Fortunately we will not need to carry five months of food on our backs as we hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Instead we will resupply every few days at a town, post office, or small business which holds packages for hikers. This approach required a great deal of planning and preparation, which was by turns exciting and monotonous.
Chris tests out a powdered drink mix
On the advice of many previous thru hikers, we are striving for variety in our trail diet. Thus, while planning, we taste tested numerous meal options. Drawing on our knowledge of thru hike nutrition, and in conjunction with our food planning math spreadsheets, we created a massive grocery list. We have just updated our Food page with many details about our food choices. You can access the page by clicking the “Food” link at the top of our blog.
Although we were organized before heading to the grocery store, we still spent several hours in the bulk food section. Shopping for variety while purchasing a large quantity of food takes time. It was exhilarating to see our extensive planning turn into piles of food in a shopping cart. We were surprised to realize how much food we will eat over the next five months. That really hit home when we saw all the food in one place.
Many thanks to our food sponsors, who are providing us with sustenance on our Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. Please support these companies, because they produce some of the best-tasting, healthiest, and most ethically-produced backpacking foods available.
Simple Squares are organic, gluten-free snack bars made with 6 simple ingredients. Their herb and spice flavors are unique and very tasty. A number of flavors are available. Try their new Cinnamon Clove bars. We dig them!
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Outdoor Herbivore makes delicious one-pot dried meals. All their products are vegetarian, low sodium, and almost all ingredients are certified organic, from US farms. www.outdoorherbivore.com
Planning food for five months is challenging. We don’t want to be hungry, but we don’t to lug around a lot of extra food either. Because we’ll be mailing ourselves food, we need to calculate ahead of time exactly how much food to put in each box. This could make for a difficult shopping trip. Luckily, math is on our side.
Preparing food for a five month journey is daunting. The photo below was taken while preparing for a one month trek in the Australian outback with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Looks kind of intimidating, right? NOLS made our meal decisions for us — we just had to repackage the food. Prior to our PCT thru-hike, we have a lot more decisions to make and work to do. We need to figure out when we will mail food boxes to local post offices (vs. buying food from a local grocery store), what food we want to eat (best nutrition, taste, and cost), and how much of each item to bring. Once we have those questions answered we will embark on a massive grocery trip. And finally, we will repackage items into smaller containers, and fill shipping boxes with our meals.
I’ve decided to tackle the food planning challenge bit by bit. Here I’ll discuss thru-hiker nutrition.
Anna (with short hair!) surveying a month's worth of backpacking food for her trek in Australia
When backpacking, as with any exercise, you burn more calories than when you are sedentary, so you need to consume additional calories to maintain a high energy level and keep a neutral weight. Reading the NOLS Cookery book and various websites, I determined that 4,000 calories per person per day is about right for our daily hiking mileage, temperature ranges, and trip duration.