Food Prep For a 3.5 Day Hike

Some of my buddies and I are getting ready for a 3-1/2 day hike along the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia. The above picture is most of the food that I will be carrying with me for this hike (all that is missing is 3 bags of dehydrated apples which should be done in about 30 minutes). I have put together a Food Planner on a spreadsheet in Google Docs which can be viewed here:

Food Planner

Average per day:

  • 2,154 calories
  • weight of 18.8 oz

The total’s are:

  • 7,671 calories
  • weight of 66.05 oz

Calories per oz is 116.41.

My breakfast will consist of coffee and some DIY Instant Oatmeal which I got the recipe for from Trail Cooking & The Outdoors. I have a different “flavor” each day so it shouldn’t be too redundant (besides, it isn’t that long of a trip…)

Lunch has always been a harder meal for me. I do not want to cook so I have always simply did Tuna wraps, or PB&J on a tortilla. This time will be different. I want something quick, so I am going to be going with an energy bar of some sort and a protein shake. Quick and easy.

I am really excited about my Hawk Vittles for dinner! Granted they are just add water meals, these should be much better than the Mountain House meals. These home-made gourmet meals are made fresh by a retired professional chef and then immediately dehydrated, packaged and shipped out. I have heard a lot of great things about Hawk Vittles so I have high expectations…

I am bringing a number of snacks. Larabars, Clif Bars, almonds, dehydrated apples, and a few other things. I will have a snack between breakfast & lunch, and then another between lunch & dinner. I am bringing extra snacks to make up for those extra hungry moments (although based on past experiences, I am expecting to bring some back).

So, anyway, here is a video I made as I prepared the food:

I will have a video up tomorrow on the gear I am bringing and then packing it all up in my pack. (This way I won’t have to use up my battery on the trail doing these things and hopefully catch all the good parts!)

Thanks for stopping by!


About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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23 Responses to Food Prep For a 3.5 Day Hike

  1. True Blue says:

    If you need extra protein at breakfast, add protein powder to the milk powder for your oatmeal. I use Quinoa flakes (6g protein per 42g) in place of oatmeal (3g protein per 35g). You can use any add-ins just like instant oatmeal: cinnamon & raisin, apple & brown sugar, etc. Also replace half the oatmeal in homemade granola with Quinoa flakes to add a little extra protein.


    • Stick says:

      Thanks for the tips True Blue. I will have to try the granola. I liked the oatmeal, but for more than about 5 days in a row it would get old I think.


  2. Loneoak says:

    Looking good buddy. Goin to be a bit cold and windy it looks like for this trip, so you may come back with an empty food bag. Be sure and rinse that protein shake real well or you will regret using your water bottle. It gets strong if not rinsed well. Wish I was up to joining in, I know ya’ll join to have a blast. Take lots of notes and pics and have a good trip


    • Stick says:


      It seems like everywhere suddenly got cold… But that is fine…I enjoy these cold weather trips… Thanks for the tip on the protein shake in the water bottle. Next time I will probably do like kurthwood suggested with mixing them in the bags…

      And you can be sure that I will get lots of pics and some video.



  3. You got some good HV choices. Cowboy Pasta yummy! The Sausage is AWESOME! Luckily you are FBC these with actual freezer bags. The Sausage has a high fat content and sticks to your pot after you cook.

    I use protein shakes on a daily basis when I’m trying to bulk up. They don’t fill me up at all and I’m hungry like an hour or two after I have the shake (and thats just doing accounting). I find protein bars higher in calories (500 cal) are more effective for me and keep me sustained while I’m hiking.

    You seem to be eating the same breakfasts each day. Try some variety in that area. Enertia Trail Food granola and milk was awesome! You could even make your own granola and milk with nuts and berries. Pop tarts… a staple at 400 cal per packet.

    I find that if I’m putting in over 10 miles per day I need around 3,000 cal or more to keep my weight fairly stable. Below that I lose weight in a big way. I did an 18 mile round trip overnighter and didn’t eat much calories and lost 3lbs

    Have fun on your trip. I look forward to your video.

    Also, how cold will it be? You may want to toss in some flat bread for your meal at night. You’ll need more calories to keep warm at night in the colder temps.

    Water Monkey


    • Stick says:


      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I hear ya about the sausage one…when I cut that bag open it filled the room with a nice sweet smell! I think I will like that one a lot…

      As for the protein shakes, I am hoping that with the other snacks and energy bars it will be enough. I will see though…

      I have carried pop tarts and wasn’t real happy with them. They tend to get mushed up, or at least they have for me the few times I carried them…I got tired of crumbled up pop tarts…but the wrappers are super light when empty! 🙂

      I can stand to loose a few pounds…that is kinda my plan too…

      i figure temps will possibly be in the teens. I do like the idea of some flat bread though. I love that stuff, even at home and can just eat it by itself. Thanks…now I will be tempted to go and buy some just to have with my HV at night…it is sounding better and better…I think Ima gunna do it…



  4. Pingback: All Packed Up & Ready To Go… | Stick's Blog

  5. kurthwood says:

    Chad, I put the shake powder in a ziplock. When ready to drink, add the water, close mix up, then cut a small corner off and drink from the bag. Nothing to clean up.


    • Stick says:


      That is good. Now that you mention it I know I have heard it before, but thanks for reminding me. If the protein shakes turn out to be good while I am on the trail I will remember this for the next hike!

