Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

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Word Nerd
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Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Word Nerd » September 10th, 2017, 6:40 pm

The two times I have gone backpacking, I have run into a problem that I am hoping some of you more experienced hikers will have some ideas to fix. After the first day on the trail, food starts to taste different - worse - and even causes me to feel sick to my stomach when I am only halfway through what I need to eat for energy. We generally try to have oatmeal for breakfast, snack every couple of hours all day, and a hot meal (made with the Jet Boil) for dinner. As a medical necessity, I must maintain a gluten free and dairy free diet, so my options for packaged foods are very limited. On my backpacking trip in August, I found that sugary items caused the least problems (skittles, homemade rice crispy treats...), dried meats were pretty good, and I did great with cornbread/muffin mix that I cooked pancake style in the Jet Boil skillet at dinner. However, trail mix, meal replacement bars, nut butters... all turned to sawdust in my mouth and I could not get enough protein! Over the four days we were on the Timberline Trail, I lost over four pounds. This is clearly not something I could keep up on a longer trail and keep my energy up.

As an aside, I believe I stayed hydrated, although I needed far more electrolyte mix than I thought I would. (Probably because my body was craving food!)

So, does anyone have ideas of how to stay well-fed on the trail? Any ideas why I have such a hard time eating on the trail? What are your favorite things to take on a backpacking trip?

Thanks in advance for any ideas or been-there-done-that experience!

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justpeachy
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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by justpeachy » September 11th, 2017, 6:28 am

If you haven't already, I would definitely talk to your doctor about this. There could be some other issue other than your gluten and dairy intolerance. Also, if you have a sensitive digestive system and the types of food you eat on the trail are REALLY different than the types of food you eat normally (which is usually the case), that could explain your tummy's revolt.

You'd have to check the gluten and dairy part, but I highly recommend Mary Janes backpacking foods. I also hear Outdoor Herbivore is good.
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retired jerry
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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by retired jerry » September 11th, 2017, 6:40 am

After a trip I usually lose some weight, maybe 4 pounds, but I gain it all back within a couple days. I think I just eat less (or eat too much normally) so there's that much extra weight in my digestive system. Maybe some water in my system too.

I eat oatmeal, whole wheat cookies with fruit and nuts (sort of equivalent to trail mix), chocolate, beef jerky, cheese, dehydrated soup with beans/veges, raisins. I used to eat Mountain House dinners but they're so huge and became unappetizing to me for some reason.

Word Nerd
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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Word Nerd » September 11th, 2017, 6:45 am

justpeachy wrote:If you haven't already, I would definitely talk to your doctor about this. There could be some other issue other than your gluten and dairy intolerance. Also, if you have a sensitive digestive system and the types of food you eat on the trail are REALLY different than the types of food you eat normally (which is usually the case), that could explain your tummy's revolt.

You'd have to check the gluten and dairy part, but I highly recommend Mary Janes backpacking foods. I also hear Outdoor Herbivore is good.
Thanks for the recommendations. I have been working with a few doctors for several years, and I think at this point I have been tested for everything known to man, LOL. I do think there might be something to the drastic change in diet since I normally eat all fresh foods and lots of veggies. That is hard to do when backpacking!

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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Word Nerd » September 11th, 2017, 6:51 am

retired jerry wrote:I eat oatmeal, whole wheat cookies with fruit and nuts (sort of equivalent to trail mix), chocolate, beef jerky, cheese, dehydrated soup with beans/veges, raisins. I used to eat Mountain House dinners but they're so huge and became unappetizing to me for some reason.
Those Mountain House dinners look unappetizing to me and I have never had one or many to get sick of them! :lol:

I did find a freeze dried chili from Alpine Aire (Black Bart Chili) that was actually really good, but we had it our third night out and I couldn't finish my portion. Not that my husband minded finishing mine as well as his!

I was thinking about cookies. I think I could make some that would have the nutrition I need, but wondered about keeping them from getting crushed. Do you just not worry about that, or do you have a container you like to use to keep them whole?

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retired jerry
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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by retired jerry » September 11th, 2017, 7:28 am

I place my cookies at the top of my pack where they don't get crushed. And when they do get crushed they become trail mix :)

https://www.packitgourmet.com/ has a lot of dehydrated veges. I concoct my own mix. I cook my own beans and they dry them. Add from packitgourmet peppers, tomatoes,... The local grocery has dried onions. Also they have dried tomatoes and some others. Sometimes I dry my own. I bring 8 ounces water to rolling boil, then turn off, throw in the dried stuff, stir, put on lid, let sit 15 minutes while I eat other stuff.

You don't get some of the nutrients like vitamin C, but a lot survives the drying process.

