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Backpacking Trip- possible?


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So I'm in the middle of my first Whole30 and was recently presented with the opportunity to go summit Mt St Helens. Just looking for any suggestions on how to maintain the whole30 through a flight to Portland and an overnight backpacking trip + 10 hour hike? Anything I bring has to fit into my luggage and not need refrigeration! I know this topic was briefly talked about in 2012 on this forum but just wanted to see if there were any new suggestions besides eating RxBars and Beef Jerky for 36 hours :-)

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Cans or pouches of tuna or salmon, olives (you can find them in individual serving pouches if that's easier), nuts/nut butters/coconut oil (also available in pouches). Some vegetables would probably be okay for part of the time -- like if you got to Portland and stopped at a store and picked up carrot sticks, bell peppers and jicama and celery you could slice up to carry with you. For longer-lasting options, maybe check baby food pouches or dehydrated vegetables.


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  • 4 weeks later...

You've probably already gone on your trip, but I thought I would reply just to get the info out there. I've done 2 backpacking trips (both 2 nights) and probably 50 nights of car camping (some stints as long as 6 nights in a row) on Whole30. It's really doable.

NOTE: I'm going to talk calories here. I know that's not what the Whole30 is about. It just helps a backpacker plan for which foods have the "most bang for the buck" if you will. I never actually count up the calories for a backpacking trip (I use the template, just a bit bigger!), but I do WEIGH everything, so having these numbers is helpful when planning your pack weight. Hope that makes sense.

Backpacking proteins:

  • Caloric density depends on water and fat content of the proteins. Since I pack in all my water, I don't mind some of it coming WITH my food, so all of these are acceptable to me. If you have ample water refill spots and only carry a small amount with you, you may want to skip the first items.
  • Eggs (hard boiled), tuna and salmon foil packs (packed in water), chicken in foil packs, are going to be around 50 cal/oz. I've yet to find tuna or salmon packed in oil in the foil pouches. You can add oil to them on the trail of course though.
  • Salami (or other summer sausages) and jerky are more like 100-120 cal/oz.
  • Dehydrated meats/eggs are even better, more like 150 cal/oz. You can dehydrate the stuff on your own (start with ground beef) or you can purchase it. This gives you the building blocks for all sorts of things like chili, scrambled eggs (with veggies!), beef stew, etc, etc.

Backpacking vegetables:

  • Caloric density depends on water content of vegetables. Again, I don't mind some being in the food itself.
  • For me, I go for dehydrated over freeze-dried. The freeze-dried give you a better cal/oz (because of less water), but the freeze-dried stuff is BULKY unless you crumble it all beforehand. For dinners, most of the veggies are included in one-pot meals like loaded chili, beef stew, chicken soup, etc. I pack others for snacks/lunch like sun dried tomatoes, dried veggie chips, etc (READ LABELS if you are purchasing. Lots of oils, some sugar and other unexpected ingredients lurk in these products).
  • Instant mashed potatoes. Can't say it enough. There are brands out there that are literally just potatoes and salt. Best carb for your trip. 120 cal/oz

Backpacking fats:

  • Whole30 considers olives to be fats, but they are only about 50 cal/oz. Compare that to most oils at 250 cal/oz!!! I did take the olive foil pouches on one of my trips because my kids love them.
  • Bottle(s) of olive oil, coconut oil, and/or ghee. Hands down, easiest and lightest way to get fats into your meals. Dip your jerky in the ghee (no joke!) and you will be thanking me later. :) Add coconut oil to chili, olive oil to your fish packet, etc. You can get small, BPA-free, lightweight, plastic backpacking food containers that are absolutely perfect for this.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh yes, those are good ones too! I have hit or miss issues with nuts, so I prefer to leave those at home...don't need digestive issues on the trail! :P But I also usually bring dried fruit as part of lunch.

Well, I just got back from a 2 night trip and thought I would share what I took! 

The short of it:

M2: turkey salami with ghee, seaweed, fruit leather

M3: pulled pork and mashed potatoes (with olive oil), beet chips


M1: scrambled eggs with sundried tomatoes (added olive oil), topped with bacon

M2: beef jerky, oily eggplant jerky, fruit leather

M3: beef and veggie bowl with olive oil


M1: scrambled eggs with sweet potato greens (added olive oil), topped with bacon

M2: turkey jerky, green bean snacks, fruit leather


The long of it:

I make most of my own food. I started doing this originally because I felt like there weren't enough veggies in packaged food for hiking/backpacking. Then I realized how much cheaper it was! And finally, once I discovered Whole30 last year, it only made sense to make my own food. I'm not always 100% strict on a backpacking trip (usually sugar is the thing that slips, especially if I'm using commercially prepared meats), but this trip I was!

