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Philmont food
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Sean Heenan

Locale: Southeast mountains
Philmont food on 11/06/2012 09:16:46 MST Print View

I'm sure that this has been discussed before but could not find a specific thread dealing with it. My question is how do you deal with the food that Philmont gives you. We just bought 2012 food from Philmont and I'm surprised at some of the food in the meal bags such as a full box of saltine crackers, ritz crackers, a box of stuffing. This seems like a huge waste, so my question is did you open the meal bags and break down some of the big items down so you don't carry boxes and large plastic bags of air.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
PHILMONT FOOD... on 11/06/2012 12:03:47 MST Print View

Some crews field strip the food bags to reduce the extra cardboard and paper, however, my impression was that this was a minority of crews. You may find the boxes helpful to hold/compress your trash as we did. The large plastic bags have holes in them so they can be compressed some to save space. For your planning, a good estimate for how much pack space the food takes is about a basketball.

Not really in your question but we gave each crewmember two 2-gallon ziplocs to keep track of their food. It was up to the "food buddies" to split their share of the food bags. With their name on the outside, it really helped sort the bear bag each morning and keep track of personal smellables.

Hope this helps some...

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Philmont Food ... on 11/07/2012 05:22:19 MST Print View

+1 on Dan's comments.

Wasteful Packaging -
Yup, there is wasteful packaging of the food ( which adds to it being bulky, & excess weight). Based on the food buddies' choice, field stripping off the excess packaging from the food (& consequently getting the bulk down) was done. (BTW, a few in our crews didn't care to spend the effort to do this - more about them in a moment)
For those that did strip off the excess packaging (where practical) and wanted the preparation instructions on the packaging to remain available - that was accomplished by either cutting them off the box then saving them (most used the scissors from a Victorinox Classic) or marking it on the remaining packaging with a Mini-Sharpie (=again, food buddies choice).
Weight savings = 7.8 ounces (that's a single data point - measured at base camp for 5 bags of food = 3 days worth of food split).

I would "guessimate" a reduction in bulk of maybe averaging 25-30% beyond the squeezing out of the trapped air.

For the lads who chose not to field strip off excess packaging, and instead just crushed corners of boxes, etc. in order to squeeze the bulk down, I would "guessimate" a reduction in bulk of maybe averaging 20-25% beyond the squeezing out of the trapped air.

BTW - Field stripping off the excess packaging from the food was not a common practice - for the crews that got their supplies at the same time as us, (which is rather a small sample size) I saw only one other crew field stripping off their excess packaging bulk during our whole trek.

Morning Food Sort -
FWIW: This was our crews' set-up: We did not use the Philmont bear bags (= all food in big bags system). Each crew brought their own food storage bag and with their food buddy split their food among themselves. This eliminated the morning food sort exercise.
If useful, here's a link to the thread that discusses this in greater depth
(bear bags are on the 2nd page):

This approach was done for the packaging only - not for eliminating (leaving behind) food that the lads didn't like. Calories are important. For dealing with food that the lads didn't like, there was either bartering going on amongst themselves, or changing out items from the swap box at each camp.
+1 on Sarah's advice on eating heavy stuff first. And remember Philmont says that each day's packages (i.e. breakfast, lunch, & dinner) are designed to be eaten on the same day - in order to get the correct balance of calories and nutrition. With that acknowledged, the cans and crackers were mostly in the lunches.

Edited by tr-browsing on 11/08/2012 08:29:12 MST.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Philmont food - prioritize comsumption on 11/07/2012 07:43:53 MST Print View

My crews have not tended to 'field strip' meal bags.... never know how hungry you'll really be... instead my crews have tended to 'prioritize consumption' meaning that we consume the given meals based on bulk or weight.
If you 'field strip' your box of saltines (carry only the cracker sleeve) and then don't eat them for 2-3 days you usually wind up with crumbs/dust, so instead of eating crumbs/dust in 2 or 3 days we eat the saltine meal as one of the first ones after our given food pick-up.
Same holds true for meals with canned items as they tend to be rather heavy. Also tend to try to consume these as we go thru a staff camp so we don't have to carry excess trash.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Philmont food - prioritize comsumption on 11/07/2012 11:06:47 MST Print View

A fine example of technique trumping all else! Thanks Sarah

Liz Fallin
(fallin) - M
Philmont Food - Stripping and Carrying on 11/07/2012 12:32:20 MST Print View

We have tent/food/chore buddies. And one of our leaders has a farm, so he brings enough feed sacks for each pair, plus a few extra for bear bags/oops bag. All feed sacks are clearly labeled.

