Generally speaking, thru hikers think about food more than anything else – including the next water source! It’s on our minds every minute of every day. Our thoughts are consumed by our hunger and our cravings. No matter who you hike with or how amazing the scenery, the conversation will always come back to food.
“What will I eat in town?
What will I buy for the next section?
What awaits in the box I sent myself?”
In the this series of posts we hold nothing back as we review everything we ate on the trail. We are going to break down our reviews into 4 separate posts. In this post, we will cover breakfast. The following posts will include mid morning snacks and lunches, dinner and bars.
Before we get started, there are a few things you should know.
1) Laurie is gluten intolerant and Andy reads the nutrition labels of everything he eats. This meant we packed all our food in advance and Andy’s dad graciously shipped all our resupply boxes to us along the trail. We only bought fresh foods in towns or whatever packaged foods we were craving, but never fully resupplied in town.
2) We actively sought out sponsors for our hike to help offset the higher cost of quality foods. Every company below with an * next to their name either gave us free food or a discount. While we remain grateful to these companies, their generosity has not influenced our comments.
3) We love to eat. We care about the quality of food we ingest and put a lot of time and money into making sure we ate real food rather than junk. Most hikers expend anywhere from 4000-6000 calories/day (depending on speed, terrain and distance walked). The typical thru hiker diet consists of Idahoans, ramen, snicker bars, pop tarts, trail mix and Clif bars. We wanted real food. We carried at least 10 – 25% more food than most other thru hikers. Our packs were heavier but we never went hungry.
We strongly believe our eating habits allowed us to complete the hike without any major sickness or injury. Our bodies changed but neither of us lost more than 10 lbs. Our food plan provided our bodies with adequate nutrition to build muscle mass rather than destroy and waste away with the long days and constant pounding. Nutritious food allowed us to stay healthy to enjoy each section of the trail.
We usually had a bar for breakfast once we hit the trail. Some mornings we ate in our sleeping bags before braving the cold of the morning, but most days we ate on the go. We rarely made hot breakfasts.
Initially we had a 3 box rotation of bars, oatmeal and granola but quickly learned that eating a bar on the go was most efficient. For 90% of the trail we rotated between 3 types of bars: Amazing Grass*, ProBar* and Think Thin. Chocolate melts and becomes much more arduous to eat while walking later in the day so our breakfast bars ended up being the most chocolatey ones.
Amazing Grass* – We both loved these bars before, during and after the trail. Unfortunately, while we were gone Amazing Grass revamped their lineup and the bars we loved are no longer available. Gone are the days when the first two ingredients of their bars were dates and almond butter.
Now the first ingredient is brown rice syrup. And the new bars have crispy brown rice in them for some crunch. This must be what people want but Andy is disappointed because he doesn’t like bars with unnecessary fillers.
Having said all that, we have since purchased their new flavors and tried them. We both like the Chocolate Almond Butter bars. They have good ingredients and taste green (but a palatable green) with a sweet aftertaste.
Only Andy enjoys the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt bars. Laurie is still not ready to eat Peanut Butter and has an aversion to anything resembling trail mix. So essentially, the bars may be good but Laurie’s palate hasn’t fully recovered.
Andy loved ProBars* for breakfast! His eyes lit up each time he saw the orange packaging in a resupply box. Despite being very sweet, Andy savored each one – particularly the Koka Moka, Superfood Slam and Wholeberry Blast flavors. The coffee flavor and chocolate chips in the Koka Moka bars, the chunks of fruit and nuts in the Superfood Slam and Wholeberry blast bars are things that he really enjoyed.
He looked forward to these bars every morning he had them and never grew tired of them. In fact, when he found them in a Grocery Outlet a few weeks ago at steep discount, he bought a box! He may seem like a hypocrite for criticizing Amazing Grass for using ingredients that ProBar uses, but this was his treat. And the difference with ProBar and Amazing Grass was that Amazing Grass used to be different.
Think Thin – Prior to hiking the PCT Laurie enjoyed these bars, particularly the Chocolate Brownie because they taste more like a brownie than a protein bar. They are loaded with protein but contain fillers and sugar alcohol. By Oregon, Laurie no longer got excited when she saw these in her box because of their chalky consistency and artificial taste. She continued to eat them since she knew Andy didn’t like them and wouldn’t trade with her. Once in a while they are decent but as an every morning bar, they got old really quickly.
In our next post we will cover mid-morning snacks and lunches. Stay tuned!
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9 thoughts on “PCT Food Review Part 1 – Breakfast”
Guys, you did amazing job and calculation to consider every detail from the beginning, that you didn’t start your hike yet. We are very proud of you, we love you.
Thanks dad 🙂 🙂
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Hi Andy and Laurie, loved reading the food review…… What are your thoughts on the upcoming 2017 hking season, along the PCT, with the heavy snowfalls this winter in the Sierra Mountains. How successful do you think the thru-hikers will be?&(
Hey Matt, Andy here. If we were hiking this year, knowing what I know now I’d aim to get to the Sierra late April to early May. This would mean starting early (perhaps in late March) from the Southern Terminus. This would also mean stable snow to walk on and no dangerous river crossings unless there is an unusually early melt. I think hikers can do it no matter what the snow is like. The trouble is that if they start hiking in late april, they typically get to the Sierra during peak melt and have to wait it out or face dangerous crossings. It all comes down to the comfort levels hikers have on snow and with river crossings
Amazing that you only lost 10 lbs on the PCT. I lost more than that in a 2 week hike of the JMT. Though that was somewhat planned as I needed to lose the weight. Lol So glad I found your blog.
Haha thanks Mike. We really ate well on the trail..and ate lots! We carried more food than your average thru hiker and this made all the difference
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