Food is a critical consideration. Of course you need enough quality calories to sustain extended high-level energy output, but every Snickers bar you pack is another Snickers bar you have to carry. Whenever I pack the following food items into my sled, I can rest assured that I’ll consume it all, and have a smile on my face while I’m at it.
1. Fried Bagels
Bagels are bulky. They’re calorically similar to chocolate bars, but take up a lot more space. They’re somewhat of a luxury item, but are they ever satisfying when fried up in a bunch of butter. Some folks like to add cheese or cinnamon sugar to the mix, but I like to keep my fried starch simple. It’s the ultimate comfort food. Hard to go wrong with butter and bread.
2. Noodle Soups
Soup mixes are lightweight, calorie dense and let you sneak in some hydration at the end of a travel day (I even eat them for breakfast sometimes too). Regular old ramen noodle packets work well enough, but I like to throw in some dehydrated veggies and hot sauce. I try to find low sodium soup mixes because there’s so much sodium in a lot of the foods we bring on trail.
I’m not too picky about quality. Single serving instant coffee packets are great by me. Actually, anything more involved than instant is more trouble than it’s worth.
Coffee has its downsides. It doesn’t provide any calories. It’s a diuretic. But it’s a big comfort and motivator. It’s way harder to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning when there’s no coffee to look forward to.
Also, and this is big, it’s a big help in terms of “getting things moving” in time to take advantage of the morning poop window. There aren’t a whole lot convenient times to go, so sneaking the daily ritual in before breaking camp takes a load off your mind as well as a load off your, well, enough said.
4. “Dishes from Home”
PolarExplorers has a fun tradition of encouraging team members to bring a favorite dish or dessert from home to share with the team. Can’t go wrong with homemade cookies or banana bread. Plus there’s just something about sharing homemade food with new friends that brings out fun stories from home.
Eat it as a pan fried appetizer before dinner or a midday pick-me-up. The high fat content provides great, sustained energy and acts as a thawing agent. It’s a jaw workout munch on beef jerky, but, even if it’s minus 20 or colder outside, fatty salami stays nice and tender. It’s also a nice break from all the energy and candy bars you eat for lunch (yup, it doesn’t take long to dread the thought of forcing down another Snickers bar).