Weight of food for a trip?

Venchka

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Aug 6, 2015
Messages
330
As long as I can remember, sound backpacking advice says, "2 pounds of food per person per day."
I always thought that the 2 pounds would be the cooked weight meaning that dehydrated and freeze dried foods didn't have to equal 2 pounds.
Then I read on the Internet that folks are carrying as much as 10 pounds of food for 4 days. Last summer I packed a food bag with what I thought was a week's worth of food (dehydrated, freeze dried, ready to eat, candy, etc.) and bag and all weighed 6.5 pounds. I ended up back at the car after 4 days and had a lot of food left over.
Am I ok? Just curious. Thanks for your help.
Wayne


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TannerT

Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
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May 15, 2013
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Good question! I generally follow that rule as well but try to average between 1.5 & 2 lbs/day. What I'm shooting for is variety. At elevation and under physical stress everyone's appetite is typically suppressed which means you'll end up eating less. To offset that I usually pack the normal stuff for the first 1-2 days and then I make sure I have fatty and sugary foods thereafter. Not a lot but more because the flavor is more powerful which helps me consume more calories. That's what I try and do.

Long and short, you're doing it right!

Salud!
T


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Jammer

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Feb 23, 2012
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I tend to average about 1.5-2.0 pounds of food per day on my long hikes. That average trends lower based on the duration of the trip/segment as I usually consume "heavier" foods for the first few days and then go "lighter" for the later days.
 

Bob

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I run at 1 1/4 per day....anything I eat. Depends on you personally though.
 

Perry

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When my brother and I did our nine-day Highline trip last year we found that food was one of our biggest challenges. When planning we were going for the same 2 lbs/day/person guideline. When we were choosing our food items we were trying to make sure everything we chose would be enjoyable to eat ensuring we could consume a sufficient amount of calories to support the endeavor. We were both really looking forward to all the goodies we chose.

When it came time to kit and pack it up we were very challenged with both space and weight. We had to get extremely creative to get it all in our packs. When it came time to weigh the packs we were looking at 57-60 lbs each.... pretty daunting but we were motivated so we accepted the challenge.

Once on the trail we quickly found that our appetites had unexpectedly diminished to where we were genuinely concerned we were not eating enough. It was a real challenge to eat. Add to this the realization that we were carrying food we weren't eating and we were desperate to reduce our pack weight. We made the decision to burn any food we had not eaten.

Long story short, we ended up getting about a day and half behind our schedule and found we were now short on food to make the entire trip. We had to make the decision to make an early exit rather than risk getting further behind and out of food. It was a tough thing.

What would I do differently on another long-distance trip? For one, I would pay more attention to calories / ounce when choosing items. Go for the best bang for the weight. We took too many tortillas, to many "heavy" snacks like Fig Newtons, etc. I think weight would have to be the bottom line for me on another long-distance trip.

Perry
 
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Bob

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I just resign myself for freeze dried for meals, add nuts, bars, energy stuff for snacks. Fish as supplement if there. After all its only 10 days..... I plan on losing weight, especially at high altitude. I always take one extra freeze dried just in case... Most people do get home with extra....
 

Parma

@parma26
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Feb 12, 2014
Messages
722
I've never really thought about staying in a certain weight per day. I looked at what I want/need to eat in a day.
my meals for one day:
breakfast- cliff bar and oatmeal
lunch- croissant with pepperoni or salami, mayo/mustard, cucumber and spinach. or a thin bagel with tunafish, mayo/mustard.
Dinner- mtn house
snacks per day- apple, trail mix, granola bar, peanut M&Ms.
Thanks to my handy dandy digital food scale I got recently, this all weighs about 1.5 lbs per day.
and I usually pack an extra granola bar, cliff bar and packet of oatmeal.
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Apr 8, 2015
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I don't plan for a specific weight per day but usually end up around 1.5lbs per day for myself (uncooked/unhydrated weight).
 

