The Day Hiker’s Fuel Kit
Living in Greater Vancouver we are spoiled with hikes through lush forests and up mountains to spectacular views. There are many hikes you can do in a day and with the right planning for fluid and fuel you will have the energy needed to make it back safely. There are many factors to take into consideration when planning your hiker’s Fuel Kit. You want to choose food and fluids that are fairly light-weight, nutrient dense, easy to prepare and eat and that don’t come with a lot of packaging to pack out with you.
Hiking burns a lot of calories and if you are hiking in the summer you are also losing lots of fluid. A 160lb person can burn 400-500 calories an hour depending on pace. The bigger you are or the faster you go the more fuel you will need. Climate will affect how much fluid you need. The hotter it is and the more you sweat the more water you need to replace. Some people may need ½ cup water every 15 minutes which is 1 litre every 2 hours. For an 8 hour hike you are looking at 4 litres of water which is heavy! Here are a few meal and snack ideas to take on your next day hike as well as tips for staying well hydrated.
- Trail mix: combine a selection of your favorite nuts and seeds, dried fruit and maybe some dry cereal and chocolate chips for a mountain mix that is high in calories, protein and fat. Salted nuts are a good idea to help remind you to drink and replace your electrolytes.
- Fresh Fruit: Although fruit can be heavy, it is hydrating and a great source of potassium which is an electrolyte you lose in your sweat. Pack some that won’t squish or bruise in your backpack like oranges, mandarins, apples, firm grapes, slightly green bananas and firm kiwis.
- Raw vegetables: Baby cucumbers, bell pepper strips and cherry tomatoes are hydrating and carrot sticks are a good source of carbs. Bring a bean dip like hummus for extra protein.
- Crackers and cheese: Crackers such as Mary’s, Leslie Stowe, Triscuits and Kalvi are a perfect crunchy cracker and topped with cheese make a great nutrient and energy dense snack at your next rest stop.
- Sandwiches and wraps make perfect main meals. Just be mindful of ingredients that may spoil. If you don’t have an ice pack or frozen juice box or water bottle to keep it cold, consider sandwich fillings like peanut butter and banana, cheese and lettuce or a hard salami and mustard. Consider bringing a tin of tuna to add to a lettuce sandwich or a hard-boiled egg in the shell. Avoid mayo but butter and mustard are fine.
- Boiled new potatoes or penne pasta: Both are great source of carbohydrates. Just add some olive oil and sea salt and eat them with your fingers.
- Granola bars and protein Bars: There are so many to choose from. A few of my favorites are Nature Valley crunchy granola bars, Vega, Perfect 10, Lara Bar, Nuude, Luna bar, and Elevate Me. They are made with real food ingredients and you can read, pronounce and recognize.
- Homemade oatmeal cookies, muffins and energy balls with nuts, seeds and dried fruit are fabulous if you have time to make them.
- Water bottles. Bring as much as you can carry. Drink at least ¼ cup every 15 minutes and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. If you know there is a stream on the hike with safe water to drink you can refill where the water is running quickly but there are always risks. Dead animals up-steam, animal feces and storms can contaminate what you thought was clean water. Bring water purification tablets or 2% iodine solution and add drops to water. Gatorade Crystals are a good way to add some energy and electrolytes and will mask the flavour of the iodine.
- Be prepared: Tell someone where you are hiking, go with a friend and don’t forget your safety equipment and first aid kit. Even with the best of intentions, accidents happen.
Be safe out there and enjoy the great outdoors!