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Curtis Ware
(ware_curtis) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Cooking Systems on 05/21/2008 11:42:31 MDT Print View

Fellow Scouts,

Our two crews that are going to Philmont in August are experimenting with using large cozys and Gallon Freezer bags to cook their meals. Has anyone had success or failure with this "Freezer Bag" approach? Some of the adult leadership and Crew Leaders have been to Philmont before and they are trying to lighten load and get away from the dreaded Pot cleaning.

They are trying out the new large cozy next weekend. I will post trip report and pictures when they get back.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
RE: Freezerbag "Cooking Systems" on 05/21/2008 12:08:05 MDT Print View

Curtis,
As it happens, we are lucky enough to have 2 ladies that specialize in freezerbag cooking as members of this forum.
See http://www.freezerbagcooking.com
and http://www.aforkinthetrail.com

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Cooking Systems on 05/21/2008 15:48:40 MDT Print View

Curtis, there's a discussion about bag cooking right here in the Philmont forum -- http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/13413/index.html?skip_to_post=99911#99911

There are a number of crews that have adopted bag cooking. Works great. Uses less fuel. Minimizes clean up.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Curtis on 05/25/2008 17:44:36 MDT Print View

Don't hesitate to ask questions!

Btw...for big groups the turkey bags (or roaster/oven bags/crock pot liners) may work better. They can hold quite a bit - especially if you are cooking for 3-4 people at a time.
In some ways though doing meals for 2 at a time can be easier and work out better.
All you'd need to do is boil up water and share the water.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Cooking Options on 06/05/2008 08:38:52 MDT Print View

Okay Philmont Experts:

Typically, when we go as a group we do the following:

Break down dehydrated food into individual serving sizes
Heat water (usually a pot that can heat enough water for 4)
Empty food into a lightweight plastic cup or container
Cover with tinfoil and wait the prescribed amount.
No cooking in bag. Just one cup to clean.

I am thinking of doing the same at Philmont with the 12 of us. This will eliminate the need for bringing turkey bags, no one will have to scoop out of the bag and there will be no bag to dispose of other than the bag the food is originally provided to us.

Cleaning will be the same since everyone has to eat out of something.

Any flaws in my plan. Since many of you plan on turkey bagging what part am I missing?

Thanks,
Scott

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Cooking Options on 06/05/2008 09:54:37 MDT Print View

Just make sure your container you use is rated for microwave and dishwasher use so it can handle hot water.
If you want to go that route, well your better off to hand out individual servings and have the boys make them in insulated mugs. But....make sure they clean them right so you don't get mold and funk!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Thanks Sarah on 06/05/2008 12:53:33 MDT Print View

We get the kids to use either a cottage cheese tub or a large drink cup from a fast food restaurant. Serving goes in, water goes in, alum foil on top and wait. Just clean when done. No extra bags.

Does anyone else use this at Philmont? When we get there will we have a problem using this method with the Philmont Rangers?

Thanks

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Thanks Sarah on 06/05/2008 19:14:26 MDT Print View

It should work. The only 2 problems I see are if you got the right serving, or if the tubs / cups are stout enough to be packed for 12 days.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Cooking in cups (heating food) on 06/06/2008 14:48:09 MDT Print View

Yea, I have to make sure the cups are stout enough. I'll use both methods on the shakedown hikes and let the troop decide. I think it would be nice not to have to carry out more dirty bags than necessary.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
How is Food Distributed? on 06/06/2008 16:21:28 MDT Print View

This is a general question of food distribution, principally dehydrated dinners. I understand that you get your allotment of food at the beginning and resupplies.

Do the dehydrated meals come broken down for 2 people for example, or are they bagged in bulk for the entire crew (12 in our case)?

I bring this up because Mike mentioned portions. I guess it would be easier if the food came in bulk to cook it in a turkey bag instead of breaking it down to individual portions.

Do other cooked foods, basically oatmeal, come in bulk for the entire crew, or do they come individually packaged.

Once again, thanks for your replies.

Curt Ward
(cward508) - F
Re: How is Food Distributed? on 06/08/2008 10:53:06 MDT Print View

Scott,
Each of your meals come packaged for two people. At breakfast we boiled the water and let each person add hot water to thier own individual bag of oatmeal. The lunches are all no cook. At dinner we combined all the packages to a common turkey bag and added the correct amount of water. It worked great in 2006 and we will do the same in 2008.

Only 25 days till we depart:)

Mark White
(wmwhite) - F
Bag sizes on 06/09/2008 14:14:02 MDT Print View

Reynolds makes a Turkey bag and a smaller Roasting bag. Is the smaller Roasting bag large enough? I'll be using the Philmont pots so I have no way to test.

Depart in 19 days....

Edited by wmwhite on 06/09/2008 14:14:37 MDT.

Curt Ward
(cward508) - F
Re: Bag sizes on 06/09/2008 15:40:33 MDT Print View

Use the Turkey bags. They are more heavy duty and less likely to split. With a full crew you will need the space they offer.

Curt
2008 Trek 705K

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Bag sizes on 06/09/2008 17:14:35 MDT Print View

I'd agree on the turkey bags - they are bit heftier :-)

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/23/2008 14:50:24 MDT Print View

I am wondering how you get the food. Someone answered me that it comes ready for 2 persons, however, how much packaging comes with it. Do the freeze dried meals come in the vacuum sealed pouches or are they broken down by the Philmont staff and placed in zip locks?

