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Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/01/2011 14:16:11 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day

Christopher Holly
(climber72) - F

Locale: At my desk
Wow. on 03/01/2011 19:41:43 MST Print View

This is a lot to take in, but it seems to make sense on the first run through.

I am planning a JMT thru-hike beginning the last week of July and this article could not have come at a better time!


Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Meat Protein. on 03/02/2011 04:19:36 MST Print View

Just out of curiousity, I'm wondering why you didn't include any type of meat protein in your list?

Personal preference (vegetarian, taste)? bear country?

Using a dehydrator, I found that a big bag of ground beef mixed with whatever carbs you have on hand is perfect for breakfast and dinner. It couldn't be easier to prepare.

I'm going to do the olive oil thing.


Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: RE: Meat Protein. on 03/02/2011 04:52:54 MST Print View

I believe Mike C! is veggie.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: RE: Meat Protein. on 03/02/2011 06:16:13 MST Print View

Yeah, for the carnivores, jerky, pepperoni, dried beast, and salami add fats and meat proteins.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/02/2011 08:16:45 MST Print View

Conspicuously absent is Walkers Scottish Shortbread. At 200 calories/ounce it's extremely calorie dense and delicious. Ingredients are sugar/flour/butter. That's it.

I try to avoid wheat these days but I'll make an exception for Walkers, especially on a walk.

Kristin Tennessen
(ktenness) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevadas
I like numbers on 03/02/2011 10:02:14 MST Print View

Great article, very helpful. Especially for us vegetarians.

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
Really? on 03/02/2011 10:24:06 MST Print View

No Nutella mention? Oh so tasty and extremely high in calories! What could be better? :)

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Meat Protein. on 03/02/2011 11:25:52 MST Print View

Chris wrote: "I believe Mike C! is veggie."

Several years ago, I was hiking in a group with Mike C! at a location I'll keep secret so as not to embarrass anyone. We staged the hike at a remote hunting lodge the day before heading out. Mike! is indeed a vegetarian, and the trip leader had requested a veggie meal for Mike! when he reserved our bunks.

So, we all headed down to dinner where the proprietor had prepared a buffet feast of beef, pork, sausages, etc. -- a last hearty meal before spending a week eating dehydrated stuff out of plastic baggies.

Our server approached us and inquired "who had the special meal?" We pointed at Mike! as we all had our mouths full by that point. She then presented Mike! with his special plate...of chicken.

The scene could have been copied straight from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". To Mike!'s credit, he was extremely gracious about the entire incident and did nothing to embarrass the server. (We ended up sharing his "vegetarian chicken" if I recall and Mike! ate the accompanying fix'ns.) Credit is also due the proprietor who prepared a delicious "last meal" for our group and went out of her way to try to accommodate a special need.

Edited by MikeMartin on 03/02/2011 12:25:02 MST.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Nice Article on 03/02/2011 12:07:46 MST Print View

In addition to days out, daily mileage and baseline body fat needs to be considered. 10 x 30-35 mile days in a row requires more calories than 10 x 15 mile days. Additionally if you start very lean you burn down to your essential body fat much more quickly and need to ramp up your calorie intake sooner. I know that Andy and Ryan purposefully have gained weight prior to major expeditions.

(I suppose carrying your calories in your body is more comfortable carrying them on your body and it does help keep the total weight down. I've proposed a "lean body mass out" backpack standard to point out how an extra 10 or 20# of body fat pretty much kills the gains you make by sawing your handle off of your toothbrush!)

John Davis
(Bukidnon) - F
Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/02/2011 12:44:47 MST Print View

Great article. Good to see it deals with longer hikes. It's a four hour boat ride off this island. The trips have to be long to make that worthwhile.

Needs certainly do change as a walk progresses. Muscle builds up and fat stores shrink, if you're starting from a standard, working day condition. A point may be reached where body reserves are so low that shortage of food means misery at the mere thought of moving. Add food to this walking machine and movement becomes perpetual.

I also think that the body adapts and starts burning almost anything. I didn't eat much on a day after I had been plied with whisky (this was in Scotland) but still covered a decent mileage. In fact, during my hardest walk, I ate the kind of rubbish I wouldn't normally touch and have never been healthier in terms of resisting disease.

Where re-supply depends on local shops an optimum fuelling strategy becomes difficult (see Erin McKittrick's comments) and you can end up carrying food to supply the fuel to carry your food, which, I guess, is Mike's point.

Edited by Bukidnon on 03/02/2011 13:36:49 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Meat Protein. on 03/02/2011 12:54:33 MST Print View

Heh, I've had "chicken" I was pretty sure wasn't meat.

