Sunday, 19 May 2013

Outdoor cuisine

Dave has posted a comment asking me to describe my diet on the trail - and triggered this post.

What I am eating outdoors depends very much on the activity. My hiking diet varies very much from my paddling/cycling diet (which is another reason to go cycling and paddling - you eat so much better....)

Let me start with my rather austere hiking diet. When hiking long distance weight saving is everything and therefore my food has to offer the most calories for the least weight. It has to be prepared with very little fuel. It has to be compact. It has to be non-perishable. That leaves very few appetizing things.....

Breakfast: Half a pound of granola eaten with nothing but cold water (sounds horrible, but you get used to it)
Lunch: Dehydrated package food. Not the fancy stuff you can buy in outdoor shops - this is way too expensive on the long run. I am talking about your typical supermarket pasta or rice package food. Depending on the country the brand is Lipton, Knorr, Continental, Gallina Blanca - but the food tastes the same. Variations are Asian noodle soup packages (Top Ramen is the worst, Asian produced ones are much better) or flavoured mashed potatoes.
Dinner: The same as for lunch - another dehydrated package meal
Snacks: A lot! Mostly chocolate - on a normal day I eat up to 300 gr of chocolate. In hot climates I substitute chocolate with Nutella in plastic jars and eat it with a spoon. But I also eat gummi bears, all sorts of nuts, granola bars, potatoe chips and whatever is available in the supermarket.

My birthday dinner in Alaska
I calculate about about 1 kg of food per day: 250 gr of granola for breakfast, 2 x 150 gr of package food for lunch and dinner and 400 gr of snacks.

When I hike in populated areas with lots of resupply options my diet gets better. I then try to eat a cold lunch from a supermarket like bread and cheese and some fruit and vegetables. And dinner might be upgraded to fresh pasta or sausages.

Still I usually loose weight on a hike - especially hiking in wilderness areas with few resupply options. I lost 5 - 10 kg of weight on my PCT and CDT thruhikes, but only little weight on my hike through Europe.

Things improve tremendously when I am cycling or paddling. Weight is not much of an issue then and I can indulge in better food. I carry a petrol stove instead of a gas canister stove. I carry two pots and a pan instead of one tiny titanium 0.9 l pot. I carry a big pocket knife with a nice blade instead of a tiny one. And I carry a lot better food!

Cooking on a bike trip in NZ
Breakfast: Will still usually be granola with cold water, but depending on the country can also be oatmeal or rice.
Lunch: Will usually be a cold lunch consisting of some bread type and cheese, sausage, tofu and some sort of fruit or vegetable.
Dinner: is the highlight of the day as I will be cooking on a nice stove with no fuel restrictions! Although not quite as good as cooking in a real kitchen I will turn into a domestic goddess with a camp stove! On my 7 months bike trip with John I cooked a 3-course dinner almost every night.... On my own I am not quite so extravagant but still cook something decent with anything that has been on offer in the last supermarket. On cycling trips I use a lot of fresh food like fruit, vegetables and even meats because I can resupply every day. On paddling trips I am more confined to non-perishable food like cans or long lasting veggies like carrots, onions or dried fruit. Having no fuel restrictions also allows me to drink a cup of tea or hot chocolate.


Volker A. G. said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks Christine, Organising food and weight is one of the big challenges!

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Christine, i was just re-reading these very useful comments.

Unknown said...

Dear Christine,
what kind of stoves do u use?

German Tourist said...

Iris, on hiking trips I usually use a gas canister stove, the Snowpeak Gigapower Titanium. Only recently I have started to use a woodburning hobo stove, the Solo Stove for 1 person on shorter trips. I am considering to use the hobo stove on long trips but I have not decided yet.
On paddling and cycling trips, when weight is not that important, I use petrol stove, the MSR Dragonfly.