Trail Food and Cooking – South West Coast Path


I’ve had a few questions about what I eat on the trail, and food is of course a favourite topic of conversation amongst all long distance hikers!
Below is my routine for the South West Coast Path. It’s different to Te Araroa Trail New Zealand, as resupply is so much easier. Even so, I carry at least 3 days worth of food with me, as the smaller villages and hamlets only have tiny grocery stores, or nothing at all. On the other hand, I’m trying to keep the pack weight down as much as I can. I’m 5ft 2″, and on this trip I’m carrying a 43 litre pack.

Note that I’m hiking on a bit of a budget, which is why I wild camp as much as I can and don’t eat out very much. Most SWCP hikers I’ve met tend to get breakfast from their b&b and eat in local pubs/cafes for lunch or dinner.

When I’ve resupplied my shopping, outside the store I immediately decant many of my newly bought items into ziplock bags (which I wash out and re-use) otherwise you’re carrying packaging that doesn’t easily reseal, or is heavy. I carry a couple of little elastic bands too, to sure up any open packets of items that haven’t gone into a separate bag.

For cooking I use a Pocket Rocket 2 stove, and carry a 100g gas canister. Millets are best places to buy these, most other outdoor stores only sell 250g or larger. My cooking pot/bowl is a Toaks Titanium 900ml. Note that for Te Araroa Trail I used a Jetboil Flash, as I was only boiling water to add to dehydrated meals, I wasn’t ‘cooking’ as such.

Breakfast: Museli bar and an apple, or a cake, slice, pastry or flapjack bought the day before from cafe or grocery store.
Cup of Nescafé 2in1 coffee sachet, or a cappuccino sachet or peppermint tea (teas & coffees carried in ziplock bag).

Snacks: I always have ‘trail mix’ on the go. This is nuts, seeds, dried fruit of any description – around 300g in a ziplock bag. Chocolate in the trail mix doesn’t work if its hot and neither does yogurt coated fruit (turns everything into a stodgy mess). Sometimes I’ll have a museli bar, or an apple, or biltong/jerky. In the evening when I get to camp, one of the first things I do is sort the next day’s rations and put them in the outer pocket of my pack for tomorrow.
On the SWCP I have an ice-cream almost every day, because it’s nice to treat myself!

Lunch: Peanut butter or Nutella spread in a wrap or on oatcakes. I use a small plastic kiwifruit knife/spoon to spread the pb (which I keep handy in the outer pocket of my pack). I sometimes have a Cornish pasty if I’m in town.

Dinner: In the last village before camping I go to a pub or cafe and fill up a 2 litre plastic bottle (just any old plastic bottle, which is always kept empty in the side pocket of pack) with water. I also refill my Camelback bladder 1.5 -2 litres for tomorrow’s hike. Note that I sometimes refill my bladder in the day too, if its really hot.
Having set up camp, I add a berocca multivitamin to a (very light plastic camping) cup of water and take a probiotic tablet. I keep the berocca and probiotics in a ziplock bag.
For dinner I cut 3 florets of fresh broccoli using my tiny penknife (and yes I carry a broccoli – my body loves fresh veggies!) into 250-300ml water. I heat the water until boiling, then take it off the heat. I add a packet of ‘Mugshots’ dried/ flavoured pasta and stir. (I prefer the cheesy flavours). I wait 5 mins then add ‘Idaho’ brand mash potato powder to thicken it. Sometimes I leave it runny, other times solid. Finally I add Parmesan cheese powder. I eat dinner using a titanium long-handed spork.
I keep a couple of cup-a-soups for emergencies, in case I run out of the mugshots. If you’re in need of meat, you could chop some dried salami into this mix.

Dessert: Dried mango kept in ziplock bag. On Te Araroa Trail I ate ‘ginger nut’ biscuits, the only biscuit that is hard enough to survive in your pack!

After dinner snack: Dry roasted peanuts kept in ziplock bag.

Rubbish: Keep in a ziplock bag and dispose of when you find a bin tomorrow.

Washing up: Use a tiny amount of water and pull some long grass to use as a pan scrubby. Rinse with a tiny amount of clean water.

Save 500ml water for morning hot drink/teeth cleaning.

– Practice cooking a meal using your camp stove before you start the trail, to see what works for you, and how much food you’ll need. Better still, do a full overnight hike somewhere, or sleep in the garden overnight to test your entire kit and ‘overnight’ routine.
– Don’t forget to bring a lighter!
– No need to bring plates, chopping board cutlery selection etc. Pan lid doubles as chopping board. Pan is your plate.

I’ll add to this post if I forgot anything 🙂 please feel free to ask questions via this site or my Facebook page. Cheers, Jules


  1. Jules says:

    Hi Natalie, yes, I reckon could pack it blindfolded 🙂 everything in the same place each time.. I guess it has changed over time as I refine my gear but generally it’s: tent down the side, sleeping pad & sleeping bag at the bottom, then clothes, then food at the top. Waterproofs in the outside pockets.

  2. Natalie says:

    Hi Jules,
    Thank so much for sharing all these details. It’s so helpful!
    I’ve also been wondering how you packed your rucksack!? I have a feel it will be super efficient 🙂
    Thanks, Natalie

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