If the freeze dried food does come in vacuum bags do people open them up and put them in their own smaller, less bulky and lighter bag? Also, can you get rid of that type of trash on the trail at the campsites?

I talked to someone the other day at REI that has been on 2 Philmont treks. He was quite proud of his 47 pound pack. I tried to interest him in some ways to lighten the load but said it can't be done the "Philmont way".

By the way; how many cooking pots would you take (4 or 6 quart) if you were turkey bagging. I assume 2, 1 to boil for cooking and 1 to boil for clean up.

Thanks in advance for your responses.

Edited by scottbentz on 06/23/2008 14:51:07 MDT.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/23/2008 20:33:03 MDT Print View

Scott, to your questions:

If you want to be the uber-Philmont-minimalist, then you'd dump about 1/2 the packaging to save about 2 ounces per meal for 12, not worth the effort for most I'd imagine. Where you can save a little more weight is to dump what you don't want/won't eat (ie "Gorp").

I don't think the bags are vacuum packed, but they are freeze dried / rehydrate meals, they are in plastic bags, not zip lock. You can get rid of the packaging and other trash when you get to the next staffed camp.

47 lbs is probably about average. We saw 2 trekkers in 2006 that were very proud (on day 1) of their 80 and 84 lb packs. We saw 1 of them later and he was really dragging (but this was not the guy that was carrying the 12" cast iron frying pan and fresh eggs for the whole trip in a cooler). (My pack was 24 lbs to start with 1 L of water (short hike to 1st stop with known water, and only 2 days of food). Doug Prosser and Phil Barton are probably in that same range, and I expect they are well equipped "The Philmont Way".

We're taking two 4 qt pots with turkey bags, both to boil water for 2 different components of dinner. Once the water is boiled, we pour it into the turkey bag, followed by the food. The bag sits in a cozy which gives it support and minimized heat loss.

Cleanup of the pots is to dump out any remaining water.
When finished, the turkey bag is human sumped, meaning someone licks it clean, then it goes into the trash bag.

While another piece of plastic in the trash is regretable, the amount of effort it takes to clean a pot with spaggetti reminants is likely much greater :)

When do you leave?

Regards,
MikeB

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Our Itinerary on 06/23/2008 22:45:20 MDT Print View

Our trek starts July 22. Train from LA on July 20th.

Thanks for the info. We have a shakedown hike this weekend and I want to get some of the details down. Philmont food seems quite heavy.

I guess the 47 lb. pack was not bad.

Thanks for the info.

Scott

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/24/2008 01:57:17 MDT Print View

> While another piece of plastic in the trash is regretable, the amount of effort it takes to clean a pot with spaggetti reminants is likely much greater :)

Not in my experience. I cook (& simmer) IN the pot (for 2), and dispense with the bags completely. Washing up - a quick rinse is usually enough.

I really can't see why you have to decant the water from a perfectly good cooking pot in the first place. Weird.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/24/2008 06:59:47 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,
is it possibly because they also use the meat sauce from Philmont as the basis for super glue??? :) :) :)

We've done it both ways, and the turkey bagging was easily much faster. Also, you can use the turkey bag for the trash bag, which saves the petroleum in the large black plastic bag for high test gas, thusly and proportionally reducing the overall global petroleum demand. <(;-)

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/24/2008 08:16:13 MDT Print View

The big thing about turkey bag cooking in my mind is that I'm not washing dishes. Actually that responsibility belongs to the young guys on our Philmont crew. They don't want to wash dishes any more than I do. For the cost of a turkey bag (about 0.4 oz or 11g) we eliminate an irksome chore. The extra weight for our crew of 9 is negligible. In the end we have a happier crew and a little more time for the fun stuff at Philmont.

Scott, there are some fellow Scouters that are outspoken skeptics that anyone can hike at Philmont with a light pack. I appreciate Mike's confidence. I am a first-timer at Philmont this year, crew 710-B2. Our guys have been working hard to learn a lighter way of doing things. I am really looking forward to our trip.

Our cook kit is:
2 x MSR WindPro stoves
6 x 227g fuel canisters
2 x GSI 2qt aluminum pots with lid
1 x long handle plastic spoon
1 x 12"x12" fiberglass screen (for sump)
1 x 4oz bottle Dr Bronner's soap

We have found that heating 4 quarts of water on the 2 stoves is fast and easy. We use a cup to scoop water for cleaning dishes.

Our entire cook kit weighs less a lot less than the standard Philmont issue. A larger crew will need bigger pots. We have used this on our shakedown hikes.

Then because I won't go without coffee I am also carrying a SnowPeak Trek900 pot and foil lid. I filter cowboy coffee with a MSR coffee filter basket. Mmmmm.

Edited by flyfast on 06/24/2008 08:27:15 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re:Straining on 06/24/2008 15:24:51 MDT Print View

Your comment about people looking down on lightweight packers is funny but true. I've packed a lot of ways and have found packing light to be much more fun for me. I remember getting to camp at times with a heavier pack and couldn't wait to plop that bag down on the ground. Many times I will get to a camp and not even notice I have my pack on since it fits well and just isn't that much of a bother. I prefer the lightweight side through experience.

