Deciding to travel to Iceland and hike the Laugavegur is something you won’t regret. However, once you make the decision to go… the planning starts. There are all kinds of things to consider, but at this time I want to talk about food.
The first thing to consider is whether or not you should bring food with you, or purchase food once you arrive.
My preference is to bring food with me. Doing this saves me the hassle of trying to find somewhere to purchase food once I arrive, and I know what I’m getting. It can be fun to explore the local grocery stores and purchase and eat the local options. However, I prefer to know that the foods I’m taking with me on the trail are things I’m going to enjoy eating, and are things that aren’t going to cause me any gastrointestinal distress. Bringing my own food allows me to be 100% prepared to go when I arrive at my destination and frees me up to relax, enjoy myself, and take in the new experience.
Assuming you decide to bring your own food… What should you bring? Should you go buy a bunch of freeze dried food at your local outdoor shop? Should you visit Make Your Own Gear and order up a bunch of ingredients with which to build a selection of meals? Should you just go down to your local grocery store and purchase food there? Well… Yes, yes, and yes.
All of these approaches have their merits and each individual will have their own preferences. If you’re just starting out and you don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about and worrying about your food definitely check out the freeze dried options from companies such as Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry. There are a ton of options, flavors for every palate, they taste pretty good, and they’re easy.
Another option is to purchase individual freeze dried ingredients and create your own meals. Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to spend the time testing recipes so I don’t have much to add in this arena. If you’re really into your food check out the selection of ingredients at Make Your Own Gear. They have quite the selection and I’m sure you’ll be able to create some amazing meals.
The last option, and my preference, is to build a menu using easy to prepare foods easily found at your local grocery store. This option is cheap, it’s easy to test recipes at home, and it can produce meals that are very light and compact.
Now, I can’t possibly go over all the different recipe and menu options available, so let me share with you exactly what I took with me on my most recent trip to Iceland.
On this most recent trip our plan was to hike the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trails over the course of 3 days. And, in an effort to travel as light as possible, we chose to stay in the huts instead of tent camping. This meant that we would have access to cooking facilities, pots, pans, and everything else, and did not need to carry a stove. Now, with (1) day traveling to the trailhead at Landmannalaugar, and (3) days on the trail, our meal needs included (3) breakfasts, (4) lunches, and (3) dinners.
For breakfast I brought hot chocolate and brown sugar and cinnamon pop tarts. I brought (4) days worth of breakfasts just in case we got stuck out on the trail for a day due to weather. I specifically chose this breakfast because of it’s high caloric density, ease of preparation, lack of clean up, and compact size. I don’t mind getting up early, but I hate doing dishes first thing in the morning. This combination allows me to get going quickly meaning I have more time during the day so I can hike further, or slow down a little.
For lunch I brought a variety of foods that require no preparation and are easy to eat while on the go. For each day I had (1) Clif Bar, (1) stroopwafel, (1) nut butter, trail mix, and beef jerky to keep me fueled during the day. Hiking longer distances is often less about fitness, and more about eliminating inefficiencies. By carrying food that is easy to eat on the move, and dressing properly, I am able to free up time so that I can easily cover longer distances at very manageable pace. Often, while my partners were messing around with preparing something to eat for lunch, I had time to take photographs, or relax and rest.
Dinner is typically a slightly different beast. Concerns about prep times and effort become less important, while taste and an abundance of calories take precedence. For this trip I had planned to do something a little more involved, but ended up doing something super boring in an effort to save weight and space. For dinner I brought (2) tortillas and a package of instant mashed potatoes. Sounds tasty right? Well, it was actually really good, despite it’s boringness, and it was super light and compact. This meal was also very easy and quick to make again freeing up time I could use to do other things.
In addition to the food items listed above I also brought a couple of GU packets, and a bunch of dark chocolate. The GU packets were extra calories that could be consumed quickly. I brought them in case myself or one of my partners needed a quick boost. In essence they were “emergency calories”. As for the chocolate… Do I really need a reason to bring chocolate? When traveling I always bring chocolate to share with travelers I meet, and with my partners. There’s nothing like the gift of good chocolate to brighten someone’s day, or get a conversation going.
I think that’s about it. I hope by sharing my own camp food choices I can help you enjoy your next trip just a little bit more. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them in the comments section below.