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Meal planning for 9-day backpacking trip

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  • Meal planning for 9-day backpacking trip

    I don't consider myself an endurance athlete. In fact, I've never really considered myself an athlete at all. Altho, I suppose if I'm going to schlep a 40+-pound pack 114 miles over 9 days thru the Olympic National Park, I'll be needing some real endurance. I'm looking at 12-18 miles per day, big elevation gains, a rest day at a hot springs in the middle.

    I am so not new to hiking, but I am new to hiking and being Primal. As I just posted in my 30-day Challenge Journal, I've never given nutrition a thought beyond having snacks and dehydrated gourmet 2-person meals in my pack. That won't work this time, for obvious reasons, and I don't have the money to buy Paleo-paks, nor the desire.

    I will be dehydrating and packing my own meats, vegetables, and powdered sauces to use as dinner food on the trail. Breakfast will be the customary coffee with powdered whole milk rather than fancy half-n-half. I'll have daily multi-vites and fish oil pills as I do every day, and protein powder with more powdered whole milk to mix up in pure fresh mountain water. I'll pack dried local strawberries, cherries and blueberries with almonds and coconut flakes for a bit of extra snacky carbs each day.

    From all that I can measure out my macro-nutrient profiles on Fitday, but how do I set my goals? Where do I set them? I'll need to know how much to bring each day. I suspect that my normal intakes would not be sufficient, or balanced to my needs.

    My normal every day patterns involve 100-120 g of protein/day, as much fat as I can shove in my face, and around 50-80 g carbs/day. I'm 6'4", 215# (235# 3 months ago, woot!), generally moderately active, and rather healthy. Day-hiking and backpacking are my passion.

    I did a thru hike once before where I relied heavily on a pemmican I made. In hindsight, it was good enough to use as a back-up, but I now know I need variety in my meals, especially over such a long period of time. I didn't have a good experience that time, my energy and mood crashed 2 days from the end of my 6-day hike, and I have since gone back to pre-packaged meals, begrudgingly accepting the discomfort that they entail. It's a new season, I want to maintain my discipline, and I am looking to maintain my energy levels on my longest hike ever.

    I could use some advice here folks - how far up do I boost my macros?

    Grok on.

  • #2
    In late August I'm planning to walk the west highland way. I'm pretty new to hiking but I plan on taking lot's of nuts, pemmican/jerky and tinned fish (sardines).

    I would appreciate some more experienced help too!


    • #3
      Hi MattyD - where's the West Highland Way? I'll have to go look that up...

      Let me tell you, from my experience, variety is very important. That end-of-the day meal is a major part of the day, just like it is at home - and, just like at home, you need to mix it up. a few years back, I did a similar hike to what I am planning now, and I was very strict about the primal diet, and I did just exactly what you did. I took lots of nuts and seeds and dried fruits, homemade pemmican and jerky. I also dried a selection of vegetables. Fish didn't yet come in those handy foil paks that they do now, so I didn't have any fish.

      My first few days were fine. By day five, however, I was bored with eating and off my food altogether. I had an incredibly blue and lazy day, and didn't bother to eat anything more than trail mix the next day. I cut my trip short the next day, missing the best part of my trip (all of which I am taking care of on this next hike).

      This is solely my experience. I do draw a definite connection between my diet, my mood, and my motivation to continue my hike, however, and I am taking it as a lesson learned the hard way. I would urge you to take pains to consider in detail your needs with an eye to creating some interesting dishes. (Tip: Dehydrating can be your best friend.)

      One other lesson I have learned over the past year: protein is essential. I have learned to pack foil-pak tuna, oysters, and even tinned sardines while out on my 20+ mile day-hikes. When I keep up with the protein, the pain is much reduced. When I keep up on the fat, my energy and stamina levels are much increased.

      All that is to say, yes, advice would be good.

      Unless someone recommends otherwise, I'm planning to consume at least 100g/day of protein, up to 150g/day. That's a lot of food, and I can't imagine trying to eat that in dried meat and nuts, so I'll be bringing along a whey protein isolate powder. Fat is another toughie. I'm not doing pemmican this time, so I'll get my fat from home-made primal-friendly dried sauces using dried whole milk, dried coconut milk, dried butter and my every day fish oil supplements. Coconut flakes will be a major component of my trail mix, along with home-dried cherries, blueberries and huckleberries, and strawberries, along with almonds and various seeds. I won't bother to count the grams per day on the fat, but it eyeballs to around 80+g/day or better. My carbs will remain low, proportionally speaking, coming from the dried fruit. All of these numbers will be far in excess of my daily at-home consumption.

      Unless someone has better advice, cuz I'm open to that. :-)