My question this time is: we have a shakedown this weekend. I want to show them how the sump works but I don't really understand it completely. I would imagine you are supposed to strain any extra food on the frisbee and then I guess you could either burn or pack out that food. I guess it would be for leave no trace and bears. Do I have the concept right? Is there that much to strain after some fine scout has licked the bag clean?

Thanks again. This site has helped us prepare for Philmont and its "ways".

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/24/2008 15:45:05 MDT Print View

I am not sure how you get from Philmont meat sauce to a CYANO-acrylate, and don't want to know! I didn't think their food was that bad ...

I note the bit about washing up. After dinner I put a cup of water in the used cooking pot, add 2 drops of 'green' detergent, and warm it up. Then I wash all the cutlery we have (2 spoons, two knives), our 2 cups, our 2 bowls and finally the cooking pot itself, using a 2"x3" sponge (a few grams). My wife dries with a little cut-down tea towel as I pass things to her. This way we stay clean and healthy for months on end. The tea towel dries on a pack in the day.

Trash bag - we use ONE second-hand bread bag for wet things like tea bags. It goes in a small nylon stuff sack which takes all the (shaken out and folded up) dry packages left over from the soup and freeze-dry. A 6" x 8" stuff sack will hold all our rubbish for a week, easily. And that is about as much weight of food as I normally want to carry.

Freezer bag cooking is not really used in Europe or Australia. Too messy for our liking.

Cheers

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Cooking Systems on 06/24/2008 17:41:28 MDT Print View

In bear country - like the Sierras - I use a Watchful Eye Designs OP (odor proof) sack for a trash bag, and I don't try to cram it into the bear can.

I'll wash out dehydrated dinner packaging, but refuse to try to wash the smell out of all my empty candy/energy bar wrappers and the like. And after 2 hot days on the trail, even the best washed trash begins to odiforate.

I've had Yosemite bears actually walk right past it in the dark and not notice it.

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re:Straining on 06/24/2008 20:10:05 MDT Print View

My question this time is: we have a shakedown this weekend. I want to show them how the sump works but I don't really understand it completely. I would imagine you are supposed to strain any extra food on the frisbee and then I guess you could either burn or pack out that food. I guess it would be for leave no trace and bears. Do I have the concept right? Is there that much to strain after some fine scout has licked the bag clean?

Scott, I think I have the entire routine. Last year was my first trip, I'm not certain our ranger gave us the whole story ... but I've heard it many times from other more experienced folks.

Your crew is issued:
* a scotchbrite style scrub pad that you cut into a dozen postage stamp size pieces
* approx quart sized ziplock style bags
* campsuds
* one "rubber bowl scraper"
* the dreaded frisbee

After the evening meal:
* one or more scouts pick the cook pot clean (eating as they go)
* heat some water in the cook pot
* pour a little hot water into each crew member's bowl/cup/whatever. They use that to loosen food particles and then drink the water (human sump). I avoided that by using a folding bowl and licking it clean (a habit that I have to watch myself lest I do it back in town)
* two drops of camp suds into the cook pot (still has hot water in it)
* use one of the postage stamp scrub pads to wash personal gear and cook pot
* pour the wash water thru the frisbee into the sump
* use the bowl scrubber to remove any food particles from the frisbee ... place the particles and scrub pad into a ziplock bag ... place ziplock into your garbage bag

The next meal you'll start by bringing water to a boil and dipping all personal eating gear in it.

Concerning heavy packers "looking down on ultralighters" ... in reality, you'll be likely be looking down on them from above after you've walked past them resting on long climbs. I am far from fast and I wasn't even our crew's habitual caboose but we passed multiple other crews most days and were rarely passed.

Edited by jcolten on 06/24/2008 20:12:18 MDT.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Cooking Systems on 07/03/2008 21:43:36 MDT Print View

This is an example of a Philmont meal.

philmont meal packaged

This is the meal unpacked.
philmont meal unpacked

You can order the meals from Philmont in the fall. I would suggest ordering the meals, so your crew can practice.

Edited by tkknc on 07/03/2008 21:44:07 MDT.

John Meeks
(jmeeks) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Coffee on the Trail on 07/04/2008 17:57:34 MDT Print View

I hit the trail at Philmont on 8-1 and am concerned about my morning cup of coffee. Here is what I know I can do.
1. Pack enough Java Juice for the 10 or 11 days. I figure two packets per day.

2. Grind my own beans ahead of time and use the french press feature on my Jetboil. The cleanup is not appealing though.

3. Take Folgers coffee bags or instant. I see this as a last resort just because of the quality.

Your suggestions are truly apprecited.
Thanks

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Coffee on the Trail on 07/05/2008 04:46:47 MDT Print View

John, you're right in listing many ways to make coffee on the trail. There's an excellent article in BPL Magazine, issue #6 by Mike Clelland on trail coffee.

Your french press will make the best coffee. But you're right in it being a hassle to clean. With the Jetboil it's also heavy.

I use what Mike recommends -- carry coffee grounds and make cowboy coffee. After removing a 900 ml pot of boiling water from the fire, I add 2 heaping Tsp of coffee. I let sit it for 3-5 min then pour each cup through a MSR coffee filter basket. It's not a huge mess to clean. The coffee is good.

The added weight is less than 1 oz for the filter and about 12 oz. for the coffee to be shared over 10 days. I will usually bring a pot cozy anyway.

