The National Outdoor Leadership School estimates that backcountry travelers burn between 2,500 and 4,500 calories per day, depending on their individual physiology and their activity. That translates into roughly 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. of food per day.
Factors to Consider
- Taste—Eat what you like. Don’t try and convert your taste buds to new types of food deep in the backcountry.
- Calories—Don’t inaugurate a diet program during a multi-night hike. You’ll need ample calories (and water!) to fight off fatigue and headaches.
- Nutrition—It’s fine to tear into a candy bar during a trip, but for the long haul you want to rely on complex carbohydrates and proteins. Intelligent quick-eats such as nuts and dry fruits provide a stable flow of energy to your muscles.
- Weight and Bulk—Stick to lightweight and low-bulk foods as much as possible, especially on long journeys.
- Ease of Preparation—Unless you are an experienced gourmet, keep things simple. It’s smart to be well-supplied with no-cook food items in case your stove malfunctions.
- Cost—Convenience has its price. Freeze-dried meals and energy foods can be expensive, but at the end of a long day when your weary body only has enough energy to boil water, such luxuries seem justifiable.