I am writing this post to inform people how I prefer to eat along with other miscellaneous resupply things while thru hiking on the trail. This is mostly just because I’ve had a lot of people offer to send me a resupply package on the trail in the past and they had questions about what a hiker likes to eat and receive. If you check out my “Support” page, an option is to send me some food or misc! This post is also a set of instructions for that. Although this is tailored to me specifically, I hope this helps people figure out how to support other hikers in a useful way as well! Or Maybe you are a future thru hiker? Here’s the scoop…
A hiker eats ALOT of food. I am a 5ft 3inch 130lb woman and I consume about 3-3.5k calories per day on the trail. This is a lot to eat for me. But I am hungry all the time. My stomach is never satisfied and I’m also always fatigued from this constant exertion of energy. Because I have to consume so many calories, I also care a lot about how much it weighs and the nutritional contents. Although I wish I could carry this much fruit without suffering, can you imagine how much 2k calories of apples or oranges would weigh? Too much. The more nutritionally dense a food is, the better. Other important things to consider when you carry everything you eat on your back, is food variety, texture, and shelf stability. These are things for all hikers to consider.
Here is a list of foods I typically like to eat on trail….
Breakfast: Oatmeal, protein bars, peanut butter, carnation breakfast mixed with chocolate or vanilla protein powder and water, granola, trail mix
Lunch: tortilla wraps, tuna packets (in careful moderation (Please ask)), crackers, protein bars, peanut butter, honey, ramen, pepperoni, cheese if it’s cold outside
Dinner: Mashed Potatoes with mix ins (hot sauce, mustard… literally anything with taste), ramen noodles, protein bars, pre made dehydrated meals, dehydrated hash browns,
Snacks: Snickers bars, seaweed, trail mix, nuts, Drink mix packets,]
Personal Favorites: Protein Puck, Lara Bars, Gatorade protein bars, Pro Bars, Honey Stinger anything, Cliff Bars, Trail mix from target, Dark Chocolate, Airplane Biscuit Cookies, dehydrated dinners (these are so expensive but a BIG treat when I get to eat them), chai tea latte drink mixes
Definite NOs: Hard Candy (I am no longer eating this for oral health), Anything refrigerated or perishable … I made this list because every hiker has some specific foods they absolutely can’t stand to eat anymore after days of eating one monotonous thing that also might smell in their food bag (such as tuna).
I try to make my food as varietal as possible because I get so fatigued and need something to look forward to. One of my favorite boxes a hiker friend of mine sent me on the CDT included one of every flavor lara bar along with a variety of anything else included. I got to eat something new everyday that week.
When I get to town the first thing I do after showering and laying down for a bit, is go to the grocery store to buy food for the next week. Before that I get rid of all my trash and see if I had any food left over that I can use for the next section or share with another hiker. At the grocery store, I go to the fresh foods section first to get some fruit and a salad or salad ingredients. I crave fresh food so much when I’m hiking and can only access it while resupplying or the first day out of town. I then pick up a bottle of something hydrating. Anything besides water tastes like candy. Next I see how many days until the next town and plan how many days of food to buy. I pick out all my different dinner options, breakfast is usually the same everyday, and lunch is a buffet of snacks. Sometimes I mix everything I possibly can together and put it on a tortilla wrap with peanut butter. Then I pick out some filler snacks and something sweet to have as a treat. Oftentimes I pack out unusual foods for the heck of it. Once I carried a 1lb 0 calorie jar of relish just to make my tuna salad wraps taste better. I like to have some sort of beverage drink mix especially in the desert where water is not appetizing and I need to pretend its yellow because its lemonade and not because of all the gross things tinting it. I try and pay attention to how much protein I consume because it is easy to not eat enough.
Besides food, other things I resupply on include toilet paper and toiletries. Any guesses on how many rolls of toilet paper one uses on a 2,600 mile hike? Maybe I’ll keep track for you. This summer I plan to be adamant about replacing my toothbrush once a month so I will send one with my shoes every 500 miles. I also periodically run out of toothpaste, q tips, and floss. Sometimes my mom has sent me some things to enjoy and take care of myself while I am in town. Some other consumable things besides food and toiletries that I carry with me on trail are vitamins and supplements. I take turmeric to help with inflammation (specifically my feet), vitamin C for my immune system, Biotin and Collagen to help with my joints, hair, skin, and nails, THC and magnesium to help me relax and fall asleep at night.
The last items a hiker resupplies on can be one of their biggest expenses besides food and lodging… Shoes! and insoles for me. I experienced some intense foot issues on the Appalachian Trail and because of this, after I found a shoe and self care system that worked, I stuck to it. I use SuperFeet Trailblazer Comfort insoles. I have used these for about 4,000 of the 5k plus miles I have hiked. They are the only insoles I have found that have adequate cushioning in the forefoot and also have a rigid plastic midsole. They hold up great for 500 miles at a time and I replace them at 500 miles religiously. The few times I have pushed insoles or shoes farther than 500 miles I have suffered from it. Some can make it farther but I find 500 to be a great average for most hikers. I love these insoles so much and I am so loyal to them that i already bought all five pairs I will use on the PCT. Shoes are one of the most personal items of gear a hiker uses. It is typical to wear trail runners, not boots. Besides that, everyone is totally different. While Altra Lone Peaks are one of the most popular trail shoes, for some the design can be detrimental. Personally I wear La Sportiva’s. I hiked about 2k miles in the Bushido IIs and then switched to the Karacals because they have a wider toe box. I anticipate wearing Karacals for most of the PCT besides potentially trying out a new shoe. I will not buy shoes more than 400 miles in advance because feet change over the course of a hike.
If you made it this far thanks for reading this! The goal of this was to let you know a little bit more about me personally, give you a glimpse into the things a hiker spends their money on, and explain the best way to help me and other hikers you may know!