Walking around Ireland is quite easy in terms of finding food, water and other necessities. However, choosing the best backpacking food for hiking in Ireland is not all that straightforward.
You see, many healthy foods need refrigeration which means you cannot carry them for more than one day. What’s more, this food needs to be portable and relatively lightweight, while also offering enough calories to help your body sustain the demands of long distance walking in Ireland.
For example, shelf-stable food such as peanut butter, oatmeal and nuts are ideal because they never spoil. Similarly, cereal bars or protein bars can provide a much needed boost in the afternoon.
But that’s not super nutritious or healthy, right?
It’s true, backpacking food and high-calorie snacks such as sweets and sugary cereal bars is not enough to sustain a healthy diet on the road. Also, processed food has many artificial ingredients which do little good.
The truth is, long distance hikers (Thruhikers) need to go without the right nutrition or balance that you might find in the real world. It was the same on the Pacific Crest Trail last year and every other long distance journey I have taken.
Anyway, what do I eat on the trail?
Short Answer: Backpacking Food for Hiking in Ireland
Breakfast – Oatmeal with honey and raisins.
Snacks – Trail mix and cereal bars.
Lunch – Bagels with cheese and cereal bars.
Dinner – Dehydrated Meals.
What Backpacking Food to Eat While Hiking in Ireland
Breakfast – Oatmeal and Coffee
For breakfast, I will often eat oatmeal and honey for some added sweetness. You can add raisins, seeds or nuts to the mix for extra protein but either way, oatmeal is a fantastic fuel.
Just so you know, oatmeal is full of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B. More specifically, it’s also a great source of carbohydrates which give you the energy to hike in the first place.
On occasion and if I am feeling lazy, I will have a bagel with peanut butter. Nut butters consist of of healthy fats, calories and protein – all of which provide plenty of energy.
Snacking – Nuts, Dried Fruit, Chocolate and Gummy Bears (Trail Mix)
Nuts have healthy fats, vitaminis, minerals and protein which provide further fuel for hiking. Unlike actual apples, bananas or mangos, dried fruit is heat stable and the absence of water ensure they do not attract bacteria. However, dried fruit still retains the same nutrients and antioxidants that you might find in perishable fruit. As for chocolate and gummy bears, they might not be healthy, but they provide energy and flavor. Anyway, I sometimes make a tasty trail mix with these ingredients.
Snacking – Cereal Bars and Protein Bars
Cereal bars and protein bars are high calorie foods and reasonably healthy. That being said, you might want to check the labels because some bars contain too much artificial flavors. Best of all, they are small, easy to pack and very quick to eat on the move. Just so you know, I also carry chocolate biscuits most days and snack on these in between all of the above.
The Holy Moment – Coffee
Coffee might seem like a luxury but caffeine is great for energy levels and staying focused. For me, I just enjoy the warmth and flavour – especially in the middle of nowhere where it always tastes better! Instant coffee is also very light and small to carry – I usually buy a box of 3-in-1 sachets.
Lunch – Bagels with Cheese
Lunch is a pretty short affair for me. I will sometimes make a sausage or bacon sandwich but a bagel with laughing cow cheese and cereal bars is more common. I also try not to have a big meal so that I can continue walking and snacking, while allowing for a slower release of energy throughout the day.
Dinner – Dehydrated Meals
Warm meals make such a big difference on the trail and this is especially true in either cold or rainy conditions. Dehydrate meals are also tasty and super quick to make. Okay, they might not hold the same nutrition as a standard meal but you are backpacking here and expectations need to be managed. Knorr sides have a nice selection such as bolognese pasta or chicken rice. Also, two-minute noodles are a great, cheap, light back-up meal to carry for those days when you might not reach the next supply stop.
About Drinking Water and Staying Hydrated
Walking long distances with a heavy backpack is a great way to work out but dehydration will ensure that you become entirely exhausted. Proper hydration is necessary to maintain a healthy mind and digestive system. You can **treat or boil water but either way, drinking water and staying hydrated is very important. I also use electrolytes most days or a tablet of Berrocca on occasion.
*In ten years of treating water in the outdoors, I have been sick twice. Both times were due to laziness and not treating the water correctly. Moral of the story: It’s perfectly safe when done right.
The Last Word
Aside from the above, I maintain my energy levels by sleeping well and avoiding alcohol. You must also understand that walking around Ireland and backpacking in this way is not about mastering my diet and nutrition. Also, my budget is tiny which means I cannot afford the more expensive options that I might want to eat on trail. It’s not a complaint – I’m perfectly happy with my persona choices.