Preparation of meals and snacks before a multiday hike is essential if you want to be able to enjoy the hike. We really focus on getting enough calories and protein in our main meals, so our bodies have more energy, and we fell better when hiking. Also we sleep better during the night, if we don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
An overview photo of the we had with us on the 4-day hike in Cerro Castillo Natural Reserve
An overview photo of the we had with us on the 4/5-day hike “Sierra Valdivieso”
In the left picture is 4 x lunch including 2 extra meals (only mashed potatoe in powder and polenta). In the right pictures is 3 x dinner.
In the left pictures you have the food, that we mixed into our own trail-mix: peanuts, roasted fava beans, raisins, corn nuts (inca corns) and chocolate cereal puff with nutella inside. For dessert we had packed chocolate crackes and a jar of peanut butter. In the right picture you have our breakfast.
We also have to take into account that Esben burns more calories than me (Camilla), because Esben weighs 20-25 kg more than me and is male, which means that he by nature burns more calories. We carry about the same amount of weight in our backpacks, because it equals our difference in physical fitness. We have met a lot of others hikers, where the man/guy carries a heavier backpack, which means that he will burn even more calories than the girls carrying less weight. So how to plan the meals so Esben gets more calories than me?
- Esbens breakfast is bigger
Esbens trailsmix is bigger
Esben gets to eat one Snickers chocolate bar per day (no Snickers for me)
We share lunch and dinner, but I try to eat a little bit less than Esben (which can be difficult, when I am really hungry)
The majority of food is dried, and has to be mixed with water. The multiday hikes we have done so far, water has been easy to find on our way. Remember that you body need around 1 gram of protein per kg of your bodyweight. When you are physical active the need for protein is higher, and when hiking it will be 1,2-1,4 grams per kg of your bodyweight. So the main meals should contain at least 30 grams of protein per person. Many times I have met other hikers that only eats food primarily is a source of fat and carbohydrates, because they need energy for the hike. First we have fat stored on our body. Second cabohydrates is stores in our liver and muscles, but has to be refueled everyday when you are physical active. Third our primarily storage of protein is our muscles, if you don’t eat enought protein in your diet, your body will start eating of its muscles. This process will typically start on day one during the night, the process will continue if you don’t eat protein. The more days you don’t eat the sufficient amount of protein, the more musclemass you will loose. So the most important nutrients for your body during a hike is cabohydrates and protein. You can use food with a high content of fat to raises your daily intake of calories.
This post is written with a background as a clinical dietician and a personal trainer for 10 years. This is what works really well for us, when we go hiking, but off course it can be done different. I just hope that you will get inspired. Also here in Patagonia it is almost impossible to buy ready freeze dried food fx Mountainhouse, and if you find it, it is really expensive. So this is also a cheaper solution.
We don’t carry a lot of spices but bullion and ketchup. Ketchup is always a life saver. We try to avoid canned food, because it is heavy, and the cans makes the amount of garbage bigger. Anyway our the hike in Cerro Castillo Natural reserve we had to cans of salmon, and on the Huemul trail we had one can of mackerel, because it is nice to something else than soy protein.
Getting an overview of how many meals we have to bring for the two of us: 3*breakfast, 4*lunch and 3*dinner per person
The breakfast is prepared in portions in Ziploc bags before we go on the hike. I mix oats (one minute and old fashion), granola (we prefer chocolate flavor), nuts, milk powder (1 scoop), vanilla protein powder (1 scoop) and cinnamon or chocolate powder for different flavor (then you don’t have to fill, that you are eating the same every morning). To add more carbs you can add dried fruit. Try to mix it all together in a bowl to evaluate the size of the breakfast, it should be bigger than, what you eat on a normal day with less physical activity. 1 scoop of milk powder and 1 scoop of protein powder raises the amount of protein to 30 grams, if you don´t add it, the protein content will be only 10 grams. Esben’s breakfast contains a bigger amount of oats, granola and nuts to make sure he gets enough calories for breakfast. We also carries tea, cacao powder mixed with some milk powder for hot chocolate and the instant coffee is mixed with some milk powder, because I like milk in my coffee. You just have to add water (not boiling!) int the ziplock bag, and your breakfast is ready.
