Posted on September 25 2017
We would say that there are three approaches to tackling the important aspect of outdoor nutrition.
There is the "no difference" approach, whereby you simply bring with you, the same foods you would normally consume at home. There is the traditional "trial foods" approach. Finally, there is the more modern approach, often referred to as the "lightweight" or "ultralight" approach.
Each of these three approaches has its benefits and disadvntages which we will be discussing in this article.
The "no difference" approach - Nutritionally well balanced (depending on your normal diet) but heavy and cumbersome to carry, transport and cook. Fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and meat need to be stored in solid containers, otherwise can easily turn to mush in your rucksack. Especially the case if you are travelling long distances. As at home, you may need various pots, pans and utensils to cook. You will also have to keep them all clean!
The "trial foods" approach - A traditional approach utilising natural food preservation methods such as drying, smoking, pickling, baking, salting, canning e.t.c. These carried foodstuffs will be supplemented with foraged foods found on the trail. Depending on season/availability of wild edibles, can be a nutritionally balanced approach. Mostly done as "one pot cooking" so relatively easy. Can still be quite heavy to carry.
The "ultralight" approach - A modern approach to field nutrition. Using modern food preservation techniques such as ultra high heat treatment, freeze-drying and dehydrating. Generally, a less nutritionally balanced approach. High in salts and sugars (although this is changing presently). Sufficient for shorter periods. We would suggest that relying on these foods solely, for periods of more than a couple of months, would begin to have a detrimental effect. However, in terms of ease of carry, preparation and general convenience, these are unbeatable! All this means you can enjoy the reason for being there - mother nature!
We would highly recommend cherry picking the best aspects of each approach to develop a system that suits your precise requirements. If you take part in multi day running events, the ultralight approach may be the only viable option. Most of us however, enjoy 2-3 nights out, generally near a vehicle. This affords the luxury of being able to bring everything including the kitchen sink!
In part 2 of this article we will be providing a comprehensive list of viable trial foods, including a very viable menu for a solo 2 night wild camp. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss it.
Article and all content Copyright of Alpha Bushcraft.