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First thru-hike questions
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
First thru-hike questions on 07/07/2011 13:02:15 MDT Print View

So I'm doing a two week trail in three weeks and I'm looking for what food to bring. I had planned to research, buy a dehydrator, a food processor, and in essence put the time in. In an odd turn of fate my father passed away two weeks ago leaving me as the executor and the mock head of the family to deal with more than I care to share. (Things are okay in case that comes up, we're getting through it and I'm at a settled point after reading multiple books, talking to multiple lawyers, and most things having been taken care of). I've been sitting in a house eating bad food and not exercising enough for the past 2-3 weeks due to all this, and I'm trying to make efficient use of my time now to prep.

In essence, I'm sorry to ask a dumb and researchable question. I also know this is in a lot of ways personal preference. I also know that I want calorie dense foods for the weight, and shooting for 125 per ounce is a good mark to go for. I also know 2 pounds of food per day is essentially what I as a 210lb 6'3" male doing 20 miles a day wants. Also I'm planning to just freezer bag cook.

My question is, what do you all bring? I have some luna bars I think fit the bill for snacks. For breakfast I have Mike Clellands Spud Bomb recipe, and some oatmeal I'm thinking of adding stuff to. For dinners I have three good recipe's but I'd like a few more to spice that up, but with such short notice I'm thinking of mountain house'ish things repackaged. I'm a bit lost for snacks other than Luna bars, beef jerky seems 50-70 calories per ounce which is less than I was hoping for. Maybe Peanut butter?

What do you guys bring? Any linkable easy ingredient recipes? Is there a good site I can buy food from instead?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: First thru-hike questions on 07/07/2011 13:56:10 MDT Print View

Hit up for good tasting ready to make meals, you won't regret that.

With as much stress as you have had...don't overthink the trip, just grab food that sounds good and go for it - after my Mom passed away being able to go backpacking on the PCT was everything I needed.

As for snacks don't overlook high quality dried fruit, candy bars or chocolate, potato chips (kettle style hold up well), Pringles, single serving packs of cookies, etc.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: First thru-hike questions on 07/07/2011 14:48:14 MDT Print View

First of all, my sympathies! IMHO, the hardest task of all after a family death is all is getting through all the post-funeral details that have to be handled, especially when you're in no mental state to do it. We're going through this in my family right now.

While there are lots of good recipes with supermarket ingredients on Sarah's website (, I strongly recommend follow her suggestion of "grab food that sounds good and go for it." Packitgourmet is great, and might be your quickest source for dinners.

In addition to what Sarah mentioned: nuts (concentrated source of healthy fat and protein), cheese (any hard cheese, wrap in cheesecloth so it won't get slimy, if it molds just trim mold off), other types of bars (I love Odwalla bars and Kashi bars), peanut M&Ms (nuts plus chocolate). Cereal bars for breakfast will get you on the trail quicker. Cold cereal--like Grapenuts (compact), dried fruit, dried milk, add water and mix before eating--is another no-cook alternative for breakfast. If the cereal is in a plastic bag, no dishwashing required, either--just lick the spoon.

Take some "comfort food" even if for you it is junk food. You'll appreciate it out there!

Getting out on the trail is the most important thing for you right now!

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/07/2011 14:49:56 MDT.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: First thru-hike questions on 07/08/2011 02:37:42 MDT Print View

Michael, my condolences.

What about Trader Joes.

For next time, if you're shopping for a dehydrator, I really like this Nesco I purchased from Amazon. I think Laurie or Sarah turned me on to it. It works great, and for $56 dehydrating is the way to go.

Personally I can't go without meat protein and now just dehydrate extra lean ground beef. Pounds of it. I've tried stews and stuff but ground beef is the quickest, most versatile, and re-hydrates the best.

I bring whole wheat rotini (Catelli..I think) and instant brown rice. My favorite sea salt and lots of olive oil. I dehydrate orange and yellow peppers (I think you can get it at Trader Joes).

I believe olive oil is the highest in fats per gram.. or something like that.

I'm not a huge fan of sugary foods. More salty and savory.

Aside from snickers bars, I find snack bars really heavy to carry, sickly sweet/cardboard like and hard to eat in the heat. They're expensive, but I'd look for pemmican (the ones at Mountain Equipment Co-Op .. the Canadian REI) are excellent.

Quinoa has tons of protein, light and supposedly easy to cook.

