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Thread: Hiking Food Suggestions for Winter, Above Treeline

  1. #1
    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Question Hiking Food Suggestions for Winter, Above Treeline

    I was atop Mt. Washington this morning, eating my typical summit sandwich and a really cold apple, and I realized I'd like to do better than that. Thus, I'm looking for suggestions for lunch items for winter hiking in extreme conditions, above treeline in the cold and wind, possibly on the move. Obviously I will seek shelter - as I did today in the doorway of the Tip-Top house - but if I were to be doing a Presi traverse, for example, what shelter I do come across will be minimal at best, it will still be freezing, and my caloric intake will have to be really high. Should I just chow various salty-sweet bars and gummy cubes of sugar and potassium and grin and bear it? If someone can even live on such things. I do consume various bars, usually one-per-hike as a mid-morning pick-me-up. In addition to the aforementioned sandwich and apple, I also bring homemade GORP+, wheat crisps or something, dried apricots, and now some Fig Newtons (got that one from Brobishaud). Yet, I'm hoping for better eats that still make sense. I'd love to melt some snow in my JetBoil and have a hot trail-side meal like a curry or stew or something, but that won't be practical on most hikes.

    I figure some of you will have some ideas that I haven't even considered.
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    Senior Member JoeCedar's Avatar
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    I prefer foods which go down easily with a minimum of water and with a maximum of calories and fast energy. Minimize stopping time to avoid chilling. Peanuts(oil + salt), granola bars (190 cal), chocolate bars (190 cal), and peanut M&Ms. Gorp and the like are not a bad choices at all. The junkier the better. Common sandwich bread is especially bad when cold. I take wraps which are easier to eat when cold and high in sodium. Wraps are just a 'delivery system' for the meat and cheese, etc.

    Clif bars and such get so hard when cold that they are inedible--maybe useful if you eat them early or insulate them.

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    Snickers bars, snack size,

    Eat one, put frozen one in jacket, repeat

    Salt Sugar and Fat, possibly protein, all in one convenient bite size package.

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    To eat foods that become hard when cold (eg chocolate), warm them up in your mouth before biting down. (Otherwise you can break a tooth.) Pre-cutting them into bite-sized pieces can also help.

    I carry my gorp (typ nuts + chocolate bits) in a wide-mouth bottle. This allows me to open the bottle with mittens on and swig the gorp, through a facemask if need be.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-13-2012 at 09:20 PM.

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    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions folks. It looks like getting into "real" food meeting the all other criteria just won't be possible, as I suspected I suppose. Bars, gorp, the usual suspects... I'll bring more. Love the wraps idea (instead of rye bread or chiabata as I'll usually take), especially about the meat and cheese delivery system, lol, I like it. That should be easier to eat.
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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches are my winter favorite. I also bring a steel vacuum bottle with hot soup (temper the vacuum bottle with boiling water first.) Like others, I use the mitten-friendly, 'biner-hanging bottle of gorp for snacks.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH Tramper View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions folks. It looks like getting into "real" food meeting the all other criteria just won't be possible, as I suspected I suppose. Bars, gorp, the usual suspects... I'll bring more. Love the wraps idea (instead of rye bread or chiabata as I'll usually take), especially about the meat and cheese delivery system, lol, I like it. That should be easier to eat.
    I would not worry about 'real' foods on hike days. We eat Corn chips, Peanut Butter M&M's, Nutrigrain bars, full strength Gatorade, nuts, etc. We don't stop for meals, just quick snacks.

    Tim, post a picture of your outside-the-pack-Nalgene-bottles full of snacks. Great idea!
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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeD View Post
    Make sure you make the Nutella sandwich in advance... it turns into a solid brick in the cold.
    I always pre-make sandwiches. These two (PB + Nutella) have always been quite edible, never brick-like, even in below-zero trips to Owl's Head. Cold? yes, frozen? slightly, but I think the higher fat content keeps them still easily chewed without risk to a tooth.

    Tim
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  9. #9
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    A winter sandich for me is a PB & J. For high fat & protein lunch, summer sausage (presliced) and crackers in a firm (like Tupperware) container to protect the crackers works well - mostly I carry just a PB & J. I don't carry any kind of chocolate bar or granola bar - they get like rocks. OK in summer, not winter. My gorp container is a small Nalgene. I used to put it on a 'biner on my pack strap but it flopped too much, so now I put it in the small side pouch (Dana Wet Rib) that attaches near my waist, along with a small folding saw for blowdowns and anything else I need to get at quickly. I also carry 2 or 3 liters of hot spiced tea, and add snow when the Nalgene is about 1/2 empty or so. Much less than that and the snow stay slushy and never totally melts. Any Nalgene carried in an external water bottle parka goes in upside down - the threads tend to freeze less quickly in that position.

    For a high-sugar food (about the same caloric boost as a GU or a granola bar), I carry 3 or 4 dried pinapple circles. Since they're low-moisture, they stay edible in cold weather. Hannaford's carries them. Look in stores which have a bulk-food section.
    Last edited by Kevin Rooney; 11-14-2012 at 08:29 AM.

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    Member Scarpy's Avatar
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    I have a wide mouth thermos & put in hot chili, stew or something similar. It weighs a little more but it is worth it. Nothing better than a hot meal on a cold summit.
    Trail adopter-Franconia Ridge between Liberty Spring and Falling Waters trail.

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    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rankin View Post
    Tim, post a picture of your outside-the-pack-Nalgene-bottles full of snacks. Great idea!

    I hang it from a biner, which itself is on the shoulder strap, enabling it to hang by my side and then slide up for easy access - I do the same thing for the Nalgene cozies. I like the narrow mouth for gorp - less danger of spillage.

    Tim
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  12. #12
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    I actually put my snacks in the Nalgene cozies with a hand warmer at the bottom.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

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    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Excellent, guys. Thanks for all the great ideas. Cool about the thermos full of hot goodness. I love that. For gorp I use something along the lines of a grated cheese shaker: open up the wide part with mittens without a problem and I pour the gorp in my mouth. Very simple and effective. I am thinking about getting a couple of those insulated cozies, though I do worry I won't like them hanging like that. Regarding real food, it's just a preference. I don't eat much "junk" off the trail so the idea of eating them on the trail is something I may have to live with to a degree.
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  14. #14
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH Tramper View Post
    I don't eat much "junk" off the trail so the idea of eating them on the trail is something I may have to live with to a degree.
    You don't have to. If you re-read the above posts, and those which will surely follow, you should be able to find foods you like, have little processing, and have the energy/caloric goals you need for winter hiking.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    No shortage of good advice on this thread. What I do in winter is cut various bars (Lara, Chocolate, Cliff, Protein etc.) into bite-size pieces that go into Ziplock bags in my breast pockets. I leave the zip-locks and the pockets open for easy access to my food and this enables me to eat on the move.
    I also blend my own protein drink with added fruit, ground flax and sugar. This concoction enables one to take on fuel very quickly.

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