For this series of posts on ultralight nutrition, we tapped Boulder, CO-based sports nutritionist Brian Rigby. Brian holds a Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist through the ISSN (International Society for Sports Nutrition). As the owner of Boulder’s Elite Sports Nutrition, he consults athletes of all stripes on how to get the most out of their bodies and achieve better performance.
We thought we’d see what he might have to say about our own endeavors in the vein of extreme exertion. Look for more posts to follow, specifically on carbohydrates, fat and how to balance all three building blocks.
Stripped Down Grand Canyon Gear List, Food & Cache Prep For Major Thru Hikes, By Mike St. Pierre
In the first post of this series, I discussed the logistical planning for serious thru hikes and backpacking trips, including gathering beta on and visualizing your route. Once you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be on your trip, you can determine the gear and food you need, plus plan out the caches you’ll have to prepare. For people doing the Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail, your “caches” are your resupplies; for people hiking below the rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s a bit more involved.
Gear is the critical tool that can make the difference between a fantastic experience and a miserable experience, or a successful trip and an unsuccessful trip. On the other hand, the more skill you have the less gear you need. And, as we discussed in Part I, the more information you have the better prepared you’ll be. This extends to your gear. Know where you going and what you’re doing, and you’ll be able to choose exactly the right gear for the conditions (and leave behind what you don’t need). For example, if I’m going for an overnight trip in the fall and the weather is clear, there won’t likely be bugs. So I might not need to bring a shelter, or I might take something very minimalist like a 6′ by 8′ Flat Tarp. On the other hand, knowing that the temperatures are going to range wildly on my Grand Canyon thru hike means I have to have a puffy jacket, clothes and sleeping system that can handle anything from 15- to 90-degree weather.
Subsequently, I carefully planned our gear list to address the climate, time of year and all the different types of terrain we would cover. I made an excel spreadsheet and listed out everything I thought I would need. I then calculated the weights of everything and the calories per day I would need to carry that weight (and to stay warm and energized for the long miles we were hiking). I knew I needed to carry eight to ten days of food to get to the next cache, plus at least 12lbs. of backpacking gear, my camera, plus 6lbs. of technical gear that Clay and I would share. That and the food would put us each at 30lbs. Throw the four to six liters of water required to carry on top of that, and our packs fluctuated between 25 and 50lbs.
The next thing I did was shake down my own list. Read the rest of the post and check out photos.
Text & photos by Chris Atwood.
Chris Atwood did a 57-day thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with Ambassador Rich Rudow (Read “The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim“). During the trip numerous adventurers accompanied them, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. The length and severity of the hike meant that the group had to eat a lot of calories to have the energy to continue hiking. But with proper planning of his backcountry recipes, Atwood managed to gain around five pounds while still exerting himself to the limit every day and hiking a grand total of over 600 miles. In this post, he shares backcountry recipes he used as well as an example daily ration of food.
Gaining Weight on a Grueling Thru Hike? All it Takes is the Right Backcountry Recipes
Before the trip began, Rich Rudow jokingly said he wanted to be the first Grand Canyon thru hiker to gain weight. I thought it a lofty aspiration, considering the challenging food logistics of this fully self-supported trek. We all knew it would be tall order to fuel the two months of hard work required to walk from Lee’s to Pearce in one push. And although gaining weight was not my goal, staying completely full and charged, at all times, by nutritious and healthy food that I loved to eat was. And with an eye toward carrying the lightest load possible, I didn’t want any more food than would be necessary. My idea was ample daily eating with an extra ration or two to cover any delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Read More
Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon, have been exploring the southwestern deserts together since they met in 2008. After living and traveling extensively abroad, the couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure. They planned and succeeded in becoming two of just 16 people to hike the length of the Grand Canyon below the rim (and they did it in the winter!). Their thru hike of “The Canyon” took them from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry. The trip took place during the 2015-16 El Nino season (Read about their adventure and gear in our blog, “Lightweight Gear for The Grand: Ideas for Winter Canyon Country Hikes.”) The raison de etre for their long walk centered around a quest to reduce their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle, and better know the vast wilderness that lies in their backyard. As rangers, they constantly sought ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places. This series of articles Hyperlite Mountain Gear follows Matt and Elyssa as they outline winter travel tips and lightweight backcountry recipes for thru hikes and long backpacking adventures. This week’s recipe focuses on high fat levels so you can better be prepared for snowy conditions.
