Packing for camping

So I have always felt a big compulsive when I pack for a hike or camping trip. I feel like I may pack too much food for lows, and worry a bit about having enough water for highs! Anyone else feel like their pack is mostly diabetes gear, and not as much camping gear?


I always feel my bag is over packed with diabetic gear mostly food and water. It has actually been keeping me from trying a backpacking trip because I can’t figure out how to carry everything I will need. I usually car camp and go on hikes from my campsite to try and help keep all my supplies. Has anybody been able to pack for a backpacking trip? Any tips? I am starting to plan a small one for this fall.

This is a cool post:

After a recent 2 night camping trip (minor backpacking), I realized that maybe I should backpack all the time! My blood sugars were about perfect through the days. It was awesome to see the straight line across my Dexcom right in target. I did get some overnight lows, I find my daytime exercise usually hits me around 2-4am.

That is sweet. Where did you go? How much did you end up eating in the two days?

Just over to Lost Maples… I ended up packing 2 backpacking meals for dinner, I found some I think called Mary Jane’s :
(from REI), that were not totally loaded with carbs and calories, more within what I could actually eat. I think if I was on a more arduous trip I would have wanted ones that were bigger than what I bought, but these worked out for the shorter hikes.
The first night was an easy hike, so I ate the smaller meal and the second day was more active so I ate the other since it had more carbs and calories. I did lower my basal rate about an hour or so before I started hiking. Lunches- we ate hard cheese, summer sausage with crackers. And I had one backpacking meal for breakfast, but then the last day ate a meal replacement bar. I also packed some little bars called Sammy Jammys (from Wheatsville Food Coop), I think I packed about 6 but only ate 3. I also packed some trail mix- nuts and dried fruit, and ate that some, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. I compulsively packed 2 jars of glucose tabs, but really didn’t need all that either- just some for the overnight lows. I had a few extra cliff bars too,but didn’t eat them.
So all in all:
2 backpacking dinners (ate all)
1 backpacking breakfast (ate all- well gave some to my dog- it was too much food)
3 meal replacement bars (ate 1)
6- Sammy Jammys (I think these have 18 carbs each? ate 3)
trail mix
shared hard cheese/ sausage/ crackers (one box) with 3 other people
too many glucose tablets! I would have been fine with one- and still prob not used it all since I could modify my basal rates.

Water was trickier- since it was pretty warm out and the backpacking food needs water to hydrate it.

Did you take your trip yet?

I started hiking shortly after being diagnosed. My friends were getting into outdoorsy things, and I didn’t want to be left out, so I decided to join in on the fun. Little did I know that would be the start to lots of future outdoor adventures! As for packing, I’ve gone through an evolution of what to pack. Shortly after DX, I was all about juice boxes. I since learned that’s a pretty bad idea, since they tend to fall apart after carrying them for a few days. The past few years I’ve been relying on soda. While I know that liquid sugar is a heavy thing to carry backpacking, I tend not to bring nearly as much water as a result of sipping on soda while hiking. I have a 1 ounce water filter straw that I carry just in case I need extra water, since most places I hike have plenty of reliable streams to refill my half liter water pouch. Just for reference, for a weekend hike I would usually take 1.5L soda and 0.5L water, the water of course being refilled a few times a day.

Lately I’ve been coming back to glucose tabs. I don’t really like treating lows with them, but they are just so much more compact and lighter than soda. I feel like I need to drink more water when eating them, so maybe the weight savings isn’t all that great, but it does mean I can bring more sugar than before with less weight still. I usually carry about 3-4 clif bars per day that I’m going to be out. I probably won’t go through them all, but of course we pack more than we need just in case. As for supplies pump/cgm supplies, I might bring 1 change if I’m out for a weekend hike. I haven’t done anything longer than 2 nights out since DX (kind of makes me sad) but my general “away from home” packing is double what I expect to use.

