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Hiking without kitchen
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Hiking without kitchen on 04/20/2005 02:34:38 MDT Print View

Recently I have been doing a few shorter Ultra-Lite hikes (1-2 nights) without bringing a kitchen.

In the food bag I've brought nuts, flapjacks, sausages, cheese, snicker bars, digestive biscuits etc. High energy and compact foods ready to eat.

So what are the advantages? Well, I save a lot of weight (pot, spork, lighter, fuel, stove, wind screen), volume and worries.

Without kitchen, I am able to choose a smaller pack to carry my gear in. The hike becomes more basic, I move through nature in a way closer to the other animals. I don't have to worry about running out of gas, esbit tablets or alcohol. Leaking alcohol bottles is not an issue. I don't have to clean any pots or wait for my food to get ready. More time to hike and sleep.

For me, the biggest downside is not getting my caffeine kicks from coffee. But, I try to tell myself that I'd be better off if I could get rid of that addiction. (And besides, there are for example chocolate-covered roasted coffee beans to snack on.)

I won't head out without a kitchen in sub-freezing temperatures, but for 3-season, I think I'll do without fire for more and more trips.

The body-warming effect of a cup of soup I think is easily compensated for by movement. Jump around camp for a minute or two before sleep and in the morning and you will get the blood flowing.

Have you tried this approach? If not, why not give it a go?


Don Lake
(donlake) - F - M
NO cooking on 04/20/2005 09:33:44 MDT Print View

I agree on your no kitchen-no cooking approach. i take protein bars, bread, cheese, peanut butter, etc. cooking on the trail is too much trouble and the dehydrated foods taste terrible. i don't cook at home why would i cook on the trail. for a few days i don't need anything more.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
I've done it before on 04/20/2005 10:09:25 MDT Print View

And still do on occasion, but I think I like the warmth in my belly - I always miss it when I go without. Also, something about the culure and the ritual of cooking appeals to me, helps bring closure to one day and open the book on the next.

Frankly, I don't think the space issue is much of one - doubt I'd go to a different pack without my kitchen along. Weight for the kitchen is not so much (10oz or so with alcohol stove), but when considering the fuel can be a big advantage overall - maybe 1.5lbs to a little under 2lbs difference overall for the first day of a week or so long trip. And time is definitely better without the kitchen.

Daniel Chambo
(skyeward) - F
short trips, ja on 04/20/2005 12:49:42 MDT Print View

I do this alot for short hikes, 1-2 days where it's sort of a spur of the momemt thing. One the things I like the least about backpacking is food planning, so it great to just throw a bunch of dried fruit and nuts and cliff bars in the bag and head out there. I also enjoy the increased simplicity and reduced hassle of not having to deal with that whole cooking business. Just roll on through the forest and eat whenever.

It's still good to have variety in your deit even with this approach, bu for an overnighter, it's not a big deal. There's been a couple trips where I REALLY got tired of peanut butter though.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
peanut butter packing on 04/20/2005 13:50:59 MDT Print View

What are you using for peanut butter storage? I have some toothpaste type tubes left over from the 1970's I use, but the plastic jars it is sold in seem just as light. While I'm asking, has anyone used the jelly premixed with peanut butter in a jar? Does it last without refrigeration? I was on a canoe trip for seven weeks straight in 1979 with peanut butter everyday for lunch; it was a long time before I started eating it again!

Edited by hikerfan4sure on 04/20/2005 14:05:01 MDT.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
packaging peanut butter on 04/20/2005 14:17:07 MDT Print View

I've found peanut butter prepackaged in a squeeze tube. In fact, I've found peanut butter and jelly prepackaged mixed in a squeeze tube. Most jelly will keep as well as peanut butter so there isn't an issue there.

Sometimes you can also find peanut butter packaged in small, 1-serving tubes. I think this is becoming popular for kids lunches and I've found them in more than a few grocery stores.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
use soy butter now on 04/20/2005 14:39:31 MDT Print View

after learning that peanuts and peanut butter products almost all contain a fungus specific to peanuts that is one of the most carcinogenic naturally occuring substances known.

Kitchen-free pack on 04/20/2005 15:02:53 MDT Print View

Here's my pack on a recent 1 night hike:

Less than 8 pounds including food. (Sleeping bag, thermarest, poncho-tarp, warm clothes, food and extras inside.)

I'm able to use it during the late spring and summer for up to 3 nights long trips. No way I could use it if I brought any kitchen. :-)


kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
there are cancer risks associated with PB on 04/20/2005 16:16:57 MDT Print View

aflatoxin B is the culprit associated with peanuts and peanut butter. It's a potent carcinogen(liver cancer) that pops up in molds associated with peanut products -- particularly a problem in hot,humid areas. It isn't so much a matter of bad storage but of peanuts becoming contaminated growing in mold bearing soils (as I understand it).
Other ground nuts and legumes,including soy beans can be affected.Producers in the US and Europe are supposed to monitor aflatoxin presence.
There are numerous science and medical papers
one can Google up on this subject.
I do know that aflatoxins are a significant health
issue in parts of Africa (where peanut production and consumption are large).
Personally, I use almond butter--it's far healthier
and I think,tastier. I've used it as a major staple on my wilderness trips. I've kept it in squeeze tubes in the field for as long as 5 weeks w/o any signs of it going off.

