Comparing the Costs of Backpacking Food

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When it comes to nutritional value; you get what you pay for

Deciding to eat clean is as much of a financial investment as it is a lifestyle commitment. Families that eat organic and locally sourced goods spend two to three times more on their groceries than their average counterparts. So why spend $300 at the grocery store when you could spend $150? Because of the quality of the ingredients you’ve chosen to feed yourself and your family. The same rule applies to backpacking food. Sure, there are plenty of people that can get by on ramen noodles and snickers bars, but what happens when you invest in a nutritionally balanced meal plan? The results might surprise you! In this post we’re going to compare the cost and nutritional value of three single day backcountry meal plans.

Meal Planning for the Backcountry

Meal planning is one of the most important considerations when planning a backcountry trip. While you are in the backcountry burning extra calories your focus on quality nutrition becomes all the more important. Backpackers want to plan to make sure their caloric needs are met AND that their packs aren’t weighed down with a bunch of heavy food and packaging. Click here to learn more about backcountry meal planning.

The Value of a Well Balanced Diet

For the health conscious hiker, meal planning for the backcountry is about more than counting calories and crunching ounces. To maintain weight and athletic stamina in the backcountry, one needs to also consider a balanced consumption of macronutrients; carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Protein especially is a backpacker’s best friend. Click here to learn more about why we LOVE protein in the backcountry.

Now let’s dive into these menus!

Most Nutritious Backcountry Menu

One day with 3,000 and 4,000 calorie options

Click here for the complete 3 day backpacking menu for healthy hikers!

Backpacking menu, backpacking meal planning

For an additional 1,000 calories/day add:

Pros: There’s a lot to love about the meal plan shown above. Hungry hikers have the option to choose between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Depending on your body weight, you can adjust the amount of protein you consume to match one 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Cons: At $50 a day, this menu isn’t an option for a lot of budget conscious hikers. And all of these tasty treats weigh in 1.6-2.1 pounds depending on the calorie option you select. For hungry hikers the extra .5-1 pounds of food a day can be essential for staying satiated.

Regular Ralph’s Backcountry Menu

Pros: This menu option is more budget friendly and weighs in at a harmless 1.3 pounds.

Cons: This menu provides less than 2,000 calories, not even enough to sustain most adults during a normal day at work. Plus, this menu provides a very imbalanced distribution of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Someone eating this menu would eat twice as many carbohydrates as protein or fat and not enough protein to sustain a 90 pound individual.

Daryl Dirtbag’s Backpacking Roundup

Pros: This is the MOST budget friendly options and the LIGHTEST option, but what are the trade offs?

Cons: Get ready to battle with hiker hunger if this is your meal plan. This pound of food provides less than 2,000 calories. Someone eating this menu will consume twice as many carbohydrates as protein or fat and not enough protein to sustain an 80 pound individual.

In Summary: You Get What You Pay For

There will always be hikers that fuel up after a long day with a hot stove of ramen noodle soup-and hey-more power to you! But if you’re the type of person that doesn’t flinch at the site of your Whole Foods receipt, then nutrition-conscious backcountry meal planning is for you! Click here to download our meal planning worksheet and start customizing your own adventure menu. To shop Heather’s Choice nutritious and ultralight backpacking food click here.

Backpacking Meal Planning Nutrition

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