What I actually TAKE backpacking for high calorie stuff:
1) Hudson's Bay Bread - google the recepie. A 3 inch square of this slathered in peanut butter has as much voom in it as an entire commercial dehydrated backpacking meal.
2) Walker's shortbread cookies - oh god these are good, and so bad for you. I only take them winter hiking.
3) smoked almonds. almonds have tons of calories, and tons of fibre - all good.
4) sausage - I love landjaeger or dry salami or pepperoni sticks
6) Cheese - parmigiano reggio keeps forever, softer stuff less so.
So my snack loadout for 4 days out, doing 90 km in four days last weekend was: 6 landjaeger sausages 1 175 gram piece of emmentaller cheese 1 can black diamond smoked almonds (in a ziploc) 4 3 inch squares of hudson's bay bread 150 grams of peanut butter. A small ziploc sandwitch bag full of dried fruit (mangos cherries, cranberries)
I ate oatmeal or egg and taters with coffee for breakfast, and a dehydrated backpacking dinner for dinner.
I walked off the trail with a sausage and small piece of cheese which I ate in the car at the trailhead, and a few almonds and fruit, half an HBC bread, and some peanut butter. In other words, I a had enough snacks to do an extra day if I needed to. - about as I had planned it. I didnt' feel hungry or wanting and made good time.
Old standard... Well before Mountain House came about there was olive oil. A few thousand years ago olive oil was in use on travel because of his many uses and not needing refrigeration/preservation. Obviously it is food, but was also used as medicine ,fuel for lamps and as a cosmetic product (hair and skin) look up " olive oil medical use" BTW, Extra Virgin (cold pressed) is best Franco
Loc: Washington State, King County
"An old standard? what do you mean? Sorry if this sounds ignorant....I am just curious."
Franco's reply is, as usual, a good one. I just meant, however, that it's a very common way to get to move closer to the goal of "calorically dense" food, i.e., as the thread says, a high ratio of calories per unit weight of food.
Among long distance trail (thru-) hikers, olive oil is perhaps the most widely used approach --- because it's not too hard to obtain (in the AT this year I even found 8-oz mini-bottles of olive oil in a couple of gas station mini-marts), it's calorically dense, and when your body is burning lots and lots of calories per day it's particularly tasty to add to any cooked meal. I typically add about an ounce (fluid or weight, take your pick) to any dinner meal, including a Mt. House (a 2-person Mt. House is a small to moderate sized dinner for a thru-hiker ...).
Okay, so an aside that I was expecting someone would trot out in this thread (seems to come up every time on this topic): chocolate and nuts are both very calorically dense, so at one point in a discussion of how to most efficiently fill a bear can, one wag suggested that pouring in a mix of macadamia nuts in melted chocolate to fill the can would be most efficient --- and that if a person got sick of eating that mix, they could trade for other food along the way. Assuming, of course, that you could manage to chip chunks out of the hardened mix!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Dried foods, either freeze-dried or dehydrated, contain very little fat. You want to remove as much fat as possible from home-dehydrated foods to keep them from becoming rancid, and they should be stored in the freezer.
A few squirts of olive or canola oil mixed into your dinners when you rehydrate them will help make up this fat deficiency. The monounsaturated fat in these oils is also much healthier for you than the saturated fats found in meat. I personally love high-quality olive oil (see Franco's post) and use it instead of butter at home.
My main source of fat out on the trail is nuts: almonds, hazelnuts (called filberts here in Oregon), walnuts, peanuts and (my favorite) cashews. In lieu of lunch, I nibble on nuts and dried fruits throughout the day. Again, this is healthy monounsaturated fat. I seem to be able to digest this kind of fat, while having digestive problems with the fats found in meat and dairy.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My historical context type reply was a bit cheeky , nevertheless true... I would add pine nuts and Brazil nuts the the Oregon Mouse list. Maybe an easy way to remember is just to look at the most expensive types. We have Macademia nuts here. More fat content than any other nut. (toxic to dogs) Although peanut butter is cheap and works too. For a cold weather boost before bed, a nice hot chocolate with a bit of olive oil added will warm you up for the night. Franco
Ferrero advertise Nutella as an healthy spread made seemingly with hazelnuts, skimmed milk and cocoa. The actual ingredients change according to the market place, however there is a fix 13% hazelnut content, 7-8% cocoa powder and 5-7% of skimmed milk. The main ingredient at around 50% is sugar. Franco
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
Candy like that will just give you a short term energy burst.
Chocolate is the best thing to have when you want to warm up quickly. Because it is a lot of sugar, your body burns it quickly and you create metabolic heat. I usually eat some on a cold night before I go to sleep. This way I feel a bit warmer when I get in to my bag. Caffeine, unless i have a few cups of coffee, doesn't effect me that much.
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel
Re: Nutella BTW, don't take my word for it... This is from Ferrero : How much sugar and fat does nutella contain? We recommend that nutella is eaten in a 15g portion, and per serving it contains 80kcals, 4.7g fat (2.6g monounsaturated, 0.6g polyunsaturated, 1.5g saturated) and 8.3g sugar. The Food Standards Agency ‘Eatwell plate’, states that both sugar and fat are acceptable in appropriate quantities as part of a balanced diet. The key is balance and moderation - some foods like fruit and vegetables in large amounts and others like nutella, other spreads such as jam and peanut butter, in small amounts. (FAQ : how much sugar ? http://www.wakeuptonutella.com/faq.html)
A friend of mine who has participated in some adventure racing swears by Cheetos. They are one of, if not the highest calorie to weight ratio. Keep in mind though, that they eat them because of the need to consume 5,000+ calories per day to travel rough terrain contstantly. It's probably not the healthiest solution!
Loc: San Diego CA
I thought the calorie count of Nutella (yum!) was somewhat equal to peanut butter; about 200cal/2 tablespoons. High density calorie foods includes nuts...and the king of them all is the macadamia nut. 320 calories per chopped 1/3 cup. I've substituted these into Phat's snack bar formula and it works for my taste buds. Lots O fat in those suckers (Macadamia nuts), but it is good fat. Hey, you are going to burn it off backpacking or mountaineering.
@lori - excellent site. Re Hudson Bay Bread. Looks good, but I would suggest that the history is probably false. I attended the UK army outward bound school in 1961, and the recommended high energy food was "Edmund Hillary's favourite - Kendal Mint Cake." (This is a sugar/glucose opaque confection flavoured with peppermint.) as an alternative, fruit cake was recommended. Hillary was rumoured to have taken 4 tea chests of Kendal Mint Cake to the Everest expedition and the party complained that there might not be enough! Certainly, I can report that pupils of the Outward Bound School consumed enormous quantities of Kendal Mint Cake and we all placed copious quantities of it in our packs as "emergency rations". Nowadays I prefer home-made fruit cake which contains complex and simple carbs, dried fruit, nuts, and if I made it, a good slug of rum. Makes it moist and delicious. Slather it with butter to up the fat content. I suppose modern energy bars are easier, but much less fun.