JMT bear canister advice: pack low volume food!
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Jesse Engelberg
(jaebpl) - F
JMT bear canister advice: pack low volume food! on 06/30/2010 17:38:56 MDT Print View

I just finished packing for my Muir Trail Ranch resupply, and want to encourage folks to pay attention to the volume of their food as well as the weight. In order to get 6 days of food for two people into two BV500s I really struggled.

Some thoughts on saving volume:
-high fat foods tend to be better
-break up nuts into smaller pieces
-repackage freeze prepackaged freeze dried meals, or better yet avoid them altogether
-oil is great! olive oil (for mixing with hummus or couscous) is not just light weight it's also low volume
-avoid freeze dried vegetables, as they take up a lot of volume
-get as much air out of the bags as possible before you pack them
-couscous and powdered sauces work well
-avoid pasta noodles that have air in them

Also, the 5 gallon bucket required for a Muir Trail Ranch resupply is almost exactly the same volume as two BV500s. Be aware of that if you plan on including a lot of extras like sunscreen, bug spray, or food for the day of the resupply.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
how much is that? on 07/01/2010 18:27:43 MDT Print View

Hi, Jesse --

Looks like I'll be starting just a little bit behind you. Which direction are you going? I'm going N->S, starting July 13.

I'm surprised that you had that much trouble fitting 6 days' food for one person in a 700 in3 canister. In the past, I haven't had any trouble fitting 7 days in 650 in3. I weigh 140 lb, and I usually take about 2100 calories/day, which works out to about a pound per day. I go no-cook, which probably helps; I think a lot of the prepackaged foods probably have poor energy density.

-Ben

Jesse Engelberg
(jaebpl) - F
Re: how much is that? on 07/02/2010 00:51:18 MDT Print View

Ah, yes the detail I didn't provide. Based on my calculations (but not as much experience as I'd like) I packed about 3750 per day, or just about 2 pounds each day.

I weigh about 160 pounds and based on available data I think I'll be burning between 3700 and 5000 calories a day. I tend to eat a fair amount when I'm hiking, and I get grouchy when I'm hungry, so I figured it would be better to send more food than I might need to MTR; then I'd get a better estimate of calories burned per day while hiking from Tuolumne to Red's to MTR and could leave behind the extra food.

My most significant concern was since my hiking partner and I haven't done a lot of long distance hiking, I wasn't sure what food we'd enjoy on the trail. As a result I tried to make and pack things I thought would be tasty, but might not be as calorie dense. For instance, we have cheese and salami for lunch some days, which isn't as calorie dense, but hummus and olive oil other days.

We're starting July 8th and hiking South from Tuolumne. We plan to exit at Onion Valley after two weeks.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
calories on 07/02/2010 07:43:57 MDT Print View

Wow, you're really carrying a lot more calories than I do! Do you have data from previous trips on how much food you actually ate? I just came back from a trip where I packed 2000 calories/day, and I packed out quite a bit of my food. It's true that the JMT will be a big calorie-burning hike. I'm doing it solo, whereas my data from past hikes are mostly from hiking with my daughter, who is not a fast hiker. OTOH, I'm planning on feasting at the resupply points on food that I don't have to carry. Because of the uncertainty in comparing past hikes to this one, I'm thinking of taking maybe 2500-2800 cal/day.

To try to put this on an apples-to-apples basis:

What I usually actually eat on a trip is 2100 cal/day, which, divided by my body weight, is 15 cal/day/lb.

If I take 2650 cal/day on thr JMT, that's 19 cal/day/lb.

If you take 4300 cal/day, that's 27 cal/day/lb.

"For instance, we have cheese and salami for lunch some days, which isn't as calorie dense, but hummus and olive oil other days."
How many cal/g is hummus? My usual high-energy-density staples are nuts and cookies, which are about 5.5-6 cal/g. Yeah, love the cheese and salami!

The less energy dense foods I usually take are jerky, dried fruit, granola, and packaged seafood. On this trip, I'll probably only use the seafood as a resupply-day treat. The fruit and granola are probably helping me to avoid constipation, which I've had problems with in the past while backpacking. I hear a lot of through-hikers bring psyllium (e.g., Metamucil). I've never tried the stuff myself, but it seems like possibly an interesting option if one wants to avoid depending so heavily on fruit and granola for fiber.

