/ Food, Water, & a Food Dehydrator

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readysalted - on 03 Jan 2013
Probably in the wrong area of the forum but not really sure where I should stick this.

When out camping one of my biggest gripes is having to carry heavy food.

I'm in the military and always have a surplus of military ORP (rations), which I usually take on trips, or supplement with bacon, rolls, etc. But unfortunately they actually weight quite alot for what they are. Because of the fact I have an abundance of army rations, I wouldn't dream of spending almost 5 quid on a similar camping meal, made by one of the several companies which offer them.

Taking my own fresh stuff is of course an option, and sachet's of porridge oats are a staple, as is bacon, and bread, but I've decided that this is something that needs to be looked into to try and cut down on bulk and weight.

I've heard in the past of people making meals and dehydrating them, sealing them in airtight bags, and then adding boiling water to eat when on the hills. I've not really looked into this myself, but if anybody knows of this, I'd be interested to hear about it.

Alternatively, if you simply have ideas of decent nutricious foods to take, or ideas for specific meals I would be interested.

Pasta, or Rice are pretty obvious choices, as all they need is water and they are light and not bulky, but the main attraction, is their true carbohydrate value. I'm very much put off by pot noodles, and super noodles etc. Because of the lack of real nutrition that's contained within them, and all the additives and sodium etc. that they have. Not that I am by any means a health junkie, but when you're on the hills, if you have bad food then you don't notice it at 10am when you've packed your camp away and start walking, but at mid day when you're suffering half way up the second hill, wondering why you have no energy left.

Anyways, I'm keen to know what you guys do.

Provisionally I'd be thinking for a typical one nighter (2 days on the hills):
Day 1:
Breakfast - Home
Lunch - Typical Packed Lunch
Dinner - Boiled Rice & Pre-Cooked Chicken Peices with tabasco sauce
Day 2:
Breakfast - Porridge & Chocolate (perhaps a scoop of whey protien or bacon roll)
Lunch - Bacon rolls, Flap Jacks, Chocolate & Nuts
Dinner - Home

How could that be improved?

One final question,
How do you guys deal with water on a short trip. Naturally washing water comes froms from a natural source on the ground but even still, carrying 4 litres of drinking/ cooking water is a pretty hefty weight and takes up alot of room. I have a katadyn water bottle, which filter water, but the drinking rate on it is extremely slow, and I don't think pushing all the cooking and drinking water through the filter would be a particularly good idea so not sure how people tackle this problem?
peas65 - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:

No idea about the dehydrator but it is something i have thought of myself as i backpack a lot in summer with work but at the moment they are not cheap.

If on a 2 day trip i will carry:

Breakfast: Porridge, milk powder
LUnch: Hummus (can be messy) or sandwich spread (veggie ones are great) and warburtons wraps
Plus snacks of fruit bars,frusli, mars bar
Tea: meal made by 'Look what ive found'

The look what ive found meals are lovely, like homecooked food, no rubbish but are heavy, weighing 250g per pack and you need 2 packs or 1 packs plus pasta.

On more than 3 days i don't think the weight of these meals is worth it and i carry dehydrated meals often by BeWell - not cheap but worth it as some meals are very tasty.

After you have factored in the cost of a dehydrator and the food to put in it and the bags etc, you would probably save some money but not a huge amount unless you use it over a long period and backpack regular.

I know you dont like spending a fiver- neither do i- on a meal but otherwise backpacking is free so i have accepted it as a small cost.

With water it depends on where i am, generally i will drink straight out of streams and rivers and carry 1 litre at a time unless i think it may be hard to find. In scotland most places are fine to drink straight out and i still do in the lakes if there has been good rainfall.
Otherwise i use chlorine to sterilise water or boil everything.
You dont need to filter water your cooking with as boiling it with steralise it, unless it is filled with sediment.

p.s well done on the bacon, you are probably the first person who i have heard of carrying bacon backpacking other than a few kids i take out. It must be worth it but heavy and messy!
Clarence - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:

My 2-day menu is usually

Day one
Breakfast - Porridge, honey from a refillable squeezy tube
Lunch - cup-a-soup, soda bread, flapjack
Dinner - Koka noodles, cheese, more flapjack

Day two
the same or any of the following changes:

- handfull of couscous in cup-a-soup
- dried fruit, soaked in boiling water and then added to instant custard sachet
- stir fry veg added to noodles, if I am taking the frying pan
- chopped nuts and custard (nicer than it sounds)
- pepperami or biltong with noodles
- instant mash with pepperami and brown sauce (lovely!)
- small plastic pot of mushy peas and a sachet of mint sauce
- banana bread, malt loaf or ginger cake.

Not something you wuold want to live on forever but good enough for a couple of days. I rarely eat more than breakfast on the second day as it is usually Sunday (having set off Friday night after dinner) and I can last until I get home for a chippy supper.
readysalted - on 03 Jan 2013
Peas65 I had no idea people actually did that. You must be pretty brave. Haven't you ever had a bad stomach from that? People have always told me not to do that on the basis that if there's some dead animal upstream then the water may be badly contaminated. In the middle of nowhere, with no water is the last place I'd want to get the shits lol. Sterilizing tabs is a v. good idea though, Haven't really thought of that, and although the water will be a bit funny tasting, I'd rather that, than have to cart around KGs of water.

