The average amount of food for hiking is 600-900 grams per person per day. With this amount of food, you can hike without thinking about food or hating the shopkeeper. However, if you want to travel light, or if the hike is going to be difficult and long, the weight can be reduced to 500, or even 300 grams per day. It is important to do this without damaging your health and mood because good food is one of the main pleasures of camping. You will learn more about Types and List for Convenient Hiking Foods by the LCN Outdoors article.
When Should I Reduce My Food Ratio?
If you are planning a classic hike, bike trip or river rafting, you don’t need to lighten your pack because you don’t need to carry all this stuff on your back. the same is true for short hikes of 1-5 days, when the entire contents of the pack weigh no more than 22-26 lb (10-12 kg).
This is another matter entirely – long-term (20-30 days) hiking and climbing trips when you need to overcome altitude and feel all the charms of acclimatization every day. Carrying an 88 lb (40 kg) heavy backpack can lead to rapid exhaustion: in this case, the body will not recover overnight, the body will be in constant pain, the walking speed will be reduced, and “mountain sickness” will manifest itself more strongly.
Fast and light” hiking is also about reducing the weight of food. The idea of “walking light” is to make your pack as light as possible by reducing the weight of your equipment, clothing, and food. It is used when you need to walk a route lightly or when you must traverse difficult terrain and gain altitude. Climbers prefer “quick and easy” when climbing fast. In all of these cases, they carry a minimum amount of food: light but calorie-dense.
Food Layout Weight Norms
The weight of the food ratio depends on the daily caloric intake per person. The daily caloric intake depends on the difficulty of the hike.
- Easy hiking in the middle zone, 1-3 days: 2000-3000 kcal per day, that is about 700 g per person.
- Mountain hiking of category I-III difficulty. 3000-4000 kcal per day, that is about 800-900 grams per person.
- Mountaineering in difficulty class IV-VI, hiking in highland areas: 4000-5000 kcal per day. This amount of calories can be obtained from 1000-1100 grams of the food.
This weight is based on the fact that the spread consists of normal food, not dry or freeze-dried food. And this is only in theory. In reality, as travel becomes more difficult, the weight of the package is reduced as much as possible, often at the expense of the necessary calorie content.
Lightweight does not mean hungry. Inexperienced hikers, in their quest to reduce the weight of their packs, often reduce their nutritional intake by simply eliminating heavy food. However, it is difficult to pass the route on meager rations because the body has to constantly make up for the lack of energy from internal reserves. The consequences of this are constant fatigue and hunger, poor sleep, and exhaustion at the end of the route.
It makes sense to lighten the layout during the first few days of the trip when the body is adjusting to the altitude and most people usually have no appetite. The farther up the mountain, the greater the hiker’s appetite.
300-400 grams of regular food does not provide the 3500-4500 kcal needed for a demanding hike. A high-calorie intake can be achieved by a diet dominated by fat, but the body cannot absorb so much fat.
If you make your rations on a dry and freeze-dried food basis, removing the canned food and extra water, you can achieve the same 400 grams, but the rations will be more varied and nutritious. Experiment carefully: on difficult long hikes, especially in cold mountainous areas, you should always remember to provide adequate calories and a varied diet.
How Can I Reduce The Weight Of The Layout?
Sorting and weighing
To avoid surprises like “oops, not enough buckwheat for everyone” or “several extra pounds of rice”, you should not just pack food, but weigh it strictly according to the table layout and sort it by meal. To do this, you need a kitchen scale and stickers on which you write what food is in the bag, which day, and what should be eaten at which meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Sorting by portions and weight takes more time during the preparation phase, but you can be sure that you don’t have a single extra gram in your backpack. One advantage is that cooking at camp is a time saver because the portions are already prepared, so you just dump them out and cook them.
On a long hike, it’s a good idea to make a drop-off point – leave some food in advance at an agreed-upon place on the trail. The group will arrive at the marked place and replenish supplies. You can put good and heavy products on the first day, no weight limit – you don’t have to carry them, but you will indulge yourself.
Remove canned food
Each can of canned food is half the empty weight in your pack. A can of stew or beans contains 50% water. The weight is added by the tin can, which you either have to carry with you or leave in the parking lot after use (but you wouldn’t do that, would you?) Just in case, a tin can will rot calmly under a bush for another 50 years.
Canned foods can be replaced with lighter products.
- stews – jerky, sliced meat, bacon and smoked sausage.
