Food, Glorious Food

The Strategy –

Food is something all hikers, especially long-distance hikers, agonize over. There is no shortage of lists of best foods for hikers in terms of calories per ounce. On one end of the spectrum, we see a lot of honey buns and Slim Jim’s. I’m convinced one does not have to subsist on this, but I understand how it happens. On the other end, we find many foods that fall under the heading of “specialty” items, like Peak Refuel high protein, high calorie freeze-dried all-in-one meals. At 870 calories and 53 grams of protein per bag (I know, it says it serves 2, but we all know it’s a bag per person), the chicken Alfredo pasta plus a handful of dehydrated veggies will make a great, easy dinner. The problem is you can’t buy these foods at your average gas station/ convenience store, or even at your average grocery store.

Therefore, a list of easy-to-buy, hiker-friendly foods is worth learning about in advance in order to shop efficiently and effectively while on the trail. 

Here is what we’ve come up with so far, after several “research” trips to our local grocery stores:


  • granola,
  • powdered whole milk (Walmart item),
  • instant oatmeal,
  • freeze dried fruit,
  • via coffee or similar.


  • Fritos (or Clancy’s) corn chips,
  • potato chips,
  • dark chocolate,
  • peanut butter,
  • Dukes or Obertos sausage links,
  • nuts and trail mix,
  • honey-roasted sesame sticks (surprisingly good),
  • Nature Valley wafer bars (also, surprisingly good nutritional balance),
  • honey stringer chocolate waffles,
  • Nature Valley biscuits,
  • Cheese-it crackers,
  • Romano or parmigiana cheese (heavy, but really good),
  • hard salami (ditto).

It goes without saying that applying peanut butter to any of the above is also a successful strategy.


Post-Hike recovery Drink

  • Gatorade Thirst Quencher packets mixed with
  • Whey isolate protein


  • Freeze-dried meals if possible (Walmart sells Mountain House),
  • olive oil – add to any dish for flavor and calories,
  • ramen noodles (again, surprisingly good nutritional balance),
  • couscous,
  • instant potatoes (so much better and easier to prepare than the ubiquitous Knorr sides),
  • pine nuts,
  • powdered hummus (a big maybe),
  • packets of seasonings and mayo from salad bars (kinda sad).



  • Shortbread cookies (see note about peanut butter),
  • fudge covered graham or mint cookies,
  • Oreos,
  • nutty buddies,
  • Pepperidge Farm triple chocolate chip cookies.

We are planning to incorporate 3 mail drops on the first half of our NOBO flip flop hike – one location TBD, the others for the long, lonely stretches in Maine. Otherwise, we’ll be re-supplying as we go. As such, I’m sure we will encounter many realities along the way that shape and reshape our food strategy.

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