Recall in Galen Rowell's K2 book the expedition meal planner was vegetarian and thus, the entire expedition food supply was meatless, much to everybody's surprise. Boy, would I have been steamed!

Anyway, nice article Mike C.



Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
sounds about right on 03/02/2011 13:49:23 MST Print View

Fits pretty well with what Hig and I do, though we start upping the levels to 2 pounds per person day before 20 days out. Of course, we're usually in cold wet places, and carrying packrafts, etc... Still working on appropriate numbers when you throw a toddler and nursing baby into the mix.

And for cold climates - lots of butter!

Edited by mckittre on 03/02/2011 13:50:12 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/02/2011 14:14:46 MST Print View

Where are the nuts? High in protein, high in heart-healthy fat, concentrated calories, lots of variety, can be bought in bulk ready to eat. My "lunches" (really snacks that I munch on all day) are mostly nuts and dried fruit.

I prefer to make my meals up beforehand in individual servings that I can rehydrate. My dinners are all home-dehydrated (I'm doing this right now for the coming spring, summer and fall). This gives me lots of variety so I don't get tired of one thing (I can go 10 days without repeating a dinner). It also means that the only cooking I need to do on the trail is to bring water to a boil in the pot, saving both fuel and dishwashing. I hate washing dishes! Sarah of is my heroine!

I do calculate pounds per day, although for the most part 1 pound per day is all I can manage to eat. Maybe it's those nuts I munch all day? Or maybe that at my age, 5-7 miles per day is my usual backpacking speed?

While I'm not a vegetarian, close to a half of my meals are veggie. Beans, lentils and TVP are just too useful and (properly prepared) tasty to ignore as protein sources! IMHO, dehydrated defatted hamburger and chicken also taste pretty cardboardy without additional seasoning.

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/02/2011 14:21:26 MST.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/02/2011 14:26:32 MST Print View

hikinggranny wrote: "dehydrated defatted hamburger and chicken also taste pretty cardboardy without additional seasoning."

Oh, yah! I completely agree. In civilization, I'm pretty carnivorous. But, when hiking I usually go vegetarian just because the dehydrated meat products are so unappealing. (Though, sometimes I cheat with some pepperoni...) :-)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/02/2011 14:31:31 MST Print View

Yes, so many of the dehydrated meat products are without taste. I work around that by carrying a small portion of olive oil, and I simmer the meat with olive oil in water. Then it begins to get some kind of taste and texture back.

If I end up with too much simmering water, I just throw in some instant rice.


Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
great article on 03/02/2011 14:43:47 MST Print View

Nicely done Mr.C!

For folks asking where is this or where is that, I took the calorie list as a general illustration of what SOME foods have in them. I agree nuts are hugely calorically dense, as are other foods mentioned. It seems that Mike's favorite calorie and flavor enhancer isn't listed either, and I ain't telling if he ain't. I reckon he just wants us to pull our thinking caps on tight and take a good look at what we are eating (and carrying!) in the back-country. Keep the good ideas coming though, I'm always looking for the magical 2500 calories in an ounce food.

I did find these the other day though:

Anyone know about those things?

Good information all around, article and comments.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Excellent article on 03/02/2011 18:06:24 MST Print View

Thanks for insights, and +1 for increasing food as length of trip increases. When my brother and I hiked the SHT in 2008, we planned and packed food for 14 (IIRC) days and ended up finishing at noon on the 12th day after doing about 20 miles/day. That said, by about day 10 our diets had sufficiently increased such that we went home with no food. We were consuming 3K calories/day, but those last two days we probably cleared 4K with all the extra food our bodies demanded.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
good article on 03/02/2011 19:18:55 MST Print View

good article- thanks. it would be interesting to incorporate some of the factors that Kevin brings up, on short duration hikes probably plays little to no role, but clearly on lengthy hikes it would

I know that on a seven day trip last year I lost 7-8 lbs (not that that hurt anything :))- I'd be a little nervous on a several week+ trip

Marco A. Sánchez
(marcoasn) - M

Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees
Re: Food Planning Using Pounds Per Person Per Day on 03/03/2011 03:32:25 MST Print View

The article provides interesting guidelines. Perhaps the most important is:

"STEP 3 - Carefully review how it all worked AFTER the trip is over. Keep exact records about how much was left over, what was enjoyed, and what felt unsatisfying. Use this info to fine tune your next trip."

Personal experience is everything in this field. No magic recipes.

A related reading: Arctic 1000: On Food and Cooking