View Full Version : How many days worth of food do you carry?

09-20-2013, 08:33
I guess this question is for you former thru-hikers, but I would be glad to hear input from anybody. How many days worth of food do you carry before resupply (town or mail drop)? Other than the 100 mile wilderness which I know they recommend 7 days worth im trying to study the guide books and determine how many days I will be on trail before I am able to get off for food. I guess I would also have to figure out how many miles between each town or road crossing where I can hitch into town. I would love to hear your thoughts.

09-20-2013, 08:48
There is a pretty helpful, get you started, guide here http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?15-resupply, I used the Thru hike planning spreadsheet, 15 mile plan (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?221-Thru-hike-planning-spreadsheet-15-mile-plan)

link for my thru at first, but gradually weened off of it as I got more used to the hike and what to expect, and how I wanted to hike the trail. It was minorly useful past that point.

09-20-2013, 09:26
I carried 5 days of food... and a jar of peanut butter. Mostly dried stuff.... freeze dried meals and fruit. Early on from Springer to maybe Fontana.... you definitely will not have a problem finding food or getting a shuttle to food if you run low.

Pedaling Fool
09-21-2013, 07:35
I carry no less than 7-days of food, but I've also carried up to two weeks worth. Much more than most on the AT, but I don't stop in towns nearly as much as the average hiker, which use to be no more than 5, but the average seems to be shifting towards ~ 3 days of food.

09-21-2013, 07:57
3 days was typical. In parts of the mid Atlantic I carried almost nothing. The Deli tour was grand.

09-21-2013, 08:01
On the AT, flexibility is the key. There's a very wide range and it depends on your hiking pace. You do need to be able to carry 60 to 100 miles worth at times (and that could be up to ten days for some), but at others you need little more than a picnic lunch if you can hike 30 miles in a day, which some can. I once met a guy hiking 90 miles between resupplies in two days and he carried one dinner, one lunch, and assorted snacks. Are you that guy, or the one taking ten days to hike the hundred mile wilderness?

On the AT, there are some excellent guidebooks and you'll figure out your food needs as you hike. Heading north, there's a store 30-some miles in where you can fine-tune your foodbag if you're off a little--it's pretty safe and easy.

To answer your question, I found I could easily carry about five days worth. That would get me about 100 miles, so I tended to skip towns that required a hitch/shuttle (Hiawassee, Atkins, Front Royal, Rangeley), or were expensive (Kent) or tasteless (Gatlinburg). On average, I carried three to four days, where towns were easy to get to and more frequent, or trail magic appeared.

09-21-2013, 08:49
I carry no less than 7-days of food, but I've also carried up to two weeks worth. Much more than most on the AT, but I don't stop in towns nearly as much as the average hiker, which use to be no more than 5, but the average seems to be shifting towards ~ 3 days of food.

While I'm likely years out from a thru-hike, I find myself thinking along the same lines as you. Resupply when going through a town, but not taking the hours necessary to hitch several miles into a town to resupply. That should significantly increase trail time and reduce # of days to complete.

09-21-2013, 11:18
On my thru, I normally went 3 - 5 days between resupply. More in the 100-M Wilderness. Didn't learn about inexpensive food caching in the Wilderness until I had already left Shaw's (note: it wasn't w/ Shaw's; it was w/ Lake Shore). I definitely would have spent $20 (I think) to half my food weight. I would have been able to knock a day this section of the trail.

Note: I was almost exclusively mail drops for food. Worked pretty good for me for the most part.

09-21-2013, 11:44
I carry 4-6 days of food, depends on the section I am in, such as, I start from Springer MT with 3 days of food and I useally have at least 1 day left when I reach Neel's Gap then I get 2 days of food their that gets me to Hiwassee, then 4 days of food that get's me to Franklin, then 5 days of food that gets me to Fontana Damn, the GSMNP 5 days of food ( I don't go into Gatlinburg ), and I always stop at Standing Bear Hostel to get 2 days of food that gets me to HS, and so on, And I carried 6 days of food through the 100 mile wilderness on both my NOBO thru's, I don't do mail drops I buy 100% of my food along the trail ( in towns ), and it also depends on how many MPD you do I do 20-25+ MPD, the less MPD you do the more food you need to carry.

09-21-2013, 12:27
It obviously depends on how far you plan to hike each day, and where you want to stop to resupply.
You carry what you have to.
Worst possible thing happens, you run low on food and cut your daily amt in half a couple of days.
Its not the end of the world. Most are consuming less on trail than they need anyway. You make up the calories in town.
Or, you hike longer days to arrive at a destination a day earlier.

The less you carry, the faster and farther you can go per day.
I carry food planning for 15-17 mpd average, usually exceed that and end up with food left.
If you are in shape, carry a light pack, and can hike 20 mpd, you need to carry much less than someone that only hikes 10 miles per day.

09-21-2013, 12:39
Two areas in my section hiking stick out as needing lots of food to get by: Pearisburg, VA to Daleville, VA (92 miles) and Susquehanna River, PA to the Lehigh River Bridge, PA (109 miles). It took me 10 days to go from Daleville to Pearisburg and I finished with no food. Thankfully, there was a farmhouse at VA42 selling hiker food that saved me. As for the PA section, yes, you can come down off of the ridge and walk to a town. But there isn't much close to the trail. I did this stretch in 4 different sections.

09-21-2013, 12:48
As for the 100 MW, I only carried 4 days of food. I resupplied at White House Landing about half way through in 2010. They had an adequate selection and the stop there was well worth it.

09-21-2013, 13:57
if you're not doing mail drops, you can just figure it out as you go along. when you hit a town for resupply, you then figure where you would resupply next, then buy the food to get you there. dont overthink it.sometimes you'll carry 2 or 3 days, others 5 or 6.

09-22-2013, 10:27
I rarely carry more than 4 days of food on my 8-10 day AT section hikes. Food weighs a lot (1.5-2 pounds a day) and my knees don't appreciate lugging the extra weight. At the same time, having to waste a day to re-supply can over-complicate a week-long hike. Fortunately, I'm okay with spending my disposable income to facilitate my backpacking exploits (almost a requirement when you've got to fly and shuttle to every trailhead). During my 6-day traverse of GSMNP in October 2012, I arranged for The Hike Inn to meet me at Newfound Gap with a re-supply box halfway through. Expensive, but I didn't have to lug another 5+ pounds of food up Shuckstack or waste most of a day getting in and out of Gatlinburg. It's looking like Maine will be a bit harder to re-supply as often.