How much food should you pack for a 1-2 day backpacking trip?

Michael Balle Hansen by Michael Balle Hansen

Most people pack way to much when they go on a hiking trip.

There are general rules that people swear by such as 4000 calories per day but in my opinion that really does not make much sense. If you're a large 200+lbs male you'll need a lot more calories compared to small 80 lbs female. The really only useful way is to know your own Basal Metabolic Rate and then adding extra calories on top to factor in the hike.


Step 1 - BMR Calculator

First we need to figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate. I recommend you use this tool.

Enter your gender, height, weight and age.

As an example lets enter choose Male, 6 feet with a weight of 180lbs and then put 32 as age.

Once we hit calculate and it will output 1885 calories. What this means is that this person will need 1885 calories per day if they have no activity whatsoever


Step 2 - Factor in calorie requirements for the hike

This is where it gets a little complicated. It greatly helps if you know your own body and the details of the hike. A good way to do this is to wear a good heart rate monitor on your hikes so that you get a good feel for your body. Then you need to also factor in the hike. If there's lots of elevation you will need more calories.


If this is too complicated or you simply don't know I would recommend to add 1000-2000 calories on top of this number ideally close to 2000 than 1000. That should cover you. You can add close to the 1000 calories if you're also aiming to burn a little fat on this trip.


Types of food to bring

You should bring a good balance of carbs, fats and protein to cover all your needs.


Don't overthink it

If you're only going on a 2 day hike it really does not matter. You could in all honesty do this hike with zero food. Would you be hungry and probably a little cranky? You betcha! But that would be it.


For more tips on packing lightly for your next hike go here



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