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trail food for the kids
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adam mcconnell
trail food for the kids on 02/21/2013 14:06:20 MST Print View

So, I'm taking the family to GNP this July (really excited) and I've been trolling the forum's here about food to take on day hikes. We plan to do the popular day hikes at GNP and those alone will run about 14mi round trip each. I've got two boys, age's 11 and 9, plus my wife and me. We've been to RMNF and Yellowstone, so we have hiked before and everyone made it. I feel like this trip may be a bit more strenuous. The chosen hiking certainly will be longer and with more elevation gain. We are planning four consecutive days of hiking, then relaxing on the Flathead for the last two. My question is what are the best foods to take that will satisfy both adults and kids needs for energy? In the past, we've made good ole P&J along with some granola bars, trail mix and gummies. Of course, plenty of hydration. This year, each son will carry their own 3L Camelbak. I'm thinking of bringing some gatorade powder's and empty bottles. Is that a good idea or is there a better electrolyte? Any other suggestions are certainly welcome. Thanks


Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: trail food for the kids on 02/21/2013 16:37:37 MST Print View

On a day hike where you are carrying all of the water you need anyway, you can pretty much bring whatever you want. I would bring at least 1000 calories per person (2000 might be safer) since you are going to be out quite a long time and engaged in strenuous activity. You should bring food the people are used to eating and like.

Again if you are carrying the water you are going to use to reconstitute the Gatorade you might as well reduce the amount of water you are carrying and bring constituted Gatorade. Gatorade helps me from bonking and getting leg cramps. Some people say you should get an electrolyte that is higher in potassium and lower in sodium. Many people also say you don't need that stuff at all.

If you want to reduce weight for the hike (which you should consider). You could have everyone carry less water and treat water along the way (chemically, UV, or filter). Remember 3L of water is around 6.6 lbs that is not insignificant weight for a 9 or 11 year old.

Food and electrolytes don't seem to be an issue here. The strenuous nature of the hike could be. 14 miles at elevation going up and down mountains could be too difficult for a 9 y.o. Many 9 y.o. could do it easily but I don't know how capable your kid is.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: trail food for the kids on 02/21/2013 16:48:36 MST Print View

With kids and food, get them involved in the planning. Let them pick out some of the treats and meals. As for drinks, do they like gatoraid at home? If not, use anything flavored that they like - the key is keep them drinking. Stopping for a snack and a good drink is a relaxing way to hike. I don't drink electrolytes, that is me though. Instead, I often take kettle potato chips (salt and potassium), bananas, dried apricots and so on - so while I am drinking, I get my nutrients needed :-)

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Variety on 02/21/2013 17:03:56 MST Print View

I would not just bring one or two meals but lots of little snacks with some variety. Ideas would be dried meats (jerky, summer sausage), cheese, chips (pringles are full of fat and salt), nuts, chocalate (M&Ms don't melt), etc.

If the kids don't like one snack it won't be a huge loss because they can have another one later.

adam mcconnell
feeding the kids on the trail on 02/21/2013 19:09:02 MST Print View

Some great advice. My kids are pretty different when it comes to their stamina. My 9 year old will be on my heels the whole time. My 11 year old lags behind and my wife hangs with him. In the end, they both can hang for the day. However, I don't think this has anything to do with their intake. As for snacks and meals, we just get tired of the same old P&J thing for lunch. We did jerky the last time out and everyone just got tired of it. Sun dried fruit snacks may be a good thing to try. We do put together a kid friendly trail mix - m&m's, nuts, raisins, granola, etc... I will definitely get the kids input on what they want. Sounds like anything goes for simple day hikes? Since I'm the mule, I want to try and bring things everyone will enjoy. Thanks for the feedback.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Bannock bread on 02/21/2013 19:28:10 MST Print View

It might not be directly applicable to the day trips you have planned this summer, but I think a recipe like Bannock bread would have a lot of appeal to youngsters. It requires a fire (or stove), and some preparation and is a little bit hands-on, but is inexpensive and easy to make, and quite tasty when fresh.

It might be a good change of pace and a good learning experience to cook something quick and tasty over a fire (or stove), rather than just opening yet another package of something chosen for ultralighters because it has a slightly better calorie-per-gram profile. For kids in this instance it can be as much about the process as the food itself.

Edited by eatSleepFish on 02/21/2013 19:29:18 MST.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Bannock bread on 02/22/2013 01:01:14 MST Print View

+1 on Bannock.

My son’s first backpacking trip was a winter one when he was 6 years old. 8 years later, he still remembers Bannock dipped in Maple Syrup with a side of bacon as his favourite camping meal!

Sean Staplin
(mtnrat) - MLife

Locale: Southern Cdn Rockies
Kids food on 02/22/2013 23:32:52 MST Print View

Same as Has been done for years. Gorp, chocolate bar, sandwich or two, cheese, salami. DONE

Edited by mtnrat on 02/22/2013 23:34:00 MST.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Kids food on 02/23/2013 11:44:55 MST Print View

My kids devour cans of smoked trout (w/ crackers) on our hikes. We buy trader joes brand but there are others. Comes drenched in oil so tons of calories and protein, powers them through the afternoon.

I think its a great idea to let them pick some foods, but I've also discovered that they'll eat anything out there -- they're starving!

Sounds like a great trip!