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Lightweight extended tripping food

I am planning for a four week kayak trip. I am running into a probably very common problem, space and weight. I do not want to resupply on food. Right now my problem is lunch. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with nutritional gels. I need to make sure I am consuming enough calories. I am 5'10" 200 pounds and hope to achive fifty miles or more a day. Based on past trips that is in my ball park.

For breakfast I am considering a cliff bar. I have had good luck with those in the past. For lunch I am looking at two power bars. For dinner powdered mashed potatoes, and when I have a fire I will eat rice/pasta.

I am comfortable with being a little hungry throughout the day, and being full at night. I am willing to sacrifice taste for lower weight and mass. At this point I am on the very low end of calories.

I would love advice on different tactics, and meal plans.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.



  • lightweight but add boiled water
    I like jerky and dried fruit for lunch no cooking needed. Pancake mix that you just add water (honey or syrup is heavy, but powdered sugar is light), instant coco, instant oatmeal, or grits for breakfast are fine with me. I also like to vary freeze-dried Mt. House meals in the evenings, sometimes pouring the beef stew over instant potatoes. Energy and granola bars are also part of my meal plan, but they do weight more, and in cooler weather I carry chocolate bars. I plan to at least boil water for morning and evening meals.

    If one has the time and the area provides for some easy foraging and fishing then you can add food you don’t have to carry.
  • cytomax
    I use and recommend Cytomax drink mix for long days of paddling. You need the liquids anyway, and it provides enough sustained energy that I don't get hungry, and have in fact cut down on how much other stuff like granola bars/nutragrain/gorp/aprocots that I bring for lunch. The stuff works very well for me - the harder I work, the better it seems to be. I buy the large containers, and pre-package two or more pint servings in baggies sandwich bags - use a folded piece of paper for a "funnel" to pour it from the baggie into the water bottle - (I use small opening bottles).
  • Bulk snacks section of Whole Foods
    They sell a lot of wholesome bite-sized snacks that combine protein, fat, and carbs. Besides the obvious choice of nuts, there are some tasty cubes of minced nuts-cocoa-wholegrains that pack a lot of nutrition into a small space.

    I should've brought some of those on my long trip; I was quickly losing weight. PB and jerky were well-appreciated.

    For more common snacks that pack well, I bring Corn Nuts. No crushing threat.
  • another light just add water meal
    is stovetop stuffing.
  • Another light cooking option
    Is a boxed mix of macaroni and cheese that you add water too, and you can find it at the grocery store.
  • lots
    nuts have huge amounts of calories. A handfull will have more than what you named for lunch.
    jerky, candy, energy bars, to add too for lunch.
  • I have a number of items for
    eating on the go..

    We are paddling 1000 miles on the Yukon and have to do fifty miles a day. We use jerky, cheese, nuts, gorp, power bars and dried fruits for lunch. I personally have never used any of those power gels. I find I work best on protein and and some carbs and fats.

    Same for the Everglades where getting off the water for lunch is a problem. Its usually easier to eat on the go and snack every two hours.
  • enough calories?
    You are probably going to want ~4000 calories per day, as you will burn a lot while paddling. More if you are paddling flat water (so currents not helping you achieve that 50 miles a day - truthfully 50 would be a big stretch for flat water).

    Clif and Power Bars are maybe 200 calories each, so breakfast and lunch would get you 600 calories. You may want to look at meal replacement bars instead of regular energy bars. Only slightly larger than an energy bar, but twice the calories. I like ProBar.

    That said, even switching to a meal bar for breakfast and 2 for lunch will barely scratch your caloric needs.

    High caloric, but low volume, foods:
    - look for pastas with no hollow space. Tube pastas (macaroni, ziti, etc.) should be non go - lots of wasted space in them. Strait pasta could be Ok, as it is relatively efficient. Grain style pasta, like orzo or cous cous, are best.
    - nuts are high energy, but they often have a lot of air space between them due to odd shapes. One way to make them smaller is have them in butter form - peanut butter, almond butter, etc.
    - eat dried grains, like instant oatmeal.
    - you can dehydrate lots of stuff if you have a dehydrator (or just use your oven, but that is less efficient). I think there was a recent article on this site on dehydrating foods. Some is available dehydrated (guess you could call jerky dehydrated meat).

