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Hiking without kitchen
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Madness on 05/23/2005 22:43:12 MDT Print View

Wow... that was not just a note of sarcasim, but the whole symphony.
Should be a point well taken!

John S.
(jshann) - F
lol on 05/24/2005 07:54:04 MDT Print View

We need a threaded option on here so we can tell who is responding to who's sarcasmic outbursts ; )

Edited by jshann on 05/24/2005 08:13:17 MDT.

Stephan Guyenet
(Guyenet) - F
Back to the original subject on 09/08/2005 17:06:08 MDT Print View

I have to agree that not cooking is fantastic. I always assumed that I needed a stove and pots, probably because everyone else had them. I've been going without them lately though, and have realized they're really more of a pain than a help for me on short trips (<5 days). I spend a lot less time and effort preparing food and cleaning, and a lot more time enjoying my surroundings. I don't have to worry about wind conditions and I can eat under my tarp without smelling it up. I don't pollute the environment with food bits scraped from my pots. I also save nearly a pound of weight (including a few ounces of alcohol fuel).

Another thing not mentioned above: you're less likely to attract bears if you don't cook food. Cooking causes a massive release of volatile odorants that can be smelled for miles by animals with sensitive noses. Not cooking is good for peace of mind.

Since I've been camping under a tarp and not cooking, I feel much more connected to my surroundings. One caveat is that on longer trips, cookable food may actually be more weight-efficient and it may be easier to vary your diet.

I typically bring whole-wheat pitas, organic peanut butter, mixed nuts and dried fruit (figs and prunes). This gives me an abundance of whole protein, healthy fats and fiber. I never feel deprived.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Back to the original subject on 09/08/2005 17:15:27 MDT Print View

my no cook "poison" of choice is G.O.R.P. don't seem to tire of it day after day. well, at least for 5days (the longest i've gone 'sola gorp')

primarily dried fruit: apples, bannana chips, papaya, pineapple, raisins, apricots; and nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts. may add some other items for variety. stay away from "sulfurated" fruit, if possible.

if i haven't eaten it for a while, i slowly add it into my diet 4 days b/f beginning the trek. this is to get my "system" used to the change in diet. i'm sure y'all get my meaning.

oh...and don't forget the vitamin & mineral supplement.

BTW, going "cookless" was the first way i managed to break the 5lb SUL barrier suggested by C.C. a few mos. back b/f her series of articles in the BPL online mag. it managed to save me the wt. of the cook gear ( a few oz.) & the fuel for a 3-day. [Note: i always carry an emergency fire starting kit (even when going "cookless") which includes at least one 0.5 oz esbit tab in addition to the spark-lite, w-proof matches, & some tinder & dryer lint with a dab o' vaseline pertroleum jelly.]

Edited by pj on 09/08/2005 17:33:13 MDT.

Robert Patton
(rpatton911) - F
Re: caffeine withdrawal headache on 02/02/2006 12:13:32 MST Print View

I work fo rthe fire dept and when running late for work i throw in a dip of coffee if you want a very quick zing there ya go----- wow insta buzz

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Hiking without kitchen on 02/02/2006 13:11:44 MST Print View

I haven't done this on a trip of any consequential length but the discussion here and the trip reports of Coup from Golite found here make me want to try it. He went for weeks without resupply on nuts and dried fruit. The John Muir trail report has the most info.

Edited by ericnoble on 02/02/2006 13:14:02 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Hiking without kitchen on 02/02/2006 15:13:14 MST Print View

Cookless is OK, but maybe you might want to lighten the cookset down to maybe 3-4 oz. including fuel. That's doable.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
non-cook hiking on 02/02/2006 16:35:32 MST Print View

I've been non-cook for years now. My preferred staple is plain rolled oats, either the 5min or 1min variety. The 5min and 1min is SUGGESTED cooking time, but oats does not REQUIRE any cooking, as is proven by the fact that most people eat granola uncooked. Avoid the instant variety, since I believe these are processed somehow. Plain rolled oats is oat berries, with the outer kernel removed, then rolled with steel rollers, then lightly steamed to pasteurize and aid shelf longevity. It is the only true whole-grain cereal that is widely available in ordinary grocery stores in the United States and Europe. Oats contains adequate protein and plenty of fiber, so that you can eat it day after day without any nutritional problems, provided you supplement with a multi-vitamin (especially Vit C and the B vitamins).

Bulgar wheat, buckwheat groats, rolled wheat and rye and all similar in preparation and nutritional content to rolled oats, but not as widely available. All of these grains can be eaten uncooked (just let them soak for about 5 minutes), since the preparation involves enough steaming and crushing to make the grain fully digestible by the average human digestive system.

In Europe, couscous is widely available. This is another food that can be eaten raw (after soaking for 5 minutes), regardless of what the instructions say. However, couscous is a poor nutritional choice, about the equivalent of white bread. In particular, it has no fiber. I once got so sick I had to lubricate my fingers and go poking around to get things moving again--not recommended...

