List of Caloric Density for Ultralight Backpacking

I present to you my list of caloric density, food items and their corresponding Calories/ounce of mass. This is in Kcal (1,000 calories per Calorie). If I just lost you, it’s okay. The nutritional label on every food item in the USA is written in Kcal or Calories. So if a serving of Sun Chips says 140 Calories per serving, it’s saying 140,000 calories per serving, or 140 Kcal per serving. It’s all the same.

If you’re looking for my tutorial on how to use caloric density to calculate your daily meal plan, just click here.

Keep in mind that these numbers represent a ratio and ounces (oz) as I use it here is a measure of mass in the Imperial measurement system. Olive Oil, for instance, is listed per serving in fluid ounces which is not at all the same as ounces of mass. This could be a potential source of confusion but I have done the conversion for you here.

As I prepare for my 2014 thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, it occurs to me that much of the data and planning I am doing will be useful to others.

I’ve spent time searching places like google, whiteblaze.net, backpackinglight.com and many other various forums and personal pages. The information I’ve found is sometimes useful but very often speculative and contradictory. One commonly sought piece of data is caloric densities of various foods.

This is a measurement I have used in the past but never recorded in a comprehensive list. I am not aiming to create an ongoing list of various foods and their calories per ounce. Some of these foods I picked up at random from the store or cupboard shelf. Some, however, have been staples in my pack for years.

Below you’ll find that I have color coded the list. Green corresponds to foods with a density of greater than (>) 150 Calories per ounce. Gold (true yellow was too hard to read in contrast to white) corresponds to foods with a density greater than (>) 120 Calories per ounce. Orange corresponds to foods with a density greater than (>) 100 Calories per ounce. Red corresponds to foods with a density of less than (<) 100 Calories per ounce.

Food Calories/oz
Great Value Extra Virgin Olive Oil

236.7

*
Grape Seed Oil

222.2

 
Macadamia Nuts

203

 
Pecans

195

 
Walnuts

173

 
Jif Chocolate Hazlenut Spread

171.6

*
Salted Almonds

169

 
Jif Peanut Butter

168.1

*
Fritos

160

*
Dry Roasted Sunflower Seeds

160

*
Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips

157.1

*
Nutella

153.8

*
Almond M&M’s

153.8

*
Nestle Nido

150.9

*
Cheetos

150

*
Peanutbutter M&M’s

147.2

*
Nestle Toll House Semi Sweet Morsel (Choc Chip)

142.9

*
Classic M&M’s

142

*
Sun Chips All Varieties

140

*
Tostitos Original Tortilla Chips

140

*
Great Value “Sun Chips” Harvest Cheddar

140

*
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

138.1

*
Snickers Bar

134.4

*
Great Value Sweetened Coconut Flakes

132.1

*
ProBar Meal Superfood Slam

127

*
Wheat Thins

126.6

 
Three Musketeers Bar

126.3

*
Cinnamon Toast Crunch

121.8

Pop Tarts Brown Sugar

119.3

*
Great Value No Bake Cheese Cake Mix

117.6

*
Cheddar Cheese

113

 
Grated Parmesan Cheese

111.1

*
Great Value Strawberry Toaster Pastry

109.3

*
Knorr Parmesan Pasta Sides

108.5

*
Basic American Foods Vegeterian Refried Beans

107.7

*
Quaker Quick Oats

107

*
Great Value Whole Wheat Rotini

106.1

*
Swiss Cheese

106

 
Instant Cream of Wheat

103.8

 
Minute Instant White Rice

103.1

*
Great Value Instant Mashed Potato Flakes

103.1

*
Quinoa

101.9

*
Great Value Angel Hair Pasta

101.5

*
Great Value Nonfat Instant Dry Milk

98.8

*
Meijer Long Grain Instant Brown Rice

98.7

*
Couscous

96

 
Fantastic World Foods Tabouli Salad

94.3

*
TVP

94.1

*
Honey

91.4

*
Gu Energy Shot

89.3

*
Knorr Pesto Mix

85.2

*
Tortilla Shell Large

81

*
Great Value Light Brown Sugar

74

*
Welch’s Grape Jelly

70.4

*
Great Value Classic Alfredo Pasta Sauce

51.2

*

Everything with an asterisk (*) has been confirmed by hand. In other words I physically picked up the item, read the label, and did the math. Some items I didn’t have on hand and substituted from sources I deem fairly reputable. At least reputable enough to consider marginally accurate and include on the list. I’ll check them later.

Most third party data came from www.nutritiondata.self.com. I really enjoy this site for getting rough estimates of caloric density because you can choose the serving size and it does the math for you. Just select “ounce” as your serving size and it will tell you the number of corresponding Calories. It also has a huge database of foods to search through and will break down the foods by their composition of fats/carbs/proteins as well as amino acid composition.

Fats represent the greatest caloric density among all food types therefore oils and nuts reign supreme on this list. Carbohydrates come in a swift second place in overall calories per ounce followed by protein.

For thru hiking and ultralight backpacking it is ideal to maximize caloric density. The reason for this is simple: the higher the caloric density, the less weight you’ll need to carry to per given caloric intake.

Don’t forget to learn how to calculate your daily meal rations using caloric density with my tutorial here.

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3 responses to “List of Caloric Density for Ultralight Backpacking

  1. Pingback: Backpacking Meal Planning by Caloric Density | Casey Fiedler | Outdoor Adventure Professional

  2. Pingback: Become a Backpacking Guide in 12 Months or Less | Casey Fiedler | Outdoor Adventure Professional

  3. Pingback: Vegetarian Backpacking Meals | Casey Fiedler | Outdoor Adventure Professional

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