Food planning for the A.T.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, they say. I doubt “they” have made a long-term backpacking food list.

We’ll chat about gear another time, but we all know that weight matters on the trail. You have to put everything you need on your back like a pack mule and carry it – even food. The trick is that a hiker can easily burn 3,000-6,000 calories per day, so you have to pack a calorie dense diet while trying to keep the weight to a minimum. Since 2lbs a day is the recommendation, my 7+ day hike means I’m looking to throw an extra 14lbs on the ol’ torso and hope it will get me over the 2510′-4461′ elevation range of the Georgia section of the A.T. So… ya – I need a plan.

Thus, I created my 7-Day food plan!

I started with the usual research: I looked up high calorie-per-ounce foods, common food items, quantity recommendations etc. and moved on to some specific stuff such as where i could re-supply and/or pick up a package. My current food plan has me picking up a re-supply box somewhere around day 3 so i only have to carry 3 or 4 days worth of food at one time instead of seven days. Say goodbye to 6lbs+ of weight! I highly recommend looking ahead to see when you can re-supply or pickup food so you don’t carry more than necessary.

Once i came up with a list of foods, I put them into a plan for each day to have some variety but also meet my calorie needs. Then i shopped online deals to see where the good prices were for this item or that and if i could bundle food items with gear items i had yet to order. Bundling usually helps me get free shipping or at the very least reduced shipping.

I also ended up finding a few unique ways to save money on the trail.
After all, backpacking can get pricey depending on gear and food etc. – I used search engine (Don’t hate) to gain reward points and ended up getting $10.00 worth of rewards by the time I ordered my gear and food. I also used an app called ShopKick to scan items while i was at the store and redeemed an extra $5 on my online Walmart food purchase for the trip. If you have some time before you are ready to start your next trip, I recommend signing up and snagging the savings.

Having saved a little money, I ordered most of my food online along with a few extra pieces of gear and will just have to fill in a few blanks on the list in order to put all my food into bags for each day and get it into my stuff sack nice and neat!

This will also be my first time trying some meals from PackIt Gourmet. As the name suggests, they offer some non-standard freeze dried meals. I picked up the Southwest Black Bean and Corn Salad as well as the  Big’un Burrito to try out for dinner. I even splurged and got the Pico de Gallo salsa. I’m hoping this will be a great break from the normal Beef Stroganoff, Spaghetti, Chili Mac usuals.

Now that everything showed up at my house, I went a step further and broke everything everything down by total daily calories, calories-per-ounce and food weight in ounces. You can download that 7 Day list below!

Check out my 7 day backpacking food plan – Download PDF Here

List and food boxes


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