Forum Index » Food, Hydration, and Nutrition » Minimal food


Display Avatars Sort By:
Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Minimal food on 03/13/2013 16:22:38 MDT Print View

Has any one here tried backpacking on the premise that you will be home in three days(short trip) and you can probably do it with out food if you have to?

2 years ago I started backpacking with very little food for short trips say three days just over thirty miles in desolation wilderness (tough terrain). I would pack a pen rod and a couple lures so I could fish and one two rice packets. I wouldnt eat lunch and only have a cliff bar for bfast. on top of that i inacted the philosophy of sitting and drinking water at the source and carrying very little on me. This significantly reduced my pack weight and I actually did not miss the food that much. I will say this on that third day I get extremely tired and on the second night I find I fall asleep much sooner. But nothing compares to the first tastes of pizza and beer(post backpacking staple) on the way home.

does anyone else hike like this? what do you bring as your minimal food?

Edited by needsAbath on 03/13/2013 16:23:18 MDT.

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: Minimal food on 03/14/2013 14:18:37 MDT Print View

I haven't taken it that far, but this realization helped me unload "emergency food" from my pack. I still want to eat well when I am out there, but I am no longer worried that I will need extra food if I have to spend a night or two extra to get out.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Minimal food on 03/14/2013 16:33:20 MDT Print View

Sounds dangerous and not recommended, but that is just my opinion.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Not quite that extreme on 03/14/2013 17:57:54 MDT Print View

I have completely shifted my food for short 2-3 day trips. The old me used to take a high fat diet that had the highest calories per ounce. The new me maxes out on carbs with protein for the end of the day and I also rely on maxing out on fat burn. This strategy has allowed me to significantly reduce food weight while maintaining energy for high mileage days. If I were doing 10-12 mile days I could easily getvaway with eating 2000 calories and not lack energy. I look back on my quest to maximize calories per ounce and just laugh at how silly that strategy was.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: Not quite that extreme on 03/14/2013 19:31:57 MDT Print View

I always like to pack sufficent food as I see it as fuel.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Minimal Food. on 03/14/2013 19:48:09 MDT Print View

On our recent CRHT crossing in Joshua Tree (I did 38 miles in ~11:50), I ate precisely 4 gels, 2 clif bars, 1x3oz. bag of potato chips, and one package of perpetuem for a grand total of ~1850 calories. Most people I know would say this is minimal for 12 hours.
I was fine.
I think you can burn more fat than you think, especially if you train yourself to by running on an empty stomach and minimizing food intake on long runs. It not comfortable at first, but the body adapts.

...But to intentionally do it backpacking to save on pack weight....No thanks. I've never felt like there was anything I couldn't do with a pack on simply because I had a full 1.5 pounds of food per day. In fact, I think I'd be flirting with the opposite problem: bonking due to day-in, day-out calorie deficiency.

Bonking is way worse than simply planning and training for 1.5 pounds/day of smart calories.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Minimal food on 03/14/2013 21:58:25 MDT Print View

It's not uncommon for me to hike for 4 to 8hrs and not eating anything meanwhile, but i usually do a big supper once camped. But i've been thinking about this very concept actually, as i've experimented with fasting in general. I did a 7 day, very, very low calorie fast last winter and felt pretty good at the end of it. Mostly it was herbal teas with lemon juice & a little sucanat. Also some "green drinks", and a little bit of goat milk kefir. But i was not hiking, and i don't think it would be a good idea if i was expending that much energy.

But i am interested in cutting down food while hiking and seeing how it works. Winter is probably not a good time to experiment with this though--personally i will wait till it's consistently warmer.

In general, i eat much less calories than most, but my weight doesn't seem to change all that much, and while i don't work out or lift, i'm naturally muscular and strong. My tenant/housemate is a body builder whose constantly talking about protein and calories, but i think it's more a belief system and dogma than reality--i mean, sure if you want to bulk up yeah it works, but you can be naturally muscular and strong without it.

Re: fasting in general, there is an awesome documentary on Netflix called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead". It primarily covers the journey of two men who happen to have the same rare skin disease, and their journey through a 60 day all juice fast (and increased exercise), and them getting off medications and healing themselves via the juice fast and increased exercise. The transformation in Phil and his life is particularly inspirational and mind blowing. He goes from being this morbidly obese guy with a dark cloud hanging over him, lifeless depressed eyes, to virtually glowing at the end.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
SOrry on 03/15/2013 08:37:11 MDT Print View

First off sorry for posting this in two different parts of the forum I should have just been patient with this thread.


