Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let's Eat

When hiking on the trail, at least around here. What ever you can do to cut down on extra weight in your pack or your clothing/foot wear definitely makes the hike more fun and a little faster.

I really didn’t have any light weight hiking or camping gear when I started all this about two years ago. So I have slowly purchased over time to replace my six man tent and Coleman cooker for more manageable and light weight equipment.

So let’s talk about cooking and making coffee. I have only done three over nighters, but multiple day trips. When I plan my longer hikes I usually take my cooker and a freeze-dried food with me. For food there are two main brands out there. Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry. Both about the same as far as contents and how to cook. Best advice, stick with food you know. The Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles is decent ( To cook up these fantastic dinner or lunches all you need is boiling water.

Well guess what, they make just such a cooker to boil water for using with freeze-dried or making that morning cup of coffee. I haven’t used any other cookers but I purchased the Jetboil Personal Cooking System ( Did a little research on the web and found it to be highly rated with numerous positive reviews. I am very happy with it and it has worked excellent each time I have used it. Easy to operate; light weight, only weighs 15 ounces and

fits very nicely into the bottom of your pack. Be sure to use a level service when heating water as when full it can tip if you not careful. Use your smarts and you should be ok. Mine actually came with a red neoprene cozy. I think it cooler looking than the black that is pictured.

If you have ever used a propane grill at home, the concept is the same just much smaller. The fuel tanks are light weight and will boil 11 liters of water for each 100g fuel used. The fuel tanks come in 225g canisters. That should last you for several outings. With all of the freeze-dried foods, all you have to do is boil 2 cups of water. It only takes a few minutes to get the water boiling, so very quick. Hell of a lot easier than trying to build a fire and having the utensil needed to boil water and not burn yourself.

Once you have the water boiling, just tear you freeze-dried food open as indicated on the bag. Be sure not to tear it down to the Zip Lock. Once open poor in the amount of water per the instructions. Zip Lock and let set for the time required. Plan on 9 to 12 minutes for cooking time. You can eat the food right out of the bag as it is made to stand up. Most of them say they serve two, but I can eat it all myself. Again looking for light weight, they only way any where from 4 to 7.5 ounces. Fold up pretty easy when you are loading your pack. Also the cooking bag comes in handy for small trash items like Kleenex and toilet paper. Remember don’t leave anything behind. Carry out what you carry in.

In addition to Beef Stroganoff with Noodles you can get dishes like Chili Mac, Beef Stew, Bacon & Eggs and many others. You can also find all types of energy bars and such not that is supposed to be good for you. Nothing like chocolate though! You want to snack, take a bag of my favorite Peanut M&M’s or little Hershey Kisses with nuts. Just as good for you in my opinion.

My Jetboil Personal Cooking System actually came equipped to use as a coffee maker. I tried it once and made a hell of a mess. Didn’t really look at the instructions. Currently I have a coffee cup with a rubber lid. I keep coffee pouches in the cup along with packets of sugar and cream. Once you have your water boiling just drop in a coffee pouch and add water. Let is set for a few minutes; discard the bag in your zip lock cooking bag when done. Add you cream and sugar and you are good to go. Discard your sugar and cream trash into you zip lock cooking bag as well.

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