Java Juice is lighter but not as good. Instant ain't coffee.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:coffee on 07/05/2008 07:14:06 MDT Print View

john, i find if you let the Folgers coffee bags sit long enough in the boiling h2o, it's not bad..i use the back of my spoon to get the last of the coffee in the cup before letting the bags dry.. if you need to get going in the a.m. hang the bags on the outside of your pack until totally dry. the weight is marginal and you are not having to throw grounds where bears might be. as far as the freezer bag cooking, it does work. i purchased the book to make my own meals. quite tasty....and a lot cheaper, too.

Edited by clt1953 on 07/05/2008 07:38:29 MDT.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
coffee on 07/05/2008 08:59:20 MDT Print View

John,
They had a supply of some kind of instant at the advisors meeting the first night we were in base camp that some of the guys took advantage of and all the staffed camps have advisors coffee in the evenings (although that doesn't help in the mornings). I've also heard of people taking chocolate covered expresso beans. I think you can get them at the Tooth of Time trading post in base camp.

I was concerned about the same thing. My main concern was the time it took in the mornings to prepare it (fire up the stove, get the coffee out of the bear bags and cleanup). We tried to hit the trail early so timing was an issue.

After considering the alternatives, I just quit drinking coffee for a month before we departed. I was surprised that I didn't miss it at all while I was there. One of our other advisors didn't drink it while he was there and he didn't seem to miss it either. YMMV

I'm sure enjoying a nice hot cup right now though!

John

p.s. are you the John Meeks in Dallas?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Tulsa Phil on the trail on 07/05/2008 09:49:40 MDT Print View

Phil, we're headed out this afternoon. Will see you on the top of Mt. Phillips.

Mike

Barth Tillotson
(barth) - F
Philmont Coffee on 07/05/2008 21:51:26 MDT Print View

I took Java Juice last year, and had "cowboy coffee" in some of the staffed camps during "advisors coffee".

I ended up finding that the Java Juice was often better than the very-uneven results made by the staff, especially the younger ones.

John Meeks
(jmeeks) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Coffee on the Trail on 07/06/2008 21:13:07 MDT Print View

Thanks to everyone that weighed in on this critical subject. Today my wife administered a blind taste test between Nescafe Taster's Choice Gourmet Roast (instant), Java Juice (concentrate), and Maxwell House Coffee Bags (like tea bags). As you can see, I spend WAY to much time thinking about coffee, but with all other gear ready and acquired this is a good way to spend the restless time waiting to get out to Philmont.

It is hard to admit, but the Nescafe won out on flavor and aroma. Also, there would be no trash, no clean-up with instant, and it's the lightest weight option. To truly put this to the test I will take this on our last shake-down this weekend. Thanks again for the feedback!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
a little late but... on 07/10/2008 22:10:46 MDT Print View

Sorry to peek into this thread a little late. I was on Yahoo checking out sites linking to www.aforkinthetrail.com and this thread came up.

I don't do FBC but there also isn't a ton of cleanup with my style of cooking. Anyway if you have any questions I am at your disposal. :)

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
coffee on 07/14/2008 10:11:59 MDT Print View

We just got back and had coffee everyday except maybe 3 days. I made a cheesecloth bag that had a drawstring closure on the top, (the cheesecloth was triple layer) and then put a coffee filter into the bag. Added freshly ground,(right before leaving anyways) coffee, (whoo my pack smelled intitally!) and put in water right away. Boiled water for about a minute then let sit. Man, what a trail treat in the morning.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 07/28/2009 19:48:27 MDT Print View

Our crew just got back from Philmont this month
were we used a new lightweight food preparation
method we had come up with and practiced with
actual Philmont meals before leaving for the Ranch.

This super efficient meal preparation technique not only
minimizes clean up and gray water produced (none), it also
minimizes the amount of trash produced, the amount of fuel
used (we used two 8oz canisters per week with some left
over), and the amount of water needed (important in dry
camps of which we had a couple).

The Philmont foil packages are used to cook and eat out of.
The amount of trash generated is only the meal packages
that Philmont gives the crew.

Details can be found at
http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~geist/Philmont/

Wesley Witt
(weswitt) - M

Locale: Northwest
Re: coffee on 07/30/2009 09:27:08 MDT Print View

I leave for Philmont on Monday. We are bringing Starbucks Via instant coffee packets. I've been using them on my treks this year and think that it is the best solution that I've used in my many decades of backpacking. I have 24 packets in my backpack so that I can have 2 cups of hot coffee every morning!

We are also using the "turkey bag" cooking method to save the cleanup work. My wife made some large cozies that we'll use with the turkey bags.

My crew is all trained in the UL ways and every member is packing light. I think the heaviest pack in the crew is about 22 pounds. We're going on trek #27. We are bringing our own light weight crew gear and will take on no extra gear from Philmont other than bear bags.

In my conversations with many other Scout leaders that have either gone to Philmont or are going this year I received a lot of push back on using ultra light techniques. I had several adults proudly tell me how they went to Philmont with a 55 pound pack. These guys are completely insane. On the flip side I have also evangelized several people into using UL packing and they reported back as having a great experience. It is interesting how so many people have a very negative view of lightweight packing.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Coffee on 07/30/2009 14:01:08 MDT Print View

Wes, have a great time! I took Via this summer (3 a day). It is a good way to go. Hope all your crew does well with the lightweight kit. Let us know how it goes.
All the best,
Phil

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
"Completely insane" Hooray for "Wimps" on 07/30/2009 23:54:34 MDT Print View

Wes noted: "I had several adults proudly tell me how they went to Philmont with a 55 pound pack. These guys are completely insane." You nailed it! After about day 4 when the real miles and vertical came into play, it seemed like the heavyweights got interested in lightweight gear.

