Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2 Hikers, 14 days, 70,764 calories

My son and I are about to head out on our thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, and our resupply boxes are almost ready to go. Rather than carrying 14 days of food with us, we will be mailing supplies to ourselves along the way.

It seems that backpacking sites tend to focus mostly on gear and trips (this one included). I don't think we see enough information on the very important topic of trail nutrition. You can make all the right gear choices to get your base weight down to "ultralight" status, then blow all the weight savings by carrying the wrong kinds of food. Pictured below is 14 days of backpacking food (7 days x 2 people).



My goals for our meal plan are...
#1 Well balanced nutrition, high energy for 10+ hours of walking per day.
#2 Simple meal preparation on the trail.
#3 Go as light as possible without going hungry.
#4 Use as little stove fuel as possible.

One special consideration for this trip is that our food has to fit inside a bear canister, as they are required in the area where we will be hiking. Of course I don't want to carry some gigantic (i.e. heavy) vessel to carry my food, so I leaned towards smaller, calorie dense types of foods such as couscous in lieu of pasta. Here is our menu...

JMT Meals
2527
calories per day
Breakfasts
Dinners
Sweet Couscous
Morroccan Delight
Rice Select Couscous
Couscous
Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
Delight Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage
Slivered Almonds
Spiced EVOO (12 fl oz in plastic bottle)
Dried Cranberries
Beans & Rice
Hearty Oatmeal
Instant White Rice
100% Whole Grain Oats
Black Bean Soup
Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
Delight Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage
Slivered Almonds
Spiced EVOO (12 fl oz in plastic bottle)
Dried Cranberries
Mashed Delight
Snack all day!
Idahoan mashed potatos
Lara Bar - cashew cookie
Delight Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage
Bora Bora - Island Brazil Nut
Spiced EVOO (12 fl oz in plastic bottle)
Clif Bar - Chocolate Chip
PayDay bar
Beverages
Snickers bar
Starbucks Via coffee
Wild Roots GORP
Truvia sweetener
Reggiano Parmesan cheese
Decaf Chamomile Tea
Hormel pepperoni snac pac
G2 Thirst Quencher packs
Mission flour tortillas - soft taco size
Fritos

Breakfast consists of nuts, berries, dry milk...half prepared with couscous, and for variety the other half with rolled oats. A favorite mid day snack is flour tortillas, pepperoni, and parmigiano reggiano cheese - kind of like a trail pizza!



My idea for dinners was to be able to mix a few ingredients to create several different meals, and have meal preparation take just a few minutes. Pictured below is 14 days of dinner...clockwise from top left, Delight Sauce, spiced olive oil (thanks for the great idea Mike Clelland!), black bean soup with instant white rice, couscous, and instant mashed potatoes (Idahoan Loaded Baked of course, everyone knows they're the best)...yum!



Will it all fit? There's some strategy to this. Bars across the bottom, then some granular food to fill in all the gaps. Note that the bags of food are under-stuffed in order to squeeze into any available spaces. More bars and flour tortillas fit nicely around the outside, and the rest goes in the middle.



It just fits, a weeks worth of food in this BearVault BV450 container, which is rated at 4 days capacity. Their larger size weighs a half pound more, and wouldn't fit inside my backpack.



Some snacks are purposely left out for the day (food only needs to be inside of the bear canister if you are going to be separated from it). I'll have to find room for that bottle of spiced olive oil before the day is done, which shouldn't be a problem after dinner.



Deatils details...yes I like them. My nutritional goals are to have lots of real food - nuts, whole grains, etc. I try to go with a balance of 50% carbohydrates, 35% fat, and 15% protein. The highest calories per ounce are from fat, but you need to try to maintain a decent balance. Don't worry if you don't hit your percentage goals dead on...they are just a target and a good way to see how different food choices affect your overall nutrition plan.

