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310 Hiking Skills - The Ten Essentials - Food 2010-11-22

Hammer Gel

For almost any hike over a couple of hours we carry food in our packs; but for all hikes we carry extra food in our emergency kits. This is our emergency fuel. When we are really bonking, taking longer than expected, or have some kind of injury - the emergency food helps us endure the extended hours of the trip.

So what exactly is emergency food?

Long, long, ago, in a galaxy far far away.... I went to an outdoors store to hear one of the first American Everest mountaineers give a slide show. There were several humorous stories, that I still remember (but, I cannot for sure remember if it was Jim or Lou who gave the talk!). Speaking on the topic, emergency food, the speaker claimed one of his climbing companions always carried a can of dog food in the bottom of his pack for emergency rations. It did not spoil, and he would only eat it in case of a real emergency. The problem was that they were climbing so many long, hard routes that he had to eat the can of emergency (dog food) rations several times!

The speaker surmised that he was beginning to like the emergency food.

We thought after eating one can, we would have changed to carrying something more palatable. But, the important thing is that the food is stored to use, just in case of an emergency.

A few emergency food tips...

  • Carry food that has a long shelf life. You don't want to have to worry about the expiration date, but that would probably still be better than dog food.
  • Carry food that offers a lot of bang for the buck. The food should carry a lot of calories for the weight. Even if you could make yourself eat dog food, it still weighs too much.
  • The food should be easy to open. Make sure you do not need a can opener or other tool to open the food.
  • The food should require no preparation. Open the can and eat it.
  • Carry food that is palatable. If you cannot stomach the fare, it is better to go without.
  • Store the food separately, but remember if you are overnighting,it is food and needs to be included in the critter avoidance measures.
  • We do carry emergency food for our dog, Jake, when he is hiking with us.

We use ...

Hammer Gel - or other gel products

Power Bars - or other energy bars

Alpo - just kidding!

Happy emergency food trails.



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