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  1. #1

    Default Hiking with 10 days food

    Planning 10 days on PCT, Section K, Rainy Pass to Stevens Pass, WA (no resupply at Stehekin). Our packs are dialed in at 20 lbs, but 10 x 2 lbs/day food doubles each of our pack weight. Over 26,000 ft of climb.

    Wondering if we can cut the food down to one lb/person/day. We eat low carb/keto, no grains, sugar, or seed oils. Planning mainly meat, cheese, nuts, protein powder, coconut, some dehydrated vegetables but no fruit. I monitor blood sugar and avoid anything that spikes glucose/insulin. Sorry, Little Debbie.

    Wondering how others approach this issue.

  2. #2
    Registered User kestral's Avatar
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    Pemmican is keto friendly and calorie dense, worked for native Americans. Sounds like you could go stoveless, so that’s some weight saved. I’m just armchair hiking when it comes to 10 day food hauls though, my longest was 7 days.

    Good luck to you!

  3. #3

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    Try you planned diet to a couple of days at home.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I would imagine MH and other brands of freeze dried does not fit your diet well(I dont know much about Keto) but I did a 10 day last year and due to a packing mixup I accidentally packed the food I stockpile at home. So with a 40lb pack weight I ended up coming home with 7 days of food. That includes 5 packages of Raspberry crumble deserts( sounds like you'll avoid eating that ). Oh and 2 18oz containers of Gatorade powder.

    So even a 2 week outing can be done under 40lb(I'm no where near UL gear wise and pack the kitchen sink) with off the shelf food.

    In the way of saving weight I could have NOT carried extra fuel to heat shower water(gee, probably could ditch the 4oz for the shower too), a 6L Dromedary, trail runners and low cut boots, 2 hats, a med kit suitable for a hospital. 3 kinds of insect spray, spare AAA batteries and I'm sure more that does not come to mind. Everything fits easily in my Exos 58 so not even a very lightweight pack is needed to stay under 40lb.

    Even though I only weigh 160 I dont mind carrying 40lbs, I think my experience shows a 10 day outing can be done at not much over 30lbs but I like my comforts etc too much to even try to get that light.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Planning 10 days on PCT, Section K, Rainy Pass to Stevens Pass, WA (no resupply at Stehekin). Our packs are dialed in at 20 lbs, but 10 x 2 lbs/day food doubles each of our pack weight. Over 26,000 ft of climb.

    Wondering if we can cut the food down to one lb/person/day. We eat low carb/keto, no grains, sugar, or seed oils. Planning mainly meat, cheese, nuts, protein powder, coconut, some dehydrated vegetables but no fruit. I monitor blood sugar and avoid anything that spikes glucose/insulin. Sorry, Little Debbie.

    Wondering how others approach this issue.
    Can you reduce base weight?/Shorten the time for this section? Iíve been in this section but I havenít hiked the whole PCT through it. Regarding food not sure I would go that low (1 lb per day) unless I had some extra fat to lose. I try to eat mostly keto on the trail but Iím less strict than at home. Perhaps bring the fat content up higher?. Almond butter is around 180 calories per ounce or roughly 2800 cal per pound.


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    I've changed my food carry planning from pounds per day to miles per pound. I pack one pound per ten or twelve miles. That section is about 120 miles. I'd pack about ten pounds for that. (I carried less than eight pounds into the hundred mile wilderness on the AT, for instance.) And since I normally hike twenty mile days on average, that happens to work out to about two pounds per day. But if I hike more, I eat more and if I hike a shorter day I eat less.

    A ten day hike at 12 miles per day gets into a range where my formula may not work. You still burn calories staring in wonder at vistas. One pound per day may not work. But you do have the option of emergency resupply at Stehekin.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    I loved going 10 days with no resupply but my pack was over 50 when I supplied for that. No skimping on food, eat the heaviest stuff first and the pack feels better every morning! I also averaged about 10 miles a day and made sure I had the food to eat anytime my stomach was calling for it. I did a bit of the dehydrated meals but also tried to keep a lot of healthier stuff in there, the bars, lots of dehydrated fruit and I wasn't afraid to pack about 4-5LBs of homemade granola back out on the trail with me every time... not that I expect many people to relate (there are some hikers that share my style though ; )
    NoDoz
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  8. #8

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    Thanks so much for the thoughtful replies. There is so much experience we can draw from on this list!

