FREE Backcountry Calorie Calculator

Author Cody Wright
FREE Backcountry Calorie Calculator

The importance of nutrition when hunting

The proper nutrition while in the backcountry is essential to long term success. We have conducted studies on backcountry hunters and guides to better understand the real world effects of nutrition when in the field.

We have been tracking basal metabolic rates, daily caloric needs, differing caloric burn rates, and the effects sustaining a caloric deficit has on performance in the backcountry, and the results may surprise you.

The additional impact that backcountry hunting adds to our nutritional needs is far more than most people expect and can take a tremendous toll on whether they come off the mountain successful and healthy.

Changing your perspective

A large percentage of hunters are taking in far less calories than what they need in order to sustain a functional performance level, let alone their normally high level of performance, trying to shed a little weight in their packs. With the additional metabolic stress of high altitude, harsh terrain, cold temperatures, and heavy packs; you are burning far more calories than what you're used to.

This Backcountry Calorie Calculator was created to help you determine the right amount of calories you need on the mountain to keep performing at your best.

It's built in Google Sheets so you can use it on any device, and it employs what's known as the "Pandolf" equation, which was developed for the military as an estimate on how much energy it takes to hike with a heavy pack on.



With the Backcountry Calorie Calculator you can:

  • Calculate how many calories you'll burn each day based on your bodyweight, pack weight, distance, elevation gain, and average hiking speed.
  • Determine your daily food intake based on your burn rate to manage your caloric deficit.
  • Build your backcountry food plan to have more energy, more endurance, and more success on your next trip to the backcountry.

When paired with our Backcountry Hunting Gear List Template, you will be able to have everything from specific meal lists, macronutrient breakdown, and food+water+gear weight at your disposal.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Current Split


- Chest/Shoulders/Triceps + Easy Run


- Back/Biceps + Fartlek run


- Legs + Recovery Run


- Chest/Shoulders/Triceps + Tempo Run


- Back/Biceps + Easy run


- Legs


- Long Run

Training 101

PERIODIZATION - The specific structure of training over time.

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - The gradual increase of stress placed upon the body throughout the training cycle. This means increasing the overall load lifted during a workout. ie. more weight at same reps, more reps at same weight, or more reps and more weight during the span of the training cycle.

TEMPO - The speed at which the lift occurs. 

ROM - Range of motion.

RPE - Rate of perceived exertion. A measure of how difficult a set was on a 1-10 scale, with 10 meaning muscular failure was achieved.

RIR - Reps in reserve, RIR 1 = 1 rep left in the tank; RIR 5 = you can complete 5 more reps. 

EFFORT - How hard you are pushing the set relative to failure. Measured with RPE or %1RM.

LOAD - The weight of the external resistance.

INTENSITY - Effort and load.

VOLUME - Total amount of work performed. Usually figured as sets x reps x load.

FREQUENCY - How often you directly train a given muscle per 7 days 

HYPERTROPHY - The growth of muscle tissue / muscle mass. 

AMRAP - As many reps as possible (with good form). Often performed as a max strength test.

Types of Sets

Circuit - Group of exercises to be done together without resting unless specifically stated.

Compound Set - 2 exercises that work the same muscle group to both be done before resting.

Superset - 2 exercises that work opposite muscle groups to both be done before resting.

Giant Set - 3 or more exercises to both be performed before taking a break or resting.

Drop Set - Drop = after completing the initial number of reps, lower your weight and complete the next set of reps, then lower weight after that number of reps and complete the next set number of reps, and so on.

example: 8 drop 12 drop 12

example: 8 drop fail drop fail

Set to Failure - This means you will perform each set of the movement until muscle failure.

Descending Set (12,10,10,8) - Any time you see a descending set you should aim to increase weight each set when reps decrease.

Pyramid Set (12,10,10,12) - Any time you see a pyramid set you should aim to increase weight when reps decrease and lower weight as needed when reps increase.

Straight Set - Any time you see straight sets, regardless of the number of reps, they are going to be tempo based, so increasing weight each set isn't necessary.

21's / 30's - The first 7/10 reps will only be half reps beginning at the starting position to halfway contracted, the second 7/10 reps will begin at the halfway contracted position and go to full contraction, the last 7/10 reps will be full range of motion reps.

Attachments / Equipment

DB - Dumbbell

BB - Barbell

KB - Kettlebell

Movement Positions

Eccentric - “Negative” portion of rep / target muscle lengthening / stretching

Concentric - “Positive” portion of rep / target muscle shortening / contracting

Isometric - Target muscle engaged in current position without moving

Sticking Point - Transition between eccentric/concentric “bottom of the rep”

Grip / Stance

SA - Single Arm

SL - Single Leg

Alternating - Switch back and forth on which side to perform the movement at a time.

Pronated - Thumbs facing each other

Supinated - Thumbs opposing / also called reverse grip

Neutral - Thumbs parallel facing forward

Close - Inside Shoulder Width Pronated grip.

Snatch - Extra Wide Pronated grip.

Cannonball - Heels together, knees and toes angled out slightly.

Sumo - Extra wide stance with toes pointed outward, knees should be over the heels when at the bottom of the rep.

Feet Touching - The balls of the feet are together, toes facing forward knees close together or touching.

Toes Raised - Weight plate underneath toes/ball of feet to better isolate hams/glutes.

Heels Raised - Weight plate underneath heels of feet to better isolate quads.

Toes Out - For calf exercises only. Heels hip width or closer, toes pointed away from the other foot.

Toes In - For calf exercises only. Heels hip width or closer, toes pointed towards the other foot.

Toes Straight - Regular Stance For calf exercises only. Heels hip width, toes pointed parallel to the other foot.

Movement Tempo

1st number: How long the negative portion of the rep should last

2nd number: How long should pause on the stretch

3rd number: How long the positive portion of the rep should last

4th number: How long should pause on the contraction

Negative is always the stretch (muscle lengthening)

Positive is always the contraction (muscle shortening)

example: Leg Press (4:0:1:0)

4 seconds on the negative, no pause on the stretch

1 second on the positive, no pause on the contraction

example: DB Incline Fly (4:2:1:2)

4 seconds on the negative, 2 second pause on the stretch

1 second on the positive, 2 second pause on the contraction