Eating is an essential and important component during a hike and even more during a trek. Indeed, it is easy to understand that without the calories of a good meal, we will have difficulty moving forward in the middle of the wilderness. Eating is also one of the main vectors of pleasure during a roaming: what could be better indeed than a good hot dish after a long day of walking in the rain …

The aim of this guide is therefore to provide you with the main keys to properly planning your provisioning for your next outing.

Preamble: calorie and nutrition requirement

The calories ingested will be your fuel to advance. It is therefore necessary to plan their contribution to keep energy throughout the day and the journey.

In general we recommend an intake of 2000-2500kcal per day for an adult man and 1800-2000kcal for an adult woman but this applies to people who are not very active. During a hike you can consume a lot more calories, some websites allow you to estimate your calorie consumption based on your weight. In my case, for 78kg, I find values ​​between 400 and 500kcal per hour of hiking. I find these values ​​high, but they clearly show that it is necessary to count on a contribution far above the average.

Eat or not to eat? Some try the fasting trek. I have never tried it myself but the experience intrigues me. If you are curious I recommend reading this topo by Johanna and Olivier who did 6 days of fasting in Marjorque – Link to the topo

For my part I do not make a precise calculation of the calories that I take because I begin to know my needs with experience but I think to count on 3000 / 3500kcal per day in uneven and well-charged terrain. A Mike Horn turns rather at 10000kcal per day during his journey in the Far North …

Another concern with autonomy is the weight and volume of the food. For 9 days of trekking we quickly arrive at 5-7kg of food for a large volume of the bag (about half of my 65L bag for this duration). It is therefore necessary to prefer foods that concentrate calories well. As such, proteins, carbohydrates or lipids do not have the same contributions:

  • Carbohydrates: 4kcal / gram
  • Proteins: 4kcal / gram
  • Fat: 9kcal / gram
  • For info – Alcohol: 7kcal / gram

It is therefore necessary to juggle between these different intakes, their “energy efficiency” with respect to weight / volume and the ease of assimilating these calories (fast sugars vs slow sugars, …). For example, Mike Horn during his tour of the Arctic Circle and his 10,000kcal / day, ate dishes extremely rich in oil and fat … no choice if you do not want to take tons of food.


Let’s get to the heart of the matter! What to take when hiking?

Weight / volume

As we mentioned earlier, food weighs heavily and takes up a lot of space in the bag. So you have to choose the right foods with this little specification:

  • Food should not weigh too heavy
  • They should be small
  • They should be stored easily
  • They should preferably be easy to cook and prepare (low fuel consumption)

When it comes to weight, no secret, you have to aim for high-calorie foods. Starchy foods, such as pasta or rice are well indicated or mash as well as sausage or cheese for example. Seeds and nuts of all kinds are also very interesting (nuts = 600kcal / 100g !!)

For the volume, you have to aim right: 100g of semolina take up much less space than 100g of tortellini. Prefer therefore the dry ingredients because the water in addition to weighing heavy takes up space. Our modern society loves over-packaging! We therefore find ourselves carrying large volumes of voids and cardboard or plastic if we do not repackage. For my part I distribute what I take in resealable freezer bags (ziploc), it’s cheap, waterproof, relatively solid and you can easily see what’s inside.

Canning must be one of the worst things to take on a hike: it’s heavy (you only take water), it’s bulky and it also generates bulky waste.

Storage will be done at room temperature. So you have to choose well. Dry food lends itself well to play again. For cheese, for example, don’t go with a good flowing camembert, but rather with conté or old mimolette.

Preparation is also important. An ingredient that takes a long time to be cooked will require more gas to take away and therefore additional weight, this may be the case for rice for example. As such I find the semolina extremely effective: very small and rich in carbohydrates, it requires very little water to be cooked (no mess). Tip: use pasta water to make soup.

