Hiking is hard work. Add in the fact that many people go on long hikes after traveling for hours on planes to get to a special destination like a state park or mountain access point. Food is extremely important for hikers and the seasoned trekkers know a few secrets about how to survive the miles in good form. It's all about the food and water. But what are the "smart" items to pack for a hike, and what are the not so smart choices? Here are a few of the core concepts that experienced hikers follow when they travel:
Know the "Water Situation"
Water is life. If you're going to be in a location where there is no fresh water source, you'll need to bring all you need. That can mean extra-heavy packs and can be a huge inconvenience. But if your hiking preferences are deserts and arid ranges, plan your water needs precisely. The general rule-of-thumb is that you'll need two cups for each hour of hiking in average temperatures. Double that amount for hot-weather excursions.
Think "Light and Dense" for Foods
Pack weight is a core concern for hikers and travelers who do a lot of walking. Gardein products like meatless chicken are just one of the many options you have to make sure you get enough protein but don't weight yourself down with heavy food items. Raisins, peanut butter, protein bars, jerky and other dense choices are always smart companions for hikers and casual travelers. The advantages are many: the cost is low, prep time is virtually non-existent, you get plenty of nutrition per serving and the items add little weight to your pack.
Keep an Eye on Price
Travel and hiking veterans know the importance of trip planning. One of the key points of planning is cost reduction. It's easy to purchase boxes of high-priced protein bars and specialty snacks designed especially for hikers. But it's important to keep your budget in line as well. One of the goals of bringing your own food on a hike or day trip is to cut down on spending at restaurants. Try to prepare at least half of your hiking food at home, from things you already have on hand. Peanut butter and raisins are good examples of nutritionally dense, low-cost foods that are ideal for hikers and long-distance rail travelers.
Avoid Candy Bars and Other Junk Food
Candy bars and junk food really don't have a place on hikes. Some campers and long-distance trekkers do include one "treat" item for the end of the day but you need to be careful not to eat sugary foods while hiking. Not only will they deplete your stamina, they'll cue your body to desire more sugar. The best thing is to avoid candy and sweets altogether when you set out to hike, climb or ride the rails from city to city.
Instant Soups Solve Many Problems
If you're going to have access to hot water, instant soups make a perfect addition to your hiking pack. Remember to select nutritious soups that contain well-rounded nutrient profiles. Hearty noodle soups are usually a good choice as are thick vegetable and bean soups that pack in the nutrients.