In a journey through demanding terrain, carrying a backpack of 10kg during stages of 7 hours a day, our total energy consumption will easily be around 5,000 kilocalories per day. In addition to the energy expenditure of the activity itself, we must bear in mind that cold, wind and exposure to the elements cause greater energy expenditure even when we are at rest. Thus, it is advisable to obtain foods that provide sufficient nutrients to compensate for this expense, but which should be as light and compact as possible. It will always be preferable for a little food to be lacking, but the ideal is to adjust the rations so that you do not get too burdened or run out of supplies before the completion of the activity.
If our intention is to be completely autonomous and transport all the food we need during the journey, it will be convenient to be realistic: even if we consume dehydrated foods like dried veggies, jelly fish, instant noodles etc., to maintain a balanced diet, we will have to load around 1,200 grams of food per person in a day and that exempts the consumption of fluid substance.
Some Healthy Backpacking Food Ideas for Beginners
The envelopes freeze – dried food special for outdoor activities are one of the best options for autonomous multi – day adventures. They have a reasonable weight / energy ratio, they are very easy to prepare – all you need do is pour 300ml of boiling water into the container and wait for a few minutes – and there is a wide range of menus with really appetizing names. An envelope of 125 grams of rice with beef and mushrooms with fine herbs, for example, provides 420 kilocalories, with a balanced ratio of 60% carbohydrates, 12% protein and 15% fat.
Although these envelopes are very practical, it is necessary to provide another type of food to recover energy during the day, such as cereal bars, dried fruit, sachets to prepare isotonic drinks, etc. With them we will complete the diet and prevent the body from emptying, so that we will recover better from the daily walks than if we only eat at the time of the three main meals. Another option is Couscous, it is amongst the best backpacking foods, an alternative to lyophilized sachets, it is also very light and easy to prepare but more economical. Couscous can be added to salted nuts, raisins and a few pieces of dried meat. All this is mixed in a zipper bag with the following proportions, achieving a ration of 1,065 calories in only 250 grams:
– 100 grams of instant couscous = 370 kcal
– 50 grams of raisins = 170 kcal
– 50 grams of sunflower seeds (fried and salted) = 325 kcal
– 50 grams of dried meat (beef jerky type) = 200 kcal
– 1 pinch of salt
Though they may not seem like healthy backpacking foods, Sweets, chocolate, nuts, fats and almost all the products that combine them usually have a high caloric intake in very little weight, but we will not exceed 500 kilocalories per 100 grams. These foods are very energetic thanks to the sugar and fats they contain. In fact, they only have slow-digesting carbohydrates or proteins, which are the nutrients that allow us to perform for longer hours and recover for the next stages making them good backpacking foods.
Cheeses, sausages and pastries are also very energetic, but their digestion is slow and difficult, so they are not the most appropriate foods during sports. If the effort is low or medium intensity, surely there will be no problem, but if we go to high rates, they can cause difficult digestion.
Sun, dry air, wind, hours and hours of activity, difficulty finding water also has its role to play and to keep the body hydrated during all the activity we must observe certain particularities:
1. At altitude, the air is drier than at sea level, so the water loss through respiration is greater. Also, in this atmosphere the sweat evaporates before, so sometimes we are not as aware of how much we perspire.
2. Low temperatures can mask the feeling of thirst, so sometimes you have to drink even when you don’t feel like doing so at the immediate time. However, it is not advisable to ingest excess liquids, as over hydration can cause discomfort even worse than dehydration.
3. The water from springs, streams or springs that we find in the mountain could require purification. Although it is crystal clear, prevention never hurts. As a general rule, if we travel through the Pyrenees or the Alps, the chlorine tablets will be sufficient and are the most comfortable and fastest system. Iodine drops can also be useful. In other areas we may need mechanical filters that also clean the water of impurities, turbidity, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
4. In order to enrich pure mountain water, isotonic drink sachets or mineral salt tablets, which provide sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc., can be useful in order to improve muscle functions and reduce risk of hypernatremia and cramps.
Applying the tips as a guide on your next journey will give you that extra confidence knowing that you are now adequately prepared.