The heaviest pack of our group this year was 32 lbs, most were 24-28 leaving base camp w/ food, crew gear and water. We were told by our sister crew we were wimps, amongst several other choice adjectives BPL would surely censor. Ironically about day 4, they wanted to swap packs. Theirs were 55-70 lbs. Our technogeeks clocked them at about 1.7 mph average for the trip. We averaged 2.9 for the entire trip, including up and down Baldy.

After the 3rd day, they started giving up activities to try to beat us to the next camp. The last day they left at 3:45 AM from Ponderosa Park. We still beat them into base camp, by hiking much faster clearly due to lightweight gear, reasonable planning, having a navigator that could really navigate, not taking rediculously long breaks and not getting lost.

I guess "real men" as they put it, waste a lot of time on the trail and can't hike very fast.

Proud to be a Lightweight Wimp!
MikeB

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Macho Men on 07/31/2009 18:52:27 MDT Print View

I think the thought is that a heavier pack means you are more macho than the next guy. A heavy pack doesn't feel all that heavy in your living room. After all, you do have a chair, 3 changes of clothes, pots, pans, lanterns, bivouac equip., storm rated tents, 1.5 lb. footprints, C Cell Maglites, towels, leather (not ankle turner) boots, 4 pairs of heavy wool socks, and many more items that make you will feel just like you are at home.

I was amazed at the old school approach at Philmont. However, if you do read the Philmont handbook it stresses lightening one's pack weight. They suggest a total of 35 lbs. The only problem is, people think that means 35 lbs. BEFORE you get there and add troop gear, food and water. That's why in the UL crowd BASE weight is stressed so religiously. Keep the base weight low and the overall weight will not be too hard; even at Philmont. I told the boys and the leaders to pack like they were just going on a 4 day hike. One of our leaders was 63 years old. He could not thank me enough for having spent the time with everyone to teach them the techniques we have all learned here on this website. He had given up on backpacking. It was a big payoff.

On our final day we kept picking off crew after crew. Our loads were at their lightest and we were just cruising. Other crews would just pull to the side of a set of switchbacks when they saw us coming with what must have seemed to them a bunch of scouts wearing day packs. It was fun. One troop tried to overtake us from behind on the way down from Tooth of Time but finally gave up. Lightweight at Philmont is the only way to go! Wimps rule!!!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Cooking Systems on 07/31/2009 20:49:43 MDT Print View

There are much better ways to prove your machismo than a heavy backpack. Like chasing cheerleaders. Ha!

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
New Lightweight Cooking Technique on 07/31/2009 22:48:11 MDT Print View

Al - what are these Philmont foil packages you talk about here and on your link that you eat out of? Are they obtainable empty to put your own food in, or are they the ones the Philmont "people in charge" issue your food in and are prepackaged somewhere?

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 07/31/2009 23:06:20 MDT Print View

Nice set of articles Al! I have 11 months for getting our crews to buy into dome of that stuff.

I like the idea of buying PhilFood in advance to practice with (and to help with the sales pitch). Note that folks probably want to shop early (soon after their season ends) because they are selling surplus from the most recent season and when it's gone it's gone until next year.

Did you make that chair yourself or is it something you bought?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New Lightweight Cooking Technique on 08/05/2009 22:08:28 MDT Print View

Hi Kathleen,

Philmont issues food to the crews for their trek. Usually four days worth at a time. The supper ingredients are packaged by Philmont in foil packages that serve 2.
Here is an example - 2008 S2 (supper #2) package contains:
- 7"x8" foil pouch of black beans and rice for 2
- 7"x6" foil pouch of pilot biscuits for 2
- 5"x4" foil pouch of corn for 2
- 5"x4" foil pouch of pineapple chunks for 1
- 5"x4" foil pouch of pineapple chunks for 1
All these are stuffed into a 12"x14" clear plastic bag
The total weight of S2 is 15oz.

Usually all this packaging is just trash
and the food is poured into pots or turkey bags.

This summer our crew figured out a method to use
the foil pouches as both the cooking bag and bowl.

This eliminated clean up, sterilizing bowls, and
reduced the amount of fuel used. Saved weight all around.

We incorporated a lot of good ideas I found in this forum
such as using two stoves with two smaller pots to boil
the water faster.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/05/2009 22:20:48 MDT Print View

> Did you make that chair yourself or is it something you bought?

Hi Jim,

I bought the Sling-Light chair on the recommendations of
folks on this forum who said it was really useful to them
at Philmont. Having just gotten back from our Trek, I have
to agree it was really useful at Philmont.

