Do you have hiking or camping on your agenda? Mapping out your wilderness nutrition needs is important: There’s plenty to consider besides simply grabbing an energy bar or a bottle of water. Follow these tips to ensure you have a nourishing and safe food experience on your next outdoor adventure.
1. Have a Plan
Your food and water needs are generally higher than usual on activity-based excursions. Pay extra special attention to packing plenty of fluids for hot weather adventures.
2. It’s Essential to Stay Hydrated
Pre-hydrate by drinking at least 4 cups of water before a hike so you have less to carry. Then, a good rule of thumb is to plan for about 2 cups of fluid for every hour of hiking. Make sure you can bring or access clean drinking water during your hike.
3. For a Hike or Day Trip…
You can pack perishable foods, such as sandwiches, just be sure you have a cold source (such as an ice pack) to keep foods properly chilled. The more you stash in a backpack, the harder it is to hike, so opt mainly for non-perishable foods that are relatively lightweight and nutrient dense, such as:
Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
Fresh, whole fruit that doesn’t require refrigeration such as apples, bananas and oranges
Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
Granola or granola bars
Ready-made tuna salad pouches
Shelf-stable, dried jerky, such as poultry, salmon or meat jerky
4. For Camping or Multi-Day Trips…
It’s a little more challenging to pack food for days at a time. The first day you’ll be able to eat perishable foods if you have a cooler; but after that, map out your meals so you’ll have what you enjoy and need. Otherwise, include any of these shelf-stable, easily-packed basics to sustain you:
Easy-to-carry foods mentioned above
Fruit or vegetable puree in squeezable pouches (such as applesauce)
Poultry or fish pouches, or canned fish, poultry or meat in individual or regular servings
Individual packets of mayo, mustard, taco sauce and/or soy sauce
Whole-grain pasta, couscous, rice mix, pancake mix, hot cereal, dried soups and dehydrated foods (if you have the ability to boil drinkable water)
Marshmallows — for a campfire dessert, of course
Bottled water, and possibly powdered beverage mixes
5. Don’t Forget Proper Food Safety Practices
Always follow good food safety practices — from packing to plating. Remember that perishable food cannot be kept out in hot weather for more than one hour; in mild weather for more than two hours. Otherwise, these foods become unsafe to eat and should be thrown out.
And follow these food safety rules:
Wash hands often. This includes before and after eating. If you’re unable to wash your hands, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol may help reduce bacteria and germs.
Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Use extra plates that you’ve packed — one for raw and one for prepared foods.
Cook to proper temperatures. Use a food thermometer to be sure cooked food has reached a safe internal temperature.
When possible, refrigerate promptly. Of course, if you don’t have a fridge, pack perishable food, including meat or poultry, with plenty of ice or ice packs in a well-insulated cooler to keep the temperature below 40°F. Store leftovers in small, clean covered containers in the cooler only if it still has ice. And keep the cooler in as cool a place as possible.
Now, go take a hike!