BTW, that's a great photo with the frisbee! Do you play ultimate?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: calories on 07/02/2010 08:28:09 MDT Print View

Calorie requirements vary by person and the type of hike (e.g. miles, elevation gain, etc.). I don't plan meals by calories at all. I know how much I need to eat, based on the types of food I take. Very unscientific, but it works :)

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
counting calories on 07/02/2010 10:44:30 MDT Print View

Nick wrote: "I know how much I need to eat, based on the types of food I take. Very unscientific, but it works :)"
My problem is that unless I count calories, I always end up packing out a ton of food. Maybe you've converged more on a standard menu than I have. I'm still experimenting with new foods, like ghee.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
JMT / Counting calories on 07/02/2010 11:42:04 MDT Print View

I'm starting the JMT on July 27 and finishing up my resupply buckets/boxes to send next week. This is the first trip I've done where I've paid this much attention to my food.

I looked to Andrew Skurka's organization and ideas about food, mainly because he has already done so much legwork. I found it helpful to have some place to start.

I went to REI, Trader Joe's and a grocery store with a calculator and made a list of high calorie/oz foods. Then I made a list of breakfast, 5 "snacks" throughout the day and dinner. Breakfast is no-cook, but dinner will be freezer-bag style. I tried to get around 3000 calories/day and around 1.3 to 1.5 pounds max.

The only thing I haven't done is try to cram it in the bearvault yet, just waiting to repackage everything until I'm closer to sending the resupply boxes.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: JMT / Counting calories on 07/02/2010 11:49:03 MDT Print View

Steven, lots of people come up with a food solution that looks good on paper, and the numbers all add up. Then they get about four days out on a long trip and find out that their stomach tells them things that never showed up in the plan. Either you will need more calories or less calories, or you find out that you can't stand oatmeal for every breakfast, or you have a craving for boiled waxed okra. This works out for Skurka because he has walked the walk previously, and he has found out what works and what doesn't, so he has been successful in fine-tuning the plan purely for himself.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: counting calories on 07/02/2010 14:37:36 MDT Print View

> Maybe you've converged more on a standard menu than I have. I'm still experimenting with new foods, like ghee.

Yeah, I'm not much of an experimenter. Drives my wife nuts. If she tries to give me something new to eat, I don't try it :)

I buy Mountain House, instant oatmeal, ramon, cliff and power bars by the case when they are on sale. I repackage the stuff just prior to a trip. I am sure there are more calorie dense and nutritous food, but for me it is one less thing to worry about. Variety doesn't mean much either. I once ate 12 MH Lasagna dinners in a row.

If my wife would let me, at home I would eat bacon and eggs every morning and a steak with baked potato every night, except for Fridays, which are set aside for pizza.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
JMT bear canister advice: pack low volume food! on 07/02/2010 15:06:45 MDT Print View

Bob: I am ONLY taking boiled waxed okra, 1.5 lbs per day! Who wants to share a tent with me?!?!

Seriously though, I have eaten everything on my list. I only meant that Skurka's excel spreadsheets and ideas have me paying a little more attention to what and especially when I eat. I think you're right about not following his methods and selections exactly.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Influence of trip duration on your food choices on 07/02/2010 16:46:47 MDT Print View

As the duration of your trip increases, you will need to pay more attention to balancing fat, carbs and protein. If you are only out 2-3 days you can get away with darn near anything and make up the difference from body fat and muscle protein. Anything longer than that and you need to start paying attention to getting: 1) adequate calories; 2) adequate protein for tissue repair/maintenance; 3) adequate carbs to support the "burning" of fat. If you don't, performance will suffer and the potential for damaging your body will increase. A fourth consideration, depending on how long between resupply points, is making sure you select food that is compact, or can be made so by compressing, crushing, etc.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Influence of trip duration on your food choices on 07/02/2010 17:01:19 MDT Print View

"A fourth consideration, depending on how long between resupply points, is making sure you select food that is compact, or can be made so by compressing, crushing, etc."

