The first real multi-day hike I did was the O-Circuit in the Torres del Paine National Park. It lasted around 9 days. I did it with a hiking buddy and we packed some really luxurious food. Sometimes when we cooked some of the other hikers would watch in wonder about what meal we would have that particular night. Most of them just packed essentials to keep the weight of their backpacks low. Most of them were way more experienced (and maybe a bit smarter) than us. Our backpacks were heavy as heck. Most of the weight coming from the kind of food we packed.
I’ve learned a lot since then and do pack different food now. But I still am a bit “unusual” when it comes to what I pack. Most of the people I’ve met during hikes keep it rather simple having dry fast cooked meals, no fresh fruit or veggies. Smart for the weight of the backpack because these definitely aren’t good to pack. As long as my back is strong and my motivation high enough I still hold on to my fresh fruits and veggies strategy, even during longer hikes. Let’s see for how long 😛
That said, when I write the food packing list for a hike, I always try to include some fresh thingies depending on what’s available in the current region. I’ll get more into what exactly in a bit. But before, yes, you heard right, I write a food packing list before each hike. I am usually one of the unorganized kind but I’ve learned that it is quite smart to think in advance about what food and how much is necessary before a hike. Mainly because I’ve had way too many times when I ended up super hungry. This happened due to little to no breakfast packed because I am usually not a breakfast person. When you’re walking in the mountains all day things get a little different though 🙂 Other times I would pack my coffee maker but forget the coffee itself. Nothing hurts more than carrying that thing around for a few days without being able to use it :/
In general, I always make sure I have one good breakfast, a filling dinner and enough snacks for each day with me. That suits my, so far pretty consistent, hiking habits:
Get up → Breakfast → Hike → Snack → Hike → Snack → … → Arrive + Set up camp → Dinner
So, technically a 5 full day hike would require 5 breakfasts, 5 dinners and 5 day snack portions. There is standards that always make the list:
But before I start giving you more details about what foods I pack for each occasion, there’s a couple things worth mentioning:
Now that this is out of the way, let’s have a look at options for breaky:
Keep in mind, that this is just to give you an idea. There is so much variety in hiking food without having to suffer from a heavy backpack. If you have something that you’ve had good experiences with, please pop me a message. I’m always keen on trying out new stuff to keep it interesting 🙂
When it comes to dinner I usually take something like noodles, rice, couscous, quinoa, polenta or similar and structure the rest of the ingredients around these. With each dinner I try to include some kind of vegetable and maybe something that has a bit of protein. But usually that is taken care of naturally by my favorite food choices anyways. I love lentils, beans, peas, etc. Standard veggies I try to include are carrots, really firm tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green beans, so many more to choose from. Check out what is locally available and make sure the vegetable is somewhat firm, so you may worry less about it being crushed in your bag. A little tip is to pack garlic. It gives a lot of taste to any kind of meal, especially if you’re short on spices. Since you are out hiking, smells shouldn’t be an issue anyways, should they 😛
Dinner options I usually go for:
Some ideas for snacks are:
Generally said, I always do, and recommend doing, the shopping for a hike at local food markets or shops, rather than big supermarkets. You will not only give your money to people who might be more in need of it but your shopping gets a whole lot more personal. This might also include learning a foreign language 🙂 Also, you are more likely to get local products. Always be open for new introductions into your hiking menu.
Alrighty, I hope, this gave you some ideas for your next multi-day hiking adventure. Whatever you decide for and pack, make sure, your backpack doesn’t get too heavy for you. Also, pack everything safely to avoid annoying disasters like crushed veggies or fruits :/ If I take sensitive candidates with me, I always eat them within the first couple days.