On our Appalachian Trail thru hike, we’ll sometimes buy food at stores near the trail, and other times pick up a food box which we prepared prior to the hike. Organizing and creating food resupply boxes is time consuming, but we love the result: better tasting and more nutritious trail food. For vegetarians like us this is especially true, since vegetarian food is harder to find in tiny trail towns. Mailing food boxes also enables us to stay away from larger towns and remain in the wilderness. There’s nothing like the calm that extended time in the wild brings.
The first step in preparing food boxes is to create a meal plan. This has been an iterative process for us over the years. Incredibly, after hiking 2600 miles in 2012, we still love most of our backpacking food menu. We made a few small changes for the Appalachian Trail and have updated our list of favorite backpacking foods accordingly. You can view the list at any time by clicking the “Food” tab above.
Being on a tight budget, our next step was to contact our favorite companies and see if they’d be willing to sponsor our thru hike. We are very happy to share that many of our PCT hike sponsors are continuing to sponsor us on the AT!
Outdoor Herbivore makes the best backpacking meals. It’s hard to find backpacking meals that are vegetarian or vegan, nutritious, mostly organic, and free of preservatives. Outdoor Herbivore’s meals are all those things and very tasty to boot.
BumbleBar‘s sesame bars come in a variety of yummy flavors. Their sesame seeds provide good fuel to keep us walking. We love that BumbleBar buys most of their ingredients from small organic farmers which increases sustainability, reduces pesticide use, and supports small communities.
Raw Revolution‘s live food bars are jam packed with healthy organic ingredients. These bars have a winning combination of flavor and nutrition. We especially like them for hiking because of their high energy content.
Two Moms in the Raw makes organic gluten-free raw food bars with plenty of antioxidants. This family-run company soaks and germinates most of their ingredients to maximize nutrition. We recently discovered these excellent bars and are excited to have them in our food boxes on the Appalachian Trail.
For the remaining food, we created a massive list and shopped for many hours at three different grocery stores. Buying in bulk is a great way to save money on dehydrated food, nuts, and granola. This approach means less wasted packaging too.
Back at Shutterbug’s parents’ house, we created our own trail mix varieties to suit our tastes (less salt, more chocolate!).
The final step was adding the proper amount of breakfast, lunch, and dinner food to each of the 20 resupply boxes. We’ll ship this food cost-effectively and reliably in USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate boxes to small hiker-friendly businesses and post offices along the AT.
Here are a few resupply packing tips we learned the hard way on the PCT, but are fixing on the AT:
- Thin plastic sandwich bags tear too easily. Ahhh, powdered milk everywhere! We’ve switched to sturdier freezer bags for the AT.
- No matter what the sales person tells you or how delicious it looks in the store, hard aged cheese will grow mold (the bad kind) after months of sitting in a resupply box.
- The classic spaghetti shape is a pain to fit into a small backpacking pot. Backpackers love to talk about food and we had a lengthy conversation with other thru hikers about this topic. Everyone agreed that small shells are the best pasta shape for backpacking. Shells pack well, scoop up sauce, and are easy to eat with a spoon.
With our food resupply boxes packed and fulfillment of our PCT photography book orders passed along to our friend Jen, we’re itching to go! We plan to begin hiking the Appalachian Trail on March 13.