LarryBoy

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Jan 4, 2015
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As long as I can remember, sound backpacking advice says, "2 pounds of food per person per day."
I always thought that the 2 pounds would be the cooked weight meaning that dehydrated and freeze dried foods didn't have to equal 2 pounds.
Then I read on the Internet that folks are carrying as much as 10 pounds of food for 4 days. Last summer I packed a food bag with what I thought was a week's worth of food (dehydrated, freeze dried, ready to eat, candy, etc.) and bag and all weighed 6.5 pounds. I ended up back at the car after 4 days and had a lot of food left over.
Am I ok? Just curious. Thanks for your help.
Wayne


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I personally think that weight is a really bad way to go about apportioning food for a trip. I've gotten tripped up before where my food bag was plenty heavy, but half of it was gummy bears - those things don't provide much energy for their weight. Same thing with tuna or even jerky.

Rather, I like to think in terms of calories - for a simple weekend backpacking trip (Saturday and a half day Sunday), I know that in most cases I'll actually eat about 2000 calories a day. If I'm a little hungry when I get back to the car, that will just make the burger taste better in town. For a week-long trip, I'll pack around 3000 calories per day. I still only eat 2000 for the first couple days, but then the hiker hunger kicks in and I annihilate my food bag from there-on out. If I'm thru-hiking? Forget it, we're probably talking 4000/day. At that point though, practical concerns (that is to say, the weight of my food bag) take over and I just pack as much as I can reasonably carry.

As the Nutrition Facts on the back of the cereal box says, though, your calories may be higher or lower depending on your daily needs:

1) Your personal metabolism (some people go through more fuel than others)
2) Your daily mileage
3) The intensity of the miles
4) Ambient temperature

...and a million other factors. What I might suggest is next time you go out for a simple day hike, eat nothing but backpacking food all day and keep track of how many calories you're putting away. Add in a buffer for the fact that you tend to eat more as a trip progresses, and extrapolate. It's a good starting point at least :)

And then go destroy a Hot N Ready Pizza in town. That part is critical :)
 

fiber

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May 18, 2013
Messages
77
Any trip over 3 days I create a spreadsheet and target a daily calorie intake. The longer the backpacking trip, the higher the daily calorie intake. Nine day trips I target 2800 a day. I find that amount does not make my pack too heavy, keeps me feeling full all day, and when I come home I am only ~3 lbs lighter (which for most of us is an added bonus).

I have tried to carry 3000 cals a day, but find it makes my pack unmanageable heavy for trips over 5 days. It is also hard to eat that much dry/light weight food.
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
Messages
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Depends on what kind of trip, what length of trip, what kind of food, and what kind of person! I'm 6' and 200 lbs and would never eat 2 lbs a day, but on a strenuous trip I might budget 1.75 which would include some backup food.
I was once out 2 full days longer than planned on a trip due to a snowstorm. It had been a somewhat strenuous trip and I'd already lost some weight and was about ready to eat my trip partners before we got out.
 

Venchka

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2015
Messages
330
Thanks everyone. Like most of backpacking, the answer seems to be, "It depends."
I seem to be on the right track. I'm not afraid to have some food left over. It came in handy on the 2-3 hour drive back to civilization.
Wayne


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Carthus

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Jun 25, 2021
Messages
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I always go for backpacking trips with my family, and I like to measure the quantity either by calories or grams. On a standard trip, carry 3,500 food calories per person per day, approximately 2 pounds. In freezing weather, you might need 5,000 calories per day, which is around 3 pounds. I use a kitchen scale to help me with that since it shows how an actual food portion looks so that I can be mindful of my childrens' and husbands' eating. I get mine from https://www.amazon.com/Vont-Beautiful-Measurement-Stainless-Batteries/dp/B08SW6F5SZ. Hope I helped!
 
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balzaccom

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Sep 30, 2014
Messages
502
We are older (I'll be 69 in six weeks) and so I think we're somewhat outliers in this one. We take just about two pounds of dry-weight food per day, and that is for the two of us combined. Because we're older, we don't eat as much as we used to. And we're not doing this for weeks on end--a week-ling trip is about our limit. And we don't mind losing a little weight on a trip.

Our food looks a lot like Parma's but with dry crackers instead of croissants...and we hold the mayo, mustard, and lettuce. And we add miso soup to every dinner menu, both for the rehydration and the flavor. That said, we've never run out of food on a trip...
 

Bob

Trailmaster
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Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,796
lol..... my trips are Bobs weight loss....... I take 1.25 to 1.5 lbs PER day of eats.
 
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