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Colorado Trail Food Resupply | Average Hiker

dehydrated food for Colorado Trail resupply plan

Colorado Trail Food Resupply

My Colorado Trail Food Resupply Plan is finished and my Gear is all packed and ready to go. On Sunday I leave for the Colorado Trail. I will be cooking my dinners and either eating cold food or cold soaking my remaining meals and snacks. My food plan has some of my favorites that are found in other plans.

On my last two backpacking trips, the Arizona Trail and The Desolation Loop, I ended up using the same plan. I’ve found that I really do enjoy one hot meal near the end of the day. Hot food can makes a long day that much more enjoyable and gives me something to look forward to after chewing on bars, nuts and junk food all day.

In order to support a cooking strategy, I will mail resupply boxes to towns near the Colorado Trail. I’ll hitch hike into town, clean up, resupply, and head back out to the trail.

I sometimes supplement snacks by shopping in town, and sometimes I completely resupply in town, but as I try to eat healthier I find mailing food works out better. Supporting small towns is important to me though, and I do this by visiting restaurants and staying overnight at motels when I go in to clean-up and resupply.

Cooking vs Cold Soaking

Cooking vs Cold Soaking, in any food resupply plan, is a debate that comes up often among long distance hikers. On some of my past hikes, I have cold soaked my food because of the simplicity. I wanted to hike bigger miles and did not want to worry about the hassle of cooking.

From a time perspective, I maybe saved about 10-15 minutes by cold soaking my dinners. When I cook, I boil a pot of water and let my food re-hydrate. I also cook in freezer bags so there is no clean-up.

Weight is a contributor for many hikers when making the decision to cold soak. Carrying the pot, stove and fuel does add more weight, but the rest of my gear has gotten lighter. Carrying the extra cook kit weight is worth it for me if I get to enjoy hot food.

Another aspect of hot meals that I enjoy is all of the different types of meals currently available. In the last few years there has been an explosion of small cottage manufacturers like Stowaway Gourmet, Outdoor Herbivore, etc., and some of these meals are quite good!

Colorado Trail Food Resupply – Cooking Kit

backpacking cooking kit for Colorado Trail

Supplying myself with fuel is always my first consideration when doing any backpacking food planning. I will be carrying 8 ounce MSR canisters on this hike. I plan to purchase a canister in Denver when I start the hike, and then ship 2 canisters to Twin Lakes and Salida.

In addition to fuel, I’ll be carrying the items below in my cook kit.

  • Stuff Sack
  • Stove
  • Pot
  • Spork
  • Two small bic lighters (one as back-up)
  • Fuel
  • Gravity Gear Cozy

I nest the fuel inside the pot, and put everything else in the same stuff sack. The pot is then placed in my Gravity Gear Cozy. Since I re-hydrate the food with boiling water, I use the cozy to hold in the heat and keep the food warm.

The download for my Colorado Trail Resupply Plan is below.

Colorado Trail Food Resupply – Fuel Strategy

msr fuel container for backpacking

Last year I started the Colorado Trail fast, and it kicked my butt. I had to leave the trail in Leadville due to altitude related challenges. This year the daily miles will still be around 20, but I’ll take two days to acclimate in Denver and Frisco.

Since I have a day off in Denver, I’ll place a canister order on Sunday, and Uber over to pick it up at REI on Sunday.

As mentioned, I’ll mail the other two canisters. I can do this as long as I package the canister well and it is not over 33.8 ounces. The fuel can only be shipped via USPS and I have to make sure I clearly state on the front of the package that it can only “Ship Via Ground.” In addition, I have to make sure I declare it.

I’ll post the specifics of ground shipping in my Colorado Planning document.

Colorado Trail Food Resupply – Meal Types

Big Sur bars for Breakfast backpacking

My backpacking food is pretty straight forward. I try to ship myself healthier foods, but I also still have what I consider some “junk food snacks.” I’m sometimes told my healthier food is also junk food, but as long as there is a nut or grain in it, it is health food in my book!

Carbs are definitely higher on my backpacking list than they are at home. I also try to eat a few more fats which is not hard. Protein is definitely important for me for recovery, and if my dinners don’t have enough protein I usually add a small pouch of Tuna.


I like a fast backpacking breakfast so I generally don’t cook. Because of this my hiking food for breakfast usually consists of a Big Sur Bar or cereals with powdered milk. I like to hike while it is cool, or there is a view, so I’ll often hike for about an hour before I stop to eat breakfast.

