The other main component required for sustained energy during a back country hike is food. There are several things to consider when packing food for a back country trip.
- Weight – While you will diminish the weight of your pack by eating, you do not want to be weighed down by bottles and cans at the start. Dehydrated prepared meals from reputable camping stores are the likely choice. Most of the major brands will provide two servings, so you can share with a buddy or eat it all if you are really hungry.
- Garbage – What you pack in, you must also pack out. There are no trash cans along back country trails. To avoid tainting your unused food container, pack white plastic kitchen catchers to hold the garbage.
- Nutrition. Hiking uses up a lot of calories and electrolytes. You will need to augment lost calories by consuming a similar amount of calories each day. You also need to replenish your electrolytes. It is not enough to just consume salt. Salt needs sugar to be absorbed.
- Taste – While you should not expect to get the gourmet taste of your life on the trail, food needs to be tasty and satisfying.
- Fuel – Preparing drinking and cooking water and heating water to rehydrate the dehydrated meals consumes fuel. Make sure you bring enough fuel with you.
- Prep time – Prep time varies from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the product. The longer the prep time, the more chance you have that your meal could be interrupted by bad weather, mosquitoes or just plain cut into your hiking time.
Here are some photos and simple reviews of what we took with us.
For hot beverages, pack Carnation Rich and Creamy hot chocolate mix (8 packs to a box). Make sure you get one that you only need to add water to. For coffee, bring along Starbucks Viva instant coffee sleeves (8 to a box). We took two boxes (16 sleeves). The first morning after the 5 rain storm interrupted sleep, we had a double shot. For a tasty treat, mix the two together for Trailer Park Mochas. I picked both these up at Sobeys.
Supper the first night was Spicy Thai Peanut Curry by Backpackers Pantry. This meal is prepared in the bag after removing the freshness sachet, the two pouches of peanut butter and one pouch of peanuts. Squeeze in the peanut butter, add boiling hot water, mix and wait about 15-20 minutes for delicious goodness. Pour into bowls and top with peanuts. Yummy with a good bite, but the rice did not really rehydrate and it was more like a soup, rather than a curry. Dessert was Alpineaire Chocolate Mudslide Pie. For this one, you add cold water, mix and wait for it to set up (kinda like an old Whip and Chill product). The first time we made this (yes, there was a second), we made it in the bag and lets just say squeezing it out into bowls was not a pretty visual. There is a chocolate crumb packet that you add to the top. This one was truly delicious.
Breakfast was the same each morning. Qia gluten free hot cereal. Open bag, pour into bowl, add hot water stir and wait. Add a squeeze of peanut butter (sorry for the visual), stir in and chow down. This will not set the cooking world on fire, but it was nourishing and did not sit too heavy in your stomach. I added a bit of trail mix one morning and on the last day, I had a side of beef jerky, as all of our meals were Vegetarian.
2nd night supper was Backpackers Three Sisters Stew and Alpineaire Three Berry Crumble. This stew surprised us and was possibly our 2nd favourite meal on the hike. Good chunks of veggies with a hearty bean base (just what you want in your tent overnight) and a bit of heat. As to the dessert, do not try to eat from the bag. You will end up with berry jam all up your fingers and if you do not lick it off, a bear will be sure to help you. Sweet, delicious and good berry flavour.
For lunch the next day, after the Hill from Hell, L and I chose Kim Chi Ramen. You can get this at Sobeys. Lots of salt to replace lost electrolytes, good spicy Kim Chi bite and a quick prep time. Just what we wanted. Our companions dined on Mountain House Pasta Primavera. They pronounced it delicious, but they did have to wait the 15-20 minutes for it to be rehydrated.
For our last suppe (that sounds ominous), we had the Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai. It came with packets of peanut butter, sriracha, lime and peanuts. The first three get mixed in and the last is sprinkled on top. This was surprisingly delicious, although, I am not sure many Thai restaurants are serving it this style. We made the Chocolate Mudslide Pie in bowls, thus avoiding the nasty visual from day 1.