Backpacking, Hiking with Type 1

Hey all,

I am going backpacking in Peru for 5 days and 4 nights (yay). I have never done this type of trip before. I am worried about how my blood sugar will react. And also just logistics of managing diabetes while on the trail. Anyone have experience handling their diabetes on trips like these? Tips you’d like to offer?

I have also heard that some meters don’t work at high altitudes. Does anyone have experience with this?


Hi Elizabeth - I did some hiking up in Mount Washington a few years ago - and managed to do alright with my BG’s. I did lower my basal rate in the morning - and checked my BG’s when I needed to. Bring high carb snacks/glucose/dextrosol (or whatever you now use to treat lows) and of course WATER. For me, not only exercising will reduce my need for insulin - but humid temperatures effect my BG’s abit (am thinking it might be humid in Peru ??). I also tend to give less fast acting insulin when I’m eating during days of hiking.

My meter (Freestyle) worked fine. I know that Sebastien Sasseville might be the one to ask about meter’s working - as he climbed up Mount Everest!

If you haven’t thought of this already - but keeping your insulin from not getting hot - consider looking at Frio. I have various versions of this - for insulin bottle, pen needles, and pump. They will keep your insulin at a good temperature.

Have a great trip!

Sounds like a lot of fun! I don’t know anything about the high altitude unfortunatley.

When I have taken hiking trips, I needed to reduce my insulin dramatically. It’s like constantly exercising all day and your body has a harder time dealing with the lows. So bring lots of fast-acting carbs (sport gels, cake icing).

Also, like Anna, I highly recommend a FRIO insulin pouch!! This keeps insulin cool and all you need is water to activate it. It’s reuseable and WONDERFUL!

Bring twice as many supplies as you need and if you are traveling with someone else, keep some supplies in their pack. Definitely bring at least 2 meters. And don’t forget meter batteries :slight_smile: I guess those would be hard to find in the mountains of Peru!

I did a 11 day 10 night hiking trip in New Mexico as my longest trip. I also had to reduce my insulin a lot. We climbed Mt. Baldy also definitly take some sugar to bring up lows because they definitly happen more often on the trail. Just make sure to keep a close eye on your sugars. I don’t remember the highest altitudes, but my pump and meter worked fine throughout the whole trip. My meter would not work when it got too cold but once warmed up it was fine. I also tucked it and my pump in my sleeping bag with me to keep them warm at night. This was during the summer but some of the higher altitudes were much cooler. Peru sounds amazing! I hope you have a great time!!

Hi Elizabeth, we have as members in the other community on Spanish a group of professional athletes that do their Odisea Andina on South America, as part of their proyect: Bandera al Cielo (Flag to the Sky) Extreme marathon crosing the Andes.

They have gone through and incredible journey years after year with the motto: Con Diabetes Se Puede! (With Diabetes you can)

Here is one of their videos… I am not sure if you can read in spanish, but I am almost certain that they have post about their experience and how they did to control their blood sugar levels.

Here is one of their photos with our flag at the end of their journey

I think it would be a great idea if one of the meter companies stepped up and offered a kit to take w/ you on your trip to show how meters perform under these conditions! Aqamatrix? Abbott? CGMS? Just a thought:) Maybe an opportunity to compare brands? Good luck Elizabeth…{{{{have fun for all of us here on Tu living vicariously}}}} Keep us posted during your adventure…if possible:)

Thank you everyone for your input! I will let you know how everything goes.

Are you on the pump or MDI? I met a T1 girl once who was backpacking and dropped her pump in a stream on accident. It didn’t turn out well- she had to give herself shots of her short acting insulin every few hours and ended up having a seizure because she mis-timed one. She made it because her friend gave her the glucagon shot. If you are on the pump, it would probably be a good idea to bring a long-acting insulin as well to be safe.
I spent last summer in Central America and we did some short hikes. I always made sure to have lots of sugar on me, and glucagon (bring 2!) just in case. Everyone knew my situation and were supportive, we had a plan in case I went too low to take care of myself, and they knew I was serious when I said I needed to stop for a minute. The scariest moment of my life was when were at a remote waterfall and I felt myself going low but forgot my meter and glucagon. I ended up being fine, but had a bad panic attack instead.

Be more prepared than you think you need to be, EDUCATE YOUR FRIENDS WELL (they might end up being your only lifeline in a remote area), and have fun!

Hi Elizabeth -
I know this is an old post - but I came across it because I'm getting ready to do a backpacking trip in Peru as well! Did you do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu by any chance?
How did it go for you? Did you happen to take any medication to prevent altitude sickness - I'm thinking of taking Diamox but wondering if it will interfere with my meter readings or Dexcom. My endo thinks that it shouldn't be a problem with general sugar control.

glad you brought this discussion back! here's another place to ask for tips.

Thanks for the rec!