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  1. #1
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    Default Best one pound of food with longest sustaining calorie/energy per pound

    Perhaps there is a food category I should post this in.
    I'm looking for best foods to sustain the energy and weight for long term hike.
    If I am carrying x amount of pounds for food I would like them to last the longest, sustain the best, at the least weight to pack.
    I want to have the option to require the least amount of restocks and stops along the way.
    I've seen pemmican gorp trail mixes jerky as standard fair, but if I want to pinpoint the closest thing to best use of pounds per length of sustainability how can i determine it.
    Admittedly I'm hoping someone already knows.
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    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    Fat has the highest calorie/weight. Foods high in fat such as nuts, peanut butter. With careful planning you can get 100 calories/ounce. Squirt margarine is liquid calories. You are not going to like living off trail mix for an extended hike. There are several threads that discuss trail foods and calories per weight.

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I think every long distance hiker wants the same thing, right? Maximum calories for the weight, but also something they would want to eat for days or weeks, and that is reasonably convenient to make and eat (and acquire in town.) There's no magic, secret food that does all this, sadly.

    Getting lots of calories isn't that hard, just load up on nuts, squirt margarine, oil, butter, hard cheese, etc. When we hike, though, our biggest craving is for fresh stuff. Fruit, veggies. Things that are the worst for calorie/weight ratio. So we try to balance things as best we can so we're happy to eat our meals, get reasonable nutrition, and don't get too overloaded with weight. (That said, my food bag is the single heaviest item in my pack even on a weekend hike.)
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    If I were limited to a single one pound bag, I'd pack a bag of nuts with a few raisins mixed in--fat, protein, sugar, salt optional, readily available.
    "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

  5. #5

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    Paying attention to calories per ounce is a good idea, but be absolutely sure it isn't the highest priority. You cannot go down that road and forsake overall nutrition as well as carrying foods that you actually -want- to eat long term.

  6. #6

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    Definitely keep in mind that a maximum calorie diet may lead to scurvy. There used to be claims that thruhikers before the explosion in trail services frequently would experience a nutritional "wall" around 6 weeks into a thru hike. They had burned up a lot of the bodies reserves of nutrients and not replaced them, many had to change their diet and many would be dumping their resupply boxes into hiker boxes as they couldn't tolerate the food they were having sent to them. I remember one evening camped out in Maine at West Carry Pond meeting a small group of northbounders, they had stripped their gear way down and had dumped their tents and as much other gear as they could. Despite dumping a lot of gear they had a big bottle of multivitamins (and another bottle of ibuprofen) and their claim was without both of them they would not be where they were on the trail.

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    Food also play a lot into morale and attitude. Don't dismiss that. Yes you can, for a time, draw strength from you are eating very efficient food in terms of weight, but once that wears off, just thinking of weight efficiency is going to wear on a hiker. You want to look forward to your meals, there was a time when I went the way you are describing that I realized I was dreading meals.

    With that said, a general rule of thumb I heard and use is 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per person per day. That may be a easier guideline to work with then calories. Try to get a day's worth of food at the low end of that range and be satisfied and not be lacking energy.

    Just to add I find that guideline very useful for resupply, as a final check weigh the food I got usually on the produce scale, and make sure I didn't over or under buy.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    Fat has the highest calorie/weight. Foods high in fat such as nuts, peanut butter. With careful planning you can get 100 calories/ounce. Squirt margarine is liquid calories. You are not going to like living off trail mix for an extended hike. There are several threads that discuss trail foods and calories per weight.
    Agree with premise, but actually carbs have about 100 calories per ounce and fats have close to 200 calories per ounce. Tree nuts are probably one of the healthiest high calorie to weight foods. You can add olive oil to most foods you might have/make for dinners with healthy additional calories.
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    While fats can have 200 and more calories per oz, alcohol has almost as many calories per oz at about 180 (and both of them can be used for motor fuel, so they contain a lot of energy). Now how one would use almost pure grain alcohol in this context to help backpacking can be a little questionable, but perhaps a night cap of diluted Everclear may be enjoyable for some - perhaps with some powdered mixes like apple cider, and I've seen some others have added Everclear to their favorite spirit to dilute it back on trail, though that may be in the 130 cal/oz range.
    Last edited by Starchild; 06-17-2020 at 14:31.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    While fats can have 200 and more calories per oz, carbs having about half that, alcohol has almost as many calories per oz at about 180 (and both of them can be used for motor fuel, so they contain a lot of energy). Now how one would use almost pure grain alcohol in this context to help backpacking can be a little questionable, but perhaps a night cap of diluted Everclear may be enjoyable for some - perhaps with some powdered mixes like apple cider, and I've seen some others have added Everclear to their favorite spirit to dilute it back on trail, though that may be in the 130 cal/oz range.
    This theory would help with any aches and pains at the end of the day as well as help with sleep. Emergency fuel to multi purpose item.

