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Ten Mountain Food Must-Haves

November 10, 2013
"Weather Port" eating hut on Mt. Rainier, Camp Muir.

“Weather Port” eating hut on Mt. Rainier, Camp Muir.

When considering what food to take on your climb the number one rule is: PACK THINGS YOU LOVE TO EAT.  Altitude can curb your appetite so you want to have a variety things that you think are delicious.  You never know what might be appetizing at that particular moment.  There is no perfect food but the qualities of good mountain food include: light weight, high in calories/fat, doesn’t freeze/melt, is durable, and doesn’t have a lot of extra packaging.  Here are a few of the must-haves:

1.)     Cheese – string cheese or mini Babybel are two of my favorites.  Some of the small spreadable brie or herbed cream cheeses are also nice on crackers.

2)     Bars – while Luna bars are my personal favorite, I am also a fan of any bars with nuts or chocolate in them.  Bars have a tendency to freeze at high altitudes so are better if you carry them inside a jacket on summit morning or eat them earlier in the climb.  Many bars some in mini sizes which are great for putting in a hip pouch of your pack to eat while you are walking or at a quick break.

3)     Electrolyte replacement – Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate, but on the mountain you sweat a lot.  It is important to replace your fluids, but also your electrolytes.  I like NUUN tablets or Gatorade powder.  Even something like Emergency can also work.  If feeling nauseous, I find that adding a little sugar to my drink can help.

4)     Candy – gummy worms, gummy bears, gummy frogs!  The quick sugar rush can be a great pick me up on the long summit day.

5)     Crackers – I love Chex Mix, Cheese Its, Goldfish or Ritz with peanut butter in between them.  Careful how you pack them though so you don’t end up with a bag of crumbs.

6)     Fresh fruits and veggies – while not very good in the calories/weight department some fresh food will go a long way, especially for those 3+ day trips.  Soon you will get tired of the monotony of crackers, bars and gorp so a few apple slices or baby carrots packets away will be a welcome treat.

7)     Chocolate – another great sugar pick me up with more fat content than gummy treats.  And, it handles freezing well.   Make sure it melts in your mouth and not in your pack though.

Enjoying a hot drink on Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier.

Enjoying a hot drink on Ingraham Flats, Mt. Rainier. Photo by Carla Blakeman.

8)     Nuts/Peanut butter – salt is another great way to replace some electrolyte losses.  Peanut butter can be pre-spread on bagels and crackers but doesn’t need to be refrigerated like some other spreads.  Nuts are durable, great for quick snack breaks and loaded with fat and calories to keep you going.

9)     Hot beverages – tea, instant coffee, cider and hot cocoa are all good options for an evening or early morning caffeine/sugar rush.

10)  Dehydrated Meals – while expensive, Backpacker’s Pantry, Mountain House and other brands all make great dehydrated meals that are filling, usually tasty, and light weight for dinner-type meals.  You can also consider a ramen noodle, instant potato meal, or personally dehydrate a meal to save the wallet.

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