View Full Version : how do I eat and carry 4000 calories

Walkie Talkie
03-23-2003, 19:31
I have been trying to prepare my food drops and have purchased all the usual backpacking food and getting a little creative with a few. I plan on 500 calories foe breakfast with oatmeal or cereal bars, and 700 calories for dinner with Mac n Cheese or a lipton noodle. That leaves 2800 to get my 4000 calories in daily. That translates to about 12 candybars or 15 granola bars. Am I way off base with these numbers. Am I really going to have to carry the equivalent of 94 snacks for 7 days. I know I'm simplifying things and I'm not counting gorp or extra margarine but I need to know if people really do carry 4000 calories of food a day or should I try to camel up while in a town. It sames difficult to really camel up on any serious amount of food. I have already purchased the food and I am commited to mail drops so you don't have to recomend buying along the way. Please let me know if my numbers are off base.

Thank you
Walkie Talkie:confused:

03-23-2003, 21:55
Just eat oatmeal, ceral,powdered milk, lipton noodles, cheese, tuna, bread some fruit,snickers bars, gummy bears, pepperoni (in the bag) and some other crap that you like . Then when you get to town load up on beer and maybe a drink of a good scotch (single malt) now and then. Youll be fine!!

SGT Rock
03-23-2003, 23:03
The secret to lots of calories and also good eating is olive oil. Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone. Well, on second thought, tell everyone.

Olive oil is a mono unsaturated fat so it actually reduces bad colesterol and chance of heart desease and may even reduce your chance of cancer if some of the new research is correct.

But besides all that, olive oil weighs .92 ounces in weight for each fluid ounce, and has 240 callories per ounce. Think of all that stuff like oatmeal grits, pastas, etc. Why do they taste like paste even after adding water? Because the oils are also dried out of them. Adding oil back in tastes great and gets the callories in. Imagine adding 1 ounce at breakfast, 1 ounce at lunch, and a couple at dinner - that is 3.7 ounces in weight, but almost 1000 callories. If you look at the rest of your food with a goal of about 100 callories per pack ounce - then you can hit 4000 calories with a pack weight of approximately 34 ounces every day. Because everything has nutrition lables, it isn't hard to figure out.

But besides being dense in calories, being good for you (even the Vegans love it), it tastes great. Try Spanish extra virgin olive oil.

Sleepy the Arab
03-24-2003, 00:04
My solution was simple. I cooked and ate hikers who were about to leave the trail. Yeah, you all thought they went home, didn't ya? Absolutely deee-licious and enough food for four Lehigh Gaps, two Mahoosuc Notches and an Albert Mountain! Vrooom!

03-24-2003, 08:30
In addition to oatmeal for breakfast, add more calories with a bagel or granola bars or breakfast bars.

In addition of Mac & Cheese, add an oil or fat at 240 calories per ounce.

Do a lunch with peanut butter (Jiff Cholate Silk Smooth Sensations) on pita bread, bagels or pilot crackers. Or eat cheese.

Snack on Gorp or snickars bars whenever the urge hits you. Nuts are great.

That should get you 4000 calories per day. In addition, you will want to pig out in town to make up for any calorie defeciet.

SGT Rock
03-24-2003, 10:04
If you hate peanut butter like me, try Nutella. It is VERY calorie dense and tastes great.

03-24-2003, 14:51
I don't think I've heard anyone mention how some people lose their appetite on the first few day's of serious hiking. I've heard it explained as your body going into "fight or flight"response and living off it's own reserves, I had this happen last year. Appetite comes back with a vengence though.

03-24-2003, 15:53
Hey folks, MM here. I've been lurking for a while as I'm planning my own thru-hike beginning March next year. Great info here.

I've heard Doctors explain that dehydration is often the cause of lost appetite, especially early in a backpacking trip. Alot of body water has to be diverted to the stomach for digestion. If your low on water the body decides against making you feel hungry, you actually feel like you'd rather not eat. I guess after a week of calories debt, the need for food starts to outweigh dehydration. The moral - drink drink drink, it'll help you in many ways.

03-24-2003, 17:42
Good point MM, being a Greenhorn I think I carried more water than I drank!

03-25-2003, 14:36
MM, interesting point about dehydration, although a little at odds with the beliefs that people tend to eat/snack when they're really thirsty and having a stomach full of water reduces your overall appetite. For me as a once-a-year section hiker, I think it just has a lot to do with the sudden spurt in prolonged activity combined with a change in menu, although it's a constant battle to keep fully hydrated even though I'm taking in much more water than usual.