Here is the recipe (1 scoop is 30 grams of protein powder): 1 scoop of milk powder, 1 scoop of protein powder, 1 (small or big) hand full of peanuts, 2 scoops of oats (old fashion style), 0-3 scoops of 1-minutes oats and 1,5-3 scoops of chocolate granola. I had 0 scoops of 1-minutes oats and 1,5 scoop of chocolate granola, and Esben had 2 scoops of 1-minute oats and 3 scoops of chocolate granola (to make sure he gets more calories then me, because he burns more calories then me). Yes I mix it in ziplock bags before we go on the hike (left picture). In the right picture you see how the breakfast looked like on the day we started. It i the same as the breakfast in the ziplock bags, except that we added some fresh fruit, and used milk instead of milkpowder.
For breakfast we boil water for coffee and tea, at the same time we fill our thermal bottle with hot water (1 liter). The hot water makes it easy to make mashed potatoes from powder. This lunch is 125 grams of powder mashed potato mixed with 1/2 liter of hot water (2 persons). In the right picture it is served with soaked soy protein (100 grams for 2 persons). 100 grams of soy protein contains 47 grams of protein, and together with mashed potato or potent (1-MINUTE POTENTA) and sauce each person will get 25-30 grams of protein. In the left pictures we added crispy bacon, that we had prepared before the hike.
I think it is a great idea to add powder sauce or bullion, when soaking the soy protein for flavor. This “crema de espinacas” had to be mixed with milk and water (right picture). It is amazing how many different kinds of powder sauce you can buy, so pick the ones you like. We do carry a small Ziploc bag with milk powder. The milk powder makes the sauce more creamy, but it also raises the content of protein. In the left picture we used 200 grams of polenta (1 minute) instead of mashed potato powder. You will get more carbs and more calories when eating polenta compared to the mashed potato.
Soy protein mixed with crema de Champinon and served on mashed potatoes with ketchup on the side
Preparing lunch with hot water from our thermal bottle on the trail
We carry a Trangia stove. It has two pots of 1 liter each, with is perfect for the two of us. To get enough to eat for lunch and dinner both the pot has to filled up. This is what works for us. It is important for us to find a good lunch spot, so if it is windy we try to find a little bit of shelter and if it is cold we try to find a sunny spot. We take our sweaty shirts of, and put a dry one on during lunch. When we have finished lunch we change back, and hopefully the sweaty clothes have been drying during lunch. This is so we don’t get cold.
Pasta (133 g for two persons) mixed with powder cheese sauce and milk powder, served with bacon on top and soy protein (100 grams for two persons) on the side. About 30 grams per protein per person.
Ok, 133 grams might sound strange but the reason is that we split a 400 bag of pasta into 3 meals.
Pasta (133 g for two persons) mixed with tomato sauce (400 grams), served with parmesan cheese on top and soy protein (100 grams for two persons). About 35 grams per protein per person.
Pasta (133 g for two persons) mixed with a glass of red pesto and soy protein (100 grams for two persons). About 30 grams per protein per person.
Adding 40 grams of parmesan cheese raises the intake of protein with 9-10 grams of protein per person, making it a great protein supplement for the soyprotein. This dinner has about 35 grams of protein per person.
Ideas for snacks: nuts, corn nuts, granola, raisins or different kinds of dried fruit. Try to mix sweet and salty. The salt will help you to stay hydrated in warm weather, or if you sweat a lot. We don’t add chocolate to the bag of snacks, because in warm weather it will melt. Esbens carries Snicker bars, so he has one per day.
Usually we walk 50 minutes and than take a break for 10 min, if we just had breakfast or lunch, or if the trail is easy we walk for longer. During the breaks we relax, eat snacks, take our shoes off (longer breaks) or lift stones (if you shoulders fill tense, it can help them relax).
Don’t rush, because you have to walk all day for several days – ENJOY
When we are hiking, we usually don’t eat dinner later than 7 pm. After a full day of hiking we could always eat more. So we carry dessert. Typically some kind of cookie, and on top we add peanut butter or Nutella. If we don’t carry dessert we eat our snack bag too fast. The snack bag is for the trail, and the dessert is for after dinner, when relaxing in the tent.
What comes in also have to come out. Don’t leave any garbage in the nature, not even your toilet paper. We carry an extra plastic bag for used toilet paper. If you take it with you on the trail, you can also carry it bag out.