You can get the chair from Sling-Light
http://www.slinglight.com/
or Crazy Creek
http://crazycreek.com/product/specials/66/

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Lightweight Philmont Cooking Kit on 08/07/2009 21:39:25 MDT Print View

In the image below may be useful to crews heading to
Philmont for the first time. First, it shows how much volume,
and how many bags, 4 days of food for a crew of 8 is.
Lesson 1. Be sure your boys have plenty of space left in
their packs to handle this volume.
Second, the photo shows volume of the standard issue
Philmont pots, pans, frisbee, et al. We left all these in
the locker. We took our own lightweight cooking kit seen
in the ziplock bag sitting on the table right in front
of the pots. Notice how much less space it takes up.
The kit weighed 24oz and contained everything including the
stoves, pots, spoons, bowls, cozies, soap, hand cleaner,
sump screen - everything but the fuel canisters.
A detailed contents list of the lightweight cook kit
can be found at http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~geist/Philmont/Lightweight Philmont Cook kit

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/18/2009 11:32:54 MDT Print View

For those that use the turkey bag style, do you spoon, pour or squeeze out (like an icing bag) the portions for each crew member from the bag after re-hydration?

Al,
I really like your technique that eliminates the need for a turkey bag. I don't quite follow your cozy design though. From your cozy picture and the need for a stiffener and clips, it sounds as if you're clipping the bags on the OUTside of the cozy so the cozy is simply to hold the bag upright rather than retain heat. If the bags go inside, why would you need clips? Why not use something simpler like a padded Tyvek mailing envelope?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/20/2009 17:20:52 MDT Print View

>If the bags go inside, why would you need clips?
>Why not use something simpler like a padded Tyvek mailing envelope?

Excellent question Michael. Here are three photos of the cozy that hopefully will help you see how it is made. If folks can come up with even better, easier, cheaper cozies, that would be wonderful. I started out with a simple envelope design, but after watching the boys try out a couple Philmont practice meals, the design evolved.
Philmont  Cozy for super efficient cooking method

The key cozy design parameters are:

1. Dimensions of the Philmont supplied foil food pouches. An example is shown in the first figure. I bought 6 different meals, containing 23 foil pouches which varied from 7"x10" to 4"x6". One edge was always between 6-7" so I made the cozy 7" wide. I made the cozy short enough so the pouch would stick out the top to make pouring in the boiling water easier. I made the sides 3". I added clips as an accessory when I saw the boys let the top edge of a 4"x6" pouch of corn slip down into the cozy while practicing pouring in boiling water. Now clips hold the short pouches so their top doesn't slip down inside the cozy where their contents may spill.

2. Volume of the cozy needs to be large enough to hold the maximum volume of water in a single serving of any Philmont meal. That turns out to be 12oz (1.5 cups) plus the volume
of the freeze dried food already in the bag. To address this I made the cozy 3" wide at the bottom, giving it the volume of a triangular prism 7" long.

3. Very desirable to have the cozy stand up by itself. The food needs to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes after stirring. I saw the boys trying to sit the cozies down during this time. Envelopes don't work very well for this feature. The triangular shape allows the cozy to hold the pouch upright and being widest at the bottom the water weight and hence the center of gravity is low on this design making the cozy harder to knock over while rehydrating.Philmont cozy stands upright

4. While not a required feature, I wanted the cozy to be as light as possible so I used 7"x9" piece of 2mm art foam and folded it as shown in the photo so that it would pack flat. The cozy weighed 5 grams. It worked great holding the pouch. It was plenty big to hold the volume of water. But I found that when BOILING water was poured in, and allowed to sit for a few minutes, the foam properties changed. It no longer held its triangular shape. Increasing the chance that the cozy would fall over and spill the food while rehydrating. My quick fix, one week before we left for Philmont, was to slip in a thin sheet of plastic on the two sides of the cozy. This worked very well at holding the cozy shape when hot. It also pretty much eliminated the need for the clips, but we carried and used the clips at Philmont to just be EXTRA safe not to spill any food using this new cooking method.Philmont cozy construction materials

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/20/2009 18:05:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for the detailed description. So the clips are really serving no purpose in the middle pic - they're just not getting lost. ;) They'd be clipped along one side of the top edge to hold up shorter pouches.

I think your design makes sense for use with Philmont pouches that can't be resealed after adding the water where the chance of spilling is pretty high. I've only used ziplocs to date so that isn't an issue for me.

Do you still use these for non-Philmont trips?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/26/2009 23:42:04 MDT Print View

When considering what cooking system to use on our Philmont trek, we first considered turkey bagging. The pro is the large pots do not have to be cleaned. The cons where we had to carry two large pots and we still had to sterilize bowls before meals and clean them after meals. There was also the issue of serving the food out of the turkey bag. The serving pros/cons have already been discussed in forums.

Going beyond turkey bagging, we next considered not carrying the large pots or turkey bags. Just pour the dry food directly into microwave-safe bowls, pour in boiling water, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes with caps on the bowls.
Pros are we don't have to carry large pots, don't have to clean the pots, and there is more flexibility in what is eaten, i.e. some people don't like mashed potatoes mixed with spaghetti. Cons are we still had to sterilize bowls before meals and wash them after meals. If you use this method, I would suggest 16oz bowls. We tried it with 12oz bowls and the rehydrated food came right to the cap.

Going beyond cooking in the bowls, we considered using the Philmont food pouches as both the cooking bags and the bowls. Pros are there is nothing to clean--the pouches are thrown away just as in the other methods. The difference is that the pouches are used first. There is no need to sterilize bowls-you get a new pouch for each meal. This has the potential to be the lightest approach.

