What food to bring on a hiking trip? One of the first things that will probably come to your mind is food that don’t spoil easily, like the canned ones. But is that all there is to it in planning your sustenance for the wilderness?

Here are the things you need to consider when planning your nutrition for your outdoor adventure:

Length of the hike

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Picture taken in Val Ferret

How long will you be out in the wild? This should especially dictate the volume of food you need to bring, although adding a bit of buffer helps, in case unforeseen events happen. It’s also recommended that you bring enough that suits your own body size, weight, and activity level. About 0.7 to 1 kg of food per day for one person is said to be a good average that you can use as basis in calculating how much to bring. You can also base the volume on your calorie consumption – if you normally take in 1,800 calories on a busy day, for example, and you’ll be hiking for just one day, bring food with calorie count that add up to that figure, with a 200 calorie-buffer, just in case.

Weight and Size

While canned food sounds like a good idea, the fact that it’s hefty is not. Further, if you think bread is feasible because it’s lightweight, consider its bulkiness. A good workaround for canned food will be repacking them into resealable plastic bags, which you should label for easy reference.

Weather

kandersteg cat barbecue
Picture taken in Kandersteg

Food spoils more easily in very hot weather, so bring food that can take the heat better, like crackers and nuts. However, you may also want to bring “hydrating” food to help you replenish lost moisture, such as oranges or food with a bit of sauce in it. If your destination is pretty chilly, you may consider bringing thermogenic food, which are those that enhance your body’s ability to convert food calories to heat. Spices (e.g. chili or ginger), green tea, coconut oil, grapefruit, and protein-rich food are some examples of thermogenic food.

Water Requirement

Do you need water to reconstitute your food? You should not bring this type of food if you’re going to hike somewhere where water isn’t abundant. Also, avoid taking too much food that stimulate thirst if you’re hiking at a place where water is scarce. Salty and sweet food is typically more likely to activate thirst.

Leave No Trace Compliance

Will the food you bring generate much trash? Will disposing it change the place considerably? Natural food, like fruits and vegetables, are less likely to go against the LNT rule. However, if these aren’t suitable for your trip, consider repacking your food so that you don’t have to deal with cartons, cans, and other packaging material when preparing your food at the camp site.

Personal Preference

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Picture taken by Oskar Karlin

Bring food you actually want/like to eat. This way, each meal time becomes a truly nourishing and recharging event that will also help keep your motivation and good spirits up for the duration of the hike.

After considering all these things, you’ll be able to draw up a shortlist of the food that you will bring. You can then proceed to allocating them for the different times of the day for each day of your trek. You can plan which ones will be for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks in between meals if you have enough time to take such a break during your trip. For multi-day trips, you can plan which meals are for the first day, second day, and etc.

Typically, breakfast choices would be eggs, cereals, fresh or dried fruit. Lunch would be energy bars, nuts, bagels, and even jerky, for example. This is because you’re likely to make the most of the daylight and not take too long to finish your mid-day nourishment. Dinner would generally be the appropriate time for a longer meal, which means you can break out the packaged meals that require reheating during this time. Think of this as your reward after a long day of physical challenges. Pasta, instant potatoes, tuna, sauce-based dishes, and even rice are some of the popular dinner options.

Make sure that you calculate the calorie content of each meal and sum them up so you know whether you’re taking enough food for the day or the entire trip. You can search for calorie counters or references online.

See to it that you include much protein and good fat (usually plant-based ones like olive or coconut oil) in your food plan to help your muscles refuel and recover. Snacking on fiber-rich food, like nuts, can help you hold off hunger pangs until

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