    Harvesting foods en route can save you space and provide variation for meals. Had lots of blackberries on a pair of trips I did in the Pacific Northwest. Even just getting a kelp salad added to the meals along the CA coast. Read up on what is in your area and bring some gear (like basic fishing gear). You could stick to safe stuff (so no mushroom harvesting if there are dangerous ones in the area you will be), and still find a lot. Fish, shellfish, wild rice, berries, etc.
  • geography
    I am paddling the lower mississippi. I made fifty miles on the lower wabash, and had no problem getting fifty on the ohio river. So as long as I don't get to exhausted that shouldn't be a huge problem. I am doing a week on the the St. Croix next week, and I am trying some new foods out. I like pasta but the cook time is what concerns me. Right now I switch between a pocket rocket and jetboil, I haven't decided which one I'm taking. Anyway as you all know those canisters take up a lot of space, and I want to take as little as possible. I am not a cook so this might be a stupid question, but what if I add the pasta and water to a naligene bottle in the morning and let it soak all day? In past trips I have taken a squeeze bottle of butter substitute, it adds some flavor. I do not want to take fishing equipment with me. I have taken poles with me on other long trips and just end up getting in my way.
  • If you haven't tried freeze-dry
    With the Mountain House and other brands all you do is just bring a cup or two to a boil and pour the water into the bag they come in. Then let them sit about 10 minutes and eat. The pancakes, stove top stuffing, and mac&cheese require more cooking time. The large canister of iso propane for my pocket rocket is good for 8 meals plus hot beverages for two people. That is four days cooking for two with each canister. Cooking for 1 you should get more meals than that.

    I have no idea about soaking the pasta in a nalgene bottle.
  • Options
    might want to check out backpacking foods. do a google search or http://www.backcountry.net/arch/at/9909/msg00100.html. you will find food averages out to about 100 calories per oz. at 4000 a day (5000 towards the end) comes out to 2.5-3.1 lbs per day. on most of my trips am OK with 2500 cal for the first 7 days, but when the hunger kicks in there is no stopping it. for pasta i would use like Knorr instant noodles and rice. packs of instant oatmeal do not have to be cooked, just wait about 15 minutes. i add raisins and nuts to it. lunch was 2 packs of tuna, bagel w/peanut butter, snickers or granola bar. i drank about 4-5 liters of water a day. i've done 2, 60 day drips, but i re-supplied every 5 days. have you considered a mail drop mid-trip?
  • liquid option
    I've had pretty good luck with the mix-with-water powders from Hammer Nutrition that are formulated for endurance events. http://hammernutrition.com/

    I've also found that using a protein supplement shortly after I finish paddling helps my muscles recover better.
  • Think about real food
    you need a balance of protein, carbs and fats, especially for long distance.

    We just finished up a two week trip on a large river covering some six hundred miles. (the entire river is much longer at over two thousand miles). Its the scene of two endurance races. Checkpoint property owners report that those that are young tend to run hard and use only chemically energized foods that you find in the health food section. The winners tend to eat real food and paddle at a more measured pace. This pace covers some 500 miles in 56 hours.

    Nuts dried fruits, dried meats and whole grains are going to keep you going. A Cliff Bar simply lacks punch.

    Dont forget the water. We did some 65 miles in six hours one day with real food and remembering to drink two or three liters of water each. Another day was a Clif bar day and we simply forgot to eat. We were done after only 40 miles.

    Too many carbs and too little water leads to a very bad paddling problem..constipation. Just another thought.
  • I paddle the BC coast....
    -- Last Updated: Aug-21-12 11:27 PM EST --

    ....2 to 3 weeks at a time.
    I figure that I burn ~425 calories per hour.
    Each day I eat:
    Breakfast - 2 qty packets of instant oatmeal = 420 calories and 1/2 cups of water plus one cup of Starbucks Via instant coffee.
    Approx 2 hours later I eat a Probar = 370-400-ish calories.
    Two hours later is Lunch. A flour tortilla with salami and cheese + 425 calories.
    Approximately 2 hours later I eat a Hammer Bar (~220 caloies and 9-ish grams of protein.
    Dinner is freeze dried (add 1.5 - 2 cups) boiling water and eat out of a bag = 425 - 700 calories depending on the meal.
    Whenever I feel myself flagging in between I take a hit (100 calories) of Hammer Gel from a jug that I carry in my PFD.
    I can feel my energy level and when I need a hit I take it and feel the results.
    I also budget 5 pounds of personal fat burn per week (I can afford it).
    This works for me. I feel strong and paddle well using this program.

