Jeff Ward
Submitted by Jeff Ward on
Table for two, sir? Table for two, sir?

On multi-day alpine climbs, food is one of the most critical pieces of “gear” you can put in your pack.  It is the only added weight in your pack that will actually give you more energy.  Every other ounce of gear in your pack will slowly drain your energy.  Making sure you have enough quality food to sustain yourself in the mountains is very important, but it's often difficult to decide on how much and what type of food to bring.

Keeping the pack light but still having enough food to get it done. Keeping the pack light but still having enough food to get it done.

Food is a very personal thing.  Both the amount and type of food will vary from person to person, but here is what I try to do when food shopping.  In general, I strive to bring 1,700 to 2,000 calories per day for lunch food, 1,000 calories for dinner and 500 calories for breakfast.

For most people the key component of food selection is making sure you have a variety of lunch food.  You will want to insure that every time you have the opportunity to eat you have something that is appetizing in your lunch bag.  Over the years I’ve seen too many climbers bonk because they were not getting enough calories during the day.  Bring items that you like to eat but make sure you mix up the variety with things that are salty, sweet, meaty, and fatty.

Below is a list of food that I typically take into the mountains.  This isn’t going to work for everyone but it is a good general guideline for packing for overnight alpine climbs.  Personally I try to keep dinners simple, going with freeze dried meals as opposed to something that involves real cooking.  This not only saves fuel it saves a lot of my valuable rest time.  Sitting at a beautiful alpine bivy with a warm bag of freeze dried on my belly is a much better use of my time compared to bending over a stove making sure my pasta isn’t burning.

Food Shopping List for a 3-Day (2 night) Alpine Climb


  • Starbucks Via – x4
  • Instant Oatmeal - x4
  • Banana Bread, Danish, Breakfast Bars, etc….  - x2


  • GU - x6
  • Bars - x3
  • Snickers - x3
  • Crackers - ½ box
  • Almonds - 8 oz.
  • Cheese - 8 oz.
  • Bagels - 3
  • Salami - 8 oz.
  • Fruit bars - 3
  • Pre-made sandwich for day 1


  • Freeze Dried Dinners - x2
  • Hot Chocolate - x2
  • Tea - x2
  • Large Chocolate Bar
Watching the sun go down from Mount Shuksan. Enjoying the sunset after a simple but filling meal on Mt. Shuksan.