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Author Topic: Hiking food advice
spungo
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 06:30      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have been tasked with planning provisions for a multi-day hiking trip -- and would be very grateful for any advice with regards to what sort of supplies are suitable -- given that all involved will have to carry their own stuff, so dry, light eats are the theme as it were. I know there are folk here who know a thing or two about this kind of thing... I would be externally grateful for any thoughtful words on the subject.

btw -- I know nothing about this... I live on bacon sandwiches and coffee, and have never had to think about this problem before... [Smile]

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 07:02      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
_________________________spungo Personly I prefer food that doesn't hike.

If you are taking a cooking means (sterno) coleman stove or other means of heating food then plan from the pantry.

If hiking into no fire areas, then it gets more compicated. Cereal bars, meals ready to eat (MRE) are options. Check at sporting goods stores. Powdered milk, sun tea are options. Bottled water is so much better than canteens. Personal hygene tooth brushes and paste go in ziploc sandwitch bags, soap and deodorent also go into bags.

Lots of clean socks and underwear.

Zip loc bags are your friend. Also take some rugged trash bags to carry out your refuse.

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 07:22      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the advice, MoMan -- Zip locs will indeed be deployed in numbers. Fresh water will be in healthy supply where we're going (purifying tablets a must!) My main interest is the food itself -- i.e., dried soups? Instant noodles? Tang and a bottle of vodka? [Wink]

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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 07:25      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A couple of points.

Water purification tablets make water taste minging, but can be a better (and possibly only option) on longer trips. Whilst it may seem like a pure mountain stream, seeing the dead sheep in the waterfall pool upstream is only amusing for anyone who didn't drink from it.

Tinned food is ok if you have a base camp - out the back of a car or a tented base. Otherwise, get down to the camping shop and get ready meals in pouches, or:

Remember that the place you are going to is likely to have shops, even if it is a bit of a walk to them. There is no point carrying all the food you need if you can get it elsewhere.

Camping more than 2hrs walk from a pub (in the british isles) is uncivilised.

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 07:30      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by littlefish:
Remember that the place you are going to is likely to have shops, even if it is a bit of a walk to them. There is no point carrying all the food you need if you can get it elsewhere.

Sadly, this will not be the case -- we will in all likelihood be several days' walk from the nearest village / hut / settlement. This is a carry-five-days'-worth-of-food-with-you-probably type of trip (not your ordinary jaunt over the South Downs, fer example -- this be the middle of nowhere -- cannot rely on obtaining food other than one's own! -- unless you're happy to kill and gut a moose... )

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 08:20      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Welcome to North America. Enjoy to utter wilderness. [Wink]

I can't add much to what MoMan said, though I can't imagine you wouldn't be allowed a stove. Even in places where you can't have a campfire, you can have a stove.

Purification tablets vs. a filter: your choice, your time. Tablets are lighter in weight and bulk. Potable aqua is sold with neutralizer now, so instead of tasting like chemical crap your treated water has a vaguely citrus twang. Filters are faster - once it comes out the hose, you're done. You can also boil water to purify it but that costs fuel and time.

Cereal bars and the like are good for snacking. I also like peanut butter. Nominally, I bring bagels or tortillas to eat with the peanut butter, but by the end of any trip that lasts more than three days I've taken to skipping the starchy part and just eating the peanut butter. I also like cheese, though you have to be nice to it or else it gets kind weird after a couple days. For meals, I typically go with the dehydrated stuff you find in the interior aisles of the supermarket - Lipton pasta packets, ramen, etc. Check the directions. If it doesn't take more than one pot and can be made quickly, it's fine for camping. You can get freeze-dried backpacker meals at an outdoors store, but those things are overpriced and have a tendency to rip my guts apart (YMMV of course). Sometimes, if I can spare the weight and space, I pack in fresh veggies and fruit (there is NOTHING like a piece of fresh fruit after three days of backpacking). Sometimes I also bring in canned refried beans, tortillas and cheese and have burritos. But anything canned is heavy and then you have to pack out the cans, so your call.