    Nothing fancy. No snacks. No special meals.

    I just returned from a two week trip on the BC coast feeling strong and was 10 pounds lighter. This plan works for me.


  • Freezer bag meals
    They may be too heavy for everyday but they would make a good treat. Their website http://www.trailcooking.com/

    My own version uses 1pkg whatever flavor mashed potatoes you like, 1/4 c shelf stable bacon bits, 1 tsp chicken bouillion (low salt) optional butter powder (for popcorn), and a pack of chicken. makes 2 average or 1 large serving.

    Good luck
  • Options
    Done both...
    Real food and freeze dried.

    I find freeze dried to be the best option because they don't take up a lot of space, they are water tight until opened, they are very light, and the will not spoil.

    A freeze dried one-serving mail will be balanced with protien, fat, and carbs that you need to maintain your energy, they are easy to prepare (boil water, add to pouch, set your tent and sleeping bag up, dinner is ready. They take up almost no space in your trash bag, there are no dishes to wash, and no special pots and pans to carry (only your pot to boil water in.)

    As far as lunch and breakfast go, that's really the place to vary your menu. I find Cliff's bars and beef (or other meat) jerky to be a good breakfast (I usually eat the Cliff's bars in camp, then gnaw on the jerky for the first 30 minutes or so on the water.) I also like bagles and peanut butter with pre-cooked bacon. For lunches, hard salami and cheese in a pita or tortilla is a good lunch, and for me at least, satisfies the craving for fresh food. Pitas and tortillas are great because they don't squish, and you can carry several days' worth in a smaller space than bread. And if they get wet, they don't fall apart. I prefer pita, but they are both great.
  • Food
    Cooked bacon is available. No refridgeration needed and the several small packets are great for 1 or 2 people. Weight is almost zero too. The uncooked stuff is available sealed but is much greater in weight and volume.
  • Quinoa is a super grain
    One grain I would suggest is quinoa (keen-wha). It's originally from the Andes and was a prized grain of the Incas.

    Quinoa has excellent nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This is extremely rare for a plant source.

    Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. It’s a gluten free complex carbohydrate that is filling with a slow "burn" rate.

    And it come in an instant form with a variety of mixes.
  • There are some great ideas here.....
    -- Last Updated: Aug-21-12 11:35 PM EST --

    .....and one thing that you have to figure out, aside from storage space, is what will work with your digestive system. Also, are you making a trip on fresh water that you can filter and use or salt water where you may have to find, filter and carry water.

    A very important consideration is that what you take on an extended trip is that you will probably not be eating what you normally eat on a daily basis and your body may take some time to think about it, especially if you are considering using energy and food replacement bars as your main food source.

    Some of these ideas, including my own, may be "unsettling" and most wilderness experiences aren't equipped to gracefully accommodate the realities of diet change so be aware and conscious of local and environmental requirements.

    I clearly recall using pages from Mark Twain's "Roughing It" for personal hygiene due to a toilet paper shortage.

    Maybe too much information but at one time I was really broke but needed to compete in a national sporting competition. I scrounged around for sponsorship and, not being a high seed (for a good reason), I didn't secure the support I hoped for but did find a meal replacement bar company to provide me with a diet very similar to what you suggested.

    I can tell you that the support provided the required calories but kind of slowed my digestion (if you get my meaning). Kinda made me uncomfortable. I would never go that route again unless faced with Armageddon.

    On the other hand if your trip diet produces loose bowels you have this other, environmental and resource intensive, problem and you may want to carry lots of toilet paper and be prepared to squat over a hole below the next expected high tide line. Am I being too graphic?

