What Thru-Hikers Eat on the Appalachian Trail

What do you eat on the trail? And do you carry all of the food you’ll eat from the beginning? Are two questions I’ve heard people ask a lot.

I’ll answer the second one first- no you do not carry all of your food from the beginning. And if you think about it that question is kind of ridiculous. Let’s say you were to eat 2 pounds of food a day and your thru hike takes 5 months, that’s around 300 lbs. just in food weight alone. On average people carry about 5 to 10 lbs. of food and resupply in town every 3 to 4 days.

Next question isn’t so simple to answer but I got help from some fellow hikers to shed some light on the subject. Now in a perfect world you don’t have any allergies and can eat anything under the sun. In reality there’s a plethora of various allergies and diets that people follow to accommodate there lifestyles. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, to name a few. Here’s a look into current thru hikers food bags to give you an idea of what people are eating.

Typical Diet


Tuna, salmon, chicken, dehydrated meals, Ramen noodles, Pop Tarts, pastries, peanut butter, granola bars, tortillas, summer sausage, jerky, candy, drink mix.

No Seafood

Ramen noodles, trail mix, jerky, combos, cheez its, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, breakfast bars, mountain house meals, fruit snacks, airhead candy, vitamin C drops.

Gluten Free


Rice, eggs, beans, chicken or cheese, jerky, cheese, Luna bars, oatmeal gluten free mountain house/similar meal type things, peanut, almond, or cashew butter, Cheetos, cereal (fruity pebbles, Trix, captain crunch, mix are some) trail mix, nuts, m&ms, raisins, wasabi peas, taco seasoning/sauce, ground sesame seeds are most used condiments, chia seeds, candy, tea, hot chocolate, Gatorade/juice mix.

Related: Healthy Foods to Send Your Paleo Thru-Hiker



Oatmeal creme pies, oatmeal, pasta sides, granola/energy bars, pop tarts, rice and beans, instant mashed potatoes, crackers, candy, trail mix, dehydrated vegetables, olive oil, hot sauce, pancake mix.



Oatmeal. lentil soup, butternut squash and quinoa chili, tomato bark (for pasta), mixed dried vegetables, and plantains, all of which are dehydrated. rice pilaf, quinoa, tortillas, nutterbutters, oreos, etc.

There’s a multitude of other things to eat from pre cooked bacon to bananas but generally people focus on loading up on light weight foods with lots of calories. However if nothing above sounds appetizing you can always dehydrate your own food and mail it to yourself. Bon appetit!

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Comments 3

  • Reboot2016 : May 19th

    The best purchase I’ve made so far in preparation for next year’s through hike has been a vacuum sealer. I’m buying freeze dried meat and dried vegetables in bulk,then vacuum sealing a quarter cup of meat and a cup of assorted veggies. On the trail, I mix this in with ramen noodles or instant rice with a half a bouillon cube

  • Bill : Mar 18th

    I need to lose come weight on this AT thru hike. I was 145 in Vietnam, 174 in my 50’s. I’m now 205 and having a battle up and down. We will see.


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