Eat Right, Hike Right: Have a Healthy Diet on the Trail
Whether you’re on a day hike, or have a thru hike in the works, you’ll need food that keeps you energized for the miles ahead. Energy bars and formulas are great, but nothing beats a full and proper meal while out on the trail. Of course, the kind of hike or camp you are on dictates the style and amount of food you’ll take. Here is a look at the provisions you need on a variety of outdoor excursions.
When you car camp you have the most options, no doubt. You’re campsite acts as a home base as you spend each day on shorter hikes in the area. On this trip you’re free to bring plenty of canned foods and heavier provisions as you won’t be carrying much on your day hikes.
For breakfast, think light, yet hardy. Don’t be weighed down by a heavy breakfast as you hit the trail. Oatmeal with berries, nuts, and fruits is a good option. Take some brown sugar and cinnamon as well to sweeten this light yet sustaining breakfast.
If you take an ice chest, dinner can be as decadent as you like. Take steaks, veggies, burgers and condiments, or other rich meat products such as sausage. But make sure you eat the more perishable foods first so they don’t go bad while out in the wilderness. Create a daily meal plan to avoid waste.
Meal Plan for Backpackers
When you leave the car behind you suddenly are much more limited in your options when you plan your meals. However, before you decide what to take, estimate how much you’ll need. Keep in mind that backpackers need more calories and energy rich foods, because of the weight they carry in and out of their camp site.
Fresh foods are great for the first day of your trip. Most fresh foods won’t keep more than a day in your pack, though some, like carrots, can last a bit longer. Consider dried foods like pasta, instant rice, soup mixes, and even drink mixes, as they are light in your pack and don’t take up much room.
Freeze dried or dehydrated foods are light, nutritious, and delicious. Dried meats like salami provide proteins and can be vacuum sealed. This way you minimize the space they take and increase the shelf life. Prepackaged freeze dried breakfasts and dinners can be found at most outdoor retailers, and though they’re expensive, they are the lightest and easiest way in which to get the nutrients you need, as they only require boiled water.
Before you leave on any trip make a shopping list of the foods you need, cut corners where you can, as the lighter your pack the more enjoyable your trip will be. However, always err on the side of safety. Too much food is better than not enough. Also test your camp stove before you leave. Start it, cook something on it, and then clean it so you know it is in tip top condition. A thorough collection of camping pots and pans will also make your trip easier each time you sit down to prepare a meal.