It may be possible to eat grits and cream of wheat raw (black bears will eat them that way just fine, thank you), but they certainly won't taste good. Like couscous, they are very poor nutritional choices.

Most dried cereals are also poor nutritional choices. They may say they are whole-wheat, but they are actually mostly refined wheat with some food coloring and sugar thrown in.

I've tried eating GORP day in and day out and it soon sickens me. By contrast, oatmeal is a very boring food, but eventually I get quite comfortable with it. It's like plain water. Nothing exciting about drinking that, but it provides what your body needs. I usually finish off my oatmeal meals with some sort of salty delicacy, like a piece of cheese or dried sausage. This delicacy makes me forget how boring the oatmeal was.

I make mostly dry camps and so never have a surplus of water. To clean my bowl after eating, I just pour in a little more water, then swish around, then drink, then repeat until the bowl is clean. Do this immediately after eating, before the oats has a chance to harden.

If you want tea in the morning, you can just drop a tea bag into a mug of cold water in the evening and then leave it overnight to steep, then squeeze the bag in the morning to get all the drops of tea out. Works quite well. Get a mug with a lid to keep crud from blowing in during the night. Instand coffee might work the same way, though I've never tried.

If you need some sort of container to prepare either oats or other grains, and perhaps tea as well, I recommend a metal mug, like the MSR Titan Kettle. That way, you can yogi someone else's stove to sterilize your mug now and then. Plastic weighs just as much and is not nearly so easy to clean and sterilize.

You'll probably pack your oats or other grains in an O.P.Sak or the equivalent. Bring along a small 2oz plastic scoop to transfer oats from the plastic sack to the eating bowl. If you try to pour the oats out, you'll spill them. If you dip your bowl into the oats, you'll possibly transfer moisture into the dry oats (such as when you're going for second helpings) and this can cause the oats to become moldy.

Edited by frprovis on 02/02/2006 16:44:33 MST.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
duplicate deleted on 02/02/2006 16:36:10 MST Print View


Edited by frprovis on 02/02/2006 16:36:50 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: non-cook hiking on 02/02/2006 17:04:13 MST Print View

Frank, I am not sure if I understand how you are preparing the oats. Are you soaking them in water like the other grains you mentioned? Do you add powdered milk, sugar, or anything else?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: non-cook hiking on 02/02/2006 17:20:09 MST Print View

I sometimes skip cooking on short trips in good weather. On longer trips I usually have a dinner or two where cooking is at least optional.

It all boils down to psychology in most environmental conditions. There's something about a hot meal on a rainy, windy evening after a long day that does wonders for a person. The whole ritual of brewing up is like that too. I think striking the right balance between light weight food and good, nutritious food that you'll want to eat is key to enjoying long trips in the wilderness.

In theory, one could get by on a little less than a pound of lard per day, plus a vitamin supplement and maybe a protein drink mix to keep any bizarre health problems (like night blindness, rickets, and scurvy) at bay. But it probably wouldn't be any fun and would drive most people out to the nearest McDonald's after a week or two.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
re: non-cook hiking on 02/02/2006 17:33:34 MST Print View

Eric, I just put some oats in my bowl, then pour in water, then start eating. No milk, no raisin, no sugar. Plain oats is a bland food, most people would agree, but not a distasteful food. You will probably soon grow tired of it, but I doubt you will grow sick of it, in the sense of never wanting to see oats again. It is similar to plain bread in that respect.

I should point out that I am no great fan of hardship. Most of my hiking nowadays is in Europe and I am thus able to eat at nice restaurants every other day, at least. But in the past I have eaten little other than oats, plus some cheese, sausages, dried fruit, tea and vitamin pills as supplements, for many weeks in succession, with no ill consequences.

I would point out that a grain based diet is very common in much of the world, and throughout much of human history. If your ancestors came from Europe, then they probably lived on little other than either oats or rye or wheat or barley for most of the year, depending on exactly where in Europe they lived. It is not the healthiest diet, but it is definitely workable, and make backpacking very easy.

Edited by frprovis on 02/02/2006 18:05:01 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: re: non-cook hiking on 02/02/2006 17:42:17 MST Print View

Understood. You've given me something to experiment with. Thanks.

Edited by ericnoble on 02/02/2006 17:43:52 MST.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
re: non-cooking hiking on 02/02/2006 18:17:18 MST Print View

Two warnings about oatmeal:

1) Oatmeal is a fairly high glycemic index food, meaning it will provoke a sudden rise in blood sugar if you eat too much too quickly and if you are borderline type II diabetic, like most Americans. Not cooking the oats reduces the glycemic index, and hiking tends to reduce insulin resistance, so this is not too much of a problem while hiking. But when conducting experiments at home, try not to eat too much at once or else you will get a blood sugar rush followed by a blood sugar crash.