I'm into the concept that half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, not always successful but get close. Fruits and veges are 90%+ water. I'll have maybe 1.5 ounces dried beans, and 0.33 ounce each dried onion, tomato, pepper. I add 0.5 ounces olive oil to the beans. When I cook the beans (before drying them) I add oregano, salt, pepper, maybe chili flakes. So, that's 3 ounces total.

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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Word Nerd » September 11th, 2017, 8:54 am

retired jerry wrote:I place my cookies at the top of my pack where they don't get crushed. And when they do get crushed they become trail mix :)

https://www.packitgourmet.com/ has a lot of dehydrated veges. I concoct my own mix. I cook my own beans and they dry them. Add from packitgourmet peppers, tomatoes,... The local grocery has dried onions. Also they have dried tomatoes and some others. Sometimes I dry my own. I bring 8 ounces water to rolling boil, then turn off, throw in the dried stuff, stir, put on lid, let sit 15 minutes while I eat other stuff.

You don't get some of the nutrients like vitamin C, but a lot survives the drying process.

I'm into the concept that half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, not always successful but get close. Fruits and veges are 90%+ water. I'll have maybe 1.5 ounces dried beans, and 0.33 ounce each dried onion, tomato, pepper. I add 0.5 ounces olive oil to the beans. When I cook the beans (before drying them) I add oregano, salt, pepper, maybe chili flakes. So, that's 3 ounces total.
Thanks, Retired Jerry!

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jdemott
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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by jdemott » September 11th, 2017, 9:42 am

Rather than thinking about trail food as being something completely different from your regular diet (e.g., snaking on trail mix), maybe the best way to approach it is to think about ways to enjoy something as close to your regular diet as possible while on the trail. For example, if you usually have eggs for breakfast at home, then switching to oatmeal on the trail might be a mistake and you might want to try some sort of eggs on the trail . Or if you have a banana at home, bring some dried banana chips. Obviously, you can't have fresh foods on the trail but there are a lot of options for dried foods, particularly if you are willing to try drying your own.

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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Chazz » September 11th, 2017, 9:53 am

retired jerry wrote: https://www.packitgourmet.com/ has a lot of dehydrated veges. I concoct my own mix. I cook my own beans and they dry them. Add from packitgourmet peppers, tomatoes,... The local grocery has dried onions. Also they have dried tomatoes and some others. Sometimes I dry my own. I bring 8 ounces water to rolling boil, then turn off, throw in the dried stuff, stir, put on lid, let sit 15 minutes while I eat other stuff.

You don't get some of the nutrients like vitamin C, but a lot survives the drying process.

I'm into the concept that half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, not always successful but get close. Fruits and veges are 90%+ water. I'll have maybe 1.5 ounces dried beans, and 0.33 ounce each dried onion, tomato, pepper. I add 0.5 ounces olive oil to the beans. When I cook the beans (before drying them) I add oregano, salt, pepper, maybe chili flakes. So, that's 3 ounces total.
Consider a cold rehydration strategy followed by heating when you are ready to eat. I've known several people who use a peanut butter container or one of the gatorade screw-top containers to start re-hydrating their evening meal a couple hours before dinner time. Saves on fuel (boiling) and allows greater flexibility with a variety of dehydrated vegetables, legumes, meats, etc.

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Re: Eating on the Trail - Recommendations?

Post by Aimless » September 11th, 2017, 10:26 am

Some change of appetite is normal when your rate of exertion is much higher than normal, but what you described sounds rather beyond the usual.

I found that sugary items caused the least problems (skittles, homemade rice crispy treats...), dried meats were pretty good, and I did great with cornbread/muffin mix that I cooked pancake style

This sounds like your body was mostly asking for very easy-to-digest calories, mostly carbohydrates. Apparently , it wanted fuel that it could transform and burn with the least possible work. On fairly short hikes of less than a week, I wouldn't get too hung up on proteins as long as you consume adequate calories and get some fiber so your gut doesn't slow to a crawl.

I was thinking about cookies. I think I could make some that would have the nutrition I need

I think this is a fine idea, in that you could tailor them to your preference and try them out at home prior to relying on them on a backpack. In fact, this kind of pre-hike experimentation could apply to everything you might want to eat on a backpack. Your body, being more persnickety than most will probably require more trial and error before you discover what it is willing to accept.

If your normal diet is largely fresh fruit and vegetables, you may want to experiment with freeze-dried fruit and vegetables. These are more expensive than dehydrated/dried versions, but will reconstitute to more closely resemble what your body is used to. You can order #10 cans of freeze-dried vegetables and fruit from beprepared.com for cheaper than most sources, but the big cans are a lot of food at once and don't last forever once you open them. This bulk-buying approach might allow you to experiment extensively with them at home ahead of time, though. Good luck!

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