View Full Version : So, where does the "two pounds a day of food" come from?
I have long read that as the "standard" of what to figure weight-wise for your pack. Where does that come from and what are these people eating - off-trail food???
Or, does it count water or something? I am not near even being considered a lightweight packer, and have my special things I am willing to carry a bit heavier for my happiness BUT, in all of our section hikes, I have looked it up and it has neded up less than ONE pound of food a day for each of us.
Just curious because this year we will be doing a 7/8 day section hike straight with no re-supply etc, which is semi pushing the envelope, but weight-wise we are lucky to be a couple and so in sharing alot of the basics we are covered (maybe that is part of my asnwer actually? I dunno!) and by that standard we should expect to be carrying over 28 pounds of food alone! And I am in earlier stages but in going with my spreadsheet from last year and making some changes, it looks to be more like less than 13 pounds total. Have a mix of 6 MH freeze dried meals for suppers and a couple cooked breakfasts, instant oatmeal, tortellini, Idahoan & stuffing, granola bars and Snickers, gorp, and the like.
Just curious if people count the WATER it takes to rehydrate the dried foods in their weight or what? Two pounds a person a day just seems awful high to me - what is your average??
2 pounds of food a day isn't a hard fast rule, but a good rule of thumb for packing, and it doesn't include water since water is heavy (1.03 ounces per fluid ounce) and you can make 2 pounds of water easy by carrying a little less than a liter of water.
Think of it this way, most dried foods like pasta, oatmeal, grits, etc contain about 90-110 calories per packed ounce. There are other foods that are not so dense that some of us like to carry like foil wraped tuna or chicken, fresh fruit, etc. Anyway, if you figure an average weight of 32 ounces food at 100 callories per ounce, then you get about 3200 calories, about what a hiker will need per day, long distance hikers may need even more to maintain body weight. At 1 pound (16 ounces) the same diet would only provide 1600 calories, less than the average person needs unless they are on Weight Watchers or something. You may be able to sustain this a few days, but on a hike I wouldn't want to do this for more than that.
There are ways to get more calories per ounce, like add fats, but too many fats can give you the runs, so watch out for that. Also, some people can start on about a pound, to a pound and a half for a few days before they trail hunger kicks in, so you might plan for a lower food per day weight until this happens.
Ahh Right, Sarge - it's so funny to try to have my brain switch gears to watching and counting calories and trying to keep it UNDER a certain number for off-trail life, and then switching to the trail mentality and trying ot get it OVER a certain number for then lol! Duh!
For our section hikes of 5-8 days, I guess that doesn't apply as much for now. We seem to get plenty and plan about right so that we don't go hungry (or have lots leftover, we are getting better year by year in packing for food ideally) - and yeah we do like to take a pouch of two of tuna or the like as well. :) Live and learn - I can't wait il we are at the point where we are planning our thru - or at least a good 4-6 week section. Then we will have to change some of our thoughts processes more I reckon!
My wife and I usually run well under two pounds of food a day on our hikes. But, we carry a good deal of freeze dried like you mentioned and that keeps the weight down. From what I see, most longer distance hikers who are resupplying along the way are going to be eating and carrying a lot more "store" food which is quite a good deal heavier. When we try to stock up just from a local grocery store with the typical hiker food our weights come much closer to the two pound/day rule of thumb.
So true, kncats! I imagine that those re-supplying via maildrops packed ahead of time themselves are able to keep their food weight per person per day down alot easier the whole way than those stuck with what they can find at the Pig. Good point! When we do our thru or even longer sections, I also know that we won't want to go with as MUCH of the freeze dried stuff, which I read can bother your tummy after awhile, but for now, they work great for a majority of our cooked meals.
i knew i wuz doing this wrong....i always count on 1lb of food per day! :D
food is the heaviest item in my pack:sun i love to eat:sun neo
How much you eat is really a function of how you hike. During distance hikes, I usually start off consuming around 2-2.5 lbs of high calorie foods. After a few weeks, food consumption jumps to around 3 lbs of food a day. During the deep of summer, if I'm really cranking, it rises to 3.5 lbs of food a day. Given a 3+ day resupply run, that adds up almost to the base weight of my pack.
