I did a hiking vacation once and intend to do it again this summer. It isn't too sternous, and it involves sleeping at tourist lodges* and only wearing clothes in the backpack (no food or sleeping bags). I have never done any serious work outs, and have a sedentary lifestyle and weak muscles. So this is quite a big increase in physical activity for me.

A downside I noticed last vacation is that the food available at the lodges is very different from my usual diet. I eat moderately low carb, with maybe 90-100 g protein intake a day, and my carbs come mainly from vegetables. There are often days when I don't touch any starchy staples. The lodges, on the other hand, offer cheapest staples energy-boosted with vegetable oil. It is not unusual to have a stew consisting of rice and potatoes only, as a complete meal. If there is any meat, it is low-quality ground meat stretched with fillers before turning it into meatballs. The result is that in my most active period of the year I am getting 10-15 g of protein instead of my usual 90-100. It was noticeable last time I did it: I felt lethargic. Not tired from activity (it was an easy trek), but really languid. So this time, I want to bring protein with me.

I've heard that professional sportlers have protein supplements, and thought that I can use these. Somebody said that I could take protein bars with me, but these turned out to have a fairly low concentration of protein, around 30%. Not only am I better off choosing a high quality salami, it means that I'll have to take almost 300 g per day, so 2 kg for the whole seven days. This is a very big addition to my 4.5 kg backpack, and I am looking for something more compact. And in Amazon reviews, some people complain of a very soft, marzipan like consistency - this is certain to get squished in the backpack.

There are shakes too, but this doesn't sound very convenient for hiking. They need a shaker, which means more volume and weight in the backpack. There is always the risk of spillage of powder in the backpack. And then reviewers often hate the artificial taste, noting that it is sometimes impossible to get it down, especially when made with water instead of milk. I won't have milk available, and I dislike the taste of processed food in general. So this option has lots of drawbacks too.

Is there a good protein source I have overseen? Or if bars or shake powder is the best option available, are there any tricks how to mitigate the problems with them?

*I couldn't find a good translation for that

  • 1
    beef jerky is great for travelling
    – michael
    Jul 3, 2011 at 4:27

1 Answer 1


From a nutritional standpoint, animal protein is going to continue to be your best source of protein for your body. Most "protein bars," while high(er) in protein than say, a candy bar, are mostly just high-density carbs that aren't doing your body any favors.

If you buy a food dehydrator and a jerky gun, you can make your own jerky that has much less salt than anything you would buy in the store. This gives you a lot more control over the protein source that you choose while still lowering the weight.

  • I agree that for normal nutrition, "real" food is probably better. I am however not sure that jerky at above 35% protein is chewable (the commercial jerkys seem to max out around this value and are very tough). A hard cured salami is also in this (low for me) region and much more difficult to produce, with a higher risk of a food safety accident.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 4, 2011 at 20:12
  • I've never personally made jerky, so I speak for how chewable the homemade variety is, but I imagine it's similar to store bought. My concern with the hard salami would be high fat content. Granted, I wouldn't be terribly worried about fat with the amount of energy you're using throughout the day, but I would think you could get better sources of fat via nuts and seeds. Jul 5, 2011 at 0:42
  • 1
    Quality animal fat is better fuel for a walking human than nuts and seeds. In this same situation I've used dried coconut, salami, and hard cheese (low moisture cheese that won't melt or mold). If you want low-fat jerky, you can make it with beef eye of round and a homemade box drier rawpaleodiet.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/…. If you cut strips across the muscle grain it will be quite chewable and when sealed well should not spoil in 7 days.
    – J. Win.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 0:11

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