Content: Links | Cooking at Altitude | Nutrition Requirements Safety Cooking at Altitude: Water boiles a lower temperatures in thin air; Boiling temperature drops about 1 degree for each 500-foot increase in elevation.
Sea Level 212°F Cook time
5,000'    203     +25-50%
7,500'    198     +33-80%
10,000    194
15,000    184
Because of the lower air pressure, boiling water "evaporates" much more rapidly,
causing the need for more liquid. 
You  also want to increase liquid 15% at 5,000' and 25% at 7,000'
See The Cooking Inn : High Altitude Cooking
Changes in barometric pressure due to weather has a small effect also. The normal extremes are about the same as 1,000' change in elevation.

Nutrition - Energy Requirements:
Even without exercising you will need more calories at high altitude and in cold weather. Studies show that your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will initially increase from 6 - 28% at high altitude, primarily due to the lower oxygen levels. It will lower over time.

The additional exercise of backpacking also increases your caloric requirements.
For 3 season backpacking you will need 1/3 more calories than normal.
For winter backpacking you will need from 2/3 to 80% more calories.

Peoples metabolism vary even for people of the same size.
In The Backpackers Handbook (p. 248), Chris Townsend comes up with the following values. (Note: I adjusted it down from 7 hrs. of hiking to 5 hrs hiking not including rests and lunch. This works out to about 10 miles over a 6 1/2 hr. total time.):
Food kCal. Carbs Fat Protein
Backpacking Goals
Total daily calories (5 hrs. of hiking)
Women (130 lbs) 3,000-4,000 60-70% 20-25% 10-15%
Men (155 lbs)     4,000-4,800
Day hikes with light packs would require 300 to 400 fewer calories.

The Complete Walker IV uses the following formula:
Activity Rate
kcal/100 lbs
kcal for weight
40 lb pack added for hiking
130 lbs 155 lbs 190 lbs
Basal Metabolism
(Incl sleeping/resting)
1,100/day 1,430 1,705 2,090
Climbing 2000 ft. 110/1,000 ft 374 429 506
5 hrs walking @ 2 MPH 90 kcal/hr 765 878 1,035
9 hrs of camp activities † 33 kcal/hr 386 460 564
Total   3,085 3,627 4,385
Note: In the book they use 3,000 ft. elevation gain, 6 hrs. hiking and a 50 lb pack, I've adjusted it down to 2,000 ft, 5 hrs. and a 40 lb pack.
† - They break camp activities into 3 groups with 20,30 and 50 kcal /hr.

Backpacker "campsite Cooking"
Type pounds/
warm days, low-inensity 1.5 2,500-3,000
> 7 days or more intense 1.75-2 3,000-3,500
cool days, intense 2-2.5 3,500-4,000
cold days, strenuous > 2.5 4,000-5,000

Guidelines vary from source to source. Below are standard ranges.
Dietary goals: (% of calories by food type)
Type % Cal./
Complex carbohydrates/natural sugar
starch (rice, grains), legumes, dried fruit, vegitables
40-481 4 moderate-fast
Carbohydrate sugars refined/processed
glucose, fructose, honey,
10   4 fast
Protein 25-12   4 slow
Fat 25-302 9 slow
1. For strenuous hiking you may need to increase carbs to 70% of your intake.
2. During winter camping increase fats to 40%

The problem with fats:
In The Complete Walker IV, they say,

"At high altitude (and in extreme heat too) anyone's appetite is liable to falter, and fats may not be too appetizing. A possible reason: fat needs more oxygen to "burn". At high altitude you may also abhor the thought of protein."
They, Fletcher and Rawlins, recommend compensating by carrying a variety of choices, sweet things being the most palatable.

Types of Backpacking Food:
Pre packaged:
  Freeze Dryed
    Mountain House

  MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat ) Military
    Typical contents include entree, side dish, crackers, peanut butter/cheese spread,
    dessert, instant coffee/tea, matches, toilet paper, spoon,
    and a chemical which heats up by adding water.
Nutrition under health
Outdoor Action Guide to Winter Camping : Rick Curtis at Princeton
Nutritional Content of specific foods

In 2011 the USDA rolled out its new "MyPlate" program, with 5 food groups; fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. See Nutrition in health

Calories per Ounce

Beef Jerky... 70
Bread........ 70
Cheese....... 80
Fruit........ 20
Fruit, dried. 90
Nuts, mixed..170
Olive oil....240
Peanut Butter.....160
Potato Chips......150
Raisins........... 90
Ramen Noodles.....130
Snickers Bar......140
Tortilla Chips....150
Vegetables........ 10
Dried Vegetables.. 70
Source: Backpacking Food |

Note: Townsend shoots for 35 oz of food per day, so his food should average 100 calories per oz. (28 g)

See: Nutritional Content of specific foods
Food Nutrition Counts Online - Food Information on Calories / Protein / Fat / Carbs
Search the USDA National Nutrient Database for everything, carbs, protein, sugar, lactose, vitamins, minerals, ...

Simple Foods for the Pack (Sierra Club Outdoor Adventure Guide), 3rd edition, 2004
Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors - Robin Donovan - Google Books Available Apr, 2013

Product suppliers:
Certified Organic Products, Virgin Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Raw Foods & More Wilderness Family Naturals
Mexican and other latin spices at Latin Food, Mexican Food, Spanish Food, Caribbean Food, Creole Food, South American Food |
Where to buy dehydrated food

Vegan Recipies
Other Dietary Restrictions
Keith and Linda's Excellent Adventure: Linda's Gluten-Free Trail Food
Dehydrating & Dehydrators
Dehydrating vs Freeze-Drying - Where to buy
Backpack gourmet: Forget freeze-dried food. With planning, you can eat well while camping. - Chicago Tribune
Camping Eating and Cooking Utensils
Nutritional Content of specific foods
Water purification
Campfire Cooking
One Pan Wonders - Backpacking Cooking at its Finest
Environmental Issues with food
Nutrition in health
Reducing Weight of Backcountry Meals | The Adirondack Almanack

last updated 18 Jun 2013