Cooking on the Trail

June 11, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope you've had a great week. This week I'm going to be talking about cooking on the trail while backpacking.  I am very simple cook on the trail and mainly just rehydrate food to eat.  But some people can get very elaborate with their cooking on the trail.  Being more fancy on the trail with your food can mean more weight but for some people its their luxury that they bring. Today Ill cover the kind of cooking I do while on trail and the tools I use to do it with.

Meals on the trail.  While your hiking on the trail especially if your doing lots of miles.  To me lots of miles is anything over 10. You're going to burn lots of calories.  So high calorie food is what you want.  You need to feed the machine.  You're also going to need high calorie snacks.  For my main meal at night I usually have some sort of freeze dried prepackaged meal.  They usually come in two serving sizes but your usually so hungry that you'll eat the whole thing.  Mountain House meals is probably the most used and you can get them at your local Walmart.  There are many more from Backpackers Pantry and many other companies that you can find on Amazon or your local REI.  You can get all sorts of meals from Lasagna to chicken teriyaki and most of them are very tasty.  They can be a little on the expensive side.  But you could substitute Ramen Camp CoffeeCamp Coffee Noodles and some sort of meat like tuna or chicken in packets for protein.  For lunch I usually have some sort of simple wrap.  I bring some tortilla wrappers and fill with tuna or chicken in the packs if you bring in some cheese and packets of condiments that you have leftover in a drawer in your kitchen come in handy.  Some people also make peanut butter wraps. For breakfast I keep it pretty simple with oatmeal or a breakfast bar.  Something to give me some energy but won't weigh me down. Of course substitutions can be made for all of these meals.  And I always carry an extra pack of Ramen Noodles for emergencies. For snacks I usually have some sort of trail mix or protein bar. One good thing about backpacking is if you're putting in the miles you can eat about what you want. _MSP1815_MSP1815

Preparing food on the trail.  Most if not all of my cooking on the trail consist of rehydrating something . So I really only have to boil water to do that.  I use a 750ml titanium pot to boil my water in and a small propane canister stove to heat up the water. It is all very light weight and small.  Everything fits into the small pot which is really just a good sized cup with a lid.  The small canister of fuel, the stove , lighter and camp towel all fit into the pot . I made a little bag that the pot with all the contents go into for easy storage in my pack.  The water that I use is either brought with me or filtered water from a stream.  I use a Sawer Squeeze water filtering system and haven't had any problems with bacteria.  So when cooking one of the freeze dried meals I follow the instructions. Usually 2 cups of boiling water is added to the package that the meal comes in. Wait 10 min or so and you have a meal. I usually take the meals out of their packages at home and repackage them into freezer bags (they pack better).  I have made a Reflectix Pouch where  I place the zip lock bags with the freeze dried food.  I add the water to the zip lock bag and cook inside the Reflectix Pouch
. And I eat right out of the bag with a long handled spoon. when I'm done I just close the ziplock bag and put in my trash bag to be hauled out. Easy peasy for quick clean up.  If I make coffee or coco I use the pot to boil the water and either used instant coffee or I bring ground and I have a little strainer that I put the coffee in and pour the boiling water over ( I have to bring an extra cup to do this coffee method).  All the food that I bring on trail with me is kept in a Dyneema Food Bag and when at camp it is hung in a tree a few hundred feet away from the campsite.  Bears, Racons and mice want your food also and if your in an established campsite they know that humans bring food so they can be sniffing around. Some Backcountry places you have to use a Food Canister to put your food in. It is a plastic cylinder with a lockable lid it's bear proof and will keep the critters out of it.  I don't have one yet but plan on getting one this year because I will be in areas where bear activity is high.

Experimenting with different types of food to bring is an ongoing adventure for me. I'm still just a boil water rehydrate cooker in the backcountry but there are all kinds of meals to try.  You could even dehydrate your own meals. Lots of people do.  I tried and it worked but I wasn't very good at it.  For example you could dehydrate spaghetti sauce and cook the noodles at the campsite and rehydrate the sauce. Or dehydrate chili and rehydrate at your camp. My advice is to at first keep it simple after a long days hike all you want to do is eat and sleep and having to prepare a fancy meal on the trail will be hard to do.  So keep it simple boil water like me.  So until next week keep exploring and get outside!


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