How to Efficiently Ration Food on the PCT

When backpacking, your pack weight is probably going to be the heaviest at the beginning of your trip. Why? All that food, of course! Lightening your pack and fueling your body go hand-in-hand, creating a win-win situation for your stomach and your shoulders.

While “eating weight” on a backpacking trip is something that happens naturally, you can help speed the process along with one simple tip: eat your heaviest backpacking food first. To ration your food in the most efficient way possible, take a look at the following tips.

Eat Perishables First

The first type of food you need to get rid of is perishable food, such as fruits, meat and vegetables. Aside from having the potential to make a mess in your backpack, perishables are also often the heaviest food in your pack. Try to eat all of these types of food within the first couple of days of your trip to lighten your load.

Next, Eat Heavy Meals, like Pre-Packaged Meals

Next, focus on eating your heavier meals. Pre-packaged meals can be delicious, but they can also be a little on the heavy side. If you are using these types of meals for breakfast, focus on eating them first and saving lighter meals, such as oatmeal, for later. You may want to save some of these meals, especially dinners, to eat throughout your backpacking trip. And, it’s always nice to save your favorite meals for the end of your trip so you have something to look forward to after several days on the trail.

Eat the Ultra-High-Calorie, High-Protein Foods Last

The trail food that really packs a punch should be saved to help you finish your PCT trip strong. Protein-filled bars and energy gels or chews offer the calories and energy you need without weighing you down. You’ll probably still want some hearty meals to keep you going, which may require you to save one or two of those freeze-dried dinners. As previously suggested, consider saving your favorite pre-packaged meal for your last night on the trail. You’ll need a reason to make it to that final campsite, and food is a good motivator.


This content was provided by our partners at Sierra Trading Post.