We used the Philmont food pouch method during our trek, but we also carried a stack of microwavable bowls to use for the chuck wagon dinner. As an experiment, for two meals we dropped back and tried the cooking in bowls method. After two days of cleaning bowls the boys had had enough of the sump and gray water and went back to the Philmont food pouch method.

It is important to practice with the pouch method before showing up at Philmont. And also be prepared to improvise to get the needed number of pouches for supper that night.
In 2008 meals, Philmont put pouches of dried pineapple chunks for supper desert. In several 2009 meals that desert has been replaced with oreo cookies. So you may have to save the granola foil pouches from breakfast to use for supper.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/27/2009 06:16:06 MDT Print View

What do you do on normal trips where you don't have any Philmont pouches? Just use the Tupperware method?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/27/2009 21:10:22 MDT Print View

> What do you do on normal trips where you don't have any
> Philmont pouches? Just use the Tupperware method?

Hi Michael,
We haven't had a Troop backpacking trip since we got back
from Philmont. August outing was canoeing, September will be
cycling. It will be interesting to see if the boys decide to
use any of these three cooking methods for future Troop backpacking outings. All backpack trips before Philmont were Philmont training and involved the boys practicing one of the three methods so they would know all three.

Quart ziplock bags can be used in place of Philmont pouches
to carry single serving dehydrated food, and used to cook, and eat from on their future backpacking trips if the boys want to use the lightweight method.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Beyond Turkey bagging / tents on 08/28/2009 07:13:01 MDT Print View

Al,
Quart freezer bags is the way I have intended to go on our trips. The boys may decide otherwise. Our first BP is Oct.

It will be interesting to hear what your's decide for future trips (including car camping, camporees, etc) now that they've seen (and felt) the "light".

Are those homemade 2-man tents what your crew used? How did they hold up? I didn't realize those space blankets were that tough.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Homemade Tents on 08/29/2009 21:46:19 MDT Print View

> Are those homemade 2-man tents what your crew used?
> How did they hold up? I didn't realize those
> space blankets were that tough.

Hi Michael,

As seen in the picture at http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~geist/Philmont
We only took one of the MYOG tents. The boys used more traditional shelters such as Sierra Design Lightening.
A couple crew members talked about making light tents like mine for our Philmont trek, but they didn't get them finished before we had to leave. The 18 oz tent held up just fine. No problems or signs of wear and tear.

To learn more, go to the URL above. I just uploaded a new long article about the tent construction, the innovations that make it strong and tough (hint the Space Blanket does not carry the loads), and discussion of the different materials I considered in building it (from Cuben to polyethylene).

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Could 1 Liter Pots Work? on 04/05/2010 14:49:15 MDT Print View

I've been reading Al Geist's cooking system details and I had an idea that I'd like to get reactions to from the experienced folks on this forum.

I can get a liter of water to boil on a canister stove (MSR Pocket Rocket) in about a minute. From Al's notes it looks like you need about 1/2 L of boiling water per person. What do you think of using two canister stoves (I like the redundancy of two stoves) and two 1L pots for a crew and using them kind of like instantaneous water heaters (i.e. heat water as you go).

In theory, you only need three minutes of stove time to get the 6 liters needed for the group, and if you are measuring water out in individual servings I think you can heat water faster than you can use it with this scheme.

Whachathink?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Could 1 Liter Pots Work? on 04/05/2010 15:01:43 MDT Print View

Roger, I think you ought to confirm those boil times for the Pocket Rocket. It isn't that quick. I know. I have one.

--B.G.--

Ty Wagner
(ty27wagner) - F

Locale: Wisconsin
Boil times on 04/05/2010 21:24:20 MDT Print View

Under perfect conditions MSR says it's 3 min per liter. I just ran a test over the weekend using a snow Peak giga power stove using a MSR base 2 2.5L pot with 2L with 60F water. It took about 09.25 minutes to bring the water to full boil inside the house with no wind. Now I wasn't running the stove at full power, probably only 1/3 to 1/2. This was more of a fuel burn test so I could calculate the fuel needed for boiling 43 liters of water (10 meals for 10 people). I suspect the efficiency to go down by up to 50% if outside. This means I will need 3.8 canisters if the boil times take 50% more outside.


Temp grams liters min gr/liter eff Tot L fuel Cans
60 26 2 9.75 13.00 100% 43.18 561.3 2.551389054 inside-no wind 70F
16.25 125% 43.18 701.6 3.189236317
19.5 150% 43.18 842.0 3.827083581
22.75 175% 43.18 982.3 4.464930844
26 200% 43.18 1122.6 5.102778107

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Redirect about 1 liter pot concept on 04/07/2010 06:40:50 MDT Print View

Gang,

I didn't intend for my query to turn into a discussion of the merits of the MSR stove or exactly how fast water can be raised to a boil. The number I cited was an optimal result (indoors, full blast, barely to a boil)just intended to get the idea across.

The crux of my question is whether there is a true advantage in taking larger pots with longer boiling times per pot versus small pots that can be cycled faster. This question assumes that you are using a minimal cook water/negligible wash water approach like Al Geist's. I suspect wind and YMMV issues could impact large pots more than small pots because the heat output of a typical canister stove is better matched to a small pot.

