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.
We created our Appalachian Trail food resupply plan with two priorities in mind:
Stay close to the trail. We prefer to remain in the wilderness away from city noises and distractions. We’ll walk to our resupply points and avoid cars and shuttles wherever possible.
Keep it strictly vegetarian and mostly organic. We’ll buy from grocery stores where feasible and ship food boxes to areas with slim vegetarian pickings.
We used a similar resupply strategy on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and it worked very well. On our Appalachian Trail (AT) thru hike we plan to buy food at 16 stores and pick up 20 maildrops. Some sections of the AT run close to convenience stores and restaurants. In those sections we will carry less food than normal.
Here are our thoughts (and a demo video!) about the cooking gear we used while thru hiking the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
Stove and windscreen/pot stand = Trail Designs Classic Caldera Ti-Tri cooking system 2.5 oz. This incredibly light stove is made from an aluminum can. It burns denatured alcohol, available at any hardware store, or HEET, a gas-line antifreeze commonly found at gas stations. We found these fuels at almost every town we visited on the PCT.
The thin titanium windscreen is custom-sized to hold our Evernew pot, forming a wide stable base. The windscreen also optimizes airflow, increasing the the stove’s fuel efficiency.
While hiking, we packed the stove in the pot for protection. We stored the windscreen wrapped around the fuel bottle, secured with a rubber band. The stove got slightly crunched one day from packing too much food around it in the pot, but it still worked fine. Overall the Caldera system preformed flawlessly during the entire trip.