Freeze-Dried Cuban Black Beans and Rice, Backpacker’s Pantry: B
It was inoffensive but monotonous. Even when I was especially hungry, I couldn’t eat more than one serving (half a pack). Next time, I probably won’t bring it along – there are other options I’d rather try instead.
Freeze-Dried Macaroni and Cheese, Mountain House: A-
This was the best of the freeze-dried meals I had during the hike, although it wasn’t perfect. The problem/benefit is that it was more “cheese goop with macaroni” than macaroni and cheese. When you’ve been hiking for a week, that’s pretty great, although it isn’t something I’d recommend under other circumstances.
Freeze-Dried Beef Stroganoff, Mountain House: B+
It was too salty – but I think I only cared because it was the first meal I had during the hike, before I was hungry enough to eat actual pure salt if someone had offered. (Though I’ve tried Backpacker Pantry’s version before and liked it more.)
Freeze-Dried Chicken Teriyaki, Mountain House: B-
This was the worst of the freeze-dried meals I had during the hike – certainly not inedible, but far from appetizing. The sauce didn’t mix into the rice very well, and the vegetables were subpar. Then again, it could have been worse. If you’re hungry, you’d be able to eat it without a problem.
Trail Mix: B+
Surprising, I know – it has “trail” in the name, but it only gets a B+? The problem is that almonds are great, but you can only eat so many of them. I mixed three separate varieties of trail mix ahead of time, though, which helped. The real saving graces were M&Ms, dried cranberries, and dried mangos. You definitely should pack some trail mix, but don’t rely on it as your primary source of calories.
Justin’s Peanut Butter Packets: B-
It sounds like such a perfect idea. Very few foods on the market have the calorie-to-weight ratio of peanut butter, and the taste is consistently solid. But peanut butter just sucks the moisture out of your throat, and it never really felt satisfying to eat. I can see why some people would bring it on a hike like this, but I doubt I will do so in the future. That’s nothing against the Justin’s brand, specifically, which was perfectly fine – just peanut butter in general.
Justin’s Almond Butter Packets: A-
These were noticeably more edible than peanut butter, despite having a slightly lower calorie density. I would give them an A or an A+, but the almond butter tended to harden, making it difficult to get out of the packs. Still, the overall flavor was good, and I’d bring these again. (I brought the honey and vanilla flavors, both of which I enjoyed.)
Bonne Maman Strawberry Jelly Packets: A
These were a great addition to the almond butter packets, adding some flavor and additional sweetness. Although I got a bit tired of strawberry jelly by the end – I had two packs of these each day – it’s hard to deny that they tasted good. You can buy 100 of the packets, which are quite small, for $34.40 from Amazon.
Breakfast – Evoke Athlete Fuel Muesli: A-
Compared to oatmeal, I definitely preferred a cup of muesli for breakfast each day. There was more flavor and variety, and overall it was quite nice. Still, it takes some time to prepare; a granola bar is quicker and easier. The muesli definitely tasted good, but it wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked. (It was better with freeze dried strawberries, but that had its own issues – see below.)
Judee’s Whole Milk Powder: A
Powdered milk can taste quite strange, but this brand was practically indistinguishable from the real thing – that is, when it was mixed into the muesli or added to a cup of hot tea. I didn’t try pouring it into cold water on the hike, or I probably would have been disappointed. This felt like a luxury item, but its calorie density was pretty impressive, on par with the essentials. It’s $9 at Amazon.
Freeze Dried Strawberries: C-
These were the bane of my existence, even though I enjoyed eating them. Contradiction? The good news about freeze dried strawberries is that they tasted great, especially in the muesli, which would have been a bit dull otherwise. The bad news is that they almost immediately crushed to powder and got everywhere, turning everything nearby into a fruit-scented mess that just wasn’t worth the effort. I threw them out before finishing them, and I should have done so sooner.
For short hikes, Snickers bars generally tend to be among my favorite high-calorie snacks, and it was no surprise that they worked well on something as long as the Laugavegur as well. The only downside? After so much peanut butter, almond butter, and trail mix, they lost a bit of their appeal. But only a bit – I’d certainly bring them back again.
AlpineAire Banana Berry Smoothie Mix: C
This sounded like a nice way to add some different flavors to the hike. Unfortunately, it tasted like powder, and the mix clumped together. I also wasn’t in the mood for chilled food during the hike; cold water and air-temperature snacks were enough. I definitely wouldn’t bring it again, but if you’re used to protein shakes, you might not mind the powdery taste.
This flavor was a welcome break from freeze-dried meals and nuts. Goldfish are also lightweight, and the only real issue is that they’re more prone to blowing away in the wind than other snacks. If they’re not your cup of tea, you may find that Ritz cheese crackers are a suitable replacement. Either way, you’ll appreciate the variety.
Quite simply, we did not pack enough of them.
It’s almost impossible to get a perfect set of gear for a hike like the Laugavegur, but this list should give you a good idea of what you might want to bring on a similar trip (or something shorter). Although a few items clearly didn’t work, most of the equipment I brought along performed quite well, and I left the hike impressed with the overall system I brought. To put it another way, if you needed to do this hike with the exact set of gear I brought, I’m confident you would be satisfied – but there’s always room for improvement.
Hopefully you found this article useful for assembling some equipment to take on a longer photography hike. I’m still editing most of the photos taken both during and after the hike, and I’ll have a lot more to publish in upcoming articles. Have you ever done a trip like this, or have a similar trek planned? Leave a comment on the next page with some of your tips and suggestions for equipment you would bring along!
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