Richard Bucker

WARNING about hiker food videos

Posted at — Mar 16, 2017

I have been watching a number of hiker videos that discuss food, quantity, calories, supplements etc and most of them are, simply put, DANGEROUS. Whether you are hiking the PCT, CDT, AT, FT, Sea2Sea you need to know a lot more than what is in the guide books and you better start reading, watching, and testing before you head out onto the trail.

I received my copy of Andrew Skurka’s Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide; 2nd Ed. and there is a section on food. He confirms my calculation of about 1 pound per 1000 calories only he prefers ounces; and we are pretty close. Where we differ is that he recommends carrying between 2250 and 2750 calories per day without consideration for the amount of energy burned on the trail or that you WILL be running a deficit. Ge simply says that his number is a good number.

Further reading Andrew talked about pre-hike loading of fat and protein. There are some interesting calculations when it comes to measuring the distance to be traveled and calories needed and what that means in body fat. Here he is only hinting at running a deficit.

So here is the thing. None of the hiker food videos that I’ve watched make any such warning and they certainly do not go into the detail that Andrew does. And so after all of that… make sure you talk to your family doctor and get a checkup. Make sure the doctor knows what you are about to do.

Then make sure to read [a] the US Army Survival Guide and [b] Bushcraft 101. Know, understand and memorize the Rule of 3s; and The 5 Cs. While I want you know have some survival knowledge I expect that you’ll never use it. The point is to avoid the potential of the situation long before it’s ever a thought.

Be prepared without sacrificing fun.

For example I carry 3 types of water processing. [a] gravity filter [b] aquamira drops [c] aquamira tabs. The tabs go in my first aid kit. If something goes very wrong or someone else needs help the tabs are the first thing I’m willing to part with.

My Shelter is damage proof. If something should break then I can still make a shelter from the sum of the remaining parts.

Looping back about food; in this picture I have my smallest stove. It’s a toaks 500ml cup with an esbit stove, 4 esbit tabs, toaks syphon stove, toaks folding spork, full sized lighter, and a windscreen. The thing is I have not heard anyone talk about resupply and sharing the items that are packaged badly. A box of esbit tabs is qty 16. On the other hand denatured alcohol is cheaper and more readily available. And it does not smell bad.


I just noticed that I can burn an esbit tab on my toaks syphon if I just turn it upside down.


Having a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is heart warming. There are some alternatives to cooking and hydrating. Eat it uncooked like crunchy ramen. Lots of foods will still be safe after a few days between resupplies. I’ve read about hikers who hydrate all day long in clean peanut butter containers. The trick might be calorie density.

Lastly, depending on where you are hiking you might want to consider a second pair of shoes. The last time I was in the Southernmost part of the Big Cypress in the Florida Everglades the soles of both shoes fell off. So instead of relying on calorie deficit it’s time to get to learning.