What do the Philmont veterans think?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Redirect about 1 liter pot concept on 04/08/2010 16:06:36 MDT Print View

> The crux of my question is whether there is a true
> advantage in taking larger pots with longer boiling times
> per pot versus small pots that can be cycled faster. This
> question assumes that you are using a minimal cook
> water/negligible wash water approach like Al Geist's

Hi Roger,

The choice of using 1L or 3L pots on two stoves to boil 6L of water comes down to fuel efficiency and timing of serving the food. If you run a test at home, you will find that two 3L pots are significantly more efficient. I'm not positive, but I suspect that the fuel weight savings over the 10 days would be greater than the difference in weight between the 1L and 3L pots. (2L pots if your crew is 9 or less)

Timing-wise Philmont wants you to say grace as a group before meals. Having all the water available about the same time helps with this.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 07/12/2010 11:46:35 MDT Print View

A pair of 2 liter pots seems really small. We had a 6l pot and two 4l pots for our crew of ten (crew 624-X, itinerary 4). We filled them up several times, especially when cooking extra food from swap boxes. One night, the crew cooked dinner for 18 and ate it all.

You will cook Philmont style (in the pot) with your ranger, so you'll probably end up carrying a big pot that you get from Philmont services.

Our crew cooked Philmont-style all the time. That allowed us to add freeze-dried corn from the swap boxes, fresh garlic, and other spices. They even added refried beans to the mac and cheese -- not bad at all.

Dr. Bronners' is a poor choice for Philmont. It is a powerful smellable and will be forbidden after 6pm, due to bear protocol. Also, Dr. Bronner's turns into a gel at low temps. Leave it at home and use the Philmont-provided Biosuds instead.

You also want a multi-tool with pliers to help dunk bowls and cups in the sterilizing wash.

Gregg Martell
(gmartell) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Flexible Ranger on 07/12/2010 22:58:25 MDT Print View

We went planning on using turkey bags, using 2 4L pots. Our ranger had no issue with this, but he wanted to show us the "cook in your bowl" method. The boys loved it. Less work overall, but we did have a few meals that were a bit crunchy compared to turkey bag cooking.

We did make one turkey bag desert when the boys found 6 packages of apple cobbler in one of the swap boxes. Very good.

BTW, Philmont now uses Mountain House dehydrated for dinner. An improvement over the Phil food we bought last year to practice cooking,

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Could 1 Liter Pots Work? on 07/13/2010 00:58:18 MDT Print View

> a liter of water to boil on a canister stove (MSR Pocket Rocket) in about a minute.

Ahhh ... really ????????

Perhaps you got it as far as a few bubbles and thought that it was about to boil? But bubbles can happen as low as 80 C.

Cheers

Chad Harston
(magicsampo) - F - M
Were any other crews required by ranger to use heavy Philmont pot? on 12/16/2010 03:56:44 MST Print View

Regarding Walter's experience:
"You will cook Philmont style (in the pot) with your ranger, so you'll probably end up carrying a big pot that you get from Philmont services."

I'm preparing now for a Philmont trek in 2011. I'm curious if any other crews were required by their ranger to take a large Philmont issued pot as Walter reports?

I would prefer to get by with a couple of 2 - 3 L lightweight pots for heating water and then rehydrate meals in our GSI FairShare mugs or maybe inside the plastic meal envelopes propped up inside the mugs to keep the mugs clean. Thanks,
Chad

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Cooking Systems on 12/16/2010 05:25:29 MST Print View

We took our own pots in June 2010. We had no issues. Sometimes it depends on the "Ranger" that you get.

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: Were any other crews required by ranger to use heavy Philmont pot? on 12/16/2010 10:51:58 MST Print View

Regarding Walter's experience:
"You will cook Philmont style (in the pot) with your ranger, so you'll probably end up carrying a big pot that you get from Philmont services."

I'm preparing now for a Philmont trek in 2011. I'm curious if any other crews were required by their ranger to take a large Philmont issued pot as Walter reports


There IS variation among the rangers. The other crew in our 2010 contingent had a tough one (to the point of not allowing them to pick up a rock to use as a stake hammer!) but he did let them use their own pots. Apparently at least one has been even tougher!

Our own ranger insisted in showing us the "Philmont way" of cooking the first night. After that there was no objection to us using whatever method we wanted to use.

The key needs for cook pots are to be able to submerge your cooking and eating utensils in boiling water (not all at the same time) and to be able to heat enough water to rehydrate your meals.

We've had good success getting approval of things that might be questioned by contacting Philmont well in advance of their busy season (as in early January) with very specific questions. Example: we wanted to use a Golite Shangri-la 4+ tent with a separate MYOG bathtub floor. Our ranger was unsure if it would be OK but that was cleared up quickly by showing her a printed email exchange we had with Mark Anderson (the final arbitrator of all such things) OK-ing exactly what we brought.

I wouldn't expect to get such an appeal heard at that level of responsibility on the fly while they are busy checking in you and 29 other crews all on the same afternoon!

Greg Bohm
(GregInMI) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
Re: Were any other crews required by ranger to use heavy Philmont pot? on 12/16/2010 12:04:45 MST Print View

Our trek didn't even check out a pot from the commissary.

We just boiled water with our MSR Reactor stove (highly recommend this stove for altitude) and added the water to the bag holding the food.

Each crewmember had a bowl/spoon and a pair of crewmates would split the contents of the rehydrated food.

So only cleanup was licking the bowl and spoon off followed by sterlizing with boiling water.

Regards,
Greg