How much food do you take on backpacking trips?

DAA

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Jun 14, 2012
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My Son and I leave early tomorrow morning for a five day/five night "50 miler" Uintas trip with the Scouts.

I'm a total noob when it comes to backpacking. From my reading, the general rule of thumb for backpacking seems to be 2lbs of food per person, per day.

My question, is how much food weight do you experienced backpackers actually plan for and use? Is the 2lbs a day realistic?

Reason I ask... I assembled all of our food for the trip. For the freeze dried stuff, I put in at least 2 "servings" each for dinner every night, a desert of at least 1 serving each (but with 2 servings each for some nights) and breafasts of two servings each. To this I added 10 assorted Larabars and Probars each, plus 20 oz. each of home made trail mix (mixed nuts, M&M's, craisins, dried mango).

This all totals up to only about 14.5 lbs for two people, for five days. Not quite 1.5 lbs a day each. Which seems "light" just on the face of it. So I threw in another 6 dinner servings of freeze dried. So now we have at least 3 dinner servings each for the whole trip. But that still totals only about 16 lbs, for two people, for five days. I honestly think we have enough food at that weight. A little light on the day time snacks/lunch perhaps, but enough breakfast and dinner that I think we might have trouble eating it all. And I've used my new Jetboil Sol Ti enough on car camping trips, that to me it doesn't seem like it would be much bother to whip up a hot lunch from the probably surplus dinner servings if we feel like it.

Due to my inexperience, I'm going to "play it safe" and add another couple pounds of jerky and dried fuits to get us closer to that 2 lbs a day thing. But, I can't help suspecting we'll end up carrying some of this food 50 miles and bringing it home? Especially considering the fire restrictions up there have been lifted and I'm sure we'll have at least one or two meals of fish?

Anyway... I know this is something I'll get a handle on myself with experience and learn how to plan for "enough" without carrying needless weight. But it also got me very curious as to how you more experienced folks plan your food weight?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, opinions or advice you'd like to share! Having an active thread going on this topic will help me from bouncing off the walls today. I'm stoked to get going on the trail in the morning!

- DAA
 

uintafly

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Mar 1, 2012
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Personally I would NEVER be able to eat what would amount to be 4 servings of freeze dried food for dinner. In fact, I have trouble finishing off one of the "2 serving" packages. Also 5 nights of freeze dried gets really old for me. If I was you I would at least try to mix it up a bit in the beginning. One thing I love to do is cook up some fajitas before hand and keep it in the cooler on the way up and have a good tasty meal on the first night.

For lunches I like those tuna and cracker packages that come with the mayo and relish packages. They are tasty, light and cheap. Another good lunch is to buy the salami packages that don't need to be refrigerated and some of those small cheese wheels to smother on some pita bread. The salami and cheese will stay good until opened and the pita is usually good for a few days, but if you switch the pita fot tortillas they will last longer.
 

Waynee-ack

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Feb 23, 2012
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I've been reading a book called "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips" by Mike Clelland. The author of this book advocates 1.4 lbs of food per person per day. I personally think you should plan by calorie count per day and plan about 3000 calories per person per day. The calorie density of the food you choose will determine the weight per day. Also plan a variety, the freeze dried stuff gets old quick.
 

DAA

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Personally I would NEVER be able to eat what would amount to be 4 servings of freeze dried food for dinner.... Also 5 nights of freeze dried gets really old for me.

These thoughts have occurred to me :lol:. I think perhaps part of the discrepency between the weight I had packed and the "rule of thumb" I'm referencing, is that experienced BP'ers probably don't plan on all freeze dried junk for a whole trip. Both due to getting tired of it, and the not inconsiderable expense of that much commercially prepared freeze dried junk. I was semi blown away at how much all that freeze dried stuff cost!


I've been reading a book called "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips" by Mike Clelland. The author of this book advocates 1.4 lbs of food per person per day. I personally think you should plan by calorie count per day and plan about 3000 calories per person per day.

