Hiking and backpacking are great ways for staying active and fit year-around, but during the winter months you must take extra precautions. The type of foods you choose to carry along is critical. Your backpacking meals should be designed to make cooking on the trail simple. They should be nutritious and satisfying as well. Knowing what kinds of foods are right for cold weather trips is the key to having the nourishment you need to power through.
When hiking or backpacking during the cold winter months your body will likely burn several thousand more calories per day than when doing the same activities in milder temperatures, just to maintain the internal heat you need for survival. For a typical cold weather hike, you will expend 2000-3000 more calories than you normally use. And you may burn another 1,000 calories just maintaining your body temperature during sleep. So in packing for winter hikes allow for an increase in calorie consumption of as much as 3500-5000 a day.
Food To Pack
Ideally you would want to take hot food for hiking trips in the winter. Cold food and drinks can chill the body. But if you spend a lot of time cooking, this will make you cold as well. To stay warm, think of taking “just-add-water” meals that do not take much time to cook or clean up after. These are some good choices for hot meals on cold weather hikes:
For breakfast you need something that will provide energy so you have the strength to get up and move on each day. The best foods for this include instant oatmeal, muesli and granolas.
Lunch & Snacks
On cold weather hikes it’s best to take short breaks for lunch or simply nibble snacks on the go. Take lots of snack food and make sure it’s easily accessible. Good choices are cheese sticks, jerky, dried fruits, nuts, crackers and pieces of chocolate.
Proper hydration is very important on any hike, but doubly so when hiking in winter. You can consume fluids by having soups and other brothy meals. You can make hot beverages like herbal tea, cocoa or hot chocolate at nighttime. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they both act as diuretics and can make you more dehydrated.