  • NIDO – Whole Powdered Milk that I add to the ziploc bag with the cereal. It is ready to have water added and be eaten in the morning.
  • Arrowhead Mills Cereal – I add walnuts (high oil content), Nido, and freeze dried fruit. It tastes good and sticks with me a while.
  • Stowaway Parfait Granola & Greek Yogurt – This is new to the plan. I like that it uses powdered Greek Yogurt with a higher amount of protein. I look forward to trying it.
  • Peak Refuel Granola & Strawberries – Another new addition.
  • Big Sur Bars – I freeze these, and then have someone at home put them in a Ziploc bag and add them to the resupply box right before they ship. I never get tired of these bars. They have a ton of calories.
  • Cascading Ancient Grains Cereal – Good fiber that fills me up. I add dehydrated strawberries and raspberries.


Lunch is a big snack for me. It usually consists of some type of tortilla wrap and only lasts about 30 minutes. Resupply foods for lunch are pretty simple – Tortillas and Nathan’s Almond Butter or Hummus.

  • Tortillas – I like whole grain tortillas but they are hard to find, so I often use Wholewheat. I had a hard time finding them on the AZT, so I’m shipping them this time. They are fine for a week or two in a resupply box as long as I keep them refrigerated before shipping.
  • Alpine Aire Spicy Hummus – I’ll add this to tortillas, or eat it with crackers. I also like to add my Blue Agave Sriracha to it when I mix it up. I just found this new hummus by Alpine Aire and look forward to trying it.
  • Nathan’s Almond Butter with Honey – This is a lunch staple for me. I used to carry a jar but it was heavy and messy. I now take the individual packs with 2 per tortilla.
  • Mary’s Gone Seed Crackers – A little fru fru I know, but I LOVE them with my hummus, and they stick to my belly.


This particular Colorado Trail Food Resupply includes a lot of new dinners. Dinners I have tried in the past are on the “Food Rank Spreadsheet” below. I have a lot of new dehydrated and Freeze Dried meals for this hike, and look forward to some oldies but goodies, and some brand new meals and brands.

Yellowbird Hot Sauce – Blue Agave Siracha, is a staple in my food bag. It is a milder hot sauce with a slow burn. This Sriracha sauce has a nice spicey taste, and I enjoy it in most of my rice dishes. REI carries this brand, and I keep a supply on hand.


  • Trail Mix – I often make my own, or grab what is cheapest. The trick is to mix it up. I never make the same thing twice, and on a long trail I might eat 20 different kinds. I really like – Reese’s Bits, milk chocolate bits (watch the melting), banana chips, all dried fruits really, pretzels, all nuts, but definitely walnuts, cashews, high oil nuts.
  • Belvita Biscuits – I love these! The banana and chocolate is my favorite flavor. They have good protein, and are better than most (but not all) bars.
  • Nature Valley Peanut Butter Bars – I don’t really consider these bars. This is my favorite flavor of this bar. I love the crunch. They are also great with coffee! I also like the Plain, but not the Chocolate.
  • Colby Jack Cheese Sticks – They might get a little “greasy” but are fine for several days. Definitely put them in a Ziploc bag.
  • Greenbelly Apple Spice Caramel Bar – This is their new flavor, that I recently reviewed. It is my favorite flavor. I often eat one before a big climb.
  • Junk Food (Yum) – My “less nutritious” snacks include Oreos, Goldfish, Cheese-Its, Chips-A-Hoy Cookies, etc.
  • Quaker Nature Valley Cinnamon Almond Butter Biscuits – Alright, I have to call these out. These are fairly new for me and they are AWESOME. They currently rank right up there with the Big Sur Bar. They also have Almond Butter and grains, so I put them in the healthy column although they taste like they should be in the CANDY column!

Colorado Trail Food Resupply – Final Thoughts

There are 5 resupply boxes for this trail, and two fuel canister boxes. I always ship fuel and food separately. The only time I’ve had the USPS misplace resupply boxes is when there has been fuel in the box.

The longest food carry is five days. I eat a lot of cereal and Dehydrated or Freeze Dried meals, so this keeps the food weight down. The only drawback is that it is kind of bulky, so my food bag is very tall. As long as it is lighter though, this is fine. Fortunately my Zpacks Arc Haul has a tall sleeve.

This should be a beautiful hike, and a lot of fun. I anticipate some pretty serious climbs and a lot of elevation gain. I have packed plenty of protein, including some turkey jerky that I did not mention above.

Since carbohydrates are also important, there are some more complex grain cereals and less sugar than usual. It will be interesting to see how my body responds on those steep morning climbs.

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