T Nation

Nutrition Help for Hiking

My communications with experienced long distance hikers tells me that there’s a lot that’s similar between the nutritional needs of a hiker and a bodybuilder, so I think this is one of the best places I can come to for help.

My goals are to build a diet that:

  • provides 6000 calories per day
  • at least 150 grams of protein per day
  • be prepared without water, with cold water, or by pouring in boiling water and slight jostling it
  • is dense enough to fit 10 days worth into a 600 cubic inch container
  • must be able to withstand a month with the postal service
  • and is also highly resistant to going bad in desert temperatures
  • is not freeze dried, although dehydrating is acceptable

I may be limited to consuming 6 liters of water per day. This pretty much means that if I’m making shakes, I’ll have to put a lot into them.

Right now I’m focusing on types of food to bring out there. I don’t want to work on portions yet.

I plan on using protein powder, peanut butter, oatmeal, mashed potato flakes and olive oil on the trail. I’m also considering using egg powder, butter powder and dehydrated milk. Of course I’ll also be eating plenty of trail mix too!

Other nutritional holes will be filled with dehydrated fruits of the Costco variety, and a range of vitamins, but I don’t think I’ll need vitamin D as I’ll be getting a large dose of sunlight.

I’m sure I can do better, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what to change in my food supply. A greater variety of food would be greatly appreciated over this 3-6 month adventure. This is where I need your help. I’m not really sure what else I can add.

A good quality jerky perhaps?

FINiBARS! I went on a 3 day hike recently and went through 2 dozen of them. 8 of them a day will give you 2320 calories with 104 grams of high quality protein. They’re dense, fit easily in your pack, easy to eat while on the move, digestion friendly, and sustain energy.

Surge Recovery is another good idea.

Nuts, Dried Fruit, Dried Meat, Pemmican.

The goal is calorie dense.

if your getting a protein powder id consider muscle milk or monster milk ( same company makes them) because its higher in calories (4 scoops of muscle milk=600kcal, 4 scoops of monster milk= 700kcals) than whey and they have a bunch of good fats in, it also tastes good.

I highly recommend FINiBARS. Both flavours for variety.

Additionally I’d suggest to drink Surge Workout Fuel while hiking. It helps me a lot with lactate buffering.

When I go hiking I take some Metabolic Drive Bars with me as well. Again for variety and since they provide a bit more protein than the FINiBARS as well as some micellar caseine.

In the evenings I cook oatmeal and mix it with peanut butter and sometimes with vanilla-flavoured protein powder (30grams of protein powder for every 100grams of oatmeal).

On a 3-day hike I take 10-18 hard boiled eggs with me, too. As well as some dryed meat which does not have to be stored cold.


I would definitely jump on the high quality jerky wagon. Ive always heard a lot of the freeze died shit sucks. I would bring nuts,jerky, and protein bars or weight gaining bars.

<- seconding the recommendation for Finibars. And Surge. I also add ground almonds and pine nuts to everything for calories and bring lots of olive oil, nutella and peanut butter. But all of those fats are heavy. It’s going to be hard to get those kind of calories in under 2 lbs per person per day which is what I usually aim for. Pepperoni doesn’t seem to have much protein for its weight because it’s fatty but it’s still good to bring but jerky is good also. CT recommended eating a Finibar every two hours and a scoop of Surge. I found that worked well for me.

If you look up ‘Millioniare Shortbread’ the stuff has 350 calories per small serving and they’ll keep at least 5 days or probably the ten, depending on your temperatures. The stuff is rich but i plan on making some for my next trip. On a previous trip I brought these Lemon raisin breakfast bars and they were quite good, very dense with calories but hard to eat a lot of them because they are also very rich. I think they could be modified to have more protein.


Already cooked bacon was good too (the stuff that comes in little sealed packages) Not great in protein but tastes good, has a lot of fat and relatively light for the flavour it adds.

[quote]Petermus wrote:
I would definitely jump on the high quality jerky wagon. [/quote]


Jerky is great…but i definitely loved Finibars on my backpacking trip, they made a big impact.

Many Asian food stores will have a popular packaged mix of powdered Almond Milk. It’s tasty and is very high in protein. I use it for an annual 75 miler in the Olympics. Chicken of the Sea makes specialty salmon packets in the 3 oz range with a great variety. They have an Omega 3 fortified Mandarin Orange glaze, for instance, which mixes well with pasta for lunchtime carbohydrate before your afternoon push. A company called SeaBear in Anacortes Washington makes specialty salmon chowders in packets as well. Brunswick sardines with lemon pepper and golden smoke flavors are also a light weight source of excellent proteins and healthy fats. I tend to mix the fish with prepackaged flavored pastas from Trader Joe. For bulk I dry and package my own fruits. I also nearly always go for the long hikes during peak forage season. So I supplement with boiled nettles, a great source of iron and other vitamins, and huckleberry. For balance I’ve always carried a good multivitamin, but I’m thinking of adding gelatin caps of creatine for post push recovery.

Thanks for the tips guys.

I have to skip the shortbread. Nowhere to cook. Having someone make it and mail it to me doesn’t seem practical either, at least not with the short window of time to consume it.

I LOVE jerky, and like fish, but my paranoia makes me think those foods would be a bad idea in bear country. The fish is especially scary. Bears will do some crazy stuff for fish. Hopefully they won’t do that for bacon because I love the bacon idea.