Interesting... 1.4 pounds per day is almost exactly what I had originally packed and thought sufficient - before weighing it all. I have looked at the calories too, and again, that original 1.4 lbs per day I assembled, had more calories than I think we'll need - in excess of 3000 each per day. Some of those deserts, especially, are very calorie dense - likewise the nuts and chocolate.

Heading to the store later today, I'll look for some different stuff as suggested and probably pull out the extra freeze dried dinner rations. And not obsess too much over the fact we'll end up well under 2 lbs a day each. Lord knows I dont need any extra weight to carry!

- DAA
 

Dan

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Feb 24, 2012
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it all depends. everyone metabolizes food differently, exerts more energy in a day, etc... it's really trial and error, find what works for you.

i aim for about 4000 calories a day, which ends up being right about 2 lbs a day. Your food should average around 120 calories an ounce. 32 ounces generally gets me pretty close to that, and 4k is usually just about right for me for a 5 day trip.
 

DAA

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So I'm glad I started this discussion, as it has resulted in action, that I think will make a better trip.

Will spare you all the intricate convolutions of reasoning and overly specific detail. But, bottom line, is I went and picked up some salami, cheese, crackers, tortillas, tuna salad in a pouch, dried fruit, jerky etc. Went through the whole big pile of freeze dried again and just packed what I thought we would really need and want - while keeping a tally of calories. And - I decided to PLAN on one dinner and one breakfast of fish - I'm very confident we can do that, but also confident we won't starve or anything even if we don't. Ended up at 1.6 pounds each for the trip, with a much better variety and a lot more "non freeze dried". That cheese and salami is HEAVY though! Gonna have to gobble it up first :D.

And I agree very much with the trial and error and personal aspects. It has to be that way. I'm pretty tuned in to my own food needs on a day-to-day basis at various exertion levels and know that at my age, I really don't need that much compared to what I used to. My Son is only a buck-ten soaking wet and eats like a bird, if I can get him to eat 3/4 of what I have packed for him, it will be a good bit more than he normally eats.

Appreciate all the input!

- DAA
 

Dan

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Feb 24, 2012
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side note, cheese and salami should weigh, by caloric density at least, very close to what you are hoping to average. shouldn't need to eat it early, unless you got "low fat." on the trail, i crave cheese more than any other food. i often carry pounds of it. salami is great on the trail.

only other recommendation i have is to make sure you carry lots of salty foods, especially if you are prone to cramping or dehydrating (like I am.) i carry a few ounces of Morton Lite Salt to mix with my crystal light and that seems to help alot.
 

Dan

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Feb 24, 2012
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sorry - salami might have a little less calories per ounce than i was thinking of. i usually carry pepperoni - which has more i believe.
 

HomerJ

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Jan 19, 2012
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Take a can (or two) of Pringles! Super light, can protects them from being crushed, and the salty snack is awesome after being in a few days! I took some in on my first backpacking trip and now everyone I went with packs a can!
 

DAA

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Funny you should mention that, I was eyeballing Pringles at the store, but balked at the bulk of full sized cans, so packed us each one of those little mini Pringles :cool:.

- DAA
 

Dan

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i go the other way entirely - i pre-smash all my chips. then just pour them in my mouth on the trail. saves space, i'm just going to chew them anyways! i love the pringles though, great trail food.
 

DAA

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Ha! I like that thinking. Never would have thought of smashing Pringles, I mean, I'm old enough to remember when they first came to market their marketing thrust centered around fitting a "whole bag" in a little can due to their formed/staked shape. But I just took about half a can of Pringles we had in the pantry (salt & vinegar), put them in a ziplock - then put them on the scale. 3.2 oz. And after smashing takes up only a fraction of the space they did in the can. Good tip! They are in my pack now. Bonus pringles for the trip :D.

- DAA
 

DAA

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Jun 14, 2012
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So, got home last night - food situation worked out just about perfect. We had about a pound of food left over, one freeze dried dinner, one breakfast, one desert, a few bars and a little bit of trail mix. We both weighed ourselves Monday morning just before leaving and again this morning - neither one of us lost or gained at all - both weigh exactly the same this morning as we did before five days/five nights/60 miles in the Uintas.

Trip was AWESOME!!

- DAA
 
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