I’m a very light packer when it comes to backpacking, since I was a big fan of “ultralight” backpacking a few years ago. My pack for most any trip outside now is an 1800 cubic inch (30 liters), where the standard 2-3 day packs I see people using are 40-50L. Multipurpose gear, and super condense and light gear makes that possible. I can elaborate if anyone’s interested… but I’ll spare the post for now. For day hikes, I use my favorite tiny bag, the REI Flash which is just 17 liters and holds everything I’d need for being outside without going overnight.

I found a picture that I took of the gear I used for a 4 week trip to Madagascar. It includes a tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc, and a lot more junk that all fit in a 40L pack. You can see the section of diabetic gear.

The second picture is a comparison of the packs brought with some friends camping in the Catskills of NY. My bag is the red one. My friend was using the bag I bought to Madagascar, if that looks familiar.
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Just recently did the Eagle Mountain Loop in Arkansas- it was really awesome! Totaling 26.8 miles, and crossing 8? peaks it is rated as the most strenuous hike in Arkansas, it was challenging but do-able. One of the best parts, aside from the beauty of the area, is there are tons of water crossings where you can filter drinking water. The was really nice since we didn’t have to carry a lot of water at a time. We did two partial days (the start day and end day) and two full days hiking, with 3 nights. I was a bit nervous the first night, since I had to hang all my food (and glucose) in a tree to keep it safe from bears. But this trip taught us better and more efficient ways to hang your food, and still make it easy to get down for treating overnight lows. I would like to talk to my endo about non-food sources to treat low blood sugars, aside from my emergency glucagon- if anyone knows anything about that I would looove to hear it!

So for food supplies for my boyfriend and I:
mini cliff bars (I compulsively packed the whole box-18, but we did not use nearly that many)
trail mix- nuts and dried fruit only
2 uncle ben’s rice- the kind you warm-up in a microwave, we just ate it cold and added hard salami. We just split a bag- the servings worked out well.
I made our dinners- kind of used ideas from freezer bag cooking sites. It turned out a lot cheaper than pre-made backpacking food and was easier to control portions. I also dehydrated some veggies to add to our dinners.
1- rice noodles with lentil curry (Fantastic Food’s instant bulk mix), and foil pack salmon
2- fancy ramen noodle-like soups, with foil packed tuna and dehydrated veggies
3- instant mashed potatoes with jerky and dehydrated veggies
The best tasting meals were the mashed potatoes and fancy ramen. Though I think in the future I will try and use more whole grains to help with my overnight lows. I did have some issues with dinner provoked highs followed by late-night lows (really low too), so I would replace the carbs I used with slower digesting whole grains. There are a lot of good resources to make your own backpacking food.
Kashi instant hot cereal- this made my blood sugar high in the am (even while hiking), so I think in the future I will try adding protein powder to it and see if that mellows my sugars out.
And of course, I brought 2 bottles of glucose tablets, and used quite a bit. I think in the future I will pack cliff gel packs, and try and use those as preventatives for my afternoon highs. I did reduce my basal rates, but still got overnight, and late afternoon.
Overall, it was a great trip! The area is beautiful!

I used to feel that I brought too much diabetes gear until one time doing a two day canoe trip I had all sorts of issues and I ended the trip with almost nothing extra left over.

Any chance of a gear list to go with these pictures? Planning a thru hike of the AT in 2017. is my blog, which I'm copying here on Tudiabetes. Emily Coles pointed me to your blog and I'm glad she did. This information is helpful! Keep on posting!

I just returned from a four-day, back-country camping/canoeing trip in northern Saskatchewan (Canada). I left with three infusion sets, knowing one should last the entire time. But as we canoed across the first lake, the first infusion set began to leak, so when we hit the shore I inserted another. Four hours later, when we set up camp, my second infusion set somehow fell out while setting up the tent - forgot to apply Skin Tac! Down to my last infusion set with three full days of camping, canoeing and fishing to go. Yes! I was able to insert the last infusion set with Skin Tac and a generous covering of medical tape and, fortunately, it held the entire trip. Had that failed, I still had one last line of defence - a fully loaded insulin pen, which would have worked in a pinch. I’ve only been on the pump for a month, but I’ve already learned a good lesson - always have a Plan D!!!