Then when it's time to pick up your 48 lbs of food per person (I'm kidding, sort of), each pair strips their own individual meals. I hate Lara bars, so those get dumped in the swap box. As does my jalapeno squeeze cheese. Anyway, we're able to dump quite a bit. We try not to rip open each meal pack, but we carry enough tape to seal them up if need be.

I'll definitely try the packaging reduction. And Sarah, thanks for the tip re eating the crackers and canned meat first. Brilliant :-)

2011, 2013 806-E

Sean Heenan

Locale: Southeast mountains
Philmont food on 11/07/2012 17:10:24 MST Print View

Thanks for the insights. Our troop is prepping for our trip this summer and have bought some Philmont food for our upcoming shakedown. I had read about the food but the whole crew was shocked because they wouldn't pack their food for a backpacking trip like that, if they did the would get plenty of feedback from their peers. We will try and field strip the meals for shakedown and see how that works. I like the idea of eating crackers and can foods first. I'll report back after the shakedown to see what the boys thought about field stripping the food and food prep.


Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Philmont Food on 11/08/2012 12:20:26 MST Print View

If you could search the archives here better, you would see that this subject gets rehashed every year.... Having 'been there, done that' twice now here are my thoughts on 'stripping' food packs.
- I hate Larabars, you couldn't pay me to eat one normally.... but a Philmont, where calories count, I try to choke them down. I usually carry them in my shorts pocket for the first hour or so until our mid morning break, then they are warmed and softer and much more appetizing to me.
- Don't assume you (or the kids) don't like something (or like something) based on the label or packaging. Example this year - I LOVE Honey stingers...assumed I'd like the waffles, they're nasty, but some of the kids loved them.
- Don't impose your food opinions on others. Did I say I hate Larabars, but when asked by my crew how they were I say 'they are alright'.... people need to form their own opinions on food and their own opinions may even change when they have hiked for hours and are hungry.
- Food weight and bulk decreases daily, 3 times a day actually.... don't sweat it.
- cut weight elsewhere, NOT with your food. For most of the people reading this forum the BEST place to cut weight is in our waistline! Months before we hit the trail!! The 2 oz you might save by not carrying the crackers in the box for 1 or 2 days, is nothing compared to the 2 pounds you could not carry for the ENTIRE trek if you had worked out at home to be better prepared to hit the trail!
Don't sweat the small stuff, carry only what you need, leave the duplicate & extra crap at home, and be more ready than you think, cuz the kids will hike you into the ground if you let them!!! :-)

Asst Council Contingent Leader
2010 - 620-D3 Trek 25 (42 People from Ohio to Philmont)
2012 - 617-D8 Trek 21 (98 People from Ohio to Philmont)

Edited by SCKuhn on 11/08/2012 12:26:33 MST.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
PHILMONT FOOD AND PREPS... on 11/13/2012 11:47:09 MST Print View

After Sarah's comments on the Larabars, I couldn't resist... Larabars are hideous! I tried one ONCE... Nearly lost the rest of my meal as did the rest of the crew from laughter seeing my reaction. I wouldn't feed one to our mule, Timmy!

Generally all of the other snacks (aka food) was pretty good. You get real tired of granola bars, clif bars, fruit bars, and snack bars after a few days.

Recommend asking for fruit at every commissary stop! I had a pear at Ute Gulch that I will probably never forget.

+1 to Sarah on losing some weight

We went this past summer and found a number of adult advisors who were grossly overweight for the experience. I'm sure that they are all very well meaning dads/moms but our crew noted the panting and profuse sweating on many as we passed them. We are fortunate to live at 6500 feet and hike anywhere up from here so were well accustomed to the climbs.

