What and how should you pack?
Packing up for a several-day trip, especially if it will be a mountain trip or you intend to mostly hike, is quite a logistically demanding task. First, because there is no such thing as “too much food” on a hike. Food is always useful, if only because – if we do not eat ourselves – we can rescue our companions with a sandwich or a piece of chocolate. So it could be assumed that you should take as much food as you can fit into your backpack. This is, of course, one of the basic mistakes, because a walker who packs his entire refrigerator on his back will have to take into account the burden of several kilograms. And yet with each kilometer on your feet, each gram more is felt more and more.
Theoretically, the weight of a backpack should not exceed ¼ of your weight. So, for example, with a weight of 60 kilograms it should be a maximum of 15 kilograms on the back. The limit weight, however, is 25 kilograms, which will fit into an expedition backpack with a capacity of 70-90 liters. It’s a lot! And we must also take into account that – apart from eating – we need a change of clothes and kitchen accessories such as bottles, stove, gas cartridges, a tourist mug, spoon, knife and – it is a must – first aid kit. We decide what equipment and clothes should be packed for a day trip, of course, taking into account the time of the year or the route, and this is a topic for a separate article.
Fortunately, the tourist equipment produced today is lighter and more compact, so when choosing modern accessories, we should not have a major problem with fitting into the weight limit of the backpack.
Add some calories
It is good to estimate – more or less – how much calories you will need for a day. 2000 kcal should be your basic, since this is rather constant value your body needs to support vital functions. To this number you should add about 60 to 90 kcal for each kilometer of hiking. So for 50 kilometers Laugavegur trail you should consider 3000-4000 calories more.
This is basic. Without ensuring the right amount of calories and energy, we will not be able to achieve our goal, and in the most drastic cases this can put us in a dangerous situation. When hiking, especially in the mountains, we need more calories than during a normal working day, because we use up energy much faster. Energy deficiencies can be manifested by fainting, dizziness, and in bad weather contribute to faster cooling of the body and hypothermia. Therefore, the plan of what food to take with you on a trip should be a priority.
Due to the aforementioned weight and volume issues of the luggage carried by us on the back, when packing for a few-day trip, we should keep in mind the principle: maximum energy – minimum weight. I would add to that: ease of use. Have you ever watched marathon runners or long distance cyclists and how they give themselves energy? They consume energy gels. They take up very little space (they are usually put in pockets), their consumption does not even require stopping while running or biking, and their calorific value is very high. Energy gels meet all our requirements in terms of energy-to-weight ratio. There is only one problem with them: they are distasteful!
Sandwich: the queen of the trip
Of course, giving the body energy during exercise is not tasting cheese in the French countryside, so we can agree to eat something we need a few times, but it does not necessarily taste good. In the long run, however, we will not be able to do it this way, because the taste of food does affect the appetite. And we won’t get enough calories if we just don’t feel like eating. So you should always have energy gels in your backpack, sometimes “just in case”, but it should not be our main source of energy.
By the way, I will mention one more important feature of energy gels: if there is someone with diabetes in your group or on the trail, such gels can save their life, because you can even give them to an unconscious person (by rubbing the gel into the gum). And if only for this reason, they should be a permanent element of your backpack.
So what should you take to make it energetically solid, but at the same time tasty and – what is also important – without the risk that it will go bad after a trip in various weather conditions? The best solution will be the so-called packed lunch. The queens of such provisions are, of course, SANDWICHES.
In one sandwich you can include so much good that both your blood sugar levels as well as the muscles that need carbohydrates and proteins will be happy. In addition, sandwiches can be meat, vegetarian and vegan. The sandwich is the queen of trekking, no doubt about it.
If I were to propose a sandwich composition that would be as nutritious as possible, and at the same time tasty, I would start with wholemeal bread. In addition, depending on the diet we use, we should take care of protein: it can be in the form of meat (fast), smoked fish, cheese or hummus. For vegetarians and vegans, the best source of protein will be nuts or seeds, which you can sprinkle with the content of the sandwich. We can also think of lentil paste or yeast flakes. Be sure to throw in some vegetables, the source of vitamins – and taste. My favorite sandwich vegetable is a sliced tomato, cucumber or radish.
