Mastering Trail Nutrition: A Deep Dive into Marshall Travis' Food Strategy

Explore Marshall Travis' efficient food strategy for long-distance hiking on the American Discovery Trail, offering insights on bulk buying and variety.

A large assortment of trail food from Starkist Tuna Creations to Ramen and snacks.
Screengrab - Marshall "California Chrome" Travis on YouTube

When you set out on a long-distance trek, such as the American Discovery Trail, paying close attention to your nutritional strategy is paramount. The approach to nutrition is as varied as the hikers themselves.

Not affiliated with nor authorized by the American Discovery Trail Society®

Marshall Travis, who is currently in his second week on the ADT, has shared an in-depth glimpse into his food packing tactics, showcasing just how personalized and crucial this aspect of hiking preparation is.

Bulk Buying for Efficiency and Variety

Marshall emphasizes the importance of bulk buying, which not only reduces costs but also ensures a steady supply of his favorite foods. By purchasing items in large quantities, he's able to maintain a varied diet, crucial for avoiding palate fatigue over long stretches. This method allows him to pack a diverse array of foods, from tuna and oatmeal to granola bars and beef jerky, ensuring he has the energy needed for the trail's demands.

Strategic Food Selection

The selection of food items is tailored to provide a balance of taste, nutrition, and convenience. Marshall opts for lightweight, non-perishable items that offer a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

A Day's Worth of Nutrition


  • Quaker Oats Oatmeal (2 packets - a variety of flavors)
  • Granulated Honey


  • Starkist Tuna Creations (variety of flavors) - 1 pack
  • Tortilla (occasionally)


  • Starkist Tuna Creations - 1 pack
  • Ramen Noodles (variety of flavors)- 2 packs
  • Olive Oil


A variety of each of the following:

  • 5 assorted energy bars/day (Cliff Bar, Nature Valley Granola, Kind Bar, Quaker Chewy Oatmeal Bar, and Welch's Fruit Snacks)
  • Trail Mix
  • Jack Link's Beef Jerky

Condiment packets (Ketchup, mustard, relish. etc.)
Propel Powder Packets Electrolytes

A five day supply is shipped to him from his home base utilizing USPS Priority Mail boxes to a Post Office ahead of him.

The Art of Food Variation

One of Marshall's key strategies is to keep his meals varied. He achieves this by mixing up flavors and types of similar food items, such as different tuna flavors and a variety of bars. This variety is crucial for maintaining interest in meals and avoiding the common hiker issue of food monotony.

Cost-Effective Nutrition

Marshall's approach is not only nutritionally sound but also cost-effective. By spending approximately $1,300 for what amounts to about 130 days of food, he manages to keep his daily food cost around $10. This is a significant saving compared to the high costs of purchasing similar amounts of food at convenience stores along the trail.

The Importance of 'Town Food'

The physical exertion is immense while hiking, especially on long trails, leading to significant energy expenditure. To maintain their health and energy levels, hikers need more than just the non-perishable foods they can carry in their packs. Eating substantial meals in town, such as at restaurants, becomes crucial to replenishing the body's fats, proteins, and carbohydrate reserves. Relying solely on the food carried can lead to rapid weight loss, including the loss of muscle mass if not careful.

Making the supplementation of diet with town food not just a matter of enjoyment but a necessity for the physical demands of long-distance hiking.

Marshall 'California Chrome' Travis

Began: February 13, 2024 - Westbound
Support Links: YouTube, Facebook, GoFundMe

While his method provides a workable model, it's important to remember that every hiker's needs and preferences are unique. Another adventurer might adopt a different strategy that aligns more closely with their dietary restrictions, taste preferences, or logistical considerations. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to trail nutrition.

Hike Your Hike - John.

Here are this week's updates and additions to Hiking America's Guides to the American Discovery Trail.


Segment 2 - Golden Gate Bridge to Walnut Creek

Additional Hiker Notes throughout for services. - HT MedicarePastor'23

Segment 3 - Walnut Creek to Antioch

Additional Hiker Notes from MedicarePastor'23, who completed her section hike of the American Discovery Trail last fall. Updated Hiker Notes for services at Contra Loma Beach Club, Mt. Diablo surface conditions, and more. -


Segment 2 - Virginia City to Middlegate

Added additional service in Fallon - HT MedicarePastor'23


Segment 3 - Harper's Ferry to Georgetown

Added Hiker Note indicating successful mail drop location along the C&O.

Segment 4DC - Georgetown to Hyattsville

Added REI location, and Amazon Lockers in Washington, D.C. to hiker notes.

Segment 5 - Greenbelt to Annapolis

Updated Hiker Notes to include a successful stealth camping location west of Annapolis.

Segment 6 - Annapolis to Delaware State Line

Added a new resupply location, updated Hiker Notes for Queenstown, MD, lodging notes for Graysonville, a successful Stealth camping location near the Maryland/Delaware line, and another halfway between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the state line. - HT Marshall Travis'24, Amie Adamson'15Delaware


Segment 1 - Maryland State Line to Cape Henlopen

Added a successful stealth camping location and other Hiker Notes - HT Marshall Travis'24


Segment 4 - Boonville to Jefferson City

Removed Globe Hotel from Hartsburg Hiker Notes. Permanently Closed, up for sale.