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Diet for 3+ month hike! input welcome
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Gregory Petliski
(gregpphoto) - F
Diet for 3+ month hike! input welcome on 05/05/2011 18:02:48 MDT Print View

Hello all, heres my sitch: Will be hiking continuously from June 7 to mid August, roadtrip with pops from mid August to early September, then ADK for a month. So its 2.5 months on, 3 weeks off (still hiking but fattening up on human food as well), 1 month on. The diet I've come up with seems to be surprisingly balanced, considering I'll be leaving the woods every 7-10 days or so to resupply at which point I will try and grab some fresh veggies, cheese, pepperoni, etc. Stuff that will only last a day or two on the trail. I don't want to risk having more food than can fit in the can (trail magic weight adds up especially when you hitchhike), so I'll keep the supply boxes to 7 days worth of food and if I plan on more time out, I can grab stuff in town.

The menu:

Cal content for 110 days

Peanuts - 25 lbs = 67,200
Almonds - 5 lbs = 12,880
Cashews - 1 lb 2,608
Raisins - 15 lbs 20,160
Flame jumbo raisins - 5 lbs 6,880
Pitted dates - 6,316
Dried figs - 5,600
Dried apples - 5,440
Oatmeal - 15 lb 26,880
Pastina - 13 lb 8,880 + 30 oz olive oil - 7,440
Peanut butter - 20 lb 54,450
Pita bread - 165 slices 28,050
Cheese & crack - 110 packs 22,000
Freeze dried - 110 meals 33,000

~ 2750 cals per day! So combined with whatever town food I can snag, would I be running dangerously low on my daily needs? (I weigh 200 lbs with a full pack and plan on 15 mile/ 5,000 ft days). I got my fiber, carbs (mostly complex), proteins, all sorts of vitamins from dried (and when possible, fresh) fruit and veggies. What am I missing? For those interested, my daily breakdown is as follows:

Breakfast: Oatmeal (3 kinds, 100 g per day x 70 days); Pastina w/ 1 oz olive oil (1 serving x 40 days).

Continuous trail food: GORP (peanuts, almonds, cashews, raisins, jumbo flame raisins, cranberries); Fruit Mix (dried figs, dried apples, pitted dates); Cheese & crackers. 8 oz of GORP, 3 oz of fruit mix, 1 pack of crackers per day.

1st Dinner: Freeze dried (seven meals, six kinds (all have beef or chicken), two call for pita bread for wilderness tacos!) (14 slices of pita bread per 7-10 days).

2nd Dinner: Peanut butter on pita bread (28 oz jar per 7-10 days). Alternate: Peanut butter directly into mouth.

In every other supply box, I will have included a tube of Camelbak hydration tabs, a film can of sodium bicarbonate (toothpaste), and a small amount of multivitamins and fish oil capsules. Omega-3's baby!

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Calories on 05/11/2011 13:25:04 MDT Print View

2750 seems very low. An old excercise rule of thumb for walking and running (inherently in accurate) was 100 Calories per mile. Without any other info on you this might be a good place to start.

So if you assume a base caloric need of 2000 calories per day (probably low) I am 6'3 200ish and find with low activity I am around 2500. So if we take 2000 cal per day plus 15 miles per day for 1500 calories and you are at 3500 calories per day.

This means you would lose 750 calories a day or 1.5 lbs per week. Now if in your weekly town stops you can consume 5000 calories for that day you could gain half of that back.

So I would suspect under you current plan you would lose around a pound a week. The other question is would you be hungry only consuming 2750 a day.

What do you normally eat on shorter trips in terms of calories and how much weightloss do you experience.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Calories on 05/11/2011 13:41:18 MDT Print View

Have you seen Mike C!'s article on food planning:

May be members only. He also covers same topic in his book.

Have you figured out weight of food per day/ average calorie density?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Diet for 3+ month hike! input welcome on 05/11/2011 14:14:11 MDT Print View

I wonder if anybody has ever done a long trip like this, and they screwed up the food plans.