    The interplay of variables (food weight, caloric density, bulk, gear weight, mileage, trail difficulty, duration, hiker age and fitness) is interesting and challenging to evaluate. All hikers deal with these one way or another. It's an interesting challenge to try to max out days while minimizing weight. I would avoid going really ultralight because of safety on this remote, difficult section. We carry extra clothes, food, first aid, and a ham radio. I have lots of ultralight packs but I'm buying an Osprey Atmos 65 because of the beefier suspension system. We have a food dehydrator and I think it will be useful for preparing all sorts of foods, mainly jerky and vegetables but a few fruits and berries. We'll see what we can put together for a day's food, and try it at home first, but the beauty of keto is that we can easily burn our body fat for energy--this is our ace in the hole IMO.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Just another data point, I've done a 19 and a 17 day no-resupply hike. On the first, I carried way too much food, got smarter for the second, backed off to 1.5 pounds/day and still brought a small amount of food back. It of course does depend on body weight, but for my 180 (well, 185 right now...) body, 1.5 per day is enough. And I do carry some low calorie density carbs/sugars; if it were strictly fats and proteins, I could probably get by for less.

    It might be a nit, but we also refine for first and last day on the trail, meaning we pig out for breakfast the first day before starting the hike, so that day might carry only 1 pound, same on last day, only breakfast and a bit of trail food carried, anticipating pigging out after stopping., so maybe 1 pound that last day.

    So, if I were doing a 10-day hike, it would be 1 + 8x1.5 + 1 = 14 pounds of food starting out. Again, just another data point.

    That "2 pounds per day" generic "recommendation" that floats around out there is very conservative, except for larger folks, and out-of-shape folks (not implying larger folks are out of shape!) who burn more calories.

  10. #10

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    Good points, Rob. Yes we are smaller people, my wife 108 and me 175, so I like your 1.5 lb number per person per day. And as older 60ish people we don't eat a lot, although she eats as much as I do. Yes days 1 and 10 can be light packing, like 50%.

    BTW I just dried two pounds of frozen vegetables and it went down to 158 grams. That's losing 84% water. We use this as a base for dinners, adding meat, dry cheese, and olive oil. We use a pot cozy to save fuel. So consider one full snack bag of dried veggies (4 oz) plus 1.0 oz dry parmesean cheese, plus 2.6 oz foil tuna packet, plus 1 oz oil = 8.6 oz for dinner for 2 people. At 1.5 lbs/person that leaves ~40 oz of food for other meals. Inasmuch as that is mostly dried food, this starts to look doable.

    Oh, we're making what I call "elephant ear beef jerky" buying thin-sliced carne asada steak at Walmart and putting that right in the dehydrator (spiced with salt, pepper, tumeric, garlic). Comes out as thin and light as a piece of cardboard, but pretty yummy.


    Also, we're not the butter chugger type of keto. Our doctor recommends low carb, low fat, higher protein (lots of steak and eggs). We are very active and have great success with this woe, although it's not for everybody. I expect we will lose a few pounds during this hike, that always seems to happen.
    Last edited by RockDoc; 07-20-2019 at 14:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Good points, Rob. Yes we are smaller people, my wife 108 and me 175, so I like your 1.5 lb number per person per day. And as older 60ish people we don't eat a lot, although she eats as much as I do. Yes days 1 and 10 can be light packing, like 50%.

    BTW I just dried two pounds of frozen vegetables and it went down to 158 grams. That's losing 84% water. We use this as a base for dinners, adding meat, dry cheese, and olive oil. We use a pot cozy to save fuel. So consider one full snack bag of dried veggies (4 oz) plus 1.0 oz dry parmesean cheese, plus 2.6 oz foil tuna packet, plus 1 oz oil = 8.6 oz for dinner for 2 people. At 1.5 lbs/person that leaves ~40 oz of food for other meals. Inasmuch as that is mostly dried food, this starts to look doable.

    Oh, we're making what I call "elephant ear beef jerky" buying thin-sliced carne asada steak at Walmart and putting that right in the dehydrator (spiced with salt, pepper, tumeric, garlic). Comes out as thin and light as a piece of cardboard, but pretty yummy.


