Saturday, 24 August 2013

Food for Long Distance Hiking




A few people have asked me what I ate on the Scottish Watershed Walk and how I resupplied with food. The answer is that mostly I bought food in shops along the way (my family did send me one parcel of tasty organic food from Real Foods in Edinburgh). Specialist backpacking foods can be convenient but they are expensive and have to be bought in advance and then posted ahead. Buying food in shops on or near my route was simpler and cheaper. (And also supports local communities). The picture above shows a weeks supplies purchased at the village store in Crianlarich. All that's missing are some sachets of hot chocolate.

Of course this involves some compromises and occasionally buying items that aren't that tasty (the latte sachets pictured above were pretty horrible) but overall I've been happy with this method of resupply, which I've used on other long walks including the Pacific Northwest Trail.

 

Above is my standard backpacking breakfast (and actually my standard breakfast at home too, though with fresh milk) - muesli (about 125 grams) with dried milk and sugar plus coffee (decaffeinated if I'm feeling awake, caffeinated if not) and dried milk. That's enough to keep me going for a few hours.

The picture also shows my stove and my two titanium pots - 600 and 900ml size.


During the day I snack regularly rather than have a big lunch. Oatcakes, cheese, flapjack, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts grain and fruit bars, boiled sweets (good for dry throats) all find their way into my pack.

The picture shows a day's snacks - though the dates and cheese spread would last several days.

 


Here is a typical evening repast. Two packets of Cup-A-Soup to start (good for restoring liquid and salt) then a dried pasta meal with added cheese, fresh garlic and, in this case, olives. If I have enough cheese and garlic I'll add some to the soup as well. Other flavourings I sometimes carry are dried herbs and spices such as chilli powder.

Immediately before going to sleep I'll have a mug of hot chocolate, made from two sachets.

I don't know how many calories this diet supplies but I never ran out of energy on the Watershed Walk though I did lose 9 kilos in weight.

26 comments:

  1. Ahhhh squeezy cheese in a tube - what a fantastic backpacking staple

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  2. Interesting approach! I agree about not using backpacking food, expensive and way too much salt. One wee suggestion for improvement, Chris. I note you bought Marvel milk powder. One item that is worth stocking up in advance of a trip is East End Milk Powder. It's full fat milk, and it's absolutely delicious. Porridge becomes a treat from heaven. Give it a try. You won't regret it! I mix some instant custard powder and some dried blaeberries with one of the Quaker 2-minute Golden Syrup porridge sachets and the East End milk powder, and believe you me, it's the best start to the day you can have!

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  3. Thanks Andy. I must admit I haven't come across East End milk powder. I'll look out for it.

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    1. Hi Chris, it's rowena, i will get you some if i see it, probably needs to be from a large asian shop.

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    2. Thanks Ro. I haven't found any locally but then there's not many places to look.

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  4. Glad to see the pasta and sauce and super noodles in there. A fraction of the cost of expensive dehydrated meals and just as tasty. The Dolmio stir in sauces are quite good as well. I get Nido milk powder from a local Asian supermarket and this tastes just like real milk also.

    Tony was amazed you could just walk into a shop and buy a weeks load of food for backpacking! No other option many years ago and so much easier than sending food ahead.
    Looking forward to hearing all about the walk.

    Nigel

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  5. Tesco stocks the East End dried milk from time to time, Chris. That's where I get it from. It's really scrumptious!

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    1. I haven't seen it in my local Tesco's (Aviemore). But then I haven't looked for it as I didn't know it existed! I'll check next time I'm there.

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    2. Can't remember how big the Aviemore Tesco is. I found it either on Tesco online or in the large Tesco shops in Dundee and Perth. Good luck! Maybe if you ask customer services they can get a few packets in for you. It's seriously yummy!

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  6. Thanks Chris for posting this, it is interesting to see foods I recognise from previous forays into the UK. Being able to walk into a shop and resupply certainly has its advantages on a long trip, though sometimes as you note the variety may be limited. I use Nido with porridge, fruit and sugar and love it, and I like Andy's suggestion of custard powder, I must try it. On the cooking front, the 600 ml pot nests inside the 900 ml pot, and I assume the sidewinder is for the 900 ml pot and wondered does it nest inside the 600 ml pot? Or do you carry it elsewhere?

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    1. The pots will nest inside the Sidewinder but I found that leaves them smelling of fuel so I soon stopped storing them like that. Instead I use the plastic container supplied by Trail Designs - you can see the corner of it in the picture.

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  7. All hail bachelors foods!!.
    Cheap and cheerfully personified.
    The milk ideas are interesting.
    Angel delight, mixed with protein shake good too!.

