Trail Nutrition

The challenge of nutrition on the trail, especially on longer trips, is finding the right ratio of calories to weight. Additionally, you need to consider how and where you'll eat your meals, and how much time to allot off the trail. When hiking long distances, it's extremely difficult to intake enough calories to keep from losing weight, so it's also important to eat a lot of food whenever you do come into a town for resupply.

Our Nutrition System
We've based our system off of legendary hiker Andrew Skurka. Instead of thinking of the 3 traditional meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we break our day into breakfast, 5 snacks plus a dinner. Breakfast, and each of the snacks, are quite simple. Either a couple of bars, or some combination of food that is similar in calories. The only different meal is dinner, which is made with the cooking system that doesn't require much time or weight. The hot meal is a great boost of energy, and also gives a boost of motivation late in the day. Hikers often waste the energy from dinner by having it after they've already made camp. Instead, we use the extra energy from the meal to immediately hit the trail. Since we use the lightweight cooking system, we don't have to wait for the stove to cool. Our dinner breaks are usually 30 minutes or less, then we hike for another 1-2 hours, up until dusk.

On the Go
Additionally, this food allows for refueling on the go, as it's simple to eat an energy bar or trail mix as you hike down the trail. When we start in the morning, we usually pull out the breakfast plus the next meal, which stays in the shorts pocket for a couple of hours. Instead of stopping for the next snack, you can increase mileage by continuing to hike.

Example Menu
This is from our 2009 JMT thru-hike:
Lightweight Hiking Concepts