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Water Needed - Philmont Food vs. Retail Mountain House Packs
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Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Water Needed - Philmont Food vs. Retail Mountain House Packs on 02/23/2011 08:44:33 MST Print View

I just wanted to thank everybody for their input on this forum... what an eye opener it has been. My son and I will be on a Philmont crew in June/July 2012, and we are already planning for it.

Our crew will have 12 people (4 adults and 8 scouts). In many posts here I've read where crews were boiling 2 cups of water per person to rehydrate their food. In the retail packs of Mountain House food, the instructions call for two cups of water per pack which feeds two people (only 1 cup per person). Based on this, it seems the Phil Food requires twice the water of the retail Mountain House packs. Does each two person Philmont pack have multiple foods that need water for rehydration?

If our crew rehydrates in freezer bags or plastic bowls, I will only need pot capacity for water, and not mixing the food in the pot or freezer bags. I already have two backpacking stoves: an MSR Reactor (with 1.5l pot) AND an MSR Windpro with both 2 qt and 4 qt Open Country aluminum pots.

Here was my thinking: for 12 people in retail Mountain House packs I would need 12 cups of boiling water (3 quarts). I could accommodate this by using the 2 qt pot on the Windpro stove and the 1.5l pot on the Reactor stove. This is the lightest and smallest option using the equipment I already have. HOWEVER, if the Philfood packs require twice that water, then I will need 6 quarts boiling water. My thinking then would be to use the 4 qt pot on the Windpro Stove and to purchase the Reactor 2.5l pot. It would be tight to get 6 qts out of just those two pots, but certainly doable.

I would appreciate your help in checking my math and offering suggestions. Thanks again for the wonderful forum and information!

Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: Water Needed - Philmont Food vs. Retail Mountain House Packs on 02/24/2011 09:29:54 MST Print View

I suggest you order some trail meals directly from Philmont (

Each crew has their own unique way of doing this. Our method in 2007 was liquid fuel with turkey bags. In 2009, we used a Jetboil Helios system for a crew of 7 with turkey bags. This system would work fine for a crew of 12 because we had the 2L and 3L pots. It heats water very quickly and speeds things up tremendously. Our other crew only used a 2L pot for a crew of 7 and it worked fine. This year we are using the Jetboil Helios perhaps with just a 2L pot but using the individual Philmont bags and supplementing with freezer bags in individual cozies to eliminate the bowls and practically eliminate clean-up.

My suggestion is to get some meals or duplicate meals which is easy to do then let your crew experiment several times on your shakedown hikes so they know the procedure. The meals are for two people and they typically have one entree pouch that needs to be rehydrated but it could also included other pouches such as vegetables that need be rehydrated.

The new menu for 2011 is due out sometime in April. Feel free to email me at gosmithpa at hotmail dot com.

Edited by gosmithpa on 02/24/2011 09:31:32 MST.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Water Needed - Philmont Food vs. Retail Mountain House Packs on 02/25/2011 19:40:03 MST Print View

Mark, I totally agree with Glenn here, order some Phil food. I usually told crews to boil approximately 75% of the water the meals called for. It was always better to have to add a little water vs having the food too watery, but make sure you experiment with your scouts before you go. And make sure you have your cook system down pat. The worst crews were the ones that didnt know how to cook the food or tried to change their plan part of the way through.

Caleb Burns
(CalebBurns) - F
Water Needed- Philmont Food vs. Retail Mountain House on 03/27/2011 23:48:08 MDT Print View

I was a Ranger in 2010 and I know for a fact that the water required is 2 cups per package. Starting in 2010, Philmont changed almost all of the dinners from Richmoor to Mountain House. Maybe what you have been reading is from years prior to 2010. Two Richmoor dinners, the Mexican Fiesta and the Chicken and Rice were still being issued last year and they require significantly more water than the Mountain House and will require a larger pot. Also, there is a breakfast that requires cooking. The trail menu is subject to quite a bit of change between seasons and by the time you set off on your 2012 trek, who knows what the case may be. Philmont is usually very helpful and I'm sure they would provide you with a list of the meals if you called and asked for it.

As for the Mountain House meals, the only difference between the Philmont Mountain House and the Mountain House you buy at the store is the package. The Philmont variety comes in a non-resealable, white plastic pouch and you CANNOT put boiling water in them. The material is thinner than a regular bag and it might break open if you try to rehydrate in them. Also, during training they told us that these bags have not been tested and they don't know what kind of chemicals could be released into your food if you try rehydrating in them.

So, like you said, your 12 person crew would need to boil 12 cups of water for most dinners and one breakfast. As suggested, you might boil a little less water and add more if needed. Also, your food will taste much better if you rehydrate in the pots and let it simmer for a bit, instead of trying to do it in your bowls, unless you like partially hydrated food.

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Two 2L pots on 03/30/2011 18:59:02 MDT Print View

Thank you for your answers everybody. Caleb, hopefully they will stay with the Mountain House entrees for 2012... that will only require us to take two 2l pots.

Greg Bohm
(GregInMI) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
We did fine with 2 Reactors for 12 people on 04/03/2011 14:15:12 MDT Print View

We went in 2010 and ate the Mountain House meals. We just added the water to the bags to rehydrate. Then each pair of meal partners would empty 1/2 the food into someone's bowl while the other person ate out of the bag. This cut the amount of water we needed for cleanup drastically.

We did great with 2 MSR Reactors. These stoves had no problem handling the altitude when we stayed on top of Mount Phillips.