- Condensed milk – milk powder, protein, ghee.
- Canned soybeans, dried mushrooms.
- Canned fish – dried fish and squid.
Do not expect to forage, hunt and fish while camping. When setting traps and designing traps (taking a rifle is not an option), you will lose a lot of time and not be able to get through the route. Fishing is easy to miscalculate, especially if you don’t know where a fish is hooked, and the catch must be cooked and eaten straight away. If you rely only on your survival skills, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation with no food and no way to get it.
Take out the water
There is plenty of water not only in canned foods but also in the foods campers are used to. If it is necessary to water down the spread, they must be removed and replaced with lighter alternatives.
For example, hikers often bring lemons to add to their tea. A lemon weighs 120-150 grams, but you can’t carry just one lemon for the entire trip. Lemons can also be dried – 2.2 lb (1 kg) of lemons will yield about 150 grams of dried lemon slices. They are just as delicious in tea and much lighter in weight.
It’s not just that lemons contain extra weight in the form of water. The rule is simple: dry what can be dried, and replace what cannot be dried with drier, lighter alternatives.
- Use dried potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables in place of fresh potatoes for soups and borscht. You can dry them yourself or buy ready-made ones.
- sauces: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and borscht seasoning – replace them with dried spices and salt. As a last resort, you can bring a small jar of hot pepper sauce, one drop per meal is enough.
- Bread – substitute croutons, breadcrumbs, crackers.
- Sweets like marmalade or marshmallows – replace with chocolate, gingerbread, and protein bars.
The average gas consumption for summer camping is 40 grams per person per day, but for a 10-day trip, that’s a 450-gram gas cylinder. If you regularly make snow or cook foods that require long boiling times (such as bean or pea soup), you will consume even more. Hikers often carry extra gas so they don’t run out of hot food – again, that’s extra weight and volume.
As early as the camping planning stage, you can reduce fuel consumption when planning your layout. The main principle is to reduce the cooking time as much as possible. Of course, this should not affect the taste and nutritional value of the food.
- Fast foods (not crackers and pasta, but healthy couscous, cereals, and sublimated foods) save fuel and time – they don’t need to be boiled, just poured in boiling water and allowed to expand.
- Dried vegetables, meats, and grains should be soaked (overnight for breakfast and immediately after arriving at camp for dinner). This will allow them to cook faster, for example, buckwheat will be fully cooked and only need to be reheated.
- Camping near water, especially in snowy areas, will avoid wasting fuel on melting snow and ice. This is not always possible, but careful planning of the hike and studying the map and the water sources above will often help.
- Cookers with radiator bottoms or integrated cooking systems, and good wind protection, can reduce gas consumption by a factor of 2 to 3 and significantly speed up the boiling of water.
In snowy areas, shallow water sources usually freeze overnight, and by morning you may not be able to find the creek from which you drew water the night before. So fill all available bottles with water and put them in your tent before you go to bed – you’ll have liquid water for breakfast in the morning.
Use thermal sublimation agents
Freeze-dried foods are ready-to-eat foods in which the water is completely evaporated in an industrial process. The thermal sublimation process does not change the taste or flavor of the food, vitamins are not destroyed, but the weight and volume are reduced by a factor of 5-10. The weight of a serving of freeze-dried food is 30-50 grams. Since freeze-dried food can be reduced to a comfortable weight of 400-500 grams without reducing the daily caloric intake. Sublimation saves fuel: simply pour warm water over the contents of the bag and the meal is ready to eat.
Heating can be used to prepare a variety of dishes: lasagna, omelets, chicken and rice, burgers, strawberries, and cream. Sublimates are in the form of fully cooked meals and individual components: meat, vegetables, fruits, even butter, and cheese. Thanks to thermal sublimates, you can eat as well while camping as you would in a restaurant.
In Europe, there are foreign and domestic Thermo sublimation agents. The foreign ones are more expensive, but tastier, and the portions are usually so large that you can really fill upon them. The domestic sublimates are more expensive but not as good as the foreign ones in terms of variety of dishes and portion sizes. For a fragile girl, a packet of rice porridge is enough — the portions are so small that she has to supplement her diet with breadcrumbs and sweets or eat a double portion.
Experiment with different sublimates on a weekend camping trip. That way you’ll know how many servings and which dishes to bring on a long hike.