The positive side effect of crushing is that it often contributes to the food being more digestible. The negative side effect is that the food tends to go stale faster.

For one upcoming trip, I'll have six days for the first food load. Due to some complications, I have to limit myself to 4.5 pounds of food. So, I've already planned with all four of your points. The last thing I have to do is to strip out almost all of the food packaging weight and bulk.

After that first six days, I think a giant pizza will be on the menu.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Influence of trip duration on your food choices on 07/02/2010 17:35:54 MDT Print View

"The negative side effect is that the food tends to go stale faster."

That's the tradeoff. I minimize that by rolling up the baggies and squeezing as much air out as I can before sealing. So far I haven't had too much problem with staleness up to 10 days. A technique I haven't tried that might work for stuff stored for a relatively long period at a resupply drop before using: Place the packets of food in a vacuum bag and seal with a vacuum sealer,leaving their zip locs slightly open to get all the air out, before packing them in the drop bucket. They should stay fresh that way until you open them when resupplying. At that point you would completely seal each individual baggie before loading in you food bag/canister.

"After that first six days, I think a giant pizza will be on the menu."

Aren't you forgetting something? ;)

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
bogus versus good info on nutrition on 07/02/2010 17:49:24 MDT Print View

Nutrition is a terrible subject, because it's virtually impossible to get scientifically valid information. Everybody has their own beliefs, which are usually based on some combination of magical thinking and what their mommy told them. For instance, the USDA had just finished drawing up the food pyramid with carbs at the base when a new food fad came along: carbs=evil, protein=good! Now I can't get a salad in a restaurant without slices of meat on it. None of this is based on any credible scientific evidence. So when I look at a post like Tom's first one, I find it very difficult to evaluate whether it's correct or not.

Edited by bcrowell on 07/02/2010 17:54:58 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: bogus versus good info on nutrition on 07/02/2010 18:16:24 MDT Print View

Well, as a Type 1 diabetic who measures his blood sugar four times a day I've been keeping tabs on the differences between eating a lot of carbs and not. A month ago I started seriously cutting back the carbs in my diet to see what happened. I now eat about 150 g of carbs a day, offset by an appropriate amount of fat to get enough calories throughout the day. To my surprise (don't know why nobody told me this at my diabetes clinic here in Japan) my blood sugars have completely normalized and I'm slowly losing the weight I gained from taking a lot of insulin. My insulin intake has also dropped considerably. I hadn't been able to normalize my blood sugars in about 10 of the 13 years I've had diabetes! This is a diabetic's need for controlling eating, but a good diabetic diet is a very healthy diet for non-diabetics. So, just from one person's experience you might say that carbs, taken far in excess, are definitely not good for you.

There is quite a lot of research being done on the effects of carbohydrates, especially by people who study paleonutrition, such as Loren Cordain. In the 1930's Weston Price traveled around the world studying pre-industrial societies and what they ate, to see if he could find a correlation between modern diseases and diet. The theory behind these researchers' studies is that there is a certain evolutionary "blueprint" that we evolved to live with and our optimum nutrition can be found in these early parameters. The best book I've found for explaining in-depth how to approach nutrition and whose guidelines I'm following now, is Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint. While I disagree with some of his overly simplistic depictions of early human versatility and of how animals hunt and subsist, his recommendations are sensible, easy to follow, and based on a lot of research.

Buck Stolberg
(bstolberg) - MLife

Locale: Harlem
Compact, Tasty Food via Blender and other tips on 07/02/2010 18:26:20 MDT Print View

One way to reduce the volume of food is to crush it up in a blender. This turns a big bag of Doritos in to about half of a quart ziploc bag.

This helps a lot as a snack food during the day, when you need variety that isn't more salami and cheese. It will keep you eating if your appetite drops out. Works for Cheezits and Ruffles as well. Haven't tried Ramen or noodle dishes yet though.

To eat, open the bag and pour into your mouth to avoid contamination. Tip: don't inhale. It's not powder, but more like the crumbs at the bottom of the bag.

Also, thin spaghetti is quite space efficient even though sometimes its just over 100 cal/oz. My tip would be to pre-break it in half or whichever length fits in your pot to avoid waste and handling in the field. This also fits sideways in a quart ziploc and packs well. Olive oil and cheese go with and are great by cal/oz and space rubrics.

