The Hunger Game of Long Distance Hiking

Journal entry from January 2015

The Christmas season is over and now it feels like the start of our hike is just around the corner.

We’ve talked to lots of friends and neighbors about our plans and we get so many interesting questions. While I was out walking with friends this morning, one of them was particularly concerned that I would have enough to eat and that I would be getting enough protein. I said it’s just not possible to carry enough calories, but that we would eat well whenever we got into town. She was a little worried about the ‘starvation/binge’ cycle that’s inherent in long distance hiking. Here’s how one hiking website describes it…

An empty food bag! Oh no!

An empty food bag! Oh no!

“Most thru-hikers pack around two pounds of  high calorie, lightweight food per day. This provides around 3,500 calories. But hiking for 12 hours a day can easily burn 5,000+ calories. This means that you will always be running an energy deficit. So when you start a long distance hike, you basically begin the process of slowly starving yourself.

I have found that I lose 5-8 pounds per month on a long backpacking trip, and this seems to be pretty common. It will vary depending on a number of factors. If you are thin already you will likely lose less weight, if you are fat you will lose more. Women tend to lose less weight than men do. But anyone who has completed a multi-month thru-hike knows that by the end, most hikers look like they escaped from a prisoner of war camp.” (from: )

feed me

Here was a good website I found about high calorie, lightweight foods for long distance hiking. Check out the website for the full article– I’ve just briefly listed the 10 ultralight backpacking foods that they suggested.

10 Ultralight Backpacking Foods

The best ultralight backpacking foods are lightweight, nonperishable, high in calories and easy to prepare. Here are 10 backpacking foods you can find in stores everywhere that provide, on average, more than 100 calories per ounce of weight, making them ideal for ultralight backpacking.

 1. G.O.R. P. 130 calories per ounce  (G.O.R.P. stands for “Good Ole Raisons And Peanuts”. But the ingredients don’t always have to be that boring.)

2. Mac & Cheese 105 calories per ounce (with olive oil & summer sausage)

3. Breakfast Pastries 120 calories per ounce

4. Peanut Butter 170 calories per ounce

5. Snickers Bar 140 calories per ounce

6. Olive Oil  230 calories per ounce

7. Liptons (Knorr) Pasta/Rice Sides 110 calories per ounce (with olive oil and tuna)

8. Foil Pack Tuna (and other meats) 30 calories per ounce

9. Wraps (Tortillas) 100 calories per ounce (w/ tuna, mayo, mustard, relish, olive oil)

10. Instant Mashed Potatoes  115 calories per ounce (with olive oil & SPAM)

Burning calories big time!!

Burning calories big time!!

I wonder how much weight I’ll lose on this little  expedition??



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Comments 6

  • Meg @ Adventures in Verdance : Feb 22nd

    If I’ve been having a hard time, I’ll buy a block of cheese in town. It satisfies EVERY craving and keeps quite w ell in its own oils. Definitely high calorie. Good luck!

    • Jeanne Church : Feb 23rd

      Thanks! I love cheese!

      • Meg @ Adventures in Verdance : Feb 25th

        Cheese is pretty much magic. 🙂

        • Jeanne Church : Feb 25th

          It’s my go-to food when I need a quick shot of protein!

    • TicTac : Feb 28th

      The more yellow the cheese, the longer it lasts without refrigeration. So sharp cheddar is the way to go. That doesn’t mean I don’t buy some Romano for the first couple of days out of town, I love it’s flavor and aroma.
      Peanut Butter (Super Crunchy of course) and Cheddar cheese in a pita is true delight.

      • Meg @ Adventures in Verdance : Mar 1st

        Oh my gosh. That sounds ridiculously good right now!


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