In BB, Ray Jardine speaks of a bad experience he had with instant oats, but that corn pasta never let him down. I suspect the problem is that Ray, like most Americans, is a borderline type II diabetic. Instant oats is the worst sort of oats and Ray probably ate too much at once, thus causing a blood sugar crash. Corn pasta has a very low glycemic index, which is probably why it works so well for Ray. The solution is not to abandon oats, since oats are so much easier to find than corn pasta, but rather to eat plain oats rather than instant oats and to avoid eating too much at once.

2) Plain oats has a good amount of fiber in it. This is very healthy. However, if your body is not used to fiber, you may experience some gas pains and flatulence at first. This will go away if you regularly eat high-fiber foods.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: re: non-cooking hiking on 02/02/2006 18:29:27 MST Print View

Oatmeal, great stuff.

>>"However, if your body is not used to fiber, you may experience..."

IME, if I get off of oatmeal for a time and then return to it as a daily foodstuff, those side-effects you mention are present for 3-4 days, after which all is well once again.

Sorry, Frank,...I'm a wimp. I've just got to add a wee bit 'o brown sugar, maple syrup, or molasses, and some raisins, or even some dried fruit from my trail G.O.R.P to my oatmeal. I don't dislike oatmeal plain, but unlike cooked white, brown, or wild rices (rice = when at home; not on the trail), I don't enjoy just savoring the flavor of the grain alone.

Also, while I am susceptible to low blood sugar headaches when sitting at a desk at work, just like you said, there is no problem when hiking - exercise has a way of stabilizing one's blood sugar levels.

In fact, all this talk of oatmeal has got me hankerin' for a bowl of oatmeal right 'bout now. Time for a bedtime snack before I take a short nap (working third shift tonight). Excuse me, while I go heat up some water...

Edited by pj on 02/02/2006 18:33:41 MST.

Stephan Guyenet
(Guyenet) - F
Re: Re: Hiking without kitchen on 02/02/2006 21:17:42 MST Print View

Nuts, dried fruit and whole-wheat pitas. That's about all you need. Too many peanuts make me sick though so I bring almonds or mixed nuts. Dried tart cherries are delicious, as are figs and prunes. Keep them bowels rollin.

I feel great eating like this on short trips. I crave fresh food but that's true whether I'm cooking or not. I don't really feel the need for warm food at camp. Warm clothes are good enough.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Hiking without kitchen on 02/03/2006 01:33:45 MST Print View

Stephan, Agree with you on the hot food issue. I'm going to have to give your whole wheat Pita's or perhaps a whole wheat tortilla/chapatti a try - I really miss wheat breadstuffs after 2-3 days. If it's cold outside, hot green tea, or even just hot water - with or without a quick "dip" of the teabag for flavor - at night before turning in (mo caffeine). For me at least, O-Cha (green tea) or even Gen Mai Cha (toasted brown rice mixed with the green tea leaves) serves as a fine substitute for warmin' up the innards.

enjoyment and safety on 03/13/2006 10:13:00 MST Print View

One of the reasons I go to the woods is for enjoyment. I find that pleasure in the backcountry comes in many forms: i.e. being able to move 25 miles in a day. Bagging peaks on a whim. A chocolate bar. A dry shirt.

I went "cold-food" a few times, but I found that hot food brings me so much ejoyment that it cancels out the pain of hauling the extra 8-16 oz. of kitchen equipment and fuel by a factor of 10.

Especially after a day or 5 of rigorous exertion: that first sip of hot soup in the evening and that first steaming cup of tea in the morning tastes better than a four-star restaurant meal back in the world. I'm very much capable of doing without it, but the tradeoff isn't worth it for me.

The other thing I lose when I leave the stove at home is a margin of control over my own ability to carry on and make good decisions. A stove is a way of "injecting heat" into your body at a time when your body may be telling you that the furnace is closed for the day. Hot calories can be a way of re-starting the boiler and buying yourself another couple of hours of good judgement, good focus, good balance and agility, and good progress.

In Canada as in many places in the US, we can and do experience 4-season weather on any day of the year in the mountains. A few years ago I was slogging through a snowstorm on July 14th (wearing everything but my sleeping bag) when I walked into a clearing. One problem: I knew this trail didn't have any large clearings, and that I had walked off the trail at some point since... lunch! I turned around and started backtracking, trying to remember 2 years in the past to the last time I'd been there. As soon as I wasn't confident anymore, I became aware that I was profoundly cold and exhausted -- I hadn't noticed previously.

Stopping for a hot meal allowed me to "force-reheat" myself and get the calorie-burner going again. At that point I was able to think clearly about how to get back on track, and I descended out of the high country and the snow using the last of my reserves. Without the "hot-food-now" option, I might have had a different night.