  11. #11

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    On my last trip I took out this container of Tahini---excellent when added to rice and beans.
    de132229-f509-40bc-ac0c-607ee753b0fd_1.5929173cbf51e45c5409ba69d9076f60.jpeg
    I keep the cap closed by a piece of ripstop repair tape.

    Otherwise my trips are loaded with lbs of peanut butter, cashew butter and almond butter.

    IMG_7893-L.jpg
    This pic shows some of the nut butters I carry on my trips. All can be added to any meal esp oatmeal and brown rice.

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    Here is one way to do the analysis. Look at the product label. Take serving size in grams, subtract grams of fat, carbs, and protein per serving. What's left is the weight of stuff that gives no calories (mostly water). You will want this to be close to zero. I'm sometimes surprised to find out how much water is in "dry" food. The protein and carbs both have 4 Cal/g. Add those grams together to get your PC grams. The fat has about 9 Cal/g. As mentioned above fat has the highest possible Cal content, but who wants to drink olive oil for dinner. Any PCgrams will lower Cal density a bit. Any water will lower it a lot.

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    A follow-up to the previous post. The micronutrient (vitamins, flavorings, electrolytes, fiber) contribute little to the total weight and calories but are really very important. But there is one other major contributor to weight in your food bag of that provides no Calories, and that is packaging. As a rule, one large package will have less of a hit on Calorie density than a lot of little packages.

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    No one type of food diet is ever going to work. Even if it did nutritionaly , you would eventualy get bored/tired/sick of it (that is excluding those very few that only eat because they have to but find no pleasure whatsoever doing it)
    Having said that , I don't think there is a better way than what Tipi suggested.

  16. #16
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    As a composite I think this thread answers the general idea of the question, which came from both my planned thru sobo trail hike in 2 years,and the concept of surviving say 3 to 6 months snowed in with literally zero access to food other than what I could pack in with me before said snowbound time. In either scenario the question in my mind is what is the least weight with most/best survival qualities of the food. If I do want to leave 20 lbs of bag weight for food, which 20 lbs would keep me fittest to hike the longest time without restock and without weight loss or loss of any overall health.
    I will look forward to reading labels as suggested minusing water etc. It sounds like a good formula.
    I would also include magnesium powder, potasium chloride powder and vitamin b and c powders to supplement at a lighter pack weight.
    Those nut butters look like really heavy jars for pack weight!!!
    The possitive friction created by the interaction of two or more energizes us to grow.

  17. #17
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    The high calorie/fat per pound would be as a base ideally.
    And protein powders, powdered milk, dried fruits, dry oats all seem a good idea.
    But would dry powder nut butters work better for pack weight?
    I could use the resupply days to add the fresh and fun foods so as to enjoy it/not get sick of it.
    I mean what's life without scrambled eggs sausage apricot preserves biscuts.
    Applecrisp n frozen yogurt.
    Watermelon oranges apples bananas.
    Greasy fries n burgers.
    Pizza.
    Sadly I can no longer have the dissarono sour(everclear)
    The possitive friction created by the interaction of two or more energizes us to grow.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by SerenitySeeker View Post
    TBut would dry powder nut butters work better for pack weight?
    They would be better for pack weight but powdered butters are very low in fat. Barney's almond butter powder has 1g a serving (2 tbsp). Fine if you want to make a smoothy or just add some flavor. One ounce of "jar" almond butter has 15g of fat/ 1oz serving.

  19. #19
    Registered User swjohnsey's Avatar
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    An ounce of oil has about 360 calories where an once of pure alcohol has 155 calories pure fat versus pure carbs.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by swjohnsey View Post
    An ounce of oil has about 360 calories where an once of pure alcohol has 155 calories pure fat versus pure carbs.
    Oil (or any pure fat) is around 240 calories per ounce.

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