One of the common questions campers face is what to take with them to eat. Your requirements and needs on an overnight trip are going to be very different from someone going on a ten-day trek. The most important factors to consider are weight and bulk, taste, preparation time and requirements, trash generated, and nutritional value.
The longer you are traveling the more important weight and bulk becomes. The average person will go through two to three pounds of food a day. If you are on a backpacking trip for more than three days, your food and water will probably be the heaviest thing on your back. The longer the trip, the lighter you need your food to be.
Taste is probably the most important factor to consider. If you don't like it, you're not going to eat it. So be sure to pick out foods that you will actually eat when you are out on the trail.
Preparation time and requirements are also important things to consider. If your traveling for speed and distance, you're not going to want to be making a stew when you get to camp. If you are hiking in the desert where every drop of water is precious making rice or pasta isn't going to be your best choice. You also need to consider your own patience level when you are tired. Some people like to set up camp, eat as quickly as possible and go to bed. Others like to spend their time socializing with friends around a fire. If you're not patient, don't pick foods that will take a long time to cook.
How much trash your food generates is another important consideration. Leave No Trace ethics say you shouldn't burn or burry your trash, but pack it out with you. The best way to cut down on trash is to repackage your food before you hit the trail. Store bought goods are infamous for packaging waste that results in bulk, weight and trash you don't need to be carrying.
Nutritional value of what you are eating is also important. Thru hikers on long distance trails like the Pacific Crest or Appalachian can burn 5,000 to 6,000 calories per day! One thing to think about when preparing your menu is what your appetite is like when you are tired. Do you roll into bed and wake up hungry or do you eat a big meal when the day is done. Plan your menu accordingly because making a big dinner that you won't eat isn't going to do you any good.
Meal preparation on the trail is a difficult topic to cover in a short story. There are many books available on the topic. To aid you in your plans, we have prepared some suggestions for your next backpacking trip...
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