You spend all summer training for a hard hunt and follow a healthy diet throughout the year but when you finally hit the trail, there’s a mental shift regarding calorie consumption. You are burning energy quickly and while the food in your pack brings some security, the body has instincts that drive hunger. Your instincts will act like there is no certainty about the next meal and your appetite kicks into overdrive. Here are a few options to satisfy your hunger and gain calories quickly without overloading your pack.
Turn Off Your Diet Brain
Nobody is counting calories in the backcountry. When you are hauling a loaded pack and covering 10-20 miles each day, limiting calories will negatively impact your energy levels. Think about it like a chance to eat your favorite snacks that are off limits at home. Fatty foods are especially good on intensive hunts. Consume 3,000 or more calories each day if possible. Your body is burning all day and night in the woods.
Peanut Butter on Anything
Grab your favorite brand of creamy or chunky peanut butter from the store and carry it along. I dip granola bars in peanut for a quick but satiating snack. The peanut butter has over 160 calories per ounce. Two granola bars and a few ounces of peanut butter will easily deliver 500 calories without breaking out the stove.
Candy bars deliver a quick boost of energy and are great late in the day when you are dragging. Mini-sized Snickers, M&M’s and other varieties are easy to throw in your pocket. Don’t plan on using them excessively but they are calorie dense, gratifying and will actually help you push through that last mile. Ration them for the entire trip and store the future rations in your pack so you don’t go through them all on day one.
Fatty Meats and Cheeses
Summer sausage, salami and cheese are excellent backcountry foods. You can throw in some bread and even olives for an antipasto style snack. They are not as convenient as candy bars but you can make a meal out of meats and cheeses in a pinch. I like to eat lunch at a good glassing spot and this is one of favorites. Consider turning some of your ground game meat into summer sausage for future backcountry trips. It’s a convenient treat that is satiating and calorie rich.
Written by Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is a fly fishing guide and freelance writer. When he’s not fishing, Zach is chasing big game, upland birds and waterfowl in the Rocky Mountains and Northwest.