FOOD for thought

Most outdoor enthusiasts wouldn’t think of themselves as athletes yet a quick look at the physical demands of the things we do in the hills may suggest otherwise, with an average hill walk, mountain bike ride or day spent on the crag likely to require a high level of aerobic and anaerobic fitness as well as stamina, strength and sometimes even mental prowess.

It should come as no surprise to anyone working in the trade to learn that a day’s hillwalking can burn over 4,000 calories – double the average daily requirement for a man, and a day’s rock climbing even more than that.

And just as you wouldn’t expect an athlete to perform on whatever grub he or she could find on the way to the competition, it might be worth trying to point out to the average walker, climber or biker that they should be thinking a little more about their nutrition too.

Fortunately there’s a great range of meals, drinks, bars gels and supplements available, and most should sit comfortably alongside other outdoor products.

Here’s an overview of some of the most popular brands and a few suggestions for what works best for what, and of course, which is the most tasty.


Nutritious food for those spending the night away from pubs, restaurants and chippies


Complete meals (a choice of breakfasts, main courses and desserts) that can be eaten hot or cold. Best cooked by dropping the pouch in a pot of boiling water.

For: Taste wonderful. No need to add/source extra water.
But: Very heavy. Smallish portions. Need to simmer water so use more fuel than some.
Best for: Shorter (single night) trips, or other trips (kayaking, car camping etc) where you don’t mind carrying the weight
Best flavours: Chilli con Carne, All Day Breakfast, Chocolate Pudding in chocolate sauce

Prices: Desserts £2.99; Main Courses & Breakfasts £3.50
Contact: 01475 746000;

Mountain House

Freeze dried foods (main courses, desserts and breakfasts) that are prepared in their own pouch by adding boiling water.

For: Light to carry. Good calorific value.
But: Taste good but nothing like as good as Wayfarer
Best for: Multi-day trips
Best Flavours: Chicken Tikka with rice, Rice Pudding with strawberries

Prices: Desserts & breakfasts £3.99; main meals £4.99
Contact: 01539 733842;

Reiter Travellunch

Freeze dried food (main courses, desserts and breakfasts) that are that are prepared in their own pouch by adding boiling water.

For: Light to carry. Good calorific value. Huge choice of flavours. Gorgeous Chocolate Mousse
But: Not the best tasting of the bunch.
Best for: Multi-day trips
Best Flavours: Pasta Bella Italia, Chocolate Mousse, Breakfast Muesli

Prices: Breakfasts £2.30; main meals £4.50, Desserts £3.60
Contact: 023 9252 8711;

Energy and recovery food and drinks

Keeping energy levels topped up during the day, and assisting with recovery at the end of it.


A full range of energy bars, gels and drinks plus recovery bars and drinks

For: Reasonably edible. Nutritious. Cope well in the bottom of pack
But: A little cardboardy
Best for: A few nibbles regularly when exercising and the protein bar will help once you’ve finished.
Best flavours: Banana Energy Bar, Berry Sports Bar, Banana/Vanilla Protein Bar

Prices: Energy Bar and Sports Bar £1.09; Protein Bar £1.49
Contact: 01539 733842;


Energy Bars (Fuel) and recovery bars (Refuel) made from totally natural ingredients.

For: Excellent calorific value for weight, Natural ingredients, taste ok, 1% For The Planet company.
But: Need a lot of chewing. Don’t look particularly appetising
Best for: A few nibbles regularly when exercising. 
Best Flavours: Fuel Chocolate Fig Fiesta, Refuel Chocolate and Banana

Prices: Fuel £1.39, Refuel £1.89
Contact: 01725 513997;


Crunchy, almost biscuit-like energy bars and Shot Bloks – chewy jellies.

For: The bars taste almost as good as a flapjack
But: Bars are quite small, shot blocks are expensive
Best for: Any demanding sports activity and can be eaten in one go
Best Flavours: Chocolate chip bar, mountain berry shot blok

Prices: £1.29 – £1.49 per bar, £2.25 per Shot Blok packet
Contact: 0844 811 2001


Moist, fruity energy bars, energy gels and mixes for energy drinks.

For: Really sweet, moist and chewy
But: Too sugary to eat all at once
Best for: High energy activities
Best Flavours: Pineapple and ginger

Prices: £1.35 per bar, £1.85 per single energy powder, £1.25 per gel
Contact: 0845 128 4312;

Eat Natural

Tasty, crunchy flapjack type bars and breakfast cereals that contain only natural products.

For: Taste like real food, much cheaper than dedicated energy food, good calorie count for money/weight
But: No good for people with nut allergies
Best for: Lunch or nibbles when you’re out.
Best flavours: Almond, apricot and yogurt coating bar, breakfast cereal with raisins, almonds, seeds and rice.

Prices: £1.95 for pack of 3.
Contact: 01787 479123;