The sandwich prepared in this way should be well packed. If you have enough room in your backpack, consider a small plastic breakfast container. If not, it will remain tightly wrapped the sandwich with aluminum foil and place it securely on the top of the backpack.
A sandwich is a great solution for a trip, but it is also a solution for the first or maximum two first days of the trip. Later, the taste, or rather the lack of it, could compete with the energy gel. This does not mean, however, that we must be deprived of delicious food for the next days of the trip – it is always good to have tightly packed ingredients with you and just prepare new sandwiches at stops. When choosing ingredients that do not go bad quickly, such as the aforementioned vegetables or nuts, cheese and ham, we should be well protected.
You are going nuts
The nuts mentioned above are another brilliant snack for long trips. Like gels, they meet the minimum weight – maximum energy requirements. Nuts are valuable suppliers of unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc and sodium. We get rid of the latter during physical exertion along with sweat. Supplementing minerals can be done by an isotonic drink, but nuts will also easily replace it. They are also very caloric. 100 grams of nuts are between 500 and 700 calories, but the glycemic index is not too high. In addition, they contain a large amount of fats, but the “good” ones. The noblest of nuts is almond, the richest source of protein and magnesium, but we can basically reach for all the nuts that we like. And it is a great option regardless of diet, also for vegetarians and vegans. Of course, if you are not allergic to them. Or anyone in your group.
Similar suppliers of vitamins, minerals and energy will be halva and dried fruit – easy to transport and eating, light and nourishing.
Hot and sweet
We are slowly approaching sweetness, i.e. products that we can afford with impunity during trips to the mountains, because the energy balance will be negative anyway, so the calorific value of chocolate in this situation will be forgiven. Chocolate, in addition to being a source of happiness, will also provide us with a lot of iron – necessary to carry oxygen around the body – or niacin. It is also an authentic supplier of endorphins, so happiness comes not just from the taste of chocolate, but from its real nutritional value. We can take chocolate in ordinary plates or bars. The latter are vegan and vegetarian, and are often supplemented with additional ingredients, such as nuts. In Iceland, you will find bars called “Trek” specially prepared for trekking, and it is worth paying attention to them in shops.
If you are carrying a camping stove and cartouche, consider taking ingredients to prepare warm food while camping. This is where all kinds of pasta and rice come in handy – they are dry, so they won’t go bad, and they have a low weight and are easy to pack in a backpack. They are also a great source of carbohydrates. Taking with you various sauces in sachets, throwing in the aforementioned nuts or vegetables, and for meat eaters of canned meat will get us a pretty good dinner. Not to mention canned food at all – its big downside, however, is its weight.
Also, remember to use breakfast as the most nutritious food of the day during your walks. Muesli, oatmeal or barley are perfect. Just pour water over them to have a nutritious breakfast. At some of the campsites for breakfast, I myself ate milk flakes with … porridge for children. It is really tasty and very, very nutritious.
So, to sum up: what is the best to take for a day trekking trip?
– Energy gels
– “Calorie bomb”: bars, chocolate
– Nuts (preferably almonds)
– Dried fruits
– Vegetables easy to transport and light (cucumber, tomato, radish)
– For vegetarians: Cheese
– For vegans: Hummus, lentil paste
– For meat eaters: Ham
– Whole wheat bread
– Pack of pasta
– A packet of rice
– Sauces in sachets
– Canned food (e.g. beans in tomato sauce, soup)
– Oatmeal, muesli
– Porridge for kids
– Water – at least 5 liters per day. The good thing about hiking in Iceland is that you can take a water from most of the rivers as well as tap water wherever you are – that is making everything much easier (and lighter!)
Have a good and tasty trip!