    Also, we're not the butter chugger type of keto. Our doctor recommends low carb, low fat, higher protein (lots of steak and eggs). We are very active and have great success with this woe, although it's not for everybody. I expect we will lose a few pounds during this hike, that always seems to happen.
    Just curious. Not sure you can really be keto without enough fat. You say you eat low fat but steak and eggs fits into a high protein and high fat category. Do you mean you are trying for healthy fats? Glad itís working for you.


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    i also (160 point guy) regularly carry 1 1/2 pounds per day...
    Lazarus

  13. #13

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    No, there's no reason to eat high fat to be keto. It's all about carb restriction. And high protein won't throw you out. Misconceptions.

    Low fat, low carb, moderate high protein is the ticket (check my doctor's site): http://burnfatnotsugar.com

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    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that the type of diet you're talking about is for the modern human. You're doing a more primal activity. What works for you at home may not work as well on the trail. Probably does at first as it satisfies what you're used to, but later as you body needs easy burning fuel, you may find yourself not feeling as well when your body starts burning "whatever it can". I'd go with what you have, and I'd take pasta as a supplement in much the way you might take a lot of ibuprofen along the way - use as needed.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
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  15. #15

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    Understood. But primal = keto. Modern life = processed food, carbage, obesity, and disease.

    We've done numerous hikes quite happily on low carb. No hunger, no energy lapse after eating because of tanking blood sugar. You can have my share of pasta, I'll carry an extra serving of jerky. I suggest you might do like I'm doing, and wear a continuous glucose monitor for a few weeks to see what effect your food has on your blood glucose. You might be shocked, your brain and your body certainly are shocked (and damaged). There are a few people (many young people) who can metabolize a lot of carbs, but I'm not one of them.

    But that's not what my post is about! Sorry for the diversion. Developing some useful food hacks to carry 10 days food using dried products like almond butter, cheddar cheese, and eggs. More later.

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    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    A pound of olive oil will get you around 2,000 calories.

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    This thread is an interesting exercise in over analyzing something that is fundamentally NOT an analytical problem.

    1) Managing your diet with analytics can be super powerful and informative AFTER you've gone out and "measured" your body's response (weight loss/gain, general feeling of health, etc) to your proposed diet in your proposed setting.

    2) You can almost surely complete your proposed hike on less than a pound of food a day and could probably eat more than 2 lbs of food a day. And, you could make the same argument about a proposed number of calories per day. And, most of us could also make a similar argument about the types of food we eat (some people successfully hike on pop tarts and others do it as vegans, etc).

    3) If you have analysed past trips you may know how much of what you need to eat to maintain body weight and a good mental state. Your past data is much more informative than all the advice on these forums.

    4) I make my meal plans based on what I think I will want to eat each day and what I think my body needs. As the trip progresses and/or I complete the trip, I assess my food successes and failure and tune accordingly. I've never used food weight or detailed nutritional analysis to build my menus, BUT, I have used weight and nutritional analysis to tune my menu to save some weight. I don't plan on 1.5 lbs per day. BUT, I do try and tune my menu to work toward that number as a guide. For what it's worth, I ate more as a younger leaner 165 lb person than I do now as an older 215 lb person.

    5) In the end, when you're packing for a 10 day trip, five pounds of food, one way or the other (40 vs. 45 lbs) isn't going to make or break the enjoyment of your trip. Don't kill yourself over this one. Be reasonable. If you can save five pounds, or even one, do it. But, don't do it at the expense of eating what will make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

    6) Speaking from experience, it's really fun seeing and feeling how small and light your pack gets as you eat through you load on an extended trip. In that regard, eating through two or three days of food just doesn't provide the same joy as eating through two weeks of food. So maybe you should carry even more food weight and volume so you get even more joy as you eat it.

    Have a really great trip and have lots of fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  18. #18

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    I think only your experience can inform you here. I'm 6'4/210 and 2 lbs/day is fairly accurate, but around 1.5 - 1.7 lbs can work as well.
    My wife would kick my ass if I packed her 1 lb/day.

    Go with what you think you normally need/prefer, especially since your base weight is already a bit up there and you're going with a pack that handles it fairly well. Regular snacks boost morale for us too, and to feel like I'm skimping or rationing too much doesn't work well

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    This thread is an interesting exercise in over analyzing something that is fundamentally NOT an analytical problem.