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  8. "Sophisticated back country cooking. Pour in two packets of cup-a-soup and stir..." Chris Townsend, 'The Cairngorms in Winter'. We'll need to ensure bachelors sponsor the next film Chris! Ha.

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  9. i take a tube of condensed milk when im out.lots of sugar and calories in it

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  10. Useful, thanks Chris. I agree about trying to stock up from local shops along the way. I do hate boughten dried meals though ... am considering getting a dryer and drying up my own veg and meat/jerky.

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  11. I worry a little bit about some of the cheaper backpacking food options available from supermarkets as well as some popular bespoke backpacking food products on sale that contain hydrogenated fats. These have been banned in some countries. I remember reading that they contribute towards clogging of the arteries. Mike Stroud wrote a good book Survival of The Fittest that goes into detail about this, and nutrition for endurance activities.

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  12. I would like to carry only chocolate flavored food when go outside for long vacations with family. Chocolate benefit is that it gives our body energy,strength,proteins,nutrients and everyone likes to eat it. Anyway i will also carry some item which you suggest in this post hope it is also helpful for me in my next trip.

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  13. That's a very interesting a good post, as the normal backpacking food are expensive. What I have been doing lately(though I've never done anything as long as any of you here) is get some packs of either biltong or jerk beef(Can't get away from my meat) with sachets of soup, wine gums, always supermarket foods.

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  14. One important challenge most hikers face is that the correct selection of food. we tend to square measure at risk of continually opt for the tastiest and nutritive foods once reception, however after we hit the track, things will get untidy. http://survival-mastery.com/diy/food_prep/hiking-food.html

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  15. Keith Holmwood13 July 2016 at 17:39

    Oven bags are really useful: not likely to melt or leach chemicals like freezer bags. Meals based on oats, noodles or couscous can be prepared in advance. Often boiling water can simply be poured in, but a little hot water in the pan can be used to heat up bags of slower-cooking food. No washing up, unless you want to use them more than once. When ready, cut off top of the bag for easier eating.

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  16. Message to Andy, is the East End Milk powder suitable to be used for tea and coffee?

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  17. Cool topic I'm off for 8 days across Cumbria's hills and came here for some tips on food choice. Does anyone know of any foods that are not dried to add water and can be easy prepared ? Something meaty and rustic I don't find myself satisfied on pasta.

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  18. Another thumbs up for nido full fat milk powder. I found it in the aisle in Morrison's which has things for people from other countries (calling it the immigrants aisle feels wrong - but it's different to the 'world foods aisle!' mixed with red box alpen (the added sugar one) it kept me and my kids happy along the Hadrian's wall trail.

    Also uncle Ben microwave rice with a splash of added water works a treat

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  19. I'm always looking for ideas for outdoor meals and agree that commercial backpacking food is expensive. I'm also currently looking at sourcing Vesta meals (remember them?!), but some great ideas contained in this thread too. My all-time fav outdoor meal is Supernoodles which I supplement with Matteson's sausage or other similar ingredients. I'm not a big fan of powdered milk (years of using powder milk in Army rations has put me off for life!), but in my experience, everything falls down to personal choice of course. However, I am a big fan of Carnation condensed milk in squeezy 170g tubes (stocked at some T'co stores in the baking section). I use Carnation in tea/coffee and add some to porridge to add some creaminess. It's obviously high in sugar content and I don't usually take sugar in my tea, but I do enjoy a hot sweet tea when out on the hills. A single tube will last up to 2 days wild camping. Slightly heavier than the powder alternatives and might not be everyone's favourite, but it can be used instantly, has no lumps and keeps very well. Hope this is of use 😀

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  20. I find the difficult thing is sourcing protein. I am a bit freaky about eating cheese etc which hasn't been refrigerated - no worries about germs but I am just fussy.....however, I used to train a lot and hike a lot, and I find lower protein (noodles, oats, etc some protein but not good quality or bit quantities) spells tiredness and lethargy. I would recommend protein powder/whey even milk and egg powder. Works out about 70p per shake, mixes with water (you can chuck oats, seeds, fruit, anything in) and can be mixed in a shaker which is light and useful for other things (will need to be cleaned though). You can get a neutral flavour like vanilla which combines with cocoa, put it in porridge.....and it's the finest protein source money can buy, except possibly for fresh eggs. I think it got one shout above and I must echo that, it's very good for you, cheap, delicious and very light.

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    1. I 'dehydrate' (i.e. cook 'til crunchy) bacon in the microwave - just stick it between two sheets of kitchen roll and keep microwaving in short bursts until done. Then out on the hill I put it in the water to rehydrate as it boils before making up instant noodles/pasta'n'sauce/etc.

      The 'just add water' meals are lacking in fat so an individual portion of garlic butter added makes a big improvement to taste - and calories.

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