If you read the last few blogs, you can see that Vermont has a lot to offer in the Spring, and as we head into a new season with warmer weather, we are going to be changing our activities as well as changing the foods that we are eating as well. To take this seasonal eating blog to the next level, I am going to give some guides for packing a backpack when you are hiking this Spring. Each outdoor activity is different, and eating seasonally looks different for everyone, but it is so important to fuel your activities so you can stay happy and healthy on and off the mountain.
When you are hiking, you want to have energy through the trails, less inflammation in your joints, fewer muscle cramps, and faster recovery, so you can tackle the next peak.
But what does that mean?
You should plan out your hike, how much time you will be out, and determine how much food you need to bring to stay fueled through the hike.
What makes up the food that you eat?
We have talked about the macronutrients before in our other blogs, these are carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Carbohydrates are the foods that are exceptionally important for when you are hiking because they make sure that your muscles are being fed through the entirety of your exercise so you don’t hit a wall and lose your energy.
Fat is another vital macronutrient because fats contain the most amount of calories per gram compared to other macronutrients.
Carbohydrates are especially important for backpackers as they provide the primary fuel source for muscles during exercise. Here's what you need to know about carbohydrates for backpacking.
How much to eat?
The exact amount of carbohydrates you need will depend on your weight, gender, and the intensity and duration of your hike. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to aim for about 45-65% of your total caloric intake to come from carbohydrates.
When to eat?
Eating carbohydrates at regular intervals throughout your hike can help maintain your energy levels and prevent fatigue. It's best to eat every 1-2 hours, depending on the intensity of your hike.
What to eat?
Carbohydrates can come from a variety of sources, including grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some great options for backpacking include:
Energy bars: Look for bars that are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat, as these will be digested more quickly and provide a quick burst of energy. We have a blog that talks all about energy bars, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and there is also a recipe that you can follow to make your own to bring on the trails as well.
Trail mix: A mixture of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit is a great way to get a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
Nuts are high in fat and calories which make them a great snack for hiking.
Making your own trail mix is also very easy and you can add a variety of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds which give you a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables: These are lightweight and easy to pack, making them a great option for backpacking.
Dried fruits are a very portable snack and are easy and cost-effective to buy from the store, especially in stores that have bulk sections.
Instant oatmeal: A quick and easy breakfast option that provides a good source of carbohydrates. You can buy oatmeal packets from the store and keep them in your pack while you are hiking. All you need to do is add hot water, and there you go!
Now, let's take a look at a sample day of eats while hiking on Mount Mansfield in Vermont.
Let’s say you are taking a hike to Mount Mansfield Chin via the Long Trail South. This is a 4.7-mile hike to the summit, takes about 5 hours, and is about a 2,790 ft climb to the Chin.
You will want to have breakfast before you head out for your hike, and then pack a lunch, and a variety of snacks for your hike.
And here's what you should pack for a hike on Mount Mansfield in Vermont:
Water: Bring at least two liters of water per person. You can also bring electrolytes like LMT and Nuun which can help replenish the water being lost while exercising.
Snacks: Pack plenty of energy bars, trail mix, dried fruits, quick oats, and other snacks to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Having dried tart cherries or drinking cherry juice can help with inflammation as well, so that's another option.
Lunch: Bring a packed lunch, such as a sandwich or wrap. Make sure you pack it with a variety of vegetables and protein, because you want something filling but not too heavy for your decent down the mountain.
First aid kit: Make sure to bring a first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
Sun protection: Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses will help protect you from the sun's harmful rays.
Navigation: Bring a map and compass, and make sure you know how to use them (Bring your phone of course for a map and compass, just make sure it is charged!).
Warm layers: Temperatures can drop quickly in the mountains, so bring warm layers like a fleece jacket or down vest.
By paying attention to your carbohydrate intake and packing the right foods and supplies, you can fuel your body and have a successful backpacking trip on Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Stay adventurous Snowbeasts! See you out on the mountain 🥾🏔️