Fastpack Nutrition Tips

From the FoundersJeff Boggess // Trail Butter

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

Editor's note: welcome back to GGG's From the Founders series. Today, we hear from Jeff, Co-founder of Trail Butter

Hey all! Excited to share a few tidbits on the always engaging topic of Fastpack Nutrition. I’m certainly still very much a student of the trade myself and would love to hear your favorite picks and tricks below in the comment section if you care to share.

Case in point, a friend and I once tried to fuel almost entirely on pemmican, made of rendered fat, on a 5 day, 200mi trip in the Sierra Nevada without testing it first. Yikes! We made it to the finish but it sure wasn’t pretty.    

Wow, where to begin? We’re all so different but I think it’s safe to say we’ve had similar experiences around food on the trail. How about that moment when you’re deep into a tough day in the mountains, looking down at the snacks you have left and don’t want to touch any of it, even though you desperately need those calories to continue? We’ve all been there, right? Suddenly all the bars and gels bought in a frenzy the day before your trip just don’t look that good. 

In addition to fueling your body, I’ve found that food you actually look forward to eating out on the trail — that doesn’t take too much effort to get to while on the move — can be fuel for the soul as well and play a huge role in keeping moral high and those feet moving to the finish. Even more so on a fastpack style trip where you often go deeper into that mental and physical pain cave than normal and it’s critical that you get those 200 calories/hr +/- in or risk starting that slide towards a bonk we all know is so hard to come back from.

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

Along those lines, a few key themes I’d say are universal regardless of our individual bellies, come to mind when thinking of this all important role of food on a high output effort; Nutrition (duh), Variety, Enjoyment, Consistency, Accessibility, Weight, and ‘After the Push’.
 

NUTRITION

In reference to the actual macro and micro nutrients found in trail foods, our bodies need more than carbs and protein to function for the long-haul. Pretty cool that awareness of the importance of fats and micronutrients like essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6), potassium, vitamin E and many more for sustained athletic performance as well as long-term health is growing by leaps and bounds with new products on the market all the time (many available on GGG😉).  

VARIETY

It seems like a no brainer but it’s so critical. As humans, we’re programmed to want a diet that is filled with a variety of foods and drinks. Out on the trail, you never know what is going to sound appetizing, so giving yourself a wide array of options can help ensure you get the calories and nutrition you need to keep charging.   

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

ENJOYMENT

I like to pick foods almost more for how happy they make me over the fuel they offer. When paying a visit to bonktown, that seems to be a more powerful contributor to success. Hats off to those who can eat the same meal bar for the entire PCT! : )

And always, always, pack yourself a favorite treat for each day, whether that’s a can of coke you feel like lugging, a turkey/bacon/avocado sandwich, that bag of gummy worms, or a favorite trail cobbler that you can whip up in camp and make the whole crew happy around the campfire (if permitted). I’ve found something as small as this can make or break a tough day and even a trip.  

CONSISTENCY

This is a big one for me with the way my stomach works and it relates to the frequency at which I’m snacking, most of the time on the move. If I can keep a consistent intake of nutrition going, every 30min or so, of something regardless of what, with hydration included (don’t forget those electrolytes!), I find my chances of avoiding icky hiker/runner belly, and reaching the end goal are greatly increased. In converse, once you’ve crossed that line of deficient intake, it seems almost impossible to come back. 

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

ACCESSIBILITY

This gets a little more into your pack choice, but to promote consistent intake, especially during those darker hours late in the push when you definitely don’t feel like going to any extra effort of taking off your pack to get to your food, picking a pack that has plenty of front capacity in the shoulder straps and hip belt is a must so you can load those up ahead of time and get to the goods with ease. Stepping back just a bit, I’ve found organizing your nutrition into bags for each day, with a target calorie amount, can make it much easier to access fuel, especially if you’re already a little delirious, and gauge if you’re consuming enough.


RECOVERY

On multi day trips, promoting recovery at the end of each day and while you sleep is essential. I’ve found powdered protein drinks & smoothies work well and can come somewhat (not really) close to an evening milkshake experience. Other recovery snacks include banana chips, chia seeds, green tea and trail side berries, if you’re lucky enough to be out there while these gifts from mother nature are in season. 

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

WEIGHT TO NUTRITION RATIO

This is an obvious one but definitely worth a mention. When selecting your trip nutrition, try to find options that pack a lot of nutritional punch with as little weight as possible. Water weight can be a killer, so try to find those drier foods and powdered drinks that can ideally be rehydrated with filtered water along the way, i.e. couscous, ramen, oats, electrolyte powder drinks and instant coffee packs (Alpine Start). Every gram you’re carrying truly does make a difference to long-term strain on your body.

I also like to ‘boost’ my snacks and meals with nutrient dense foods like protein powders and Trail Butter as much as possible to maximize the nutritional impact of what I’m eating out there. 

AFTER THE PUSH

Finally, and possibly the most important tip of all 😉, always think about the nutritional ‘reward’ you want waiting at the car when you finish, whether that’s a cold beer, a bag of chips, juicy watermelon, and so on. I’m convinced, having that carrot dangling out there just within reach can help you overcome seemingly insurmountable odds! 

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter

Hope those broader themes put you on the right track while selecting nutrition tailored to your preferences and dietary needs & tendencies. To close it out, below are a few fastpack favorites that I’ve found work for me. Garage Grown Gear, Winco and Trader Joe’s are favorite shopping outlets. Hope you’ll share yours below as well! 

  • Dried fruits
  • Jerky
  • Apple sauce pouches
  • Pickles
  • Untapped Maple syrup packets
  • Picky Oats
  • Crushed Kettle Potato Chips
  • Skratch Electrolyte Powders
  • Salami & hard cheese
  • Fresh fruit like grapes and watermelon for day trips
  • Ginger chews and Ricolas 
  • Emergen-C drink packets and multi-vitamins
  • And of  course, Trail Butter!:) (in tortillas, on stroopwaffles, stuffed in dates, on Snickers Bars!)

 

 

Thanks everyone, Happy trails and bellies out there. 

Jeff

Jeff Boggess is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and co-founder of Trail Butter. When he's not working hard with the TB team to keep the Butter churning, you might find him with his blue heeler, Jumbo, on a PNW trail or at home brewing an IPA or tending to his honey bees. 

Fastpack Nutrition Food Eating Tips Jeff Trail Butter
(photo: Brian Donnelly)
From the founders

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