And remember the ZipLocs. Lots of ZipLocs. Remember to seal them too.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 09:55      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
__________________________ spungo thinking some more, I like Xanthine's idea of cheese and or peanut butter, however they both tend to bind me up, so I would also pack instant oatmeal, pour in the boiling water breakfast and easier BMs. Speaking of that be sure to pack your fave toilet paper. Matches go in film canisters or ziplocs. Its hard to remember because most of this is so automatic, or is already packed in the motor home.

Remember dry socks and dry underwear at least make you feel cleaner. Bring more than you think you will need in case you end up falling in a stream or caught in a rain storm.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 10:03      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Changes of socks are mandatory. Trench foot sucks.

I'm of a newer school than MoMan and use lighters. Keep 'em in your pockets so they stay warm and dry. They'll even work at altitude so long as they stay warm.

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 10:52      Profile for Sxeptomaniac   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think Xanthine and MoMan covered the question pretty well.

I recommend Clif Bars for snacks, if they sell them out that way. Besides being an energy bar, I've found that they usually taste like actual food (their chocolate flavors taste a bit funky to me, but I think the rest are pretty good). They also have quite a bit of fiber, so they will do a good job of helping to avoid the problem TheMoMan just mentioned.

(Not to play mother, but you know to be careful regarding dehydration, right? I've seen quite a few people nearly pass out on the trail (I almost did once a long time ago) because they didn't realize how fast they were losing water in dry mountain air.)

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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 10:55      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
we will in all likelihood be several days' walk from the nearest village / hut / settlement. This is a carry-five-days'-worth-of-food-with-you-probably type of trip
At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, if you are going that far off the beaten track, I'd have thought you might need a bit more experience of the outdoors before such a trek. If you don't know what food to pack, maybe you should try something a bit shorter first? Getting lost in the middle of nowhere is not something to be taken lightly.
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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 11:06      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not sure where spungo's going, but generally, the trail systems on this side of the pond are set up such that so long as you stay on the beaten track (yes, we have beaten tracks that will take you that far from human settlements [Razz] ), you're not going to get lost. It's when people think they can travel cross-country with a GPS they don't know how to use that the problems start. It's also generally considered good practice to go with a buddy. Self-rescue is faster and more fun to talk about afterwards.

quote:
Originally posted by Sxeptomaniac:

(Not to play mother, but you know to be careful regarding dehydration, right? I've seen quite a few people nearly pass out on the trail (I almost did once a long time ago) because they didn't realize how fast they were losing water in dry mountain air.)

Heh. I hurt myself good a few years ago on a dayhike. I drank 3 liters of water, but forgot the bit about electrolytes. I made it off the trail okay, started feeling gross on the drive home, and got fscking sick on walking in my door. [blush]

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 13:37      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Xanthine and MoMan are wise people, their advice is good.

I tend to take pre-made jam or peanut butter sandwiches, and apples, lots of apples. 2 per day is my minimum.

Instant porridge for breakfast, sandwiches and apples while walking, and instant noodles in the evening.

If I know there's water along the way, I take a medium water bottle and a filter, otherwise I take a big canteen. Water is fscking heavy, but being thirsty is no fun.

Oh, and don't forget to take a couple of chocolate bars and a hip-flask of whisky.

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spungo
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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 14:02      Profile for spungo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by littlefish:
quote:
we will in all likelihood be several days' walk from the nearest village / hut / settlement. This is a carry-five-days'-worth-of-food-with-you-probably type of trip
At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, if you are going that far off the beaten track, I'd have thought you might need a bit more experience of the outdoors before such a trek. If you don't know what food to pack, maybe you should try something a bit shorter first? Getting lost in the middle of nowhere is not something to be taken lightly.
Caution noted, and appreciated. I'm going with a handful of experienced and well-equipped people -- I've merely been given the initial job of seeking out ideas (ultimate decisions will not be mine). The trip ain't for a while -- I just want to be as prepared and briefed as poss. Nothing is going to be left to chance.

Thanks all of you fer yer help -- I like the bagel idea, Xanth -- they don't go off easily, ain't too heavy, and I know from experience that they sure keep you going. Pita bread is also a good one.

... now I just have to work on my fitness. [Wink]

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Snaggy

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Icon 3 posted February 28, 2008 16:10      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've found the biggest mistake on long trips is taking too much food... the first few days are killers as you hike around with so much weight.