I think this is where a section hike and a thru-hike truly are different.
The 2 lbs/food (or more) a day guideline is really only relevant for a thru-hiker (a typical, poor, thru-hiker not living on freeze dried MH meals and powerbars). To keep going day after day, thru-hikers just need more food, especially after they've used up their stored fat resereves.
On my long distance hikes I carry two pounds a day, easily. Often more.
On shorter hikes of only a few days I probably could live off my body fat, water and a box of Little Debbie's.:D Because my body is reacts very differently when I'm in major hiking mode than weekender mode. I've experienced both.
How much you eat is really a function of how you hike. During distance hikes, I usually start off consuming around 2-2.5 lbs of high calorie foods. After a few weeks, food consumption jumps to around 3 lbs of food a day. During the deep of summer, if I'm really cranking, it rises to 3.5 lbs of food a day. Given a 3+ day resupply run, that adds up almost to the base weight of my pack.Chris fails to mention that he is waaaay on the right tail of the bell curve. But he is correct that your hiking style will influence what you need to eat.
For my 6-9 day section hikes I average between 1.25-1.5 pounds of mostly freeze-dried or dehydrated food per day (age 47, male, athletic, 12-18 mpd). My appetite actually falls off after the first day and stays suppressed until around Day 12-14 if I'm out that long. Of course, that doesn't keep me from pigging out when I finish up the hike! :banana
True on milage and such. In 2001 I did a longer section hike of about 150 mkiles, and before the hike I had been in the field for two training exercises as well as a stint in Air Assault School. That hike I was eating about 2 pounds of food a day because I was still hungry (I guess) from the other endevours. On more recent section hikes with similar milage my hunger is not nearly as great, I can usually get by with less food. The thing about me is I love to eat, so I always bring such a variety and try to bring some fresh stuff on section hikes so my weight still stays at about 2 pounds of food a day.
As others have said, it depends on how long you are out and what kind of mileage you are doing. One mistake a lot of former AT hikers do is set out on their next trip with a food bag packed as if they were at the end of a thruhike. They end up with a lot of extra food. I sure did, when I hiked the JMT two years after my AT hike. I couldn't even give away all the extra.
For a short trip we'll eat between 1 and 1.5 lbs a day. After a week or so, we start adding more food, then more and more. i.e. in the beginning, one Liptons will feed two of us, after a couple of months, we'll eat two Liptons plus some additional pasta thrown in to add bulk. Also, as Chris noted, when he hikes 30 mpd, he uses a lot more fuel than someone hiking 8 mpd. Sometimes on short trips too, you can be too tired to eat, especially if you're dealing with unaccustomed altitude issues as well. A thruhiker rarely has that problem.
Thanks for all of the insight! :) Really makes perfect sense, don't know why I didn't think of it that way before. For now I will have to continue to think like a Section Hiker, until that day comes, maybe as soon as ten years from now, when we can thru hike. Or in a few years even, if the man can manage that time off from his software engineering job, month at a time sections. Even that would be awesome and give us a better feel of what its REALLY like.
Man by then with all of this knowledge at my fingertips here, I will know it ALL! lol
Hahaha... this was one of those "big lies" I heard before thruhiking. Not that people were deliberately lying, it was just one of those things that turned out to be COMPLETELY untrue for me. I ended up needing 1/2 to 3/4 lb per day, if that. Moral of the story: everyone is different, and what you hear about thruhiking, even if it may apply to most hikers, might not work for you on the trail. Be ready for change and be flexible.
when i go out for a weekend on the trail, my food is closer to 3-4 lbs per day since I dont worry about taking dehyrdated foods or anything. when i go out for a week or more, i would say that my avg food weight would be about 1.5lbs per day (those pop-tarts sure are heavy!) :)
I'm very busily dehydrating food for this year's AT foray, and it saves fuel weight as well as food weight.