      Thanks again



  6. shoeless joe says:

    Maybe I’m missing the obvious. How do you prepare the protein shake? In a water bottle? In a baggie?


    • Stick says:

      Shoeless Joe,

      I will use my Gatorade bottle to make the shake. I don’t plan on filling it too the brim with shake though. According to the directions, the amount I have should be mixed with 6 – 8 oz of water. I will probably add about this much, then drink it and then add more water to the bottle to wash it out and then continue to use it as a water bottle.

      This will be my first attempt at doing this so I will see. I figure I will figure out whether or not if I like it or not… 🙂



  7. Consider adding some Emergen-C to your regime ( It is amazing stuff…


    • Stick says:

      Thanks Green Giant. You know, I have always wanted to get some to try, but that is one of those things that I just never think about. One day I will remember it and get some! Thanks for the tip!


  8. Stick, you might give Enertia Trail Foods and PackIt Gourmet for some variety beyond the salt licks that Mountain House calls meals. 😉 Enertia is branded as Coleman as well. I’ve been told that some of the larger Wal-Marts carry them but I’ve never checked.

    What are those pouches in your ziplocks that have the snack bars in them?



    • Stick says:


      I have tried a few of the PackItGourmet meals. Some were good, some were not, of course I feel the same way about MH meals too though…I gotta admit though I am excited about trying the Hawk Vittles…

      The little pouches in the Ziplocs with the Clif Bars is the protein shake. I put them in with the Clif Bar to keep my “lunch” together as well as provide a garbage bag throughout the day…

      Thanks for stopping by.



    • PackIt Gourmet are some of the worst in the industry when it comes to calories. Taste good, sure. Worth their calorie-to-ounce value, nope.


    • Jester says:

      I only buy my spoilers from PG. I absolutely love their smoothies!


  9. Joslyn says:

    You should be able to just snag a few extra zip ties from the fresh fruit and veggie section at your local grocery store.

    John may be right, but something I learned is even though I spend more energy on trail than at home I eat about half as much and I snack more than eat full meals as well. I have never felt hungry or weak, but everyone’s different. Also those protein shakes can pack quite a punch for next to no weight.

    What dehydrator are you using and where did you find it?


    • Stick says:


      I checked in that section at Wal-Mart but all I found was some of the bags… but oh well, the tape seems to do ok so far. Thanks for the tip though, I will check some other stores too…

      I understand what you are saying about eating on the trail…I don’t know why, but I am pretty similar…

      The dehydrator was a gift Christmas of the year before last. It is a basic Total Chef one with only an on/off switch. TBH, I wish it at least had a temperature setting knob…anyway, John recomended one called the Excalibur dehydrator if you will be doing a lot of dehydrating…

      Thanks for stopping by again!



    • Joslyn says:

      Ok I’ll check that out. Also I just remembered zip ties tend to be by the garbage bags in Kroger, at least they were the last time I looked for any but yeah that tape looks like it’ll hold pretty well.


    • Stick says:

      Thanks, for the guidance! I will check Kroger next time I go in there…I don’t get around to many grocery stores… 🙂


  10. Hey Stick,

    Your totals look a bit on the light size for total daily calories. Sub 4k per day is pushing it for hikers, and you are a good thousand under that. Granted it will be a short hike and your body can feed off itself a bit, but you might start to feel it on day two with reduced energy. Others I am sure can chime in on this, but anything in the 2k per day range is really pushing the lower limits of what you should be consuming IMHO.

    The way I do my coffee is I take one serving of Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey (Turbo Chocolate) and mix a starbucks via into it. This allows me to drink it hot or cold. It gives me both a very nice amount of protein (30 from the Whey alone) plus the caffeine from the coffee and the chocolate is always nice of course 😉 I do the same thing with repacking it into individual daily bags. I happen to take liquid sugar (stevia) so I just put it into a little micro dropper.

    Your breakfast meal seems a bit low on the calories for 4 ounces. It might be worth an extra half to quarter ounce to add some finely chopped cashew nuts. They are 156 calories per ounce and give 5.2 grams of protein per ounce. Get them finely chopped and you should not notice them in your oatmeal.

    Enjoyed watching the video!


    • Stick says:


      I am basing this amount of food for this trip on my past trips, and if this time is like every other time I will eve be bringing some of this back home. Although this time I have decided to carry a few extra snacks rather than whole meals. I figure maybe I can make myself eat the snacks… I understand what you are saying though considering the amount of calories burned vs the amount consumed, my totals are indeed low. But I don’t know why, I just don’t find myself eating a whole lot while I am on the trail, and especially for the first 2 days. Maybe it is because of all the reserve that I am carrying around… 🙂

      Yeah, that oatmeal that is 4 oz is the one that I dumped the whole box of raisins in it…I was only going to put in half but they fell out in a clump, so oh well…and now that I think about it, I forgot to add in the calories from the raisins…I need to go and do that…

      Thanks again for watching and commenting. I will do another one up tomorrow on my pack with the gear I am bringing. I have it all packed up now but haven’t pulled out the bathroom scales to weigh it all together. But, it should be about 15 lbs in my pack (with consumables) and right at 2 in the multipack (which also has my first days lunch and snacks in it). Sweet! And I think you will be proud. I don’t have much at all outside the pack…



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