I can't eat packaged backpacking meals anymore. I either buy bulk ingrediants or dehydrate my own. Want some comfort food after a long day in the field? Trey some chicken and dumplings. Take some water and add some chicken bullion, feeze dried chicken, dried carrots, celery, onions, green beans and corn. Bring it to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer. throw on some prepared bisquik and cover. simmer on low for about 5-10 min and voila!
If you want something simpler, take some top ramen and jazz it up with the dried veggies and freeze dried meat. The stores carry all kinds of quick cooking meals like instant potatoes ect. Just watch out for the cooking times. Find a dehydrator even one of the cheap ones. Just about any pasta or rice meal can be cooked and dehydrated so all you have to do is add the water back and let it sit for a while or like I do, add the water to it and bring it to a boil and let it set for a shorter time. My wife's Veggie spaghetti taste as good this way. You can add freeze dried meat if you want and grab some cheese packets from the pizza place.. The trouble with store bought pasta meals and pasta is that it isn't cooked so it takes longer (more fuel) but if you precook it, then it just has to soak up the water.
Here is what I have:
I have targeted 5 small meals per day. I was up around 140cal/oz(which sounded unrealistic) until I loaded up a full day and weighed it as a package. I think the "packaging add" is just a function to quickly bring it into perspective so i am not using bad data. I used about 1oz of ziplock bags per day and I assume the rest is product packaging. I think most of these items only identify net content weight. I definitely bumped this up from my idea of 3000/day. I lost 10lbs last year in 4 days, and that was hunting out of a wall tent every day. I didn't realize how dangerous that could be.
I try to get around 2,000 calories a day while in the backcountry...much more than that increases the weight of my pack a lot. Weight loss is really not an issue for me, prior training before the hunt or hike will prepare your body. For example, if you are loading up on calories every normal day (like 2500 or more) and do not exercise very much then all of a sudden cut back to 2000 calories and go on a extreme outing your body will react in a negative way. But if you train before hand and condition your body you can get away with a lot more exercise and fewer calories. I think our bodies are built for this kind of climate, the hard part is "re-learning" what our bodies can handle. Hydration is much more important than getting excess calories IMO.
In short, does the extra calories make up for the extra weight? Worse case scenario I loose a couple pounds in the field, which never hurts. Plus I make up for it when I get back to town!
I went out Friday and got back yesterday and the the water situation where I'm going has me re-considering and doing some recalculation. I wanted to post it up here for any of you who are also going to higher/drier areas.
The water is far enough apart that it will impact my food situation. I was planning on being out until today, but, among other things, my water filter didn't want to work yesterday. I was just about out of water, so I had to head back.
I planned on packing out with ~136 ounces of water, but I'm realistically going to have to pack out with more like 200 ounces to start, to give me about 2 1/2 days of water and that only includes 1/2 gallon of drinking water per day, including breakfast (Carnation instant breakfast).
I've been using packaged weight only to figure my calories/ounces for food, figuring that I would get water along the way, but the springs are fewer and farther apart where I'm going this year.
So, I will need to take more prepared food and when I compare it (calories/ounce) to freeze-dried food, I will have to figure in the weight of the water required for the freeze-dried food.
That will also bump up my overall weight, which is already a lot, but not sure what other options I have.
The Mountain House beef stroganoff is really good, but it takes a lot of water, so I may have to reconsider on that one, or maybe repackage and split it up and add something else that doesn't require water to supplement it for each dinner.
It will also affect bringing along things like Probars, because they're pretty dry.
AT Hiker, re: your question about the extra calories making up for the extra weight, I have to say yes, but each person has to figure where the sweet spot is. If you go out without enough, it'll hit you hard.
My basal metabolic rate is about 1800 calories a day, that's just keeping basic body functions going while I'm laying on the couch for a day. Add in an 80 pound ruck and humping that around at 8,000 - 10,000ft and the requirements go way up.
Yes, you can train to prepare for it, but I'm going to guess that a lot of people (including me) won't be able to train enough to have any significant effect on their body's caloric demands before they head for the field.
The rule of thumb that I've heard from several doctors regarding major changes to your system is 90 days - so, to be effective, somebody planning to do high-exertion on reduced calories is going to need about 90 days to properly prepare for it.
I'll add more thoughts as I go.
I will going to a new area this month. I know there is a lot of water, but I don't want to have to drop 2500 ft just to fill up everyday. I will be packing in 6 liters of water. I can put a pair of 2 ltr bottles in a hump bag with a little room for food on top. Hopefully I will get into elk early and be able to set up camp instead of humping my camp around for a week.
I am still thinking of knocking my food pack down to about 3000/day to knock a few lbs off.
That's the kind of situation I'll be in - the water is around, but it's a lot lower than where I'll be and I don't want to be hauling my ruck up and down the hill any more than I need to.
Originally Posted by tttoadman
Some quick numbers I did:
Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, 2 serving package, weighes 7.04 ounces dry, requires 16 ounces of water, with the water weight figured in comes out to 22.6 calories/ounce.
An MRE entree weighs 8 ounces and a 290 calorie entree comes out to 36.25 calories per ounce.
So, if you're figuring water weight into your calorie/ounce calculations, the higher-calorie MRE entrees (some are as low as 200 calories) actually come out better than Mountain House.
I found one of the companies that makes MREs (mrestar.com) and the sell the individual entrees, so I'm now back to planning on taking the Bridgford sandwiches and Carnation Instant Breakfast breakfast, an MRE entree plus a Probar for lunch, Mountain House and a Bridgford Sandwich for dinner and Honey Stingers for snacks.
I was planning on bringing the Honey Stingers before, plus cookies, like Oreos, for snacks, but in light of the limitations of my bear cannister, the Honey Stingers will be the way to go just because of their compact size as well as their flexibility.
Trail Mix with jerky mixed in is quite good calorically, but I found it to be both expensive to make (mainly the jerky) and quite bulky, another negative with the bear can. I'm still going to take some along, but it will be a few extra treats rather than a daily item.
Also, I forgot to mention, when I was out on the mountain Friday night, I had a couple of things that I had to leave out of my bear can (I know, bad on me), but I put them in the OPSak odor proof sacks and the critters (ground squirrels, etc) didn't touch them.
That included some instant apple cider that had a very strong odor and that I was the most concerned about attracting attention, but no smell outside of the bag.
So, they seem to work.
Oh, and if you're carrying a bear can for the first time, I would strongly suggest putting it on the bottom of your pack. I packed it up top at first, but it concentrates so much weight up at one point that it makes the ruck way too top heavy, both difficult to get on/off and difficult to walk with.
I have carried rice crispy treats with me on a couple of backpack hunts. I'm not sure what the calories are but the weight is hardly anything ,and it gives me something kind of sweet for a snack.
Just updating my stuff, I finally dropped the Mountain House, at least for this year and I'm replacing them with MRE entrees.
Even if I divided the MH up, when you figure in water weight, the MREs come out better (290ish calories @ 8oz versus 260ish calories @ 11.5 ounces for the MH).
Add MRE crackers and cheese (jalapeno cheddar, yum!) and I get 650 calories for the same weight as 1 serving of Mountain House with the water required.
So, if you've got water readily available and don't need to carry much, MH, etc are definitely the way to go, but if you have to carry what you need, MREs are actually better.
I'll put a couple of links below in case anybody wants to look. I got the MREs for ~$2.95 each, the sandwiches are about the same, crackers and cheese come out to about $.90 apiece.
mrestar.com (entrees only)
theepicenter.com (entrees, sandwiches, crackers, other items)
"MREs are actually better." There's a phrase i never thought I'd ever hear.:D