I took 2 lbs of food for a full two days of meals, plus one more lunch. I knew this was below standard (1.25 lbs of a food day is good for ultralight) but I carry plenty of fat around with me everywhere, so I wasn't too worried. ;) I frequently have low appetite the first 48 hours so just stuck with the meal template for this trip.


First day lunch was super vinegary turkey salami from a local shop (which doesn't use sugar!). It's weird...but was expensive and I knew food always tastes better on the trail. I tossed some ghee in the bag for fat. The seaweed was 3 snack sized packages. I could have used 1 more but it wouldn't fit in the bag. The fruit leather was homemade from dribs and drabs we had left over (blackberries, cherries, banana, jack fruit...I think...!). I knew how many servings went into the pot, so I cut the strips to be a Whole30 serving each.


Dinner was homemade and dried pulled pork. First time trying this on the trail. It was actually perfectly edible without being rehydrated! The mashed potatoes were commercially made. I drizzled olive oil over all of it. The homemade (and homegrown!) beet chips were super oily too...and delicious! I forgot to add seasoning to them at home, but just salt was perfect.


Breakfast the second day was scrambled eggs. I've just started drying my own eggs (from my own chickens :) ) and am still figuring out the best way to rehydrate and cook. They are fairly different than commercially made stuff (thank goodness! blech...). I mixed in homemade sun-dried tomatoes during cooking and sprinkled bacon on top. Let me talk about bacon for a minute. I cure my own. Supposedly I should be able to take this as-is on the trail. But I cook it and then dehydrate it for a bit. It's more like bacon bits then - nice and crunchy. I've eaten loads of bacon with a first breakfast on the trail (or car camping when I don't feel like cooking it from scratch) and it's never been a problem. Your mileage may vary. Oh, and instant coffee. I buy it bulk and put it in baggies.


Lunch was locally made beef jerky, my own eggplant jerky, and the same fruit leather recipe. The eggplant is AMAZING. I found this recipe maybe 5 years ago and I will stuff my face with eggplant now. Who'da thunk it? Slice thin and marinade in ume plum vinegar, olive oil and salt. The original recipe has honey added to it, but I haven't noticed any real difference leaving that out. Then dehydrate. It's really oily at the end and just perfectly chewy and delicious. Love it. I didn't quite finish this meal. 


Dinner was one-pot beef and veggies. I love this stuff. I brown a pound of ground beef and add to it ~4 packed cups of finely diced (as in, food processor) vegetables. I'll put ANYTHING in it. This one was carrots, zucchini, celery, cabbage and onions. I'll season it with whatever the veggies seem to suggest - sometimes it's taco seasoning, this time it was italian herbs. This is how I get rid of random veggies in the fridge and get my kids to eat all sorts of stuff. I usually serve this for dinner and freeze half for a quick dinner later. Or if I'm making it for backpacking, I'll add 4 servings of shredded potatoes while it's cooking. Then that makes 4 one-pot backpacking meals! 


Breakfast on the third day was another scramble - this time with sweet potato leaves. This was another first. I had several bunches that didn't sell at market and knew I couldn't use them before I left on my trip...so I dried them! They turned out great in the eggs - the leaves can be slimy but drying them removed that completely. Again, I crumbled bacon on top. This was the first time I've used the bacon beyond the first morning. But no ill effects! :P


And my last lunch wasn't even needed. I made good time finishing up the trail. This is good because I'm leaving for a conference in about an hour and this gives me a meal to take along that I don't even have to worry about refrigeration or cooking for. It was turkey jerky, green bean snacks and the fruit leather. The green beans were a huge disappointment. Followed a recipe online and ended up with something the texture and taste of twigs. They are covered in nutritional yeast which is the only thing that makes them edible. So they are salty, oily, savory twigs...


And now I have a few minutes to recover from 35 miles of trail before a 4 hour car ride. At least I'm not driving. Maybe I'll take a nap. :)



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