Milk is the new Gatorade for backpackers. At least dehydrated milk is. What other energy drink weighs so little but packs such a big punch in terms of calories and overall nutrition?
With a caloric density of 150 calories per once (dry), drinking a quart of whole milk will add 640 calories to your diet per day, in addition to loads of protein and electrolytes that hikers and backpackers have to work on getting enough of on long hikes. In liquid form, it goes down quick and doesn’t need a lot of preparation like cooked food.
Here’s a side-by-side head comparison of several varieties of milk vs. Gatorade to show you what you’ve been missing.
|Serving Size (g)||Caloric density per ounce (dry)||Calories per cup (liquid)||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Protein (g)||Sodium (mg)||Potassium (mg)|
|Nido Instant Whole Milk||30||151||160||9||11||7||105||390|
|Myenberg Instant Whole Goat Milk||28||142||140||7||11||8||115||327|
|Instant Non-Fat Milk||23||111||90||1.5||18||8||125||390|
|Better-Than-Milk Instant Soy Milk||23||98||80||0||12||1||115||25|
|Gatorade Orange Powder||23||74||60||0||21||0||145||45|
While Gatorade positions itself as an electrolyte replacement and energy drink, it’s basically just carbohydrates in the form of sugar, without the calorie rich fat and protein provided by milk. When compared side-by-side, Gatorade doesn’t even provide significantly more electrolytes than milk. Maybe, it’s time to get a milk mustache and toss your Gatorade into the hiker box.
Chances are you grew up drinking regular whole milk after school with your cookies or to wash down a PB&J sandwich. Nido dehydrated whole milk is the most popular brand among long distance hikers and tastes great when mixed with cold spring water on a hot day. Anecdotal evidence has also shown a significant reduction in the number of thru-hikers who choke on Nutella/Flour Tortilla sandwiches when eaten with a cold cup of Nido whole milk.
Lactose intolerant? Try Meyenberg dehydrated goat milk instead. While goat milk (like all natural milk) contains lactose, many people who react poorly to lactose don’t have the same problem with goat milk. Because of its digestibility, you may find it’s the perfect alternative. And it’s gluten free. (Remember if you have been clinically diagnosed with either true cow milk allergy or lactose intolerance be sure to consult your medical profession before drinking goat milk.)
Instant Non-Fat Milk
While instant non-fat milk is not as nutritious as whole milk and goat milk, it is much more widely available in small town grocery stores, which is a real consideration on long distance hiking trails. It’s also widely available in smaller stay-fresh envelopes, making it possible to buy in smaller quantities and more convenient to send to yourself in mail resupply boxes.
If you don’t consume dairy products, you can also benefit by drinking Better-than-Milk Soy Milk. While it’s technically not milk, it’s a pretty good stand-in versus Gatorade. But if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you know all this already, right?
Written 2015. Updated 2017.
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