Research in Outdoor Education




The study of energy economics, known as energetics, has played a key role in shaping human ecology, evolution, and performance (Leonard & Ulijaszek, 2002). Research on energetics gives insight into how humans interact with their environment and how differences in body shape and size can impact that interaction. This understanding is particularly insightful for humans living in the backcountry for extended periods of time. Selecting food types and amounts to meet high-energy demands in the backcountry setting is a challenge, because energy demand models have primarily been based on lab studies that, in hindsight, appear to routinely underestimate energy demands on backcountry expeditions.

This study examined Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) as it pertains to two to three week periods of time spent backcountry hiking, rock climbing, and skiing/camping in a winter environment. Total Daily Energy Expenditure is calculated by totaling the energy spent on basal metabolic rate, activity, thermoregulation, and Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). In total 59 participants were tested on courses with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Information from the study has been instrumental in informing the ration and nutrition practices at NOLS, as well as providing insight into other outdoor programs and backcountry users.