Planning Pages

  Deciding to Go
  We CAN do it!
  Paying the Piper
  Where to Begin?
  Food
      Recipes
      Dehydration Graph
  De-Feet
  Snow Going
      Snow Depth Graph
      '98 Snow Crossing
  Pink Permit

What to eat?

Scott learned about the importance of backpacking food some years back, while backpacking around Lake Tahoe with his college roommate, Kurt.  He let his roommate plan the meal menu, thinking that because Kurt had an appetite that was known to the world, food wouldn't be issue.  Unfortunately, appetite doesn't necessarily translate into good planning.   There was more appetite on that trip than food. The last two days had these two friends rationing the remaining consumables and growling at each other like a couple of hungry hyenas.


Both body and spirit need the fuel on a 2,650-mile hike.  There are too many other events that break down morale and we're determined not to let food be a contributor. 

Knowing the importance of food, we came up with our dehydration strategy early on, and tested it the year before our PCT hike.

How did we decide on dehydrated food?   There seem to be 3 food options:

  1. Commercial, pre-packaged, freeze-dried food - Available from such companies as Adventure Foods, Mountain House & Alpine Aire , these meals are easy to prepare, nutritious and taste good.  There is generally a good selection of meals (variety isn't a problem) and we've even heard that some of these companies will work with thru-hikers to develop a meal plan and ship food to resupply points.  We've both used these foods in the past, with varying results.  We elected not to use them on the PCT for several reasons.  We find these meals expensive, the portions small and (some products) generate a lot of trash.  They were not for us.
  2. Grocery resupply on the trail - Initially, this option was very appealing to us, for several reasons.  Firstly, we are very familiar with this style of eating.  Most of our previous backpacking meals were put together from items at grocery stores - (a can of tuna, some macaroni and cheese ... boom - a meal).  Secondly, this method of resupply allows flexibility.  If you're sick of one type of food, you don't have to look forward to receiving 5 more months of the same thing.  Thirdly, it saves mailing costs (which can be between $500-$1000US) ... not a small factor.  And lastly, this method supports those trail towns through which we pass.  Patronizing those places helps support their economy and generates goodwill.  There is even a good article , by Chris Bailey, that discusses this method in greater detail and provides information about grocery store options at each of the various trail towns.  We have elected to use this method for half of our breakfasts, most of our lunches, most of our snacks, but NOT for many of our dinners.  Three reasons:   (1) Expense.  Trail towns are often tourist towns and their prices are exorbitantly high.  (2) Quantity.  Some trail towns have only very small grocery stores that have a small stock and are not stocked often.  We've heard horror stories of people eating cans of frosting because that was all that was left on the shelves!   (3)  Quality.  Every time we've backpacked using this method of meal planning, we've each exited the wilderness with huge cravings (for burgers, fries, etc.)   It wasn't until we experimented with home meal-dehydration that we realized that there IS a better way.

  3. Home Dehydration - We researched dehydration because it was new to us.  We felt that given the importance of food and the length of the trip, we needed to give it a try.  Count us among the converted.  When we went on our 10-day Wonderland Trail trip in August, we were hooked.  We exited the trail without one craving.  We ate like kings - good portions, and all were yummy.  (Well, Scott wasn't really big on the "Curried Lentils" dinner, but only because it wasn't fortified with protein!  He is a confirmed carnivore.)  We find this method of food resupply fits our tastes (ha ha ... more lame trail humor) very well.  Meals are inexpensive (especially buying ingredients on sale), we can control our own portions, the meals are healthy and balance, and they taste superb.   Even including mailing costs, we believe that we can eat better and cheaper using home dehydration, than by trail resupply or commercial freeze-dried foods.  We have developed our own dehydration methods, which make preparation (both at home and on the trail) very easy and especially tasty.  Read on!