How Much Food to Bring?

AustinHager Member Posts: 35

I thought it would be interesting to hear how everyone goes about deciding how much food to bring on a trip.

The idea came to me after I attempted my first FKT a couple of days ago and I really struggled to know how much food I would need. I have a great understanding of how much I would need on a standard hike, whether that is one day, one week, or one month. But tackling something where I would be moving for around 20 hours threw off my calibration.

Should I focus on bringing food per distance traveled? Elevation gain? Duration of movement? Will I even be hungry if I am constantly moving throughout the day without much time to rest and digest?

My approach was to base it on distance, I would be hiking about twice as far as my average so I assumed I would go through twice as much food. This was a bit of a mistake, but perhaps longer trails I would have eventually caught up with my caloric deficit and required more food.

What is everyone's approach to food? Does anyone have a chart or system they follow depending on the trail? Do you find bigger days you actually eat less? How long can you push through caloric deficit before really needing more calories to keep going?


  • Naomibro
    Naomibro Member Posts: 92


    You average a caloric loss of about 6,000 calories. Maybe more if you are really hooking it and if it's really cold.

    You should NOT loose weight. Weight loss is not your love handles, or flab you hate, but your muscle or some internal organs.....

    A few less calories for females (sorry, gals!) huffing, puffing and climbing really takes a toll.

    You have to not only replace those 6,000 calories but replace them with good food and sanitary water---Sanitary water more important than food. Good chow is difficult for any long Trail and usually requires compromises. Yours.

    I found the first several days I was NOT hungry and only ate to replace calories. I am not picky and only eat for calories, ease, and nutrition. Also dislike belching food. Remember to bring small scissors.

    1. Nothing that melts--no chocolate for example.
    2. Tuna in a bag--easy to purchase at your grocery store-- various flavors
    3. Granolas made at home sans chocolate (it melts and gets gooey)
    4. street tacos - corn tortillas., "Street size" are small and few go bad; Corn esp. nutritious paired with any bean, as it's complete protein.
    5. "Sprouted" tortillas; "sprouted" breads. Cooked, no salt canned beans- which we opened, drained, rinsed, and stored in smaller baggies. (black beans, pinto, pigeon, Soy, Adzuki, kidney, Lima, lentil, cannellini, great northern, pink, garbanzo.) What ever is on sale with NO SODIUM. If the beans smell, we LNT and ditch em. Fast.
    6. pre-cooked rice portioned in baggies
    7. pre-cooked bow tie pastas " "
    8. baggies of dehydrated grapes, bananas, cherries.
    9. packets of nut butters
    10. packets of oatmeal, buckwheat groats, quinoa,
    11. Packets of olive oil, DRIED seasonings of your choice ( pepper, salt, mint, etc.)
    12. cooked hard boiled, shelled eggs stored in baggies.
    13. Coffee packets (to me MOST important!)
    14. probably more, but currently forget
    15. Dehydrated store-bought potato flakes.
    16. Four, pre-made, complete meals for utter emergencies.
    17. Try Pemmican --try at home first.
    18. Try sausages.
    19. Try Spam
    20. don't forget WATER!

  • Danimal
    Danimal Member Posts: 17

  • Danimal
    Danimal Member Posts: 17

    The last thing I do before loading my food into my pack is to weigh it. A good rule of thumb to make sure you have about the right amount of food is to figure about one pound of food per 100 pounds of backpacker per day. This seems to be especially helpful to beginning backpackers who are not used to estimating calories per day. An extra half day of food should be allowed to make up for any error in quantities eaten or being delayed and unable to exit on time. As always, Water is still the priority.