Staying Healthy On Trail
If you’re like me, nutrition is one of your main concerns when you’re planning your backcountry expeditions. At home I am used to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, something I miss when I’m backpacking. My goal is to come up with better ways to stay healthy on trail and increase the amount of whole foods I carry with me.
Prepackaged “trail food” (bars, gels, dehydrated meals, etc) are convenient, lightweight and calorie dense - a logical choice for any backpacking adventure. However, these are often highly processed foods, and don’t have to be the only choices in your pack.
Consider the length and
location of your trip.
• How many days of food will I need to carry?
• How remote is the location?
• Will I have access to grocery stores?
The Sea to Sea (S2S) route is relatively short (150 miles or 5-7 days) and passes through several towns with grocery stores. This will allow me to resupply locally, in towns, and pack out more fresh, whole foods.
Below I share details about what I am bringing for this trip, and a little bit about what inspired my choices. All of my trail food (and home food) is vegan and has been that way for 17 years. Although I am sharing some information about health, I am by no means a health expert, nor do I think that there is one diet that is right for everyone. Feel free to comment below if you have a thought to share or have any questions for me!
Choose your prepackaged foods wisely!
Energy bars are quick and easy snacks that you can toss in your bag, and by choosing your bars carefully, they can be a great addition to any backpacking food plan.
Search for REAL foods in the ingredient list such as fruits, seeds or nuts. Avoid bars with added sugars and processed ingredients.
Heather’s Choice is a great example of what I’m looking for in my trail food.
Heather’s Choice is a recent discovery of mine and I am so glad to have them! They are a small company out of Alaska and specialize in protein-rich, gluten-free, dehydrated meals and snacks. The breakfast meals and “Packaroons” are their vegan options, and both come in a variety of delicious flavors, including lemon lavender, spiced cocoa, orange vanilla, and black espresso. The “Packaroons” are a perfect example of what I look for in backpacking snacks. The ingredients are simple and nutritious, they are lightweight, and they take up very little space in my backpack!
It’s also important to find bars that come in a variety of flavors- if you are bored with your food, you won’t eat it and if you don’t eat, you won’t have energy to hike!
Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to getting great nutrients, there is no substitute for fresh fruits and vegetables. For backpacking, I consider the shelf life of the food as well as its durability.
Does it have a thick exterior? Will it make a mess in my bag if its squished? After all, nobody wants to end a 20-mile strenuous hiking day to find a squished banana or moldy bread in their food bag! Every trip is an opportunity to learn and grow. through trial and error.
Dehydrating can be a great way to pack out fruits and veggies. Dehydrated foods have a longer shelf life and are much more lightweight. But be prepared to spend some prep time in advance! Below are images of bananas, oranges, and lemons that I am dehydrating for Sea 2 Sea!
I am a carbohydrate fiend! Tortillas, bagels, and whole grain crackers are common finds in my backpacking food bag. All of these items pack easy, provide plenty of salt and pair well with nut butters, bean dips or hummus. Rice, quinoa, and cous cous are also good options if you are bringing a stove or are willing to cold soak during the day.
Oils and Fats
Olive oil and coconut oil are must-haves for me at home and out on the trail. Olive oil is high in healthy fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflamatory properties. I carry my olive oil in a soft flask and have had no problems with leaking. I make sure to add at least a tablespoon to every meal on trail.
Coconut oil is also high in healthy fats and has many beneficial topical uses such as wound healing, moisturizing for hair and skin, and protects from harmful UV rays.
Nuts and Seeds
Make sure your trail mix isn’t filled with added sugars and unnecessary oils. Same rules apply for nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc)-watch out for unnecessary added ingredients.
Putting It All Together!
SAMPLE DAILY MEAL PLAN FOR SEA TO SEA
Nut butter and tortilla wraps
Sugar Snap Peas
• Heather’s Choice “Packaroons”
• Larabars, Honey Stinger Chews
• Nut & Seed Crackers
Bagel Sandwich (Avocado, Field Roast, Daiya Vegan Cheese).