Dry Your Own Food
If you have the time and desire to experiment, you can prepare the homemade food equivalent of freeze-dried food. If done correctly, this food will not lose its flavor, retain vitamins, regain its shape and volume in hot water, and most importantly – it will be very light. We will tell you more about the preparation of homemade sublimates and present some simple recipes.
What you need to make your own homemade heated food
- A meat grinder or blender. You will need it to make ground meat.
- A coffee grinder. You will need it to grind dry food into powder. This takes up less space and cooks faster – for example, it’s a good choice for pureed soups.
- A vegetable dryer or dehydrator. A conventional oven can also be used for drying, but it has a number of drawbacks. First, food in the oven burns easily, so you have to keep a close eye on it and stir it occasionally, so you can’t leave the house during the drying process. Second, the oven is very hot, so you can’t leave it on for long periods of time in the summer. Electric dryers don’t have these drawbacks: you can easily forget the dryer was on for hours and the food won’t get burned.
- Aluminum foil bags or Ziploc bags. Here’s where to store finished dry food. Stored in a dark and cool place, it will keep for about a year.
- A vacuum packer for groceries. This is the ultimate, but it really is a very useful piece of equipment. The machine creates a vacuum in the bag and seals it – so the volume of the package is greatly reduced and the food can be stored longer.
A dehydrator is a more sophisticated type of dryer. It is easy to keep all layers at a constant temperature, which means that the food is dried evenly. A dehydrator can dry not only vegetables and fruits but also prepared dishes: mashed potatoes, meat with side dishes, marshmallows …… Dehydrators are more versatile, but also more expensive: simple home dryers cost $25 or more, while dehydrators start at hundreds of dollars.
Meat can be in large chunks or slices, or ground meat. Dried chunks are easy to chew while snacking, and the reconstituted powder is soft and can be cooked quickly – it can be added to porridge, pasta, and soups.
For heating meat, take lean meat (chicken or beef is fine) and cut off fatty strips before drying. In dried dishes, the fat is bitter and gives off an unpleasant odor.
How we do it.
- Boil, grill, or bake the meat. The meat should be hard so that when it passes through the grinder it is not mashed, but finely dispersed and has tangible particles in it.
- Grind the partially cooked meat in a meat grinder. You can add onions and carrots to make it more delicious.
- Dry this batch in a tumble dryer or dehydrator.
From 2.2 lb (1 kg) of meat, you can get 250-280 g of dried meat. For 1 serving as an additive to porridge or soup, 20-30 grams will be sufficient.
Dried vegetables and fruits
Before drying, peel any vegetable and boil it in salted water for about 5 minutes: the surface of the vegetable should be soft, but hard inside. If not pre-boiled, the vegetables will quickly turn black and become unpalatable, so it is best not to skip this step.
How we do it.
- Cut the pre-cooked vegetables into small pieces.
- Place on a baking sheet in the oven or dryer.
- Set the temperature to about 140-149 °F (60-65°C) and dry the food until it is completely dry (the inside should also be dry).
The drying process produces 200-300 grams of dried vegetables from 2.2 lb (1 kg) of fresh vegetables. While camping, these vegetables can be used to make soup or porridge. Fruits can also be dried in the same way (without boiling before drying): for example, strawberries and apples for morning porridge, lemon slices for tea, or bananas for snacks. The fruit in a hot dish or tea smells like fresh fruit, with little loss of flavor.
Buckwheat with meat
You will need 1.1 lb (0.5 kg) of meat, 200 g of sour cream, vegetables (onions, carrots, garlic), 1-2 cups of buckwheat, seasoning, and salt to taste.
How we do it.
- Cut the vegetables into small pieces and fry them in a pan.
- Separate the roast and mince it with a meat grinder. If using already chopped mince, fry it first, then skim off the fat and chop it again.
- Add the minced meat to the half-cooked vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add spices, salt, sour cream (add water if necessary) and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Boil the buckwheat and mix it with the resulting stew and vegetables.
- Place the mixture in a dehydrator, spread it out on a plate, and dry it at 158 °F (70°C) for 10 hours.
The full dried portion of this dish weighs 100 grams. Buckwheat can be mixed raw with the meat and vegetable mixture and steamed during the hike.
Finally, a cheat sheet for you, so you do not forget anything.
- How to reduce the weight of food packets when camping
- weigh food strictly according to rationing and sort it by meal
- Remove all canned foods and replace them with lighter products
- Do not take products with high water content
- Dry anything that can be dried
- Use sublimation agents: buy ready-made ones or make your own.