    From my standpoint I am thinking about 4 weeks and supplies. If you are paddling on fresh water and can filter what you spend your day on that is a bonus because you don't have to carry a supply. Salt water will complicate your storage question.

    I think that 4 weeks produces a supply issue and that energy bars aren't a reliable food source for that period of time. Resupply or the expectation of defining the limits of considerable gastric experimentation within testing parameters should be tested now and established before being planned and implemented.

  • Light weight extended tripping food
    PB2 (powdered peanut butter), 1 6.5 oz plastic jar makes 15 servings of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Mix 2TBS of powder and 1 TBS of water. If you need fat, it won't get you there -- only 13 fat calories (85% less fat than traditional pnut butter) and 45 calories per 2 Tbs and only 5g of carbs. If you're paddling 50 miles, you probably want more carbs and fat. But if you like Peanut butter and chocolate, PB2 is available with chocolate -- a 2 TBS dessert! Try googling Bell Plantation, Inc. for dealers near you who sell the item -- it's new.
  • Food for a month
    The diet you propose would be a disaster. It is way to low in protein, fruits, vegetables and calories. I agree with the other posters, but they are being gentle in their responses. Add dried fruit everyday. Add raw vegetables for snacks and cooked ones for dinner. Double the quantity unless you want to weigh 165 pounds when you return.

    Paddling and living outdoors uses a lot of calories. You are going to need 4500 calories a day, and sometimes more like 6000. Your plan sounds like about 2500 a day. Get some help with the meal planning or run the risk of getting cold, infections, compromised immune system, lack of energy, etc.
  • Help
    -- Last Updated: Sep-14-12 11:26 PM EST --

    Thank you for your subtle suggestions, help is what I was looking for ppine. It sounds like you are an expert, and have done this before, what did you take? I am paddling the lower Mississippi in a prijion marlin. I have about 90 pounds to play around with. Right now I am 8 on sleeping gear, 6 on clothes, 15 on misc. gear, 15 liters of water. I am doing this solo so I don't want to leave the boat unless it is a last resort. I am basing my exploratory food menu on previous two week trips. I am worried about my nutrition that is why I posed the question. Thanks to everyone who has posted it has been a great help.

  • "Think about real food..."
    This is good advice. Also important on a long trip that you get enough calories and for most people that means a LOT more than you get in your normal life.
  • Food Help
    I like to eat close to what I eat at home. Oatmeal and fruit, egg tacos, pancakes for breakfast. Flat meat, cheese, fruit, crackers, canned fish, jerky, nuts, Gorp for lunch. Dinners are cooked in one pot like pasta with meat, beef stew, enchiladas, fajitas, plus some salad. You can cheat with MREs, or dehydrated food for convenience, but I find cooking to be very enjoyable on boat trips. I would find a water filter device so you don't have to haul all of that weight around. Plan on restocking groceries every week or so. Hope this helps.
  • Eat like the old timers.
    If you really want to cut down on weight, you're going to have to eliminate moisture. That means dry foods. Corn meal, dry beans, flour, pasta, etc. Salted pork, jerky, or bacon will add flavor. Get good at making frybread and buy a GSI 2 qt. LW pressure cooker. If you can supplement with fish or small game, maybe some berries, you're doin' it like the pioneers, and about as self-contained as it gets.
  • Options
    cannibal set-up
    -- Last Updated: Aug-18-14 8:32 PM EST --

    A Powerbar for breakfast and two Powerbars for lunch on a four week trip???

    You are 5'10" 200 lbs... just visualizing those proportions = a person who is used to eating three square meals and maybe a snack or two?...

    My suggestion is to go alone or you might end up eating your companions. Sounds like a death march from hell.

    Anyway, skip the pre-fab goo and gels. No matter the claims, they are mostly hype. Eat pure honey instead.

  • carry cans!
    -- Last Updated: Aug-19-14 10:38 PM EST --

    I never got the concept of carrying dried food if your going to carry the water you need with you. Unless your getting your water from the river and filtering it I'd pack some canned food. You'll have some additional trash but you won't need to carry water to rehydrate the food- which is where the weight is. So you might as well just carry it in the cans. If your resupplying with water daily then that's a little bit different. I'd definately look to resupply food and even scout out an eatery or two along your route. It will be worth the trouble and provide a nice break. Food is a great motivator.