I only do this in the summer and I forgot to mention that I bring Kool-Aid too that might have helped. Winter I pack a ton of food A TON. And I do bring some food just not very much I usually end up about 10-15 lbs. down by time I get done and then gain it back in the same amount of time.

Ok hear is the exact list of food I usually bring

Kool-Aid or Gatorade powder-6-8 packets
Fruit leather 2 a day
one rice packet per day
one cliff bar per day
all the fish I can catch- I usually catch about 5-6 and keep 2. only been skunked one night so far.
1 tbsp. butter per day
lemon pepper

I'm working at a deficit but you can see I clearly have food just not that much. I think it added up to less than two pounds for food and water if I remember right.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Minimal food on 03/15/2013 17:50:44 MDT Print View

"2 years ago I started backpacking with very little food for short trips say three days just over thirty miles in desolation wilderness (tough terrain). I would pack a pen rod and a couple lures so I could fish and one two rice packets. I wouldnt eat lunch and only have a cliff bar for bfast. on top of that i inacted the philosophy of sitting and drinking water at the source and carrying very little on me. This significantly reduced my pack weight and I actually did not miss the food that much. I will say this on that third day I get extremely tired and on the second night I find I fall asleep much sooner. But nothing compares to the first tastes of pizza and beer(post backpacking staple) on the way home.

does anyone else hike like this? what do you bring as your minimal food?"

If you're only hiking 10 miles/day at a normal pace(2.5-3 mph) and have a normal amount of body fat(15% or so), you should be able to get by with somewhere around 1200 calories of complex carbs and 400 calories of complete protein, e.g. whey protein, assuming you are burning ~3500 or so calories/day. At a 2.5-3 mph pace people generally get ~30% of their energy from carbs, ~65% from fat, and ~5% from protein, with another 5% for partial repair of tissue. This is not a gourmet diet, but should get you thru a 3 day trip with body fat to spare and without being uncomfortable or bonking. Richard Nisley has a lot of data on this, so you might want to PM him. For longer trips, you would need more food, how soon depending on how long you are out, how far and fast you are hiking, and how much body fat you have to start with. Greg Gressel would be the guy to talk to about this scenario.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Minimal foodstuffs on 03/16/2013 09:53:22 MDT Print View

I kind of did this during my Patagonia trip last year simply because we wanted to stay on the trail as long as we could, did not want to pay the ridiculous prices to buy food on the hike (2 cans of coke and a small can of Pringles = $18!!) and there is only so much you can carry and still have a good time.

So for 11 days I ate one packet of oatmeal for breakfast, had 3 crackers with either peanut butter or sausage on it for lunch, then half a mountain house or a packet of ramen or instant potatoes for dinner. I had a single quart ziploc stuffed to the brim in trail mix to last 11 days to snack on.

I had never felt so energetic, happy, and just all around great during any trip I'd taken (I've been backpacking since I was a little kid). During one 18 mile day towards the end of the trip I felt it, but other than that I felt fantastic. Granted, I needed to lose about 15 pounds before the trip anyway, so not sure if that had anything to do with it....

And for my 8-day Winds trip last August...pretty much the same thing. 6 pounds of food for 8 days. Felt great.

I don't know if I'm making this up or not, but i had heard that women do a much better job than men of using calories efficiently during extended endurance activities....

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Minimal foodstuffs on 03/16/2013 11:58:29 MDT Print View

>> I don't know if I'm making this up or not, but i had heard that women do a much better job than men of using calories efficiently during extended endurance activities....

That's interesting and my experience is similar. I don't really eat anymore on the trail than I do at home, and it's consistent across hikes. I always plan on 1LB per day (packed) and that gives me a little buffer.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
quick note on 03/18/2013 11:50:59 MDT Print View

Yeah, I do not hike that much mileage per day I have pretty severe leg injuries due to a car accident. My ankle was broken pretty badly and required three surgeries just to get the pieces in the right places (It barely moves now) and I have almost had to have my hip replaced(Im not even 30 yet)because i broke my femer at the ball joint. So I tend to keep a slow pace because I am in constant pain walking but i will never stop hiking, backpacking, splitboarding, hunting or fishing its who I am. like I said in another thread i dont like doing over 15 miles a day. Plus I love photography and will shoot hundreds of pictures in a couple days and that takes time to.

I hike with guys that like to hike fast all the time. I just let them go and catch up later.