I saw a good recommendation in these blogs for folks coming from sea level to walk a lot each week. They also recommended adding weight to a pack until you carry 20-30 pounds on your daily walks without any issues. This has a lot of benefits... You'll probably lose a few pounds, toughen your feet, break-in any shoes/boots and strengthen your core muscles... Not to mention that you'll have a lot more fun at Philmont!

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Larabars! on 11/23/2012 16:52:14 MST Print View

Of course, I really like Larabars. They are almost all real fruit, probably the least processed thing in all of Philmont, including base camp. I'm sure the dates help reduce constipation on the trail, too.

I like the Probars almost as much. The aren't an extruded calorie substance like a Powerbar, but recognizable nuts, grains, and fruit.

So, Philmont chose my two favorite trail bars.

Our crew had food buddies, which makes breakfast and lunch really simple. Find your buddy and eat.

We packed the food as is, didn't strip anything. It is bulky, but not a lot heavier than other backpacking food. Our guys ate everything provided, plus a bunch of other stuff they picked up from swap/drop boxes.

Edited by wunder on 11/23/2012 16:53:33 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Larabars! on 11/23/2012 17:20:51 MST Print View

There's no accounting for personal taste but for me, Larabars are preferable to starvation .... but just barely!

I'll have to try probars.

Cliff and Luna bars are mostly winners for me (they are made by the same company)

ingredients on 11/24/2012 17:01:37 MST Print View

Without added sugar , juice concentrates, or chocolate, larabars arent as tasty as many things.
Not sure I would classify them as lowly as some here though,I dont think they are bad.

Read the label of one:

Ingredients: Dates, Peanuts, salt.

pretty simple.

Sean Heenan

Locale: Southeast mountains
Philmont food on 11/29/2012 07:34:33 MST Print View

Went on our shakedown trip and used the Philfood we ordered. The guys did buddy cooking and that worked out really well. We did break down some of the boxes, threw out the stuffing box, cut the saltine cracker box in half. Overall I'd have to say the food was pretty good but lots of bars. I'd agree that the honey stingers were good. The dinners were all good except for one buddy group that had some kind lasagna that they said was horrible. I, along with the scoutmaster, ate the stuffing and chicken and I have found a new backpacking meal, it was filling, quick to make, and fed 4, the boys who had lasagna ate the remains of the stuffing and chicken. One question did come up, that I will pose here, and that is why not do buddy cooking at Philmont instead of crew cooking? Does the crew all have the same dinner packs, breakfast packs, lunch packs?

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Philmont Food on 11/29/2012 11:55:24 MST Print View

'Does the crew all have the same dinner packs, breakfast packs, lunch packs?'
Yes everyone eats the same meal at Philmont. You might have noticed on the packaging that each bag was labeled - Breakfast 1, Lunch 1, Dinner 1, etc... so on any given day you would eat all the same numbered meals - B1, L1, & D1 or B2, L2 & D2, etc....

Edited by SCKuhn on 11/29/2012 11:56:23 MST.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
PHILMONT FOOD PREP on 11/29/2012 16:35:50 MST Print View

I think the answer that most Rangers would provide to your question about "buddy cooking" is that it takes away from the crew experience of cooking and eating together.

On your question about everyone having the same food on the same day... It was a bit funny to visit the swap boxes at the next staffed camp... You get a very good idea of what the scouts like and don't like. :-)

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Philmont food on 11/30/2012 09:42:46 MST Print View

> One question did come up, that I will pose here, and that is why not do buddy cooking at Philmont instead of crew cooking?

Buddy cooking is a lot more flexible. We had to do it on our Philmont Trek because we had crew members who were vegetarians. So they could not just get a ladle of Dinner#3. The buddy cooking worked to everyone's advantage. The scouts with dietary needs traded dinners around, for example giving their chicken and stuffing for a mac-n-cheese dinner. Everyone was happy. We all didn't eat the same thing every night, but we all cooked together and ate together, which is the "spirit" of the "Philmont Way".

Sean Heenan

Locale: Southeast mountains
Philmont food on 12/04/2012 07:45:43 MST Print View

We also have one scout with food allergies so we(he) will have to cook alone or we'll all have to eat what he eats(I guess). So anyone else with experience with food allergies and what the work around is this. I agree with you George that buddy cooking could still be made to be cooking Philmont style.