04-26-2003, 09:52
I think few thru-hikers eat 4,000 calories when they are actually on the trail. Myself, I ate as much as I reasonably wanted to carry, then pigged out when I was getting more supplies in town. I think that can make a big difference.

One way or another, most thru-hikers lose a lot of weight.

04-26-2003, 21:23
Just last week showed some thru's the magical olive oil...dumped it into the spanish beans/rice to keep me warm through the night....but an added benefit...say you are to drink (beer,liquor,wine) and you dont want to loose your ability,,,drink a tablespoon of olive oil (or wesson oil), it will coat the stomach and drastically reduce the amount of alcohol that is absorbed through the stomach, alcohol is metabolised via first order kinetics by alcohol dehydrogenase and if you can prevent the mass abs. from the stomach where 90 percent of it is absorbed you can also drastically reduce its effects...important if on a date!

04-27-2003, 13:00
I'm thru-hiking the Metacomet-Monadnock trail (about 120mi) in massachusetts/new hampshire (in 20days I can't wait!), and I purchased the following for food.

- Pack of Cream of Wheat w/Spices
- Little Debbie Chemical Brownie
- 1oz Dried Fruit
- Centrum Vitamin

- King Size Snickers or King Size Almond Symphony Bar

- Slice of real whole grain bread
- 2oz Teddy Bear Extra Chunky Peanut Butter
- Half Box (Bagged) Crackers (or as many as I can eat)
- 1oz Dried Fruit
- 1oz Smoked Almonds

- Crunchy Granola Bar

- Liptons/Pasta with Knorr Sauce/Instant taters with stuffing & gravy
- 2fl oz Sicilian Cold Pressed Olive Oil
- 3oz Foil Pack of Sweet Sue Chicken
- Little Debbie Chemical Cake w/Chemical Frosting

In addition, I carry parmesean cheese & real maple syrup when available. First day out obviously consists of grinders/pizza/chicken fingers/etc., and some fruit. Sometimes I bring extra olive oil and a head of garlic in stead of the Knorr Sauce. I also have chili flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, salt, garlic & onion powder.

04-27-2003, 14:50
Just a thought...

You might want to take your vitamin with Dinner. You are eating many more fats for dinner, so the goodies in the pill should be absorbed better.

04-28-2003, 11:06
For those of you who think that you can't carry enough food to maintain body weight during a thruhike, recall that Brian Robinson started and ended his trip at 155 pounds. He evidently was able to carry enough food to maintain weight, despite averaging a little over 30 miles a day for 10 months.

Blue Jay
04-28-2003, 12:36
Yes, but Brian is a robot. A little WD40 and he's good to go.

04-28-2003, 15:04
I don't think robots can grow a beard, though.

04-28-2003, 15:50
I believe I read somewhere that brian lived on Ramen Noodles, Mac & Cheese, & Snicker Bars.
Personally, I hate Mac & Cheese and I overdosed on Ramen before the age of 12. I do like Snicker Bras though :D

Oh, I guess he constantly took FLintstone Vitamins too, I go for the Centrum brand.

04-28-2003, 16:00
The Flintstone vitamins story is true. However, he did say during his Gathering 02 seminar on how to average 30 miles a day that he ate good dinners and had junk food for lunches, although he did have some good stuff mixed in. With dinners he added 1/4 cup of olive oil for a caloric boost. Apparently, he would load up the pockets in his jacket or pants or shorts with all the food they could carry and just eat as he went.

05-28-2003, 21:16
I know this may sound wierd but, do you guys know of those little food things that suck the air out of food? Well if you do...I am wondering...if say I bought some can food...speghetti o's let say an didnt heat them just stuck em in one of those bags an sucked the air out of them...shouldnt they be good to go same as in the can? And what else seems like it would be ok if sealed in one of these bags? My mother has one an I want her to send me food...:) I just dont want to carry around a heavy can...

05-29-2003, 08:26
that weighs anything. An empty can weighs a few ounces. It's all the water in the canned food that weighs you down. I think you'll find it very difficult to carry multiple days of hydrated food.

