How do you fuel up for an adventure?
Do you throw a few bags of chips and some juice boxes in a cooler and hope for the best? Maybe you rely on an entire pack of Oreos to get you where you need to go?
Or do you carefully plot your next fifteen moves and corresponding snacks?
We fall somewhere in between. Mark mentioned in this post about the ADK 46er Challenge how much he enjoyed getting to know the mountains these last few years. As a result of all of that exploring, we most definitely got to know how best to put fuel in our bodies.
It’s been an interesting journey of trying new things, seeing what worked and what bloated. (An awkwardly real post about pooping in the woods is inevitable, I’m afraid.) And even though we are still very open to trying out new types of fuel, we try to stay within a range of the foods we know give us the boost we need.
Popular adventure outfitter, REI, gives great advice on the best foods for going out and staying out, for days long back-packing excursions. You and I, we need to get from mile one to mile 3, or 7 or 15.
Goldfish are a staple for us. The salty treat is a welcomed change to all of the sweet energy bars and drinks.
However, I can eat Lara Bars all the live-long day. It might be the natural ingredients, they range from only five to seven ingredients, and most of the sweetness comes from dates.
Mark’s energy bar of choice is Clif.
But I would say the best snacks we put in our packs are fruits. Apples are our go-to for that last push to the car. We put so much energy into a climb that sometimes on the way down we’ll hit a rough patch that we physically and mentally have no energy for. Apples are life savers, I hear they also keep the dentist away. So, yay apples!
For longer hikes, we’ll add clementines. Peeled, separated, and ready to pop in our mouths, they are a good boost of energy mid-climb. Citrus is also a great mood booster for when you hate the climb, you hate whoever suggested the climb and you vow to never climb again.
Saving the best for last, a celebratory snack is a must. You made it to the top? Break out that brownie, pack of Oreos or, in the case of our first major hike, leftover pancakes from breakfast! If you’re Mark and me, you save a celebratory snack for reaching the car, too.
It (hopefully!) goes without saying, you will need to hydrate no matter the level of activity you plan for your day. The general rule for hiking is to plan on consuming one liter every two hours. Of course the time of year, temperature and your own body are going to make this estimate differ wildly, but until you know how you are going to react, bring more, not less.
Lesson learned: Mark and I took his 9-year-old daughter on a quick three mile hike on a cool fall day. She was so excited to use her new backpack and water bladder she drank two liters of water before we reached the top. Needless to say, she learned two very important lessons that day; 1) her little body does not need two liters of water per mile of hiking, and 2) how to pee in the woods.
On longer hikes we add a bottle of Gatorade. I’m not a fan of sugary drinks in my everyday life but….#electrolytes.
If a 7+ mile adventure is in your future, you’ll want to think about a snack that’s more hearty and packed with beneficial ingredients that will be sure to give you the energy you need and also satisfy the belly.
Our hands-down favorite summit meal is a burrito. Made with refried black beans, rice, cheese and hot sauce, it’s easy and tasty and best of all it’s contained in a handy tortilla wrapper!
We also pack PB&J (or PB and honey for me) sandwiches that we halve and snack on along the way. Particularly challenging sections of a trail call for “bites of encouragement.”
For winter hikes, we’ll fill our baby thermoses up with stew and treat ourselves to a warm meal with a view. Our stew of choice: this slow cooker sweet potato stew.
Obviously, you might have different fuel needs than we do. I would put us in the high-metabolism/must-eat-every-mile category. We’ve hiked with others who zipped through 30 miles with just a handful of trail mix and a smile.
Long story short: know your body. Trust your body. Ask me for fuel advice because…