    1) Managing your diet with analytics can be super powerful and informative AFTER you've gone out and "measured" your body's response (weight loss/gain, general feeling of health, etc) to your proposed diet in your proposed setting.

    2) You can almost surely complete your proposed hike on less than a pound of food a day and could probably eat more than 2 lbs of food a day. And, you could make the same argument about a proposed number of calories per day. And, most of us could also make a similar argument about the types of food we eat (some people successfully hike on pop tarts and others do it as vegans, etc).

    3) If you have analysed past trips you may know how much of what you need to eat to maintain body weight and a good mental state. Your past data is much more informative than all the advice on these forums.

    4) I make my meal plans based on what I think I will want to eat each day and what I think my body needs. As the trip progresses and/or I complete the trip, I assess my food successes and failure and tune accordingly. I've never used food weight or detailed nutritional analysis to build my menus, BUT, I have used weight and nutritional analysis to tune my menu to save some weight. I don't plan on 1.5 lbs per day. BUT, I do try and tune my menu to work toward that number as a guide. For what it's worth, I ate more as a younger leaner 165 lb person than I do now as an older 215 lb person.

    5) In the end, when you're packing for a 10 day trip, five pounds of food, one way or the other (40 vs. 45 lbs) isn't going to make or break the enjoyment of your trip. Don't kill yourself over this one. Be reasonable. If you can save five pounds, or even one, do it. But, don't do it at the expense of eating what will make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

    6) Speaking from experience, it's really fun seeing and feeling how small and light your pack gets as you eat through you load on an extended trip. In that regard, eating through two or three days of food just doesn't provide the same joy as eating through two weeks of food. So maybe you should carry even more food weight and volume so you get even more joy as you eat it.

    Have a really great trip and have lots of fun!
    This is why I love WB; 6 itemized paragraphs of analysis right after saying this topic is over-analyzed.... PLUS one item poo-pooing advice (item3) while giving lots of advice.... Classic. BUT, I do agree with all of these points except #5. I believe each pound of extra weight gets more important, not less as pack weight grows, so 5# would, in my experience, make a big difference on a pack already weighing 40 pounds. That same 5# would make hardly any difference though, on a pack weighing 10 pounds. I know, sounds backwards, just my own experience.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Planning 10 days on PCT, Section K, Rainy Pass to Stevens Pass, WA (no resupply at Stehekin). Our packs are dialed in at 20 lbs, but 10 x 2 lbs/day food doubles each of our pack weight. Over 26,000 ft of climb.

    Wondering if we can cut the food down to one lb/person/day. We eat low carb/keto, no grains, sugar, or seed oils. Planning mainly meat, cheese, nuts, protein powder, coconut, some dehydrated vegetables but no fruit. I monitor blood sugar and avoid anything that spikes glucose/insulin. Sorry, Little Debbie.

    Wondering how others approach this issue.

    I do ALOT of backpacking trips in the 18 to 24 day range---without resupply---and in fact I just pulled two 24 day trips back to back.

    My food weight alone for each of these trips was around 50 lbs including stove fuel---and then you add the "accoutrements of idiocy" of all my other gear. In the end it results in sufficiently interesting food for the duration---which is what it's all about. If you don't carry food you really want to eat you'll be a very unhappy camper.

    It doesn't really matter what diet kick you're on at the time---vegetarian, paleo, keto, vegan, omnivorous WHATEVER. Just bring enough of the food your really want to eat and don't worry about the total food weight---as long as you don't end up with 5 extra lbs of food at the end.

    Carrying alot of food weight, along with your other gear---results in pulling lower mile days. On my heavy pack trips I feel good to pull 10 mile days and such days are not all that uncommon.

    If my base weight is 30 lbs and then I add 55 or 60 lbs of food/fuel . . . well . . . I'm talking about starting a trip with an 85-90 lb pack. Initial daily mileages will be low as pulling 5 miles with such weight is like doing 15 or 20 miles with a 20 lb pack---but the heavy weight allows a person to stay out for as long as possible while also backpacking and moving every day---and we're NOT talking about basecamping in one spot for 3 weeks.

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