Food and snacks

Martin organizing his snacks into the five stages.

Let’s do a deep dive into on of the core aspects of a long hike – food! And perhaps more importantly – snacks! Here, we will talk you through our approach to calories, selecting and preparing meals, our tips for varying taste and consistencies, the logistics of food packages and some recipe examples.

Count the calories

We knew we were going to burn a lot of energy on this hike. We put together an excel sheet with our expected purchases and calculated how much we would need for a decent daily caloric intake. With breakfast, lunch, dinner and an average of 100g of chocolate and 100g of nuts, as well as some Lipton Ice Tea powder, we ended up around 3300 kcal/day.

That was probably on the low end of things. Jonathan’s Garmin watch estimated that we typically burned 4000 kcal/day. Reset days helped us catch up on the deficit somewhat, chugging Coke and chips to the greatest extent that we could. You really don’t have to be to bothered about what your throwing in yourself, as long as you have a decent foundation in your main meals – you can just eat whatever you like in excess of that. Nuts and chocolate have a very high energy density, very few “endurance” bars or gels reach their level, and was our main snacks to top of our energy levels. They are also quite easy to eat on the go, the sugar really comes in handy when your on a long stage and need a bit of a “pick me up”.

Atta’ boy, get that energy variation in while you can!
Freeze dried vs self-prepped meals

Martin went all out on freeze dried food, which was fair enough as it saves a lot of preparation time and could be considered a less risky option when it comes to due dates and the like. However, there was one critical flaw in this approach. Almost all freeze dried food are f*cking stews. Usually based on tomatoes. Martin was tired of his food just a couple of days into the hike.

Jonathan went for a slightly different approach. He to opted for some freeze dried, but only as his lunch. Dinner would be meals prepared at home. This helped to in part cut down on preparation time needed while also saving a bit of money. Freeze dried was suitable for lunch as they were usually quicker to “cook” and when there was more time in the evening, a proper meal could be cooked. This was the initial thought anyway, it didn’t always work out that way.

Yes, it might look like a poor mans cocaine setup, but it’s actually Jonathan’s food prep.

Now, you might think, isn’t it super time consuming to dry your own food? Well, the benefit of being vegan is that a lot of the stuff you comprise your meals of is already available in a dry format. You can talk a lot of smack about vegan food, but it’s actually quite suitable for hiking. Jonathan put together four different meals to complement the three different versions of freeze dried he bought. While the total numerical variation was lower than Martin’s, they weren’t all stews.

Vary your tastes and consistencies

It is easy when trying to come up with a mealplan which is calorie dense to end up with a very samey diet. Try to the extent possible plan every day so that you have something which satisfies each of the following criteria:

  • Salt: Nuts, Candy
  • Sweet: Candy, Ice Tea (if mixed correctly), Instant Chocolate
  • Fat: Nuts, Almost all freeze dried food, Beef jerky, Chocolate
  • Acidic: Candy, Ice Tea (high concentration), some freeze dried food

Also, take every opportunity to vary the consistancies when possible. Most things are soft and mushy on trail so including Beef Jerky or some crunchy crackers is a good way to get excited about food despite eating more less the same stuff for three weeks.

Whatever you do; DO NOT ONLY GET STEWS. Seriously, Martin hated his food for 18 days straight which sucked.

Vegan or non-vegan, we took every opportunity we could to eat something besides the food we brought.
Food logistics

While this was a 20 day hike, we thankfully could send up food packages with the help of Bussgods, a logistics service that sends packages with the regional buses. The packages could be sent to 4 locations along Kungsleden;

  • Ammarnäs Handel, Strandvägen 7, 92495 Ammarnäs / phone: 0952 – 600 07
  • ICA/Handlaren in Jäckvik, Byavägen 10, 93895 Jäckvik / phone: 0961-21050
  • Kvikkjokk fjällstation, Storvägen 19, 96202 Kvikkjokk / phone: 0971-210 22
  • Saltoluokta fjällstation, Saltoluokta 1, 98299 Gällevare / phone: 0973-410 10

If you want to replicate our approach, simply send the packages to these addressed with your name and expected arrival date on the package. For the stores, put C/O as the store while keeping your name up top. Note: We called up ahead just to double check that it was fine, everyone responding with “yeah, go for it, we get those all the time”. But since things might change, call up ahead and double check what’s the latest routine.