During high-output, overnight, winter backcountry adventures people often need to increase their fat intake to meet the additional demands of traveling through snow and sleeping in frigid conditions. Compared to a typical three-season, high-carb menu, these backcountry recipes significantly increase the ratio of fat to carbohydrates by incorporating large portions of summer sausage and macadamia nuts, two calorie dense backcountry foods. Vegetarians, vegans and die-hard ultralight enthusiasts can easily modify this menu by increasing the amount of nuts or nut butters, which typically have even more calories per ounce.
Weight (oz): 34
Fat (g): 250
Carbs (g): 348
Protein (g): 124 Read More
Push Through Cold Weather With These Ultralight Backpacking Recipes
Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon, have been exploring the southwestern deserts together since they met in 2008. The couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure—a winter thru hike of ‘The Canyon’ from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry. For the occasion, they’ve worked up an assortment of the kind of nutrient and calorie-dense ultralight backpacking meals that keep them moving when the temperature drops.
The raison de etre for this long walk centers around an urge minimize their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle and get better acquainted with the vast wilderness that lies in their backyard. As rangers, they constantly seek ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places.
Big winter days require a larger than normal stockpile of food to fuel. Here is a single day menu with two of our hearty ultralight backpacking recipes for colder weather. We strive to eat nutrient rich and hearty meals by including ingredients with a high number of total calories, a mixed variety of food sources and a sufficient number of calories per ounce. Mix, match and shuffle to cater to your dietary needs and wants.
Stripped Down Home Packaged Ultralight Backcountry Breakfast Recipes, By Mike St. Pierre
In preparation for 16 days of extreme thru hiking through the Grand Canyon, Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre spent countless hours developing ultralight backcountry breakfast recipes. He weighed, measured and then vacuum sealed all his creations. Two of those recipes are included below. Read more of his recipes in his article “Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures.” Share your recipes with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thru Hiker’s Oatmeal (620, weighs 4.7oz)
- ¼ cup dried instant oatmeal
- 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp. Pine nuts
- 2 tbsp. raisins or other dried fruit
- ½ cup freeze dried apples
- ¼ cup powdered milk
Grand Canyon Granola (600 calories, weighs 5oz)
- Cup of granola Bulk bins from Whole Foods or your local grocery store
- ¼ cup powdered whole milk
- 2 tbsp. raisins
- 2 tbsp. nuts (pine nuts have a lot of calories)
For more recipes ideas, check out our Food & Recipes blog posts.
By Mike St. Pierre
Prep Makes Perfect: Ultralight Backpacking Food Best Practices
This fall I’m heading into the Grand Canyon for 16 days with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Rich Rudow. Rich will be thru hiking about 700 miles down river and then back up the other side, all below the rim of the canyon and all off trail. Even though I’ll only be along for part of the trip, I’ll likely encounter some of the most extreme terrain I’ve ever faced. As a result, I’m putting extra thought into every aspect of my preparation. That goes double when it comes to figure out what I’m going to eat while I’m in the canyon, so I decided to revisit my standard ultralight backpacking food prep practices to see what I could improve.
Two Quick Backcountry Breakfast Recipes
By Max Neale
Starting the day off right is crucial for extended ultralight backpacking, thru hiking or mountaineering adventures. Waking up, your body is deprived of protein and carbohydrates and needs nourishment for the day ahead. Two of my favorite ultralight backcountry breakfasts are hot chocolate oatmeal (ideal for cold weather and slower starts) and energy bars (for hitting the trail quickly). Read the rest of the article here!