I haven't freezer bag cooked myself, but once the water boils in my pot, I put it in a reflectix (the aluminum-like dollar store windshield reflectors) cozy that I made. You can get the tape at home depot. I'm able to cook hard pasta from the box with this cozy.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

Edited by elf773 on 07/09/2011 23:12:05 MDT.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Hawk Vittles on 07/08/2011 04:51:28 MDT Print View

For a more "real" food option than mountain house. Nice variety of hearty dehydrated foods made by retired chef and backpacker, Redhawk. Some fairly traditional offerings (lasagna) and some that use more novel ingredients (shrimp, quinoa, buffalo, etc). I've enjoyed all the ones I've tried and they have always shipped quickly.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
RE: First thru-hike questions on 07/08/2011 09:03:46 MDT Print View

Oh yeah, if you have a Trader Joe's around go crazy! I use so much of it for hiking as well :-D And the candy and cookie aisle is deadly ;-)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
condolences on 07/09/2011 07:59:57 MDT Print View

My heart goes out to you. I lost my Dad when I was 17 and know this time is very difficult and with your having to deal with family dynamics on top of it, well it must be stressful. Hang in there.

While I am a great advocate of dehydrating your own foods there are some great commercial products out there. Mary Jane's Farm is wonderful and Hawk Vittles are very good. We've also had luck with Mountain House and some of the offerings from Harvest Foodworks.

Couscous is brilliant for FBC. Quinoa, while a great source of protein, takes about 10-20 minutes to cook, depending on the brand so is best left for when you have a food dehydrator.

For breakfast, try substituting quinoa flakes for oatmeal. They are practically instant. Also, instant polenta with some butter (ghee) and dried fruit is very tasty and can be done in a freezer bag.

All the best. I hope you have a wonderful trip and that the time away helps you move through the grieving process. Once again, my condolences.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
snacks on 07/09/2011 08:22:27 MDT Print View

Nuts are a great trail snack. As are roasted chickpeas, gorp and the like.

Here are some links to some other snack recipes that might help you out...

Date Bars

Banana Breakfast Bars

This bar recipe is one that I usually make with a high protein meal replacement cereal. It's easy to modify by changing the nut butter, the fruit and nuts. You can add chocolate or leave it out. It's a great base recipe.

For Hungry Hikers - Energy Bars

Pumpkin Breakfast Bars

Alegria (you'll have to scroll down a bit for it).

This bar from the Bob's Red Mill recipe collection is a good one too...
Whole Grain Power Bars

and... while not exactly super light, here are some grocery store finds

Trail Food Ideas from the Grocery Store

Frunola Bars

and a couscous breakfast that can be easily modified to be lighter weight

Tropical Couscous Breakfast

Hope that helps.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
food on 07/09/2011 22:04:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for the kind words. A lot of good info tidbits here. Thanks for the recipe's Laurie, Hawk Vittles looks epic good but just isn't calorically dense enough for my purposes

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: First thru-hike questions on 07/09/2011 22:32:55 MDT Print View

For a trip like that, you might want to bring 50% of your food that does not require cooking. That will minimize cooking fuel required. You may still want your hot oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, while it is cool weather. But then during the day, Logan Bread or its equivalent will do. One advantage there is that you can modify the recipe to increase or decrease the calorie count. So, Logan Bread would do for lunch and snacks, and then your basic instant rice and instant soup mixture in the evening. You need some cooked or boiled stuff to consume when the weather is cold.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: First thru-hike questions on 07/10/2011 10:30:19 MDT Print View

Yeah, you can't go wrong with a tub of peanut or nut butter and something sweet to go with it (say honey) and a stack of tortillas......

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: snacks on 07/11/2011 13:58:23 MDT Print View

We made the Banana Breakfast Bars Laurie Ann mentioned above. Highly recommended!

Also, I noticed that the "For Hungry Hikers - Energy Bar" recipe mentions that they'll last in the freezer for up to 3 months, but wondering how long they would last when not refrigerated. I'm assuming they wouldn't be suitable for a resupply package where they might be sitting around in a bucket for a few weeks?

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
lasting bars on 07/11/2011 21:14:41 MDT Print View

Thanks for the compliment. I can't wait until we get out in August with the baby - I'm definitely taking some of those Banana Bars along.

Energy Bars...
The fresher the cereal you use the longer they will keep from tasting stale. I've had them well sealed at room temperature in a ziplock (as much air removed as possible) for three weeks to a month without issue but haven't tested beyond that. I've also had them kicking around the bottom of my pack for 15 days and they were still good (a little warped though - lol). If you vacuum seal them I would imagine that they'd keep even longer.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 07/11/2011 21:15:33 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: snacks on 07/12/2011 08:08:03 MDT Print View

On anything in a resupply bucket assume that the place it will be held could be hot (89* and up) - so take a week off any shelf life at minimum. If you plan for that you won't be disappointed if it sits for a month.