West Coast Trail

5:22 p.m. on August 4, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi everyone. I'll be leaving in a few weeks to hike BC's West Coast Trail which is planned to take anywhere from 7-10 days. I'm having trouble with what to bring for food. Does anyone have any tips on what to bring that will keep our nutrition level up and our weight down?

5:04 p.m. on August 5, 2007 (EDT)
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If you skip the food,your weight will go down. Oh, wait, that isn't what you meant (a backpack trip isn't a good place to go on a diet ;))

I wouldn't worry too much about nutrition on a 7-10 day trip, at least if you are in good health. You won't need to spend a lot of time worrying about the vitamins and minerals for that short a trip. When you get up beyond the 2 week length, then nutrition becomes more of a concern.

Just be sure you get a good balance of the basics - carbs (complex, you will burn lots of calories, but complex carbs keep you more sustained than pure sugar or honey), protein (at all meals, since the proteins take longer to feed the calories in, plus help sustain the muscle tone), and a modicum of fats (don't overdo this, since fats are harder to digest, even though they provide lots of calories - vegetable oils work better than animal fats for the digestion - nothing worse than an upset stomach on a backpack).

One thing I add to the usual backpack food is lots of dried fruits. This will add fiber, as well as some of the vitamins and minerals. One of the problems with freezedry foods is that, although they are light weight and easy to prepare, they are highly refined and have virtually no fiber. You want your digestive system to be working right when you are out more than a couple days.

One of the big problems with freeze dry is that almost all brands have way too much salt, which makes you more thirsty. And a lot are overly spiced (sez the Old GreyBeard who grew up eating highly spiced foods, including jalapenos and habaneros straight off the vine). Sooo, you can do the equivalent in weight by putting together meals on your own - instant rice, angel hair pasta, etc for the carbo, the tuna, chicken, salmon, turkey, that is packed in foil packets, then add some of the freeze dry vegetables, plus dried fruit. Oatmeal with raisins, freezedried blueberries/strawberries/other fruits and maybe a touch of brown sugar, plus jerky (for the protein to keep you going through the day) for breakfast.

Then again, you could do the expensive thing and buy freezedry (but try the various flavors at home - you might not like some of them).

5:26 p.m. on August 5, 2007 (EDT)
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I think when anyone is planning a hiking or camping trip and can't decide what to bring, they ought to take Bill S.

He might add about 150 lbs to your pack, but you will never get lost, hungry or bored.

Bear Grissle had to learn his techniques somewhere and yup, you guessed it...Bill S was there.

5:34 p.m. on August 5, 2007 (EDT)
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You might also take a look at Lipton/Knorr "Sides".

These are in the "packaged food" section of the market, come in a whole bunch of different flavors and are easy to cook. Most of them just require being brought to a boil with two cups of water and 1 Tbsp of oil or butter (optional), a short simmer (also optional) and then letting sit for 5-10 minutes (I use a pot cozy for this stage). Some of the recipes ask for milk; if so, I just add 1/3 cup of dried milk to the mix. I also spruce them up by adding freeze dried chicken, turkey or beef or home dried hamburger, Portobello mushrooms, garlic and chile flakes (use jalepeño flakes rather than habeñero flakes unless your tongue is well trained). Typically, one package will provide about 600-800 calories; a good feed for one, sparse for two.

I always rebag the stuff and add the directions clipped from the package to the new bag. This saves weight and bulk and allows you to add the amendments at home rather than in camp.

You can also cook "Sides" in a freezer bag and avoid having to do dishes; just pour 2 cups of boiling water into the bag, zip it shut, insulate and let sit for ten minutes or so and dig in. Sometimes the noodles are a bit crunchy done this way.

There are at least 16 different meals in the "Sides" line and all of them are a lot cheaper than any freeze-dried dinner. And, you get more food too!

10:09 p.m. on August 11, 2007 (EDT)
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I second Pika's suggestion for Lipton/Knorr "Sides". They're tasty, and nutritious too!

If you like this sort of thing, you might also check out the "ethnic foods" section of your grocery store. When I went camping last weekend I had a thai noodle dish - which is made in the same way as the Lipton products. It was very tasty (though I was a little concerned, sleeping in bear country with spicy food on my breath - maybe I'm too bear-paranoid:).

December 22, 2014
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