Obviously, the pleasure component must be taken into account and it is true that eating fresh food is always fun. But in the same way all fruits, for example, do not have the same advantages or disadvantages. An apple will keep better than strawberries or peaches, for example, but there is nothing to prevent the latter from being taken for the first few days.

Take away or on site?

We have so far only dealt with the case where we take all our food. Another possibility is to find locally. I am not talking here about what Carrefour can offer us, but what Mother Nature can provide us.

CAUTION: consume only what you are certain of edibility especially for berries and mushrooms!

The easiest way is to get berries or fruit if you know them well. There are for example many edible berries in Lapland and it is a real plus at the end of a meal to be able to eat a few camarines, or fresh cranberries. Similarly, with the right knowledge, you can find some mushrooms in autumn.

For the more adventurous and respecting local regulations, you can also try fishing. I have never tested but I imagine that a trout fillet cooked over a wood fire in the depths of Lapland must have a real taste of happiness!

I will not discuss hunting because it is outside the scope of the article but this can be another source of contribution.

In all cases, ask before leaving, especially regarding edible plants. Without necessarily being a real source of food, it can be a pleasant contribution.

As an example, I had read the topo of a person who descended the Yukon with only half the food needed and supplementing the rest with fishing … You still have to be confident in your abilities.


Lyophilization is a process for preserving food by sublimation of water. Without going into technical detail, this process makes it possible to preserve the nutritive capacities of food (calories, vitamins, taste, …) while making the preparation long-lasting and this with a low weight / volume.

The big advantage of freeze-dried food is therefore to be very practical in terms of weight while offering the possibility of offering “real” prepared meals. They don’t produce too much waste (just the packaging) and just need a little boiling water to be prepared.

It also has serious drawbacks: the price first of all, we are not going to lie about freeze-dried foods are very expensive (€ 7 / € 10 per meal). The taste and aspects are not always at the top … Personally I prefer preparations based on mash, pasta or other foods that rehydrate well.


Here is a list of take-out foods that can inspire you for your next trek:


  • Rich cereal bar (~ 200kcal)
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Honey (in flexible tube)
  • Muesli with milk powder
  • Oatmeal
  • Coffee / tea
  • Seeds
  • Dry cakes


  • Cereal bar
  • Seeds / nuts: almond, macadamia, pistachio, nuts, hazelnuts, squash seeds .... (there is quite a ready-made mixture which can be practical to vary. Otherwise take in bulk)
  • Cookies
  • Jerk beef


  • Sausage / Dried Meat
  • Cheese
  • Pate / Rice / Semolina ...
  • Freeze-dried
  • Bread
  • Wasa-style bread (keeps well)


  • Powdered soup
  • Freeze-dried
  • Dried vegetables
  • Pasta / Rice / Semolina
  • Sausage
  • Dried meat
  • Pemmican
  • Cheese
  • Dessert: freeze-dried, dried fruit, berries, ...
  • Chocolate bar, toasted almonds, ...

Example of refueling for 10 days of hiking in total autonomy

  • 10x freeze-dried "salted"
  • 10x powdered soups
  • Very dry sausage: 100g per day per person (about 6 sausages for 2 people for 10 days)
  • Cheeses: storytelling / mimolette / Beaufort / ... 150g per day per person (6 slices for 2 people for 10 days)
  • One or two sachets of jerk beef: about 50g
  • Seeds and berries: pistachios, macadamia, cranberries, squash seeds, ... about 300g
  • Rich cereal bars (~ 200kcal): one per morning + 1 in security - 11 in all.
  • Cereal bars: 15
  • Dried fruits: 100g
  • Pleasure food: chocolate bar or toasted almonds for exampleI usually start the day off right with a rich cereal bar and a little sweetened condensed milk. Then I have a bar that I nibble on during the day. For the lunch break, I eat a little sausage and cheese with some seeds for example. In the evening, however, I absorb a lot of calories: soup, freeze-dried, sausage, cheese, seeds ... I am filling up on calories at this time.

Good food management is important, but water management is essential! Find out what there is to know on the subject thanks to the following article.