How Many Pounds of Food Per Day Backpacking: A Comprehensive Guide

Embarking on a backpacking adventure can be an exhilarating experience. As you plan your journey through majestic landscapes and picturesque trails, one essential aspect to consider is the amount of food you need to pack for each day. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of determining how many pounds of food per day are required while backpacking.

Factors to Consider:

When it comes to estimating your daily food requirements during a backpacking trip, several factors merit consideration. Each individual’s needs may vary based on their activity level, metabolism, body weight, terrain difficulty, and personal preferences. Let’s explore these factors in greater detail:

Activity Level:

Your daily calorie intake depends significantly on your activity level while hiking. A strenuous hike covering long distances or steep ascents will demand more energy compared to a leisurely stroll along flat terrains.


Metabolism varies from person to person and plays a crucial role in determining caloric needs. Some individuals have higher metabolic rates than others, allowing them to burn calories more efficiently.

Body Weight:

The number of pounds you carry on your back affects the calories burned as well as the amount of food needed. Generally speaking, heavier individuals require more sustenance due to increased energy expenditure.

Terrain Difficulty:

Backpacking through challenging terrains such as mountains or rough trails necessitates additional calories due to increased exertion levels.

Determining Caloric Needs:

To estimate how much food you should pack per day while backpacking, let’s break down the calculation process into simple steps:

1. Start by assessing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the amount of calories your body requires at rest. Online BMR calculators can be helpful for this purpose.

2. Consider your activity level while hiking and multiply your BMR by a factor that corresponds to it. Sedentary hikers may use 1.2, moderately active hikers 1.5-1.7, while highly active hikers could use up to 2 or more.

3. Multiply the result obtained in step two by an additional factor depending on the terrain difficulty you anticipate during your backpacking trip.

4. With these calculations, you will have an estimated caloric intake required per day.

Converting Calories to Pounds:

While planning for backpacking food, considering caloric needs is crucial, but converting those calories into pounds helps determine how much actual food weight to pack each day:

1 pound = approximately 3500 calories

By dividing your daily caloric requirements by 3500, you’ll get an estimate of how many pounds of food per day you should carry with you on the trail.

Factors Influencing Food Weight:

It’s important to remember that not all foods are created equal in terms of their calorie density and weight:

Calorie-Dense Foods:

Foods rich in healthy fats like nuts and dried fruits often provide high-calorie content without adding excessive weight to your backpack.

Dehydrated Meals:

Backpacking-specific dehydrated meals are lightweight options designed with optimized nutrition-to-weight ratios, making them ideal for longer trips where minimizing pack weight is crucial.

Packaged Snacks:

Consider packing snack items such as energy bars or trail mix which provide valuable nutrients while being relatively lightweight options for quick bites along the trail.


Determining how many pounds of food per day are needed while backpacking requires a thoughtful consideration of several factors. By assessing your activity level, metabolism, body weight, and the difficulty of the terrain you’ll be traversing, along with understanding caloric requirements and considering lightweight yet nutritious food options, you can ensure an enjoyable and well-fueled backpacking adventure. Happy trails!