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#158247 - 12/03/11 07:02 PM Most calorie dense foods?
Elkins45 Offline

Registered: 12/03/11
Posts: 1
Hello all. First post here. I'm planning a Grand Canyon hike in the spring and am seriously trying to minimize weight. I don't want to a stove so I'm trying to figure out what are the best weight to calorie ratio non-perishable foods that don't need to be heated. Carrying a pack full of Snickers bars probably isn't a great nutrition strategy!

If you wanted to carry foods that don't need to be cooked but that have maximum energy at the lowest possible weight what would you carry?

Thanks in advance for any info.

#158248 - 12/03/11 07:47 PM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Elkins45]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 5762
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Olive oil (add to other foods)
You can still use dehydrated/freeze dried food if you add the water an hour or so before eating. You might want to experiment at home; some taste better cold than others.

Edited by OregonMouse (12/03/11 07:47 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#158250 - 12/03/11 08:12 PM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Elkins45]
aimless Offline

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2559
Loc: Portland, OR
Just looking at the Nutrition Information labels on food packaging turns up the basic fact that both proteins and carbs provide 4 calories per gram of weight, while fats provide 9 cal/gram.

If I were you I'd try to take variety of nuts, dried fruit, jerky, energy bars, granola, crackers, cheese and so on. A concentrated slow walk around the aisles of a grocery store, carrying a calculator, will yield you a lot of choices. Shoot for at least 100 calories per ounce (1 ounce = 28 grams) with 150 indicating pretty high fat content. Your body can only cope with so much fat before it screws up your digestion. About 35% of caloric intake from fat is about as high as I like to push things. Others go higher.

Along the same lines, water provides exactly zero calories, but because it is absolutely necessary to health, not to mention digestion, you will need to be consuing the same amount of water, whether it is in your food to begin, or added to it seperately.

The standard strategy for reducing the water weight from your pack is to eliminate water from your food while you are carrying it, and add it later on when you reach a water source. When there are no water sources, this strategy fails. So, if you don't expect to see any water on some days, it's great to take more appetizing food that isn't dried out, like fresh fruit. Water is water, whatever way it comes.

Lastly, if you only eat super calorie-dense food, like Pringles, you'll soon be dealing with dire constipation. Some dietary fiber is a must.

#158252 - 12/03/11 08:37 PM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Elkins45]
oldranger Offline

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
You have received good advice here. I would only point out that your stove, minimal cookset,and fuel can easily weigh under a pound, while you most likely be carrying at least eight pounds (one gallon) of water. The traditional advice is that a canteen carrying less than that amount in the Grand Canyon is merely a toy.

Spring in Northern Arizona can be an interesting time with wildly varying conditions. I recall one late May weekend at Wupatki National Monument, about forty miles north of Flagstaff and 3,000 feet lower, when we received six inches of snow overnight. Same month in other years we recorded official temps exceeding 100 degrees.

I would at least bring a stove along and decide at the trail head whether or not to bring it along. My decision would be easy - I am hopelessly addicted to my nice cup(s) of tea....

#158254 - 12/03/11 09:41 PM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Elkins45]
Samoset Offline

Registered: 07/04/08
Posts: 429
Loc: Newnan ,GA
Originally Posted By: Elkins45

If you wanted to carry foods that don't need to be cooked but that have maximum energy at the lowest possible weight what would you carry?

large freezer ziplock containing

*salted macadamia nuts
*peppered beef jerky
*dark chocolate covered raisins

sure it might get a little bland but it's all a growing boy needs wink
Some peopole live life day by day. Try step by step.

#158255 - 12/04/11 12:52 AM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Samoset]
Gershon Offline

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1094
Loc: Colorado
Peanut butter and Saltines or Ritz Crackers are pretty dense and have about the right amounts of carbs, fats and proteins. I use 30% fat and 10% protein as a target for my trail diet. You need fats for current energy and proteins to rebuild at night. Not all peanut butters and crackers are equal. Prepackaged ones are pretty much junk. Adams peanut butter is a good choice and is available in King Soupers.

I've found I have to include a lot of nuts to reach the density goal and to have a lot of fat.

Fried dehydrated bananas are also pretty dense and are about the only significant source of potassium I can find.

Grain cereals are also very good. You don't have to cook them, but I suspect they would be pretty nasty if you didn't.

Chocolate chips or carob chips are good to add calories and putting a teaspoon or so in hot cereal adds a great flavor.

Potato chips are good for calories and increasing fat.

In my link, I have some recipes. They are mixed in with other things. They all give 3,000 calories per 1.5 pounds and provide a good nutritional mix.

As Aimless pointed out, water carried or water in the food is the same thing. Maybe density isn't the best goal in this situation. It might be good to reduce food intake between water sources and eat a lot near one. I don't know how far it is between water there.

Another goal I have is to reduce cost. I eat for less than $5.00 a day. Surprisingly, that goal drives me to more nutritious food. It's one I use at home, too.

This website can help you count calories, density and nutrition. Be sure to select the active option.

Edited by Gershon (12/04/11 12:57 AM)

#158256 - 12/04/11 02:05 AM Re: Most calorie dense foods? [Re: Elkins45]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 983
Loc: Washington State, King County
I think a relevant question is how many days you're hiking. One to three days, I wouldn't worry about it much, just take enough food that you're not likely to be suffering from hunger pangs, make sure to get at least some protein, the rest will likely take care of itself. So long as you bring stuff that you'll be willing to eat.

More than three days then maybe you want to be a bit more careful about what you're carrying, but even then I'd not sweat it much. By the time that you'll be walking back up out of the canyon you'll likely have your food weight substantially reduced.

So indeed, not a pack of nothing but snicker bars, but some snicker bars would be a fine choice. Personally I expect I'd just carry the same kinds of no-stove foods that I would for any other trip. For me that's gorp, trail bars, jerky, dried fruit, some sort of bread item for lunch with likely some sort of spread (peanut butter & maybe something else, or lunch meat and butter --- no problem there in colder weather). For dinners I might bring some bread and sausage for the first night and then Idahoan brand (whatever favorite flavor) potatos, quite good cold, and for alternating nights a decent sized (5 - 7 oz) foil tuna packet with some sort of starch (crackers, pita bread, whatever) to go with it.
Keep it simple and don't be too picky about food in the woods; most things taste great when you're hungry!
Brian Lewis


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