I could understand if you expected to need 3000 calories per day and carried food for 3000 calories per day, but you ended up losing body weight because you were really burning 4500 calories per day.

I was curious about getting fouled up on carbohydrates versus proteins versus fats. I realize that fats have about twice the calorie density, but that does not mean that you should simply carry most of your food as fats. There are normal proportions.


Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
The menu needs... on 05/11/2011 17:42:20 MDT Print View

A few snickers bars.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
food for long trip on 05/13/2011 14:04:51 MDT Print View

"I wonder if anybody has ever done a long trip like this, and they screwed up the food plans."

I planned a 27 day trip with 12 people, and we were short of food. We had a food drop each 7 days, so we could stock up a bit. Its no fun going to bed hungry. The trouble is after a week on the trail, your metabolism goes into high gear, and you eat lots more from then on. We had fishermen who caught a lot of fish, and the food drops all had stores where we could buy extra stuff, so we were OK.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: food for long trip on 05/13/2011 15:37:28 MDT Print View

> The trouble is after a week on the trail, your metabolism goes into high gear, and
> you eat lots more from then on.
Oh so true! So Very True!

Planning ahead that far has two problems. You will quickly tire of the same food every day, and you just can't juggle the weights that far in advance. Better to have some staples, plus regular shopping and/or food drops with variety.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: food for long trip on 05/13/2011 17:32:05 MDT Print View

"Planning ahead that far has two problems. You will quickly tire of the same food every day, and you just can't juggle the weights that far in advance. Better to have some staples, plus regular shopping and/or food drops with variety."

+1 It is much easier to pull off if you can resupply. Doing a long trip unresupplied really complicates matters. It can be done, but you need to have a grasp of exercise physiology and your own metabolism, best obtained by experimenting with trips of shorter duration and gradually lenghtening them out as you start to get a feel for what's involved.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
eating fish helped a lot on 05/13/2011 21:10:15 MDT Print View

Our group was about half fishermen, half peak climbers. The fishermen got out of camp early and headed straight to the destination for the night, and got to work fishing. The peak climbers cleaned up after breakfast, climbed a peak or two, got to camp and started cleaning fish. The fish added a lot to our diet. We climbed 17 peaks along the JMT over the 27 day trip, and everyone lost weight. By the end of the trip we were in incredible shape. Some of our guys tried to kill a marmot to eat but it was impossible to get them in the rocks. The 2nd week we had 3 people go home with injuries or to rest, so we got extra rations for the next two weeks, till they came back for the last week. There is a trip report on trailjournals, and our menu plan is posted.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Diet for 3+ month hike! input welcome on 05/14/2011 16:44:59 MDT Print View

It has been done. It takes a lot of organizing and planning. Be sure to plan in a lot of variety, or you'll get really tired of your food. I'll bet you'll never want to look another oatmeal in the face after this trip! I'm currently preparing food for a month-long sojourn (4 trips) in Wyoming this summer. Most of what's in small town grocery stores is food I can't or won't eat, so I basically have to do it this way.

Here are two PCT thru-hikers who did it this way: and be sure to read the next page, too.

I agree that you need more calories per day, unless you are an extremely small person. That's about what I take, but I'm 5'3" and female (we tend to require less calories than men) and have a fair amount (too much!) of fat reserves to fall back on. Figure out how approximately many calories you normally consume (without gaining or losing weight) during a normally active day at home, and add based on your activity level.

I personally couldn't eat freeze-dried dinners for more than 1-2 days, but to each his own. That may be another item that becomes revolting long before your trip is over. Check out Sarah's website,, for recipes using supermarket ingredients, and Laurie Ann March's website. Intersperse a bunch of these with the freeze-dried dinners for variety (to say nothing of budget savings).

Note that fish is definitely a low-calorie food!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/14/2011 17:21:04 MDT.