Don't forget the instant coffee or tea bags in case you have a pre-existing caffeine addiction!

Go spungo go!

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 19:53      Profile for Mr. Dave     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One thing I haven't seen in all the advice on socks is this: Wool is your friend. Especially if you're going this time of year, but even into late spring or early fall (at least, if you're staying in Canada), wool socks and trousers are necessary if you want to stay warm after you get wet. (And you never expect to get wet, but still...)

About ten years ago, I went on a class trip canoing in Algonquin Park over Thanksgiving weekend. Before the trip I went to Goodwill and bought a pair of (old) wool dress pants for $5. One morning there was ice on the canoes, but the only time I was cold the entire weekend was when I was waiting to shower before we came home.

As for food, my sister swears by Christmas cake. High energy density and practically indestructable. Also, if you want to spend the cash, the freeze-dried stuff is absurdly light, and actually really tasty when you're out in the woods. Dried fruit will be much less bulky than fresh, if you like that sort of thing (and some of us do). Whatever you take, remember that someone is going to have to carry it all day.

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Icon 1 posted February 28, 2008 20:07      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Dave:
As for food, my sister swears by Christmas cake. High energy density and practically indestructable.

Interestingly enough, panforte, the great-grandfather of fruitcake, was the food of choice for the Crusaders for just those reasons Mr. Dave mentioned. It packs a lot of caloric energy in a small form factor, and keeps incredibly well, even in adverse conditions. Let's face it, slaughtering heathens takes a lot out of a guy.

I think I watch too much Alton Brown (if there is such a thing). [Geek]

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quote:
Originally posted by MacManKrisK:

I think I watch too much Alton Brown (if there is such a thing). [Geek]

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Alton Brown!! Jonathan and I discovered him after we cut our cable back to the bare bones. Alton is super nerd-friendly, and he's so darn INTERESTING!

Alton Brown rocks my world! [hearts] [hearts] [hearts]

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted February 29, 2008 05:50      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Dave:
Wool is your friend.

Um, I think Spungo knows this already. [Eek!]

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Aditu
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Icon 1 posted February 29, 2008 08:19      Profile for Aditu     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Look at the cooking time of foods too. Some dried soups, etc require simmering for longer times, which eats up your fuel if you are carrying a small burner. Not an issue if you are doing the campfire thing.
I always pack nuts as they are a great protien fix mid-day. Instant oatmeal is always in my backpack as it sticks with me better than the bars do as a morning meal.
Have great time.

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maswan

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We usually go for the "fancy" freeze dried stuff, especially the meals you just have to add boiling water to and then let sit (as opposed to simmering for n minutes). Saves lots of fuel that way.

If you're only off for a couple of days, fresh/canned food is fine. But if it turns into a week or two, it's going to be really heavy. At least for wimpy me, when the backpack is already weighted down with clothes, tent, sleeping bag, stove, etc, etc.

Also, even if you have plenty of access to water along the route, make sure you have a water bottle easily accessible while walking to drink from.

Oh, take care and feel how the body feels, if anything is going wrong it'll tell you. You might want to do an extra inspection of your feet each morning too, check for blisters and abrations. You might want to tape those before it goes bad, etc.

No advice on water treatment, I drink the Swedish mountain water as is. :)

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted March 01, 2008 10:12      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
On the same note, take care of hotspots as soon as possible (most would say immediately, but I've been places where sitting down an busting out the moleskin immediately is just flat out dangerous). The problem will not just go away on its own. I promise.

Oh yeah, and make sure your socks are in good shape. Holey or threadbare socks will chew your feet up.

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toobe

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quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
Sometimes I also bring in canned refried beans, tortillas and cheese and have burritos. But anything canned is heavy and then you have to pack out the cans, so your call.

Dehydrated bean flakes are your friend... Super light, just add boiling water. They taste pretty dang good, especially after a full day on the trails. And they're in the bulk section at the grocery store (at least at mine, but I live on the hippy coast).

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2008 03:31      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ever suffer from premature deja-vu?

See below for a cure.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted March 10, 2008 03:48      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Spungo: don't forget to take a few dozen of these

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Full independent review here

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Xanthine

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Icon 13 posted March 10, 2008 08:33      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You know, camping food doesn't have to be gross beyond gross.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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