An essential issue when you’re gonna be out for days is your food and how you’re gonna cook it. The more days you’ll be spending on the trail, the more food you’ll need. You can of course bring both pots and frying pans together with all ingredients you need to cook your dinner from scratch. But if you’re gonna be out for days and on top of that, also gonna walk long distances with your pack every day, its a smart move to try to keep the weight and volume down to a minimum.
Just as when you’re at home, its good to eat often and regularly. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, together with some snacks in between. But it’s also important to adapt it after your own hiking. Take me for example, I’m eating a big breakfast, then I’m just filling up with energy (nuts, chocolate, bars, fruits) during the day when I feel like and then I’ll have a big dinner when I’ve put up my tent in the evening. I also eat something simple, just before I’m going to sleep. But I always bring something that I can have for lunch if I want to one day. Like if it’s going to be bad weather during the day, it can be nice to stop and make some lunch and get protection from the rain. Well, basically it’s the same as with everything else, try out what works best for you on shorter trips first.
Theres many different kinds of stoves. There’s the old fashioned Trangia stove that runs on alcohol, but its quite big and heavy. The alcohol also weights a lot itself. Then there’s the alternative to cook over open fire, but for that you need dry wood and a safe place to make your campfire upon (and that it is not prohibited at the time for your hike). But if this isn’t a problem, or if a Trangia stove is what you got, then just go for it.
I use a gas stove and I really recommend that. For that you need a gas canister and a small burner that you screw on top of the canister. I also have a wind shield and a lightweight pot with folding handles and a lid. I only boil water in the pot, so I also bring a cup/bowl made of soft plastic in which I cook my food.
Freeze dried food is with no doubt the easiest way of cooking on the trail. You don’t have to carry the water that normal food contains, which saves you both weight and volume in your pack, but its also very easy to cook. You just boil water and then pour it over the food, stir and wait till it’s done.
You can buy ready made freeze dried meals in store. They are great but they cost some money, so an alternative is to make your own at home. Walk around in your grocery store, what kind of dried food do you find? Dried tomatoes, mushrooms, fruit, nuts, milk powder, noodles, soup, bouillon cubes, spices, sausages etc. You can also dry your own food in your oven. Let your imagination flow and experiment at home. When you come up with a good recipe, just mix the ingredients, put them in a zip lock bag, press the air out and zip it. Once you’re out and it’s time to eat, pour over the ingredients in a bowl/cup together with boiled water, stir and wait, like you do with the ready made meals. If you want to get tips on recipes, you’ll find some here.
Coffee is important for many and for some reason the outdoor stores suggest us to bring a coffee pot. Instant coffee is much easier. Take as much you think you’ll need and keep it in double small plastic bags.
Nuts, raisins or other dried fruit are good options for snacks, but also energy bars. A good bar for hikers is snickers! What’s most important is that you bring something you like and won’t get tired of so that you really eat the energy when you need it!
To think of
At home there are many of us who try to keep to a low calorie diet. On a hike you need to think the opposite way. When you’re walking almost all day and carrying a heavy pack you burn a lot of calories, so you’ll need much more calories than you do a day at home. So try to find food that is high in calories, but don’t forget the proteins, salts and fats as well. A tip is to bring a small plastic bottle of olive oil. It contains about 85kcal/tablespoon, so it’s an easy way to add extra calories and it will also make your food taste better!