    9.6
lbs
7
days in trip
7/12/2011
  15.1
Cal/oz
1.37
lbs/day
 Qty
Oz
Cal
Carb
Fat
Protein
Description

153.69
17691
2229
782
555
Total Per Trip

21.96
2527
318
112
79
Total Per Day



50%
40%
13%
% of Carbs, Fat, Protein
7
12.95
1610
161
91
42
Lara Bar - cashew cookie
7
17.15
1680
308
35
70
Clif Bar - Chocolate Chip
3.5
6.65
840
95
46
25
PayDay bar
3.5
7.35
980
123
49
14
Snickers bar
9
12.96
1890
162
126
45
Wild Roots GORP
5
0.68
25
0
0
0
Starbucks Via coffee
5
0.65
0
15
0
0
Truvia sweetener
5
0.40
10
0
0
0
Decaf Chamomile Tea
7
4.05
280
70
0
0
G2 Thirst Quencher packs
1
0.65
0
0
0
0
Salt & Lemon Pepper (fishing)
1
5.50
880
88
55
11
Fritos
1
4.50
518
0
41
36
Reggiano Parmesan cheese
3
3.28
420
0
39
15
Hormel pepperoni snac pac
7
12.92
980
175
21
28
Mission flour tortillas - soft taco size
3.5
11.03
1120
177
35
39
Oatmeal/nuts/beries mix (see recipe - serves 1)
3.5
7.90
1120
191
26
35
Couscous/nuts/beries mix (see recipe - serves 1)
1.25
13.73
2098
172
106
116
Delight Sauce with Hot Italian Sausage
6
8.40
900
186
6
30
Couscous
2
8.00
880
160
20
16
Idahoan mashed potatos
2
3.80
320
72
0
8
Instant White Rice
1
4.65
420
76
2
26
Black Bean Soup
0.5
5.93
720
0
84
0
Spiced EVOO (12 fl oz in plastic bottle)
2
0.43
0
0
0
0
Ziploc Quart Freezer Bag
2
0.17
0
0
0
0
Plastic produce bag


For more detailed information on backpacking nutrition, check out this great article at Thru-Hiker written by a nutritionist. This is where I got my formulas for % of Carb, Fat, and Protein. They are obviously not perfect, as my totals add up to 103%. 

156 comments:

  1. Nice. I admit that food is the one part that I put the least amount of thought into. On my last trip I thought I did well to count calories and weigh my food by the day...however, I did not get near as involved as you did. Of course though I carried MH meals as my dinners...

    That is awesome that you get to do this with your son! I would love to hike the JMT, and I have it on my list, but durn how things come up...

    Anyway, looking forward to a trip report with lots of pics! And thanks on the detailed post on food (I know I need to get this part of my packing down.)

    Happy hiking!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just made a batch of your Moroccan Couscous. OMG!
    Too bad I have to dehydrate some. You hit that one out of the park.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stick,
    I'm really looking forward to sharing this experience with my son. Spending time with him on gear and training has already been a blast!

    Dave,
    It's so cool that you tried my Moroccan Delight, and even better that you liked it! Thanks for sharing!

    John

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hiking the John Muir with your son...doesn't get much better than that if you ask me. My son is 3 years and I can't wait until he's big enough to hit the trail with me. Fun times for sure!

    I really enjoyed the writ up on good trail nutrition. You're right, it’s often an afterthought for many new backpackers. You typically pay the price though when you don't put enough time into planning this part of your trip...I know this is true from personal experience!

    Enjoy hiking with your son...be sure to post pics from the trip!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks TG...my son is 15 and a great young man. I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to share this experience with him! Heading west tomorrow and starting Saturday morning.
    John

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is there a way to dehydrate food without a dehydrator?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some users try with oven and few other devices... but still it won't be that much good. I always use my dehydrator to dehydrate food. I recommend to get some good dehydrator to dehydrate food.

      Delete
  7. Hey John, first of all I want to congratulate you on an excellent website with some great content. I am looking forward to trying your recipes.
    I noticed that you don't have an actual lunch menu. I'm guessing you just keep snacking all day to keep the carb\energy levels up? I will have to try that strategy instead of having a traditional sit-down lunch.
    I also noticed that you bring cheese. Isn't that heavy and doesn't it go bad quite quickly?

    ReplyDelete
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  9. Is the 9.6 lbs just the food or does that include the bear canister? Thanks for your reply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does not include as 1.37 lb per day x 7 days = 9.59

      Delete
  10. I think it included the bear canister.

    ReplyDelete
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