Food is the fuel that pushes you up that mountain, around the lake or through that valley. So, it seems obvious to us that your food preparation for a long hike should be taken as seriously as your health and safety, route planning and your Instagram photos (it can be hard to hold your camera phone still if you’ve got the hunger shakes!).
What TYPES of food you should be packing for a day hike and ensuring you take PLENTY of food should be carefully considered. Nobody likes keeping company with a hangry hiker and it can be a long drive home if you ate your last handful of scroggin three minutes after lunch.
Hangry Adj. (hangriest, hangrier)
Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. Blend of hungry and angry.
We are firm believers that there is more to life than soggy, squished sandwiches pulled from the bottom of your pack after a brisk morning hike. We can be better than that, we WILL be better than that!
OK, so it’s not your first rodeo, you have your hiking lunchbox down pat, but have you considered your pre and post-hiking meals? People often forget how important it is to fuel themselves properly for long hikes and eat for recovery afterwards.
The day before
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You might guzzle what you think is enough water during your hike, but if you didn’t drink enough the day before you’ll end up going through your water pretty early on the day of your hike. Little and often that day before and morning of is key.
The night before
Carbohydrates are absolutely key here, with a bit of protein for good measure. But before you go tucking in to a giant burger (sorry!), think complex, slow releasing carbohydrates such as pasta, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin, and grains, beans, lentils, and peas.
The morning of
Steer clear of the full English breakfast before a big hike folks, you want to fuel yourself, not end up taking a morning lie down! A delicious bowl of oats or homemade muesli with fruit and nuts, or a piece of wholegrain toast with a couple of poached eggs is the perfect start to your hiking day. If you’re a coffee drinker, that’s a great kick start too.
Snacks that pack and travel well and that are going to give you constant slow burning energy throughout the day are winners. Choose wisely....those that are too high in sugar and you’ll find yourself up a creek with no paddle, or in this case, halfway up a trail with no energy after a sugar crash!! You can’t go wrong with a good quality trail mix (or scroggin as we call it here in New Zealand) with nuts, seeds, dark chocolate and cranberries or raisins. Fruits such as apples and oranges are better choices than bananas, which end up getting squished in your pack and thrown out 99% of the time (be honest!). Cheese, carrots, hummus and wholegrain crackers keep the hungries at bay. Our favourite: Homemade no-bake bliss balls are great for that sweet treat in the afternoon without the mass of added sugar.
Lunch with a view
We promised you we could do better than soggy sandwiches. “But they are so convenient and quick to prepare” you say? We hear you. Here's our hiking hack number 87 for you. Pack a container with pre-made fillings, some fresh wraps, and some avocado in leiu of relish or mayo and voila! Freshly made delicious (and non-soggy) wraps with a view! Simple, tasty and healthy. You're welcome. Taking a small thermos for a nice hot brew on the trail is one of life's simplest pleasures too.
Another quick and easy hiking lunch would have to be the classic kiwi bacon and egg pie. That's if you can live without tomato sauce just this once....
Post-hike: Treat yourself
The work is over and now it's time to treat yourself to some serious nosh. There's no harm in a little treat after a long day of hiking, after all - you've earned it!! We aren't going to tell you exactly what you should and shouldn't have, just listen to your body and make sure you include a little extra protein to help with muscle recovery (and soreness the next day!).
So have that glass of wine, that bowl of dessert, put your feet up and enjoy the feeling (you know the one, that good vibes feeling you get after you've achieved something, thanks endorphins!).