As can be told by my last few post, I am preparing to head out on a “milestone” hike with my good buddy Gizmo Joe. By “milestone” I mean, this will be our first “SUL” hike that we each do, as well, we will also be churning out 3 of our longest days on the trail so far. We plan to hike a total 74+ miles of the Appalachian Trail which extends from Fontana Dam on the south side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to I-40, just a few miles past the north end of the park, in less than 3 days…
So, in order for us to push out a 23 mile day, followed by a 28+ mile day and then yet another 23 mile day, we need lots of food! To save from having to cover all of my gear and food that I plan to carry on this trip while actually on the trip, I have done some recent videos/write-ups on particular pieces of gear, as well as systems that I plan to carry/use on this hike. Then just a couple of days ago, I went over my entire “SUL” gear list I am using for this hike, as a whole. So, now it is time to wrap it up and talk a little about what I plan to keep my body nourished with while on the trail… and then it is off to the trail!
I have found that I can usually get away with anywhere from 1 to 1.2 lbs of food per day while on an ordinary 12-ish mile day hiking trip that only last 3 days. However, for this particular trip, we will be putting in longer days, so I have decided to up the amount of food for this trip to around 1.66 lbs per day. However, I do not feel like this is a fair representation considering this does not count my breakfast on the first morning, or my dinner on the last day. I feel that a better way is to look at the individual daily weights:
- Day 1: 25.6 oz (1.6 lbs)
- Day 2: 33.3 oz (2.08 lbs)
- Day 3: 20.8 oz (1.3 lbs)
Or instead of simply looking at weights, we can look at it by daily calories:
- Day 1: 3,195
- Day 2: 3,980
- Day 3: 2,440
As can be seen, the middle day is much higher in both weight and calories, but this is to be expected. I will eat breakfast on the way to the trail the first morning, so those numbers are “0.” As well, on the last day, we will be done with our hike before dinner time, so there again, that number is figured in at “0.” However, I will admit…I have a little secret in here too… On the second day, there is a very good chance that my wife will meet us at Newfound Gap with a nice, fat Subway sandwich… so, that means our second day we will possibly have a few more calories, but at zero weight gain! :)
Considering the amount of miles that we plan to cover each day, our goal is to be up, fed, packed and on the trail by 5 am each morning. So, in light of this, I have decided to make my breakfast easy and fast. In order to do this, for both mornings I have decided to carry Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, a blueberry bagel, a packet of Instant Carnation with powdered milk and 1 packet Emergen-C for breakfast. None of these foods will require me to “cook” and can be eaten right out of the pack. As well, all of these foods add up to around 780 calories, which should be enough to get me going in the mornings!
I have decided against carrying anything I actually call “lunch.” I have never been too happy about stopping in the middle of a hot day, to pull out all sorts of stuff to prepare a “lunch” that I have just not been happy with. So, on the last few trips, I tried to just go with some sort of bar throughout the day. This has proven to be a much better experience for me all around. I enjoyed the bars I had, plus they were quick and easy. No fuss!
So, with this in mind, I decided to do the same for this trip. However, again with all the miles we plan to put in per day on this hike, I decided that I needed to make sure that I had plenty of “snacks” to keep me going throughout the day. So, I decided on 6 “snacks” per day, which range from 150 – 380 calories apiece (or ~ 1,700 calories total per day). This will allow me to stop every 2 hours, pull my shoes off and enjoy a quick snack to keep myself energized, for up to 12 hours. At which time I hope that I am either at camp, or almost there…
Once I arrive at camp, I have prepared a succulent, Fast Pack Pad Thai meal, with a delicious Arctic White Hot Chocolate drink and a Little Debbie Brownie with nuts for desert! This meal will pack in right around 1,500 calories and should give my body plenty of energy to keep me warm through the night…
Then, I will get up the next morning and do it all again… :)
Protecting My Food
It is very important to me that I wake up the next morning to my food bag just the way that I left it the night before. In order to do this, I choose to take a few precautions…
First, I choose to use an “odorproof” bag to store all of my food in. I know that there are lots of discussions out there that argue both sides of an “odorproof” bag. My feelings on them is that I have never had anything stolen from my food bag since I have been using an “odorproof” bag, and until I do, I have no reason to change this habit.
Up to this point, I have been a fan of the 12×20 Opsaks, but just today I got in a much lighter weight alternative! Jhaura Wachsman from LiteTrail mailed me out 2 of his new “NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bags” this past Saturday, and by George if they weren’t in my mail box after work today (Monday)! Anyway, these bags are actually just a little larger than the 12×20 Opsak’s that I have been using, except these LiteTrail bags weigh in at a mere 0.4 oz, as opposed to the 1.3 oz of a 12×20 Opsak! So, I am excited to be taking one of the LiteTrail “odorproof” bags with me on this trip to see how it holds up…
I also choose to use an outer bag, which I can actually hang from a bear line and also serves as a little more protection for the odor proof bag (and maybe even an extra line-of-defense against the odors escaping or “contaminating” my other gear). I have become real fond of my ZPacks cuben fiber Blast Food Bag, but I admit, in lieu of lighter weight, I have decided to use a cuben fiber Granite Gear UberLite roll top bag as my food bag for this trip instead…
Last but not least, I do not leave my food unattended, unless it is hung on a bear cable system, or if I have to throw a rope to hang it. I will admit here, the times that I have had to throw a rope, I have had a bad habit of simply pulling the free end of the cord to a nearby tree and tying off. This is not the best method of hanging a food bag, and I really need to get the PCT method down as I feel like it is a better method…
My Method of Packing My Food
When preparing my food, I will repackage some (such as my Pad Thai), but I will leave most of it in the original packing (unless it makes more sense to remove them). So, all of my food is in its original package, in a Ziploc bag, or both. This may be a bit redundant, but considering the low weight penalty vs the possible better outcome, I will take the weight penalty.
As well, for this trip I have decided to pack each day’s worth of my “snacks” inside a separate, quart-sized Ziploc bag. This way at the beginning of each day when packing away my food after breakfast, I can remove that days worth of snacks and have them in a much more accessible place. This way I will not need to open my food bag again until I reach camp that night and get ready to prepare my dinner. As well, after each snack throughout the day, I can simply throw the wrapper back in the quart-size Ziploc after I am done with it rather than putting the wrapper in my pant’s pocket, and lessening the chance of “contaminating” my clothes with food smells.
So, once I have all of my food prepared at home, I get ready to load it all inside my “odorproof” bag, which is first lined inside the Granite Gear bag. I begin by placing the food in the “odorproof” bag in reverse order of which I will need it. This way, when I do open my food bag whatever I need will ideally be right on top and will keep me from having to dig all through my food bag. As well, this also allows me to neatly stack my food inside the bag rather than throw it all in. (OCD)
And that is it… I do keep my toothbrush with my toothpaste dots inside the food bag as well. I also keep my extra bear line and a small carabiner to hang my food bag from inside the food bag too, just so I know where it is at all times. Then at night, before I hang my bag, anything else I have on me that has a smell to it will also go inside my food bag before hanging… as it should be.
So, as I mentioned earlier in the post, I do have all of my food information on a Google Docs Spreadsheet. If you enjoy looking at spreadsheets, here is the link to my Food Planner:
As well, for those of you who enjoy listening to me ramble on in a video, here is one of those too:
Thanks for reading & watching!
Disclaimer: I received this “NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag” from LiteTrail at no cost. However, I have no obligation to “review” this product.