I suppose a fiver every time I go out on a trip isn't too much considering it's likely to be about once a month or something.

Clarence, I will definitely try custard with nuts. Great idea.

In fairness there are quite a few things, I guess it's just a case of buying foods which just need water adding to them, or are already dehydrated, and then supplementing that, with meat etc. where possible. Aswell as mars bars and nuts etc. for snacking.

Something that was always served up for packed lunches whenever I've been skiing, is salami. (Or the Austrian equivalent). Which was really great, and I gather it's alot as a food in nordic skiing, and recommended on ML Winter courses and stuff, so I might look into that. Carrying a hunk of that around in my rucksack, and slicing bits off to have for lunch/ dinner as and when is probably a good idea.

minus273degrees - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted: I drink from streams with a good flow any where above about 300 meters when in snowdonia not had any probs and this is fairly regular but generally only about a cup at a time if im out for a few days carry chlorine tabs and neutralizing does 2 literes in 20 mins approx while im walking with no after taste

I also often will carry some cooked thin ham and chuck that in a pan for breakfast something a little hot can be a real moral booster also works for lunch a bit with pasta for dinner I also like to carry primula in a tube doesnt harm to be out then fridge for a days and they do some nice flavour (with chives or bits of ham) makes a wrap or less dry I gota go with porridge and honey for breakfast its a real winner maybe with some trail mix chucked in

Dehydrator wise you really gota look to the yanks they are well into it
crustypunkuk - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:
I also have access to military rats. As you are well aware, they are good for needs, but not for wants.
If i'm on a 2 or 3 day jaunt, i take a couple of all day breakfasts, and the obligatory wets. I've found all sorts of main meals which (at least) exceed the mod issue stuff available in asda/tesco. With a stove (i found a great burner in tkmaxx for 8) and a small pot (alpkit mytimug does me) you can boil and mix just about any combination you want.
I would suggest you bring your own tabasco, but otherwise you're sorted.
crustypunkuk - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:
In terms of water................ depends where you are- in england, beware, In Scotland- it'll taste like the proverbial nectar, and will fuel you to extraordinary deeds.
Paul F - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:

Military? Were you never issued a Lifesaver bottle ? it's one of the best bits of kits out there.
dunk5823 on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:I use a travel tap water bottle to filter water if I'm unsure of the water quality.

My menu now consists of shop brought items, rations are alright but as you know they are heavy.
Breakfast- generally consists of porridge made from milk powder (flavoured with sugar or dried fruit)
Lunch - is normally trail mix, salami wraps and flap jacks/oat bars that I make myself.
Dinner- is pasta or cous cous, I tend to flavour the pasta with tuna sachets these are quite light and provide a good flavour.

peas65 - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:

No i have never been ill from drinking he water, but maybe i have a strong stomach after lots of travelling in India! Obviously i try to take water as far up stream as possible and as far away from human/animal influence.

I would never encourage the kids i work with to do it, they all carry chlorine tabs, but as long as you make an educated guess and steralise where appropriate i have never had problems.

salami is meant to be great on the hill, smoked sausage is great for chucking into evening meals if going down the pasts/couscous route and lasts for a few days.
edunn on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Clarence:

There are some great shouts in this one. Cous cous is light and provides bulk when eating, biltong or jerky is also really good for a long-lasting day snack, instand mash is amazing, and I never go anywhere without pre-buttered malt loaf!

Someone also mentioned Primula. I have it with these as they are tasty and pretty robust when stashed in a large rucksack:
http://www.drkarg.co.uk/dr_karg_emmental_pumpkin_seed.php

If you're just going for a couple of nights, then fresh pasta is always good. Raveoli (not the tinned crap) is great. Maybe with a carton of tomato sauce.

For longer trips I'm afraid I subscribe to the 5 dehydrated meals. They are expensive, but you can get some decent 'near end of life' bulk deals, which make them cheaper. In addition to this, pumpernickle or rye bread is good. It's tasty, keeps its shape and doesn't go off as quickly as normal bread.

To be honest though, malt loaf will keep you alive for days. You won't need anything else!

Enjoy ;-)
Louise Tully - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:
I regularly spend one or two nights out at a time in the mountains of Snowdonia. I, like many others drink out of steams sometimes if I feel that I am in a suitable place and so far have never got ill.

My favourite breakfast is honey flavoured readybrek, powdered milk and raisins mixed together and carried in a zip lock bag. I find this is really easy, quick and tasty.

A book you may be interested in is 'Moveable feasts' by Amy-Jane Beer and Roy Halpin. Its a Cicerone book and its all about camping food. Lots of good ideas but some are more suitable for car camping.
Louise Tully - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to edunn:

I also have fresh pasta for one night out. I like cheese and spinach tortellini with tomato and chilli dolmio sauce that comes in a sachet so it doesn't take up much room and its lighter than some containers. Very tasty!
bouldery bits - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to readysalted:

Chlorine tabs are my preffered water method. Taste like council swimming pool but seem to work.

Food wise, nothing wrong with super noodles. Light, cheap and lots of cals. I usually snap some pepperoni into them for extra taste.

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