For the self-organized trekkers out there without the support of porter out there, it is an interesting exercise to pack food. While food is not the heaviest item in our backpack, it is one of the most flexible category when it comes to optimizing it. If you do not want to carry a stove and can make do with dry food, then read on. I shall continue to update this post with new ideas/discoveries. Keep coming back 🙂
I do not hire a cook. On a few treks, I was fortunate to avail the services of cooks of other groups by paying a small amount but otherwise I subsist on dry rations. I speak the following from my limited personal experiences; it may not suit your needs. Do share in the comments below as to what rocks your boat. If you find the post useful, it’ll be nice to know so in the comments.
- Dry fruits: As if, you didn’t know 🙂 In my opinion, this is a costlier option. There are cheaper and equally good options! Read on.
- Chocolates: In my opinion, chocolates are costlier per unit weight or calories provided. Take protein bars, if you must.
- Dates, biscuits, and Chikkis: Offers fantastic energy to weight ratio, much cheap than other options, and have some decent nutritional value too. This is my preferred food on a trek. Did you ever notice that Parle-G has almost the same energy density as other fancy biscuits?
- Noodles: Filling, energising, tasty food that can be eaten cooked or raw, if need be. I like Wai-Wai noodle raw better than raw Maggi.
- Cereal and milk powder: I am not big on cereal but to each their own. These two items can be eaten raw (separately!), if you cannot light a fire.
- Fresh fruits: If weight permits, these are excellent too. Pick these from the base village or orchards on the trail, if any. Fruits are refreshing, quench thirst, are appropriately filling, and provide roughage.
- Specific trail food: Rich food created specifically for hikers is available commercially and is a great option if you are willing to shell out some money for it.
- Potatoes: You can find potatoes anywhere in the hills. Buy some from the village folks enroute. Mind you, these will add good weight to your backpack but are worth it. You can either boil these or roast these in campfire. To avoid charring of a thick outer surface, wrap in tin foil.
- Glucose and ORS: Technically not a food as it is not filling. But a mix of Glucose and electrolyte salts are quite refreshing and energizing, as these make up for all the sweating. You can substitute this with the likes of Gatorade.
- Peanut butter: Quite a dense food calorie-wise that does not occupy much space in the bag. Recently, I saw Sundrop’s small sachets worth Rs. 15 in a supermarket. I find this option slightly above average in cost per unit calorie provided. Some folks may not like the taste as well.
- Boiled eggs: From a base village, if possible, you can get a few boiled eggs for variety. Though be strongly advised that these weigh much and can drain you fast. The only USP is protein and variety.
- Maggi Masala: Technically not a food, but a Rs. 3 sachet of Maggi cooking masala can add much taste to your boiled food on a trek. Sometimes, I carry a custom mix of spices in a very small bottle in my backpack!
- Homemade snacks: Provides good variety and a nice reminder of the warmth of our loved ones back home. Though this option requires preparation in advance and may add weight, volume, or both to your luggage. Heck, I once carried homemade laddoos and matthi on a trek!
A request here is to carry the rubbish you generated back with you. Food items tend to generate a lot more rubbish than other items carried on a trek.
While we are at it, here’s a shameless plug of an oft-wondered, barely-asked, and rarely-followed tips on pooping in the hills. Here’s a “hilarious and practical thread” on Indiamike.com about the topic. While I recommend reading the entire thread for its fun and educational value, but for those in a rush, directly jump to reply #8, #23, #24, and #28 for some fantastic tips.