For ease of use, you may want to pack your bear cans in two layers. Loosely group three days or so on the bottom and the rest on top. Makes for less handling and stuffing later.

Get a few extra granola bars before packing, they can always fill in the cracks. I would highly recommend variety though. Usually by the third one of any kind my brain revolts and it goes to the bottom of the can.

There isn't, but should be something about this in the Wiki. To do later.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: bogus versus good info on nutrition on 07/02/2010 19:56:44 MDT Print View

"So when I look at a post like Tom's first one, I find it very difficult to evaluate whether it's correct or not."

I didn't conjure this up out of thin air, Ben. It's pretty much in line with what was written by Dr. J. in his food writeup on arctic1000.com for the Arctic1000 expedition, and Kevin Sawchuck in his post on food in the Parcour de Wild writeup last fall. I've been working along the same line of reasoning while trying to refine my own backpacking diet over the last 4 years. A reference volume I found very helpful is "Exercise Physiology, Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance" by V. Katch, W. McArdle, and F. Katch. It has a lot of very useful information about fat, protein, and carb as sources of energy in performance activities, along with a lot of other information that can safely be ignored for the subject at hand. Maybe it would be helpful to you to go over some of these sources in your quest to evaluate whether or not what I posted has any validity.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: bogus versus good info on nutrition on 07/03/2010 00:27:08 MDT Print View

"Nutrition is a terrible subject, because it's virtually impossible to get scientifically valid information."

I think some people would argue. A friend of mine teaches college-level nutrition and says that there is plenty of scientifically valid information. You just have to know where to find it.

I've never had a formal nutrition class since I was 14 years old, so I can't answer.

--B.G.--

James D Buch
(rocketman) - F

Locale: Midwest
Diabetes Low Carb on 07/03/2010 05:07:22 MDT Print View

butaki wrote:
"Well, as a Type 1 diabetic who measures his blood sugar four times a day I've been keeping tabs on the differences between eating a lot of carbs and not. A month ago I started seriously cutting back the carbs in my diet to see what happened. I now eat about 150 g of carbs a day, offset by an appropriate amount of fat to get enough calories throughout the day. To my surprise (don't know why nobody told me this at my diabetes clinic here in Japan) my blood sugars have completely normalized and I'm slowly losing the weight I gained from taking a lot of insulin. My insulin intake has also dropped considerably. I hadn't been able to normalize my blood sugars in about 10 of the 13 years I've had diabetes! This is a diabetic's need for controlling eating, but a good diabetic diet is a very healthy diet for non-diabetics. So, just from one person's experience you might say that carbs, taken far in excess, are definitely not good for you."

In the old days, before insulin, the only known treatment for diabetics (Type 1) was the "ketogenic diet" which was as near carbohydrate free as possible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet

Once insulin was made readily available, the "experts" decided that such severe diets were no longer needed, and by using insulin to "cover" the consumption of carbohydrates, diabetics could now be "normal" and eat regular food - and keep injecting themselves with insulin while living "regular" lives. In more modern times, it is "normal" to frequently measure blood sugars to decide how and when to use more insulin. It is also expensive.

The positive effects of blood lipid chemistry from the ketogenic diet have been long known.

But, the "experts" agree that being "normal" and constantly injecting insulin and measuring blood sugar is best.

There is a lot of good material to be had on diet and health, but the typical consumer doesn't want to read much "technical stuff" of any sort.

Keep up the "Ketogenic" diet, and there are books around for you to read, giving the theoretical basis and case histories. It isn't just "one person's experience", there is a long history of the benefits of low carb for type 1 diabetics that goes back nearly a century.

Edited by rocketman on 07/03/2010 05:10:22 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: JMT / Counting calories on 07/03/2010 05:36:52 MDT Print View

"Steven, lots of people come up with a food solution that looks good on paper, and the numbers all add up. Then they get about four days out on a long trip and find out that their stomach tells them things that never showed up in the plan. Either you will need more calories or less calories, or you find out that you can't stand oatmeal for every breakfast, or you have a craving for boiled waxed okra."

No truer words have been spoken!"