It is all about meal planning bushwalkers and avoiding the temptation to prepare for a famine - thank you to cartoonist, Brad Lester for this fantastic cartoon of what not to do!
So where to start... Here are some of the main considerations from a comprehensive article by Peter Byrd, a writer for Professional Camping. Read more here.
Do remember that bushwalking with a backpack and camping is not the same thing. There is no esky nor boot space and you have to carry your pack all day. Pack for lightness and optimal nutrition not "I may feel like eating a watermelon at some stage!" Here are some handy tips:
- What is the duration and intensity of your bushwalk - how many meals do you need to prepare and pack?
- What activities will you be participating in, just walking, walking and climbing, walking and kayaking, etc.?
- Most bushwalkers need about 3500 calories a day for long walks depending on fitness levels and metabolism, so make sure you have food that not only tastes good but will keep your energy levels up and provide adequate nutrition.
- What will the weather be like on your bushwalk? In cold climates, you will burn more energy keeping warm. A handy tip if you will be walking/skiing in snow, is to you keep foods in the pockets close to your body to make sure it doesn't freeze or in the centre of your pack, not in outside pockets. In warmer months, staying hydrated is as important as staying nourished.
- The best foods to take on a multi-day bushwalk are lightweight, have a low glycemic index (GI), are easy to prepare, foods you like eating, are preferably dehydrated foods and lend themselves to adding spices to provide a variety in taste.
- Canned foods seem like a good idea but they are heavy and you have to take your rubbish with you, so you will have to carry empty cans in your pack.
- You have to carry sufficient drinking water for the conditions that are expected as well as purifying tables or a filtration system that is lightweight.
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate or other powdered drink options to add to cold or hot water will create variety for your taste buds.
- Decide which cooking equipment you need, what you will use as fuel and how many meals you will be preparing using fuel. Keep potential fire bans in mind. Also prepare for cleaning up.
- Remember that you need to take your rubbish and uneaten food with you, so plan ahead. Take enough robust rubbish bags. An old-fashioned string bag, that can be tied to your pack, is handy to carry bags of rubbish outside of your pack or to seperate it from other items in your pack. If you are looking for re-usable or compostable food storage bags and wraps, have a look here and here as well as here.
- Proper food storage, especially overnight when camping, is essential as you don't want wildlife to pick up on the food smell and eat your food, so use storage bags that close off food smells.
- Individually pack every meal.
- Label every package before you mix up powdered milk with powdered potatoes! If you need cooking instructions, write these on the packet as well as the calorie count, if that will be significant on your trip, and the date you packed the food.
- Camp cooking for a bushwalker is not about gourmet meals - it is surprising what you relish deep in the High Country but would look down on at home! Have a look at our Pintrest Board filled with recipe ideas here.
- Pack properly with snacks and water within easy reach, lunch close and dinner and next day meals further to the bottom of your pack
- Find out if resupply boxes are available on your route and use those to re-stock your food and water supplies or ask someone to mail food and other supplies to be collected at post offices en route if that is an option. Here's a book that may be handy: The Dietitian's Resupply Box - A Guide to Thru-Hiking on a Plant-based diet. You can also read more about re-supply here. This is an example of a food resupply service in Australia.
For more details and tips, have a look at a comprehensive guide in the Outdoor Leader Online here.