Edited by kdesign on 04/20/2005 16:33:55 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
wait a minute on 04/20/2005 16:50:09 MDT Print View

soy beans don't grow underground like peanuts, they grow in pods like beans and peas - are they a similar risk? I hadn't seen/heard them mentioned before in association with this toxin?

soy beans on 04/20/2005 17:09:45 MDT Print View


Reddy,S.V. and Farid Waliyar

Many agricultural commodities are vulnerable to attack by a group of fungi that are able to produce toxic metabolites called mycotoxins. Among various mycotoxins, aflatoxins have assumed significance due to their deleterious effects on human beings, poultry and livestock. The aflatoxin problem was first recognized in 1960, when there was severe outbreak of a disease referred as "Turkey 'X' Disease" in UK, in which over 100,000 turkey poults were died. The cause of the disease was shown due to toxins in peanut meal infected with Aspergillus flavus and the toxins were named as aflatoxins.

Natural occurrence:

Food products contaminated with aflatoxins include cereal (maize, sorghum, pearl millet, rice, wheat), oilseeds (groundnut, soybean, sunflower, cotton), spices (chillies, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, zinger), tree nuts (almonds, pistachio, walnuts, coconut) and milk.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
soy beans and risk assessment on 04/20/2005 19:07:43 MDT Print View

cary,re. aflatoxins, I have not seen any info regarding levels of relative risk for soy beans,grains,etc.

anonymous,could you post a link to that paper you cited ?
never mind,it's

Edited by kdesign on 04/20/2005 19:13:48 MDT.

Dylan Skola
(phageghost) - F

Locale: Southern California
Aflatoxin on 04/21/2005 17:24:21 MDT Print View

Seems like the site above got a lot of their info from this site at Texas A & M.

From what I can tell it's more of a problem in Africa than in this country, and seems to be even more prevalent on corn:
The effect of aflatoxins on human health is difficult to assess. Reports in the scientific literature associate aflatoxin with acute human poisoning. Acute liver damage can occur in humans from ingestion of high amounts of aflatoxin. Today there is a mandate from the Food and Drug Administration limiting aflatoxin levels to 20 ppb in food products and 0.5 ppb in milk. Any food contamination with aflatoxin above these levels should not be used for human consumption. Many food processors have established vigorous screening programs for aflatoxin in their raw materials.

Aflatoxin is present in the spores of A. flavus, which can be produced in great abundance on the ears of fungus-infected corn. When the corn is combined and unloaded at elevators or other transfer points, it can generate considerable dust, some of which may contain aflatoxin.

Seems definitely dangerous in acute exposure, and is strongly correlated with liver cancer in developing countries. The question is whether chronic exposure at the levels seen in this country significantly increases cancer risk. It is a strong mutagen and teratogen (causes birth defects) so any exposure is not a good thing. But there's a calculated risk in everything.

On a positive note, google also turned up this technique for reducing aflatoxin levels by innoculating ground with non-toxic A. flavus spores:

(bosman) - F
Squeezable penut butter on 04/25/2005 17:36:40 MDT Print View
This link shows you a nice alternative to packing peanut butter. Skippy makes a tasty squeezable that i like to put on my apples or ezekiel bread

Coffee problem sort of solved.. on 05/03/2005 12:24:10 MDT Print View

I discovered today that instant espresso coffe, the kind that comes in one-portion satches (spelling?) blends in cold water if you let it stand for a while and/or stir it for a while..

OK, it is certainly not as good as piping hot coffee, but it should save me from head-ache on the second day of hiking and give that little kick in the morning that I like.. :-)


caffeine withdrawal headache on 05/03/2005 14:10:17 MDT Print View

Here's an alternative to packing/making coffee. Might even save a little weight. However, it's not as tasty.

Vivarin, NoDoze, or another OTC "stay-awake" (as we called them in the military) will prevent the caffeine withdrawal headache caused by slightly lowered blood pressure & lower blood sugar levels which are experienced by some whose daily coffee schedule has been interrupted.

Another possibility for some is the use of pseudoephedrine to somewhat constrict capillaries (similar to caffeine) and cause a slight increase in BP to help alleviate the lower BP associated with a caffeine withdrawal headache.

Of course, there are potential problems with overuse of pseudoephedrine, especially if heart rate and BP are elevated during strenous exercise/hiking/climbing.

lowered BP & blood sugar levels on 05/03/2005 14:20:53 MDT Print View

If all you want to do is raise BP & blood sugar levels, then 10-20minutes of highly aerobic trekking/strenous climbing might acomplish the same effect as the aforementioned chemical alternatives.

Why put something in your body if you don't have to?

If the caffeine withdrawal headache doesn't go away employing these physical measures, then there's still the opportunity to pop the "stay-awakes"..

Walter Pickett
(wpick) - M
Caffeine kicks on 05/05/2005 17:33:57 MDT Print View

Hello All

I do alot of hiking and overnights in the Sonoran Desert where conditions almost dictate that what you eat on the trail must be no-cook, or you compromise and bring extra water for your planned dry-camp meal.

Of course when you go "no-cook", that also means "no-coffee" as Moe has said.

Ahh, but I've found an alternative: Jolt Chewing Gum <>
I can sometimes find it at the corner gas/convience store, or get it on-line.

Their advertisment states that two pieces are equal to a cup of coffee.
A two piece serving has 10 calories and weighs approximately 0.14 oz (4g).

I've had good results with this product.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Aflatoxin madness on 05/23/2005 19:19:55 MDT Print View

I think the likelihood of physical harm from commercially produced peanuts or peanut butter here in the USA is on orders of magnitude less than your chances of tripping over a dung beetle and cracking your skull while on your hike.

madness ? but who's ? on 05/23/2005 19:56:03 MDT Print View

Yep. American agribusiness always acts on the consumers behalf. Pesticides, GM foods, Irradiation.
I totally trust what they tell me.