    Before cliff and granola bars were available we made citadel spread and hudson bay bread. You can google either and come up with the recipes. You can pack a jar of peanut butter and use some drink mixes with sugar. Both are calorie laden.

    Your body demands certain foods after awhile- hiking the AT many moons ago I hitchhiked from Sherburn Pass to the Rutland Vermont McDonalds. I ate a bunch of cheeseburgers and packed about 8 or 9 more which I ate cold for the next day and a half without refrigeration. Ice cream is another common crave when you start burning fats. So I second the suggestion to carry nuts.

    I like to carry some loosener and binder foods as well-
    I actually like dried prunes but they literally go right through me and cheese has the opposite effect so you can eat according to your bowel needs.

    For packability I like the pepperidge farm bread. I found bagels mold pretty quick but do pack well.

    Lots of stuff tastes good when you get hungry and start craving calories- raw ramen noodles, cold instant oatmeal packets, spoon fulls of drink mix.

    I used squeeze parkay unrefrigerated for weeks on end and I'm still here.

  • Pasta on a Procket
    Bring the water to a boil, just boil for a min or two, then wrap your pot (with lid) in a towel or extra clothes and let it steep. It will take longer, but it will keep cooking. Figure about 11-13 min on a 7 min pasta. Same with rice dishes. Dont waste fuel trying to simmer, just boil and wrap. (red beans and rice side = good. Add prepack beef, or spam, = better) Using a hobo stove as a primary that you can boil with a handful of sticks and keeping the PR with 2 large cans of isopro for when it rains or there is a problem would let you cook at each meal.
    IMHO, you are real light on protien and are planning to go to far without. If you can find smallish summer sausage (prepack) and vacume pack a bagle (they look funky without air) you have lunch.
    If you strip your camping gear to a bivi and dont get upwind of humans, you can pack a lot of food but I think you will be pushing it to keep a healthy diet for 28 days with your plan. I could see 5 on protien bars, but you will be running out of steam after that.
  • grits
    grits grits grits

    small soup pasta added to ?

    Walmart sells a good dried tropical fruit mix

    see Campmor.com for freeze dried food

  • 3.2 lb
    per day.

    90lb/28. That sounds doable but you are going to be maxed out weight wise for the first few days.

    http://www.foodsaver.com/vacuum-sealers/FSFSSL2244-P00.html#start=12 I vac each meal together, then vac each day together. Coffee, bfast, lunch, dinner, gatoraid, snacks, one bag per day. I do that for a few reasons, first it cuts down the size. Second, you grab a bag in the AM and you leave everything else in place. Third, the days trash goes back into the days bag. Forth, if water gets to the food compartment, who cares?

    Take Dawn DW for your pot, you can use it on you also. I know after about 3 days I need to take a swim with a scrub. Makes the trip much better.
  • Options
    from paradise to hell in four weeks
    Four weeks chained to your kayak sounds like POW training. loading your canoe to absolute maximum and eating rehydrated camp food for a month as you meander through the arteries of old downtowns and the stretches of rooted clay and sand banks that stretch between them. Hmm... could be fascinating or it could be a three-hour-tour from hell.

    I would plan to stash your canoe in hiding and then cruise into towns. Most rivers flow through old downtowns that were lost to Mall fever in the 1980s, then cities blew a lot of money back into them to try to re-inflate the old downtown balloons. Most of the time, it didn't work. SO.... the best you are going to get will be going to downtown diners and restaurants. Most old downtowns do not have grocery stores.

    You will very much appreciate eating at a restaurant after several days eating riverside from your kayak camp. Fresh salad will seem like Godsent

    You can take a taxi to grocery stores or call ahead to locally owned groceries and see if you can arrange delivery - perhaps by local taxi - which will cost you $20 extra at least.
  • Yukon River race food
    -- Last Updated: Aug-21-14 9:27 AM EST --

    I've paddled the Yukon 1000 mile canoe race (Y1K) twice, and the 440 mile Yukon River Quest (YRQ) twice. It takes a lot of efficiently digested calories to go that far at race pace. Although they both start from Whitehorse and the first half of the Y1K route is the same as the YRQ, they are very different races - physically, logistically, strategically, and nutritionally.