05-29-2003, 16:40
: / better thatI know now than find out later...:( thankies

06-01-2003, 19:31
I ate just about all of the foods the previous posters mentioned. After hiking for weeks on end you will learn what you need and how much. You will get hungry and you will lose weight. Just don't get to carried away with planning, especially food drops. Foods you like in GA/NC will be very unappealing the farther north you get. There would be nothing worse then spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on food you may not want to eat. Many of my fellow thru-hikers in 97 ended up throwing half if not all of their food drops in hiker boxes along the way because they got sick of the same food. In 1997 I just about had no trouble resupplying anywhere along the trail. Six plus years later it should be even easier. Oh well just my thoughts, hike your hike and good luck.

First time posting, great site.

06-01-2003, 19:50
You know. I think Ill take that advice. :) I plan on having enough money to buy what I need mostly. So I think I will research some foods I can have dropped in case I need to carry non perishables. :-?

06-03-2003, 15:21
a wee dram of that single malk speyside... mmmm... i see you can get lightweight plastic hipflasks.. what do you carry your whisky in Virginian?? mmm a Sigg fuel bottle loaded with whisky.. now that would be a treat on the West Highland Way in october!! :)

07-08-2003, 12:45
I suggest GHEE, clarified butter. It wont go rancid. Its semi solid and so there wont be any leakage like oil. And hey! butter isnt exactly lo cal.

08-07-2003, 18:35
My friend Uncle (PA-ME 2000) told me (while pickin' blueberries on the flanks of Mt Everett) "Little Bear, there isn't a single thing in this world that isn't made better by adding a little olive oil."

Gotta agree with him.

09-11-2003, 08:44
don't forget about dehydrating your foods for mail drops. If your Mom really wants to make food to send in, this is the way to go.

a 10 oz can of chicken is now about 2 ounces, 6 oz of tuna is now 1.5. I did up about 5lbs of roma tomatoes yesterday and they're down to about 3 oz and fit in a sandwich baggie. You can vacuum pack these for longer shelf (or pack) life, if you want to.

Pick up or borrow a copy of "Lipsmackin' Backpackin'" by Tim and Christine Connors. It's got some great calorie-loaded recipes (some I'd never have thought of on my own-- I'm more a "ramen and mixed veggies" type of gal).

Rain Man
09-11-2003, 11:36
Originally posted by Dirty_Wabbit
I know this may sound wierd but, do you guys know of those little food things that suck the air out of food? Well if you do...I am wondering...if say I bought some can food...speghetti o's let say an didnt heat them just stuck em in one of those bags an sucked the air out of them...shouldnt they be good to go same as in the can?...

"Food Savers" don't work with wet foods, only dry. The liquid would get sucked out with the air... and ruin the Food Saver.

Now,.. if you froze the wet food.....

Rain Man

09-11-2003, 12:22
Canning works by heating up all the food to kill the badies, then sealing it in that state. If you open up a can, or whatever, and then reseal it, you are allowing bacteria and other things access to the food. Since vacuum sealing it doesn't kill that bacteria, you could be exposing yourself to some pretty nasty stuff. One baterium can make many bacteria given time...

Gravity Man

09-11-2003, 15:08
my plan for resupplying (and this discussion can go elsewhere in another thread, should the need arise) is to make up a half dozen or so drops of foods that I know I like and have those shipped in. My "at home" person will play it by ear from there-- I'm leaving some money at home for just that reason. This way I can taylor my tastes along the way, or have it mailed in with fresher (though still dried) foods. I'm also buying "too heavy to mail" foods (peanut butter) and perishables (tortillas) along the way

Another good luck thing that I have on my side is that our peach trees gave a bumper crop this year, and a relative works at a large fruit market. I'm getting as many apples, pears, tomatoes, etc. as possible from her for making into snacks and dinners.

I have a big list of recipes to package up. If I DID decide to premake all my dinners I'd eat each one no more than twice all summer. This would work out well if I decide I don't like something, I don't have weeks and weeks of the same thing to look at.

I also just graduated, so I'm pretty used to the steady diet of noodles and sauce (except at my last apartment-- a mouse got into all my Lipton dinners--- I hope you're peeing lemonade you little *&@#$^%!

09-11-2003, 15:43
I have to say, that's the best plan. It's a lot of work, which is why I would shy away from it, but it seems like you are happy to do it, so more power to you. I think you will be very happy with it. As long as the stuff you are drying turns out good, you will be happy you have it.