2 cans of peas, 1 can of corn and 1 can of carrots weigh 6 ounces when dried! (I just weighed all this stuff)
9 ounces of dried brown rice, when 19 ounces of boiling water is added, becomes 4 cups of wonderful,beautiful seasoned brown rice, just like when you cooked it. Just put it in your pot cozy and wait 20 minutes.
An extreme case: I made the equivalent of 5.5 standard cans of green beans, after being cooked in a little bit of sausage grease and somewhat seasoned, into 4 ounces of crispy critters that'll be really wonderful out on the trail.
My favorite way to get protein is breakfast sausage. A 1 pound tube, cooked, drained and dehydrated weighs 3 ounces.
There's more, but you get the idea. The only way that pays to do maildrops on the trail is to use dehydrated food. You can carry many more days worth at a time, and it's cheaper than any other way you can eat out there.
Frank, soon to re-become Nightwalker
I think you can't compare a section/weekend hiker with a thru-hiker in terms of the amount of food they eat. At the beginning of my thru-hike I was only comsuming a pound of food a day or so. Of course, I was doing 10-12 miles usually. By Virginia, my mileage had increased to 15-20's usually and my food intake increased substantially to a pound and a half of so. By the time I left Virginia, I had lost a lot of my fat reserves and then the hiker hunger kicked in. On the trail, I was at about 2 pounds a day and was still hungry all the time. In towns, I probably ate 3 or 4 pounds of food a day, more if a buffet was included.
Sectioners still have their fat reserves to fall back on after a week or two of hiking, thru-hikers by the 2nd month or so often don't.
I can easily stay under 2 pounds/day if you only count my 3 meals. Where I tip the scale is in the snack area. Ain't no way I can go 20 miles in a day without a more constant supply of fuel. When I stocked up for 4 days during my thru-hike my food bag always weighed at least 8 lbs.
How about others out there. What do you carry for snacks in between meals and how heavy are they.
C'mon ...be honest !!
Yes, I have it all on a spreadsheet. It even counts forpackaging weight ;)
This is what happens when you have too much off trail time on your hands:
Yes, I have it all on a spreadsheet. It even counts forpackaging weight ;)===============================
Food is about the only thing I never calculated that carefully in advance. From years of backpacking experience I knew in general terms what types of food I wanted to carry and roughly what it weighed but once I got on the trail I pretty much forgot about it. Besides ...if I left town with a little more food than I really needed I just up'd my intake for the first couple days to burn it off.
But again ...snacks were my downfall. Those darned Snickers were heavy, but Ahhhh ...so good !!
Footslogger, I tend to agree with that philosophy as well. I like to vary my meals a lot whenever possible, the spreadsheet (http://hikinghq.net/at_stuff/at_menu.html) was more an exercise after the fact of seeing what sort of average trail day menu was giving me by way of calories, packing weight, and nutrition (the one at home also has carbs, fats, and protein listed) to see how close my tastes were getting me to a good diet. The basic framework of a daily meal schedule and diet may change, but it still gave me a good base when hitting the store for re-supply.
Footslogger, I tend to agree with that philosophy as well. I like to vary my meals a lot whenever possible, the spreadsheet (http://hikinghq.net/at_stuff/at_menu.html) was more an exercise after the fact of seeing what sort of average trail day menu was giving me by way of calories, packing weight, and nutrition (the one at home also has carbs, fats, and protein listed) to see how close my tastes were getting me to a good diet. The basic framework of a daily meal schedule and diet may change, but it still gave me a good base when hitting the store for re-supply.==================================
That makes sense. I probably should have looked more into the nutritional aspects myself. I thought you were referring mainly to the weight of the various foods. In retrospect I'll bet I would have had more energy if I had looked into my food content. I pretty much just followed my appetite once I was on the trail.
Thanks for that ...