    The first mandatory rest stop on the YRQ is 185 miles from the start, and most serious racers do not stop at all before then. For my voyageur team, that first leg distance takes about 21 hours, nonstop.

    As with any marathon endurance race (at least when canoeing), frequent calorie intake is necessary, and it can't take the time of missing more than a couple of canoe strokes. But it is important to keep internal systems working. Under hard working stress, the digestive system tends to shut down and food becomes difficult to swallow if that happens.

    I find that frequent small bites of something, especially fruit, will keep the digestion going between times of more substantial intake. So I have a container of cherries along with small soft candies (bits of snickers and twizzlers and the like) mounted within easy reach. A couple of cherries or grapes every 15-20 minutes does the trick. Small smoked sausages are popular Yukon food (as seen from the large stocks in local grocery stores), so I might grab a bite of one of those.

    Every 60-90 minutes, before the "energy bonk", something more is needed. Many of us like boiled eggs (pre-shelled) or small boiled salt potatoes and hard cheese. Liquid Ensure or Boost or Instant Breakfast are also good -I'll have one of those every 2-3 hours. What the heck, even a pb&j or half a ham sandwich stuffed in the mouth will keep you going. I also like fig newtons or snickers and granola bars for variety.

    On the YRQ, our pit crew meets us with a real meal at the mandatory 185 mile stop, along with a 7-hour rest and replenishment of our food bags to last the remainder of the race, before shoving us off again. 150 miles later we get another 3 hour mandatory stop, this time without pit crew support, but there is a soup and sandwich meal provided at an isolated remote roadhouse on the river.

    The Y1K race, also starting from Whitehorse, is much different. It is to be totally self-sufficient, with no pre-designated location rest stops and no pit crew support of any kind allowed. The only strict requirement is we are required to stop for a 6 hour window per "night" (it doesn't get dark) at whatever random sand bar looks good to us at the time.

    Snack food remains much the same as for the YRQ, but now we have to bring and prepare our own major meals of breakfast and dinner. A diet of Cliff bars won't hack it. For the inaugural Y1K in 2009, the race organizers required 20 kg (44 pounds!) of food per person to be taken onboard at the race start. It didn't matter if it was high quality dehydrated food or cans of beans (but they would not count a 50 pound bag of potatoes or large watermelons). They figured a week for fast boats, two weeks for slowest, plus a third week for emergency or weather hold over. In addition, it had to all fit into IGBC certified bear resistant containers that are required for travel through the section of the Yukon-Charlie National Preserve.

    I was responsible for obtaining the daily main meals. I home dehydrated high quality real food meals for all breakfasts and dinners, supplemented with a small selection of supermarket off the shelf items. We could not include the weight of water to make the food edible. Do the math, 20kg each for 7 voyageur crew members. At meal time, while the others continued to paddle, one crew member heated water and filled each paddler's mug with hot food, to be eaten one at a time while still underway.

    We finished the first Y1K in a bit over 6 days with almost 3/4 of the food left over. No one went hungry and no one lost weight as we paddled at race pace for a strict to-the-minute 18 hours per day. Thankfully, that ridiculous food weight requirement was dropped for subsequent Y1K races. In 2011 I dehydrated and packaged enough food for 10 days. We again finished the Y1K in just over 6 days, this time with far less food left over.

  • dehydrate
    I've done 6 weeks unsupported. Dehydrate all your own fruits and veggies and make your own one pot meals. Easy to do and cuts down on weight. Plenty of dried soup stocks and such as stores now days or make your own.
  • food on the river
    Tdaniel sounds like he is a long distance tripper. After awhile, say 7-10 days town food sounds really good. It would probably not be that hard to find towns for resupply. Thirty days worth of freeze-dried food would be torture for me. I would plan to resupply if it was somewhat out of the way. Paddling 50 miles a day is going to generate a huge appetite by about day 7.
  • food
    peanut butter
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