It's well known that long distance hikers become eating machines and have to struggle to get enough calories to maintain their body weight on hikes that last for months.
But as a section hiker, I rarely have the opportunity to go backpacking for more than 3 or 4 days at a time. Why then, have I always based the amount of food that I bring along on the metabolism of a long distance hiker? Is it really necessary for me to pack 3,200-4,000 calories per day for 3 season backpacking? The truth is that I rarely eat all of the food I pack and usually end up bring home some extra.
In my experience, my metabolism only really starts to kick in after I'm been hiking for about 2 weeks. After that I'll eat everything in sight. But before then, I can get buy just fine with 1.5 lbs of food a day or less, as long as I pig out when I get off trail.
Interestingly, Andrew Skurka, makes a similar point on his web site. He only carries about 4,000 calories a day, though he figures that he's burning about 8,000. His strategy is to only bring enough food to keep from being hungry or energy-less, not to replace everything he's burned during the day. Town and resupply stops are times to chow down and replace those calories.
What's your perspective on this?