was. This process has caused me to move away from foods such as tuna pouches, apple sauce, and beef jerkey which provide less than 100 Kcals per ounce. I now pack more calorie-dense foods such as nuts, potato chips, ramen noodles, cheese, and certain high fat dehydrated meals. I aim for an average of 140 Kcals/ounce of food.

I will admit, it seems that my backcountry foods have become less healthy, but for 2-5 days at a time, I'm more concerned about calories than the food pyramid. I usually take 2 multi-vitamin tablets per day while backpacking.

So in summary, yes I take approximately 1.4 PPPPD of food the same as you. But I think you need at least a basic knowledge of calorie-density to make this work. I'm sure without even factoring it into your calculations, your backpacking experiences have lead you to an understanding of what foods provide the greatest energy for the least weight. So the 1.4 PPPPD works.

Edited by cms432 on 11/07/2008 10:01:55 MST.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 09:56:58 MST Print View

Mike,

It all depends. 2PPPPD in summer is higher than I'd take for a casual trip but new backpackers are going to pack their fears so to speak. Might as well give them a good but slightly high round number like 2 rather than 1.4 where they might feel you're cutting down to the bare minimum. As they gain experience, they'll realize they're bringing home plenty of uneaten items long before they're ever doing 2 weeks unsupported.

Again, formulas are a starting point. You need to use your brain on top of them to adjust for many other factors. Coming home empty works great for experienced hikers, not so great for inexperienced people who may spend an extra unplanned day out.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 10:38:57 MST Print View

Two Christophers in a row? Hmmmm...)


For Christopher Shive:

You have a good foundation for figuring out calories, but I don't.

I am totally mystified by the calorie thing, and I know a lot of folks that praise this.

If all I was eating was CLIF bars, I could just read the package and total the calories, that's easy.

- BUT -

I'm a good cook and I really LOVE to make my own food and I constantly tinker with my rations. I mean, if I make home-made Thai Peanutbutter sauce, ho do I figure the calories?

Or, if I make my own GORP, and add extra cranberries at the last minute?

What if I pre spice polenta by sprinkling in pumpkin seeds and sundried tomatoes, how do I figure that? It would disrupt my feeling of JOY as a chef if I had to weigh out my pumpkin seeds, look it up on a web-site and then re calculate my calories.

It baffles me.

Any thoughts?

A. B.
(tomswifty)
thoughts on 11/07/2008 10:51:50 MST Print View

Mike, my thoughts are to not think about it too much and continue to enjoy cooking. Like you said, it has worked for you for some time now.

I like the weight idea and I think it is a really simple approach.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 10:54:31 MST Print View

Reply to Christopher Plesko (the OTHER Christopher):


I think that for a beginner backpacker 2 PPPPD is a little too high in the summer. Rounding down to something like 1.75 PPPPD would be a better number.

Looking at your food, and planning what to eat on an expedition is a skill.

And - If they run out of food, so what.

Really, it's a valuable lesson. I've run out of food so many times that I can't keep count any more. The lesson I've learned is that I do just fine. It's a bummer, true enough - but big deal, let's keep hiking!

Maybe I complain or grumble a little more, but it's JUST FINE.

Really, I've done 4 days with a big NOLS group without food in a glacieted mountain environment in Alaska with huge mountaineering packs. The plane with the re-supply couldn't get in because the gravel bar airstrip was washed away when the river jumped it's braid. The lesson? We all did fine!

Having these experiences has made me a lot more aware of my own (and a team's) ability to preform well with a little bit of added challenge. This is a valuable lesson that very few in our extremely privileged society will ever get for themselves.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 11:48:28 MST Print View

Yes you run out of food, big deal. Yada yada. When you are in a group or have experienced people with you that's one thing. New hikers solo or in a group of other inexperienced people, it's another, especially if they have never gone hungry. Your experiences differ from mine with inexperienced people outdoors and I've led a wide variety of hard single day and multiday unsupported groups. If they continue to enjoy the outdoors, they'll eventually learn how to do without all kinds of stuff. I'll gladly recommend they carry that extra 0.6lbs of Snickers bars if it keeps them moving.

I'm not going to argue about it further since it will just come down to personal choice anyway. Your points are good ones but they don't cover all situations in my experience.

Blue _
(lrmblue) - MLife

Locale: Northeast (New England)
Re: Re: PPPPD--Dog Food on 11/07/2008 12:12:05 MST Print View

Christopher P wrote: "It all depends. 2PPPPD in summer is higher than I'd take for a casual trip but new backpackers are going to pack their fears so to speak."