Edited by needsAbath on 03/18/2013 11:52:23 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: quick note on 03/18/2013 12:17:31 MDT Print View

I would starve with 1 pound of food per day.

I find 750g-1000g is what I need depending on mileage and temperatures.

I am just shy of 5" 11" and 185lbs.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
power of fish on 03/18/2013 12:23:36 MDT Print View

I think you all are underestimating the power of a two trout and rice dinner! It keeps me feelin good....Until I eat it then I just pass out in my hammock or what ever I brought on that trip. literally falling asleep sitting in my hammock as a lounger

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: A very flat place (Grrrrrrrr)
Re: power of fish on 03/18/2013 12:37:13 MDT Print View

I don't like trout or hammocks ;-)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Minimal food on 03/18/2013 14:38:25 MDT Print View

I turn into a fire-breathing ***** when I don't eat enough, at home or on the trail. And if I am crabby and shaky, I have no patience with anyone...especially my kids - who are also the same way.

So yeah, lesson learned quite painfully: I don't cut back on food. Ever. Life is just more pleasant.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Living to eat and eating to live on 03/24/2013 14:05:09 MDT Print View

Like the French and Italians I LIVE TO EAT. I always take tasty meals, mostly Freezer Bag style.

Keeeping food weight down AND having great meals is my quest. But to do this I sometimes cook instead of merely boiling water.

Spaghetti is an example. I rehydrate home dehydrated spaghetti sauce, add dehydrated mushrooms and heat after I've cooked my spaghetti (and stored it in my covered plastic bowl). Then I add some Romano cheese.
I even may bring 1/2 cup cooked lightly salted ground beef that I've drained and wrapped in paper towels and freezer bagged. (Again, living to eat.)

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Calorie intake, injuries, and continuing on on 03/28/2013 12:02:44 MDT Print View

Mr. Brock,

To answer your first question, no, I've never not brought food along, even on a shorter trip.

I've experimented with different calorie intakes as well on trail. I'm 6'2" 175 pounds. Lean, with some muscle if you squint when looking at me. Also, I spent 3 years on an around-the-world trip after graduating college. I think that journey really affected the way I view myself and what I actually need on a daily basis, both to be safe, and to be comfortable. Mostly I spent time hiking in warmer temps through Mexico, Central America, South America, and Asia.

Anyway, this experience taught me to calorie load when I had the chance, and get by on far fewer calories, sometimes less than 1,500 a day, even on high-output days of 20-30 miles. I didn't have access to fancy meals or even many ingredients sometimes. I gave up being a vegetarian cuz I needed more protein, so I ate chicken, fish, etc. Sticky rice became a great favorite of mine. I could combine that with anything and make a meal. If I was going on a 5-day trip in Laos for instance, I would eat 5,000 calories or more the day before I left. Just eat and eat. Then I had a decent calorie store for the trip. I'm not sure if this is the healthiest approach, but I've also used it Stateside.

Back home in the States, I tend to carry more food since I have more options. I have a Caldera Cone, a Snopeak Titanium pot, and a titanium spork, so I have a lightweight set up, but lately I've been leaving it all home for the sake of simplicity and eating cold food. Uncooked beans, tortillas, avocados etc. I also live near an awesome store that has 2 full aisles of bins filled with organic goodness.

For a 3 to 5 day trip, my food weight is usually 1.5 pounds a day. However, if I take the calorie-load approach, I may carry less. For breakfast: oatmeal, brown sugar, and coconut oil. Maybe carry a few Clif bars. Various trail mixes with nuts, fruits, etc. Whey protein powder. I've been eating carob nuggets with mixed greens. A few crackers and cheese. I generally eat on the move and try to eat every hour or so. There are days I'll go several hours between eating, especially if I'm hiking in the redwoods near my home. Then I get lost in the Jurassic-like beauty, and tend to forget everything else.

Also on a side note, my GF has recovered from a horrific motorcycle accident that happened 7 years ago and nearly killed her. She's still rehabbing her body and mind. She's had 6 surgeries and constant problems with her knees, ankle, and back ever since. She's the strongest woman I have ever known and is back to covering 20+ miles a day. It definitely helps that she's 29 and in incredible shape. She is fanatical about her workout regimen and exercises 6 days a week. She's ignored doctors who told her she would never backpack again.

So I wish you the best in your recovery, and I think it's awesome you haven't let injuries prevent you from experiencing something you love doing. Peace.

Edited by Damager on 03/28/2013 12:04:11 MDT.