Super important: For the two last ones, the fjällstationer, you have to send the packages with last-mile delivery, i.e. delivery to the door of the recipient and not “ombud”/pick-up point. Because while the stores are pick-up points, the fjällstationer are not and they will, quite reasonably, not drive for hours to pick up your package. The STF places might also take a small administrative fee.

What this enabled us to do was keep the weight of our food low, as the food was divided into 5 stages (including the start).

Our food package in Kvikkjokk. Since Louise had left for home, we enrolled her assistance in sending half of the food packages after we had left Ammarnäs – as not to send up an unnecessary amount of packages we might not be able to pick up if we aborted the hike early. This allowed her to fill them with special requests: coke and chips.
Vegan food examples and tips from Jonathan

If you happen to be an oatmeal maniac, simply replace the dried milk powder with some Vegan Coconut Milk Powder – they can be found in some stores but I ended up ordering it online. For variations on oatmeal, I found inspiration from this blog on chocolate and apple meals. I basically threw in a bunch of coconut powder together with dried apple, almond flour (good energy density!), chocolate drink powder and some seeds in different variations. In the morning, I would boil a couple of decilitres of water and add it to the mix – letting it rest for a few minutes before consuming it quick-like. If I were to redo it, I would probably add even more sugary substance.

Regarding snacks, nuts are of course a given. Chocolate is a bit trickier, especially in Sweden where the main chocolate brand puts milk in absolutely anything it can. There are a bunch of vegan options, especially when it comes to dark chocolate. Amongst the store brands I could actually find a bunch of dark chocolate that was vegan and decently affordable, including variations with cranberry! For added variation, I also went with a bunch of the more costly Green Star’s hazelnut chocolate and “ordinary” chocolate. I also took a few bags of vegan candy for a bonus snack during reset days.

Breakfast, the best meal of the day!

Now, regarding dinner, here is what I went with…

West-African stew
Yes, of course I had some stew as well. This was adopted from a book on hiking food Martin had come across, where I added some soy bits. It’s actually surprisingly good. Just boil water and add it to the mix, leave for a couple of minutes and then devour! I found that the soy bits and rice didn’t need to be properly boiled, this was sufficient.

2 dl of quick-boil rice
1 bag of tomato soup powder (“Varma Koppen Tomat”)
0.5 dl crushed peanuts
A handful of dried soy stew bits (I found some from the brand Kung Markatta)

Pasta with soy mince and red lentils
This was a big one, I might have gone a bit overboard. I don’t remember the exact amounts but I took a handful of everything on the list and just mixed it together. This one needs a bit more cooking time, pending on the time needed for the pasta. Mine usually ended up taking 7-10 minutes, usually needing more water than expected. Quite tasty and a nutritional handful for sure.

Two handfuls of your favourite pasta (not fresh, obviously)
~1 dl of soy mince
~0.5 dl of red lentils
1/3 of a vegetable bouillon cube
1/3 of a Bolognese spice mix (available in all kinds of variations, check your local store – in Sweden for example “Knorr Spice Mix”)

Couscous base to mix with whatever you like
This is a nice base for a couscous mix that you can add with whatever protein you like – dried beans, lentils, soy, etc. The almond flour really helps bring up the energy density of the meal. I went for the easy option and simply took more variations of dried soy. I’m not a very picky eater. Once again, simply add a 1-2 dl of water and let be for a bit.

0.5 dl couscous
1 dl almond flour
Some dried coriander, yellow curry and cumin in equal shares.
1/4 of a vegetable bouillon cube

Mushroom risotto
This is probably best saved for the early days of your hike, since even vegan cheese can go sour (which I had to learn). It’s very tasty however and adds nice variation to the rest of the hiking food. Needs a bit of cooking time, typically around 10 minutes.

1 dl basmati rice
15g-20g of dried mushrooms
Dried parsley
Garlic powder
Half a vegetable bouillon cube
50g of vegan cheese (typically based on some kind of oil, makes it a bit longer lasting and still adds a fair amount of those energy dense fats)