I’m asking readers to contribute their favourite foodstuffs for walking.  When you set out on a long walk what do you think about in terms of sustenance? It’s all well and good getting up a few minutes earlier and cramming a bacon and egg sarnie down you but when you’ve got to keep going all day that just won’t do the trick – you need to bring supplies.

A date has been set for me and Martyn to walk the 66 miles/106 kilometres of the Vanguard Way from East Croydon to Newhaven. I know that this is stretching the caveat of ‘walks reachable by Oyster card’ to it’s absolute limit, and possibly beyond, but I do think that it’s worth reminding people that it’s not just London that’s easily walkable and accessible.  A route like this should be within most people’s abilities over four days and even with my injury problems I believe I will be able to tackle the Vanguard Way if I’m sensible.

Our plan, nascent as it is, has a huge hole where food is concerned. I don’t know if I even want to bring a stove. It looks like several of the pubs en-route will be shut at this time of year, which is also the case with most of the camp sites. Therefore I need you to help us decide on the best hiking foods we can obtain. So, what we’re considering so far is:

Cold or cured hiking foods

‘Trail Mix’ – any combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit will do. Nice slow-release energy that’s packed with protein, fibre, and sugar. So, some expensive cashews and some raisins for me!

Boiled Humpties – Although they are eminently more transportable than uncooked eggs, boiled eggs still have to be looked after in your pack. Plus they will still stink it out if you don’t wrap them very well! They’re a great source for a wide range of essential food groups and would make breakfast seem a little more like breakfast.

Chocolate – preferably of the fruit & nut variety it will help you keep those energy levels up at all times. We will be burning a significant amount of energy each day so just keeping ourselves topped up will be important. Then there’s the magical mood-altering properties of the stuff. With a small dose of caffeine and the feel-good factor you get from nibbling it chocolate will be a mainstay of my pack.

Kendal Mint Cake – If you’re not carrying Kendal Mint Cake then you’re not a real hiker. End of. No, I’ll elaborate I suppose. It’s basically a slab of sugar simply flavoured with mint. It feels great when you eat it and it’s going to be helpful to boost energy. I’ve never seen their chocolate-covered versions but frankly I think I will stick to the original and best.

Sweets/Toffee – I like the taste of toffee but I don’t like it clagging up my teeth, so I’ll bring some fruit gums instead. Yet more high sugar/high energy snackage.

Malt Loaf – Or any of the range of chewy loafs that Soreen produces. I do enjoy a bog standard malt loaf but I think I might pack their banana bread as it’s even more delicious. You can squish any Soreen loaf into whatever shape you like and it will still taste wonderful. It’s a fairly good source of energy and doesn’t feel as tooth-rotting as chocolate or mint cake, even if it is. Plus, as it is ‘The foodstuff of kings’ you dare not leave it out!

Apples – Fruit is a brilliant way of carrying water, as well as providing vitamins you won’t usually find in other hiking snacks. Apples are the best choice because of their durability. Yes, they do weigh a bit but they are a reasonable energy snack as well.

Crackers – You might think that’s an insane thing to carry on a hike. I was dubious until I looked into it. A single Jacob’s cream cracker apparently delivers 35Kcal, which makes it only narrowly less energy-punching than several brands of chocolate bar. They weigh very little and are an excellent savoury counterweight to all that sugar so far. Granted, they are likely to be dust unless you take a lot of care. Martyn assures me they go well with eggs and bacon. I can imagine they go brilliantly with a boiled egg.

Meat jerky – Protein, protein, protein! According to the Tesco website one of the big jerky brands contains 170% beef. I’m not quite sure how this magical TARDIS meat was developed, but I like it. Jerky has worldwide renown as a hiking staple and I will be carrying some too. It’s lightweight and you can suck it for ages as you stroll. Another excellent savory snack even though it is more expensive than other supplies.

Pepperami – Lightweight, cured, tasty. I’ll definitely pop a few of these in my rucksack because they could also be used with any dried foods we might bring along.

Red Bull – The only reason I would pack this is due to caffeine withdrawal. Over the years I’ve cut down my intake of tea quite a lot but in the past six months I’ve started drinking coffee at work. A little while ago I went two days without any caffeine, by accident, and had raging headaches. Since then I cut right back again but you never know, a few days with zero again might be nasty. This is not a good situation to endure so I will probably pack a single can as an energy and mood booster.

Olives – You can get them in small sachets and they pack a fairly high energy level that doesn’t rely on sugar. A good level of salt to help replenish those minerals we sweat out. Plus, they’re vegetables that could be added to pasta if that was on the agenda.

Carrots – Just a couple in the pack to munch on for day one. They’re hardy and they’re tasty with plenty of vitamin yummage.

John West fish lunches – They’re all of the ‘light’ variety so they aren’t quite as useful nutritionally as they might be, but they are delicious and they still pack a punch. Plus, they don’t need refrigeration! They come with a little fork packaged in too so they’re a good option to be consumed on the first or second day, if only to cut down the small amount of space they occupy.

Hot hiking foods

Pasta – Obvious, right? Kind of. Yes it’s a good food source for many reasons but I have my reservations. Pasta on its own is not a particularly exciting foodstuff, therefore you have to carry a sauce. Mine (and Martyn’s) first choice would be pesto but then that usually brings glass hazards into your pack. You can buy sachets of pasta sauces quite easily but again this is just adding more weight all the time. Then there’s the water consideration. If we end up wild camping we are going to have to wait some time before we can refill our water bottles after cooking. Using water for cooking and for drinking will require us carrying quite a hefty amount all the time.

Noodles – I’m much more open to the idea of noodles because flavour sachets replace the hassle of sauces. The water required to cook noodles properly is much less than with pasta, and often the noodles will absorb it all if you’ve measured it properly. The issue with noodles is that the instant variety are far less nutritious than pasta and supply almost no calories at all. Easting 4 cream crackers would give you more energy than a pack of instant noodles. Is that a good pay off? Obviously it’s an either/or situation between noodles and pasta.

Porridge – Can’t beat a bit of porridge to start the day! Sachets are cheap and light. They don’t require a lot of water, but they also aren’t massively filling or nutritious in the servings you get this way. Still, as a hearty, warming way to rise and shine it’s a good idea.

Rice – Martyn suggests rice. I like rice. But I am certainly not sold on it as a hiking supply. Anyone got any ideas on this one?

Smash – Martyn suggests instant mash as well. Not for me I’m afraid. I’m not a huge fan of mash normally but I REALLY don’t like instant mashed potatoes. Without gravy and sausages this is a non-starter as far as my pack is concerned!

Tea – So far I’m not convincing myself on the need for a stove but access to a nice cuppa is something I really would really miss. Martyn suggests a homemade Brew Kit consisting of tea bags, milk powder in baggy, and sugar if necessary. The other thing about brewing on the trail would be that it compels you to take your time when you stop. One of my big mental problems is not stopping for long enough. I will regularly walk for 3+ hours with only perhaps a quarter of an hour at rest. This has to be one big reason why I keep injuring myself. Perhaps the stove itself would provide that much needed break.

In the end we will know whether we can get away without a stove only after we find out exactly what is and is not going to be open along the Vanguard Way in February. The allure of a pub lunch will fulfill our pangs for hot food and will enable us to refill water bottles, but if this isn’t going to be possible we will need your help to decide what’s the most efficient way of keeping ourselves well-fed. Suggestions below, please!