Chris,
As someone new to lightweight backpacking I felt some serious anxiety about cutting down the amount of food I carried (even though I always seemed to have way too much left over at journey's end). So, at last, I accepted the anxiety as being at least a healthy desire to survive some vaguely feared WORST CASE SCENARIO. My solution was to cut my food down to an honestly perceived minimum and then throw a couple of packets of dried dog food in my pack to quell my irrational fears of STARVATION. The dog food weighed very little but made me "feel" safer--and I always brought it back unopened. I know it sounds silly--but I learned that my fears were also a bit silly. I wouldn't dream of carrying dried dog food now, but if I were to go out with someone new to the experience who was a bit apprehensive I might suggest it; ultralight high-energy “emergency food,” y’know. I have a lot of sympathy for someone stepping away from their usual network of securities.

LIBERTAS+PAX PACIS

A. B.
(tomswifty)
Re: Re: Re: PPPPD--Dog Food on 11/07/2008 13:02:39 MST Print View

Dog food? Was that so you wouldn't be tempted to eat it unless absolutely necessary?

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:ppppd on 11/07/2008 13:37:01 MST Print View

is it really all that necessary to know how many calories are being consumded per day? i take what i enjoy eating and if i'm hungry, then the next trip i take a tad more and vice versa. maybe i doing something wrong??

Blue _
(lrmblue) - MLife

Locale: Northeast (New England)
Re: Re: Re: Re: PPPPD--Dog Food on 11/07/2008 13:50:05 MST Print View

>"Dog food? Was that so you wouldn't be tempted to eat it unless absolutely necessary?"

Yeah, and it worked. I never had to eat it. But if I had had to, it would have kept body and soul together. If it had been something a little more appealing I probably would have been tempted to eat it. The point was to provide a bit of psychological security while exploring how much food I REALLY needed. Hershey bars probably wouldn't have worked.

New ways of doing things often seem to come freighted with irrational fears. At least for me.

LIBERTAS+PAX PACIS

christopher shive
(cms432)

Locale: Along the AT in PA
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 15:06:16 MST Print View

Mike,

Calorie counting becomes a laborious task when creating home-made foods with numerous ingredients. And in your case, you don't need to worry about it! You've obviously arrived at a sensible conclusion through trial and error. Consider my method of calorie counting a "proof" of your 1.4 PPPPD hypothesis. With a focus on increasing fat content over my normal diet and removing certain low calorie-dense foods, I am able to meet my caloric needs with about 1.4 PPPPD. However, if I incorporated many fresh fruits and other non-dehydrated food, I don't think 1.4 PPPPD would be enough food.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
PPPPD on 11/07/2008 15:44:46 MST Print View

Good point about the benefits of calorie dense food! We could start a whole new thread just on that!

And - as far as the DOG food, I'm a vegitarian, so it would be hard for me to choke down the beef by-product. BUT - I sometimes carry a little bag of SOY NUTS and they serve the same purpose, my very last snack food! I don't really like 'em.

I'll also add that this is a forum on BackpackingLIGHT, and I think the food is an over looked place to save weight.

- - - ALSO - - -

I have a ration plan spreadsheet of the BPL WT-1 trip, if I can figure out how to post it - I will. We went out at 1.4 PPPPD and it worked out great!

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
"PPPPD on 11/07/2008 16:16:15 MST Print View

Mike,
I know I loose weight on 1.6 PPPPD for a fortnight even with big meals at resturants at 2 resupply places. If I did what Chris Shive does and eat food at 5 calories per gram rather than 4 I could carry about 1.3 PPPPD. If I have a very long way between resupplies I move to that sort of fatty diet for the last half of the journey.
That is the slight advantage of calorie counting rather than weight counting.
I havnt really tried a purposefully inadequate calorie diet when walking, so I suppose I dont have your experience but I have taken a day longer than expected and had to stretch the last of the food. Its Ok if I am not cold. I would not carry a spare day of "just incase food", but I think on my limited experience that I would rather not be hungry while I walk.

Edited by Derekoak on 11/07/2008 16:54:40 MST.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: "PPPPD on 11/07/2008 17:09:35 MST Print View

This is an interesting thread. I have just recently started looking into getting my food weight lower as I quite happy with my gear list (especially the 3 season). I always figured about 2 PPD, but I have a 7 day solo winter trip coming up and I want to make sure I am as light as possible without starving.
I typically just grab a breakfast (dried cereal with powdered milk), lunch (FD potatoes and chives w/cheddar), dinner (FD something or other), and snacks (2-3 energy bars and gummy candies) for each day. Never really looked at calorie dense food or anything.

At 1.4 PPD, what is your meal plan for a day?

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: PPPPD on 11/07/2008 17:30:25 MST Print View

Mike:

Is this a variation of the Groovy-Biotic diet presented in your BPL article?