Anything extra from a maildrop can be bounced ahead. Keep that in mind...

Also check out Jack's resupply advice, as that will let you plan out things a bit more in detail. Just look for places that don't have a good resupply point, like Fontana Dam : http://ubmail.ubalt.edu/~dhaynes/baltimorejackarticle.html

Gravity Man

09-11-2003, 16:21
Home drying your meals works very, very well indeed. If you can come up with 7 or 10 different meals, that might be enough variety. I would still plan a few places to buy in towns. Keeps things fresh and different.

A bag of dried vegetables helps a lot with Liptons, Ramen, Mac and Cheese, etc. Onions, peppers, celery, carrots, zuccini, etc, work really well. Potatoes absolutely, positively, do not work well. It takes a while, but dry up a gallon zip lock bag. Take out about a pint at a time, putting the rest into a bounce box. Replenish as needed. This adds a minute amount of calories, but a lot of flavor, texture, and fiber.

09-11-2003, 16:30
Our personal food drying was not a good experience. We need more practice, and maybe a better drier. Also, not being in florida might help. Oranges didn't work either. We tended to burn our stuff. We had someone ship us dried veggies from Whole Foods where you can buy it in bulk. A lot easier.

We did have an AMAZING dried indian dinner. Most of the others were terrible.

That's what so good about uberpest's way. If you don't like it, you didn't invest too much money or time. But it is enough to keep your diet varied.

Gravity Man

09-11-2003, 21:55

Have you checked out "Just Tomatoes, etc..." their premade veggie mix has bell peppers but they also sell many different veggies (and tofu) seperately. If looking for mail drop items this may be an option, buying a bunch of different types that you like and making your own mix.

Just Tomatoes, etc... link: http://tinyurl.com/n2u8

Rich T

09-12-2003, 10:39
It was a homemade indian dinner (yes, indian, not Native American. I did my undergrad at Umass amherst. The culture there is VERY sensitive to that :) Some kind of lamb curry if I remember right...

I'm sure we wrote about it in our journals. I'll have to look. I remember where we ate it : Wesser Bald Shelter. We're working on our album (just started after over 2 years. It took us that long to be ready to really think about it again. Too much tough memories about having to leave the trail. Sigh....)

Gravity Man

09-12-2003, 17:59
Dirty Wabbit, I used a vacuum sealer for the first time this summer on a week-long section hike. I cooked bacon and sealed it up and it was perfectly good 10 days later, with no spoiled smell or taste. It also seemed to protect tuna fish (immediately from the can to the bag, so as to not pick up contamination in my kitchen, even air-borne microbes, etc). I can't vouch for more than that, but it seemed to work fine for at least the 10 days between preparation and the end of my hike.

I'd love to know if anyone has more experience with one of these, recipes, techniques, etc.

09-16-2003, 22:33
Originally posted by gravityman
Our personal food drying was not a good experience. We need more practice, and maybe a better drier. Also, not being in florida might help. Oranges didn't work either. We tended to burn our stuff. We had someone ship us dried veggies from Whole Foods where you can buy it in bulk. A lot easier.

Citrus foods in general tend to not work so well since they're mostly water. The best fruits are high in pectin (apples, pears, bananas, peaches, etc).

For some reason the peaches aren't doing well as anything but leathers this year. Well then, I guess I'm eating a lot of peach (or peach blend) leathers next year. The jerkys, meats, and veggies are doing well at least.

I was lucky to have older brothers in Boy Scouts. Mom learned to dry foods in the early 80s for the boys' scouting trips. If I have any questions I can always ask her.

That's what so good about uberpest's way. If you don't like it, you didn't invest too much money or time. But it is enough to keep your diet varied.

Gravity Man


FWIW, potatoes and onions aren't worth doing at home for how cheap they are at the store. Apricots and peaches aren't going to turn out as nice as what you can get at the store, either. I'd stay away from drying eggs at home (though there are a few books that do say it's okay). So far I've had good experience with canned fish and chicken in addition to normal stuff like jerky, veggies, and fruit. Rice and pasta can be cooked at home, dried, and then reconstituted on the trail by cooking for half the original time (sometimes you only need to let them soak in water to rehydrate). Refried beans look like grapenuts when dried, but rehyderate perfectly for burritos and such (just remember to NOT season at home and to keep them as far from anything with spice in it... or you might end up with apple-cinnamon flavored beans, something I learned the hard way).