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Odd Question
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Brian Kelly
Odd Question on 11/11/2012 17:11:54 MST Print View

I'm not sure if this is the right thread for this if it isn't please move it and I'm sorry. I'm curious who all here uses a dehydrator to make there backpacking foods and if not or even if you do what are you guys bringing for say a 5 day trip as far as food goes so that it is small enough to fit in a 2400 cubic inches pack.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

It depends.. on 11/11/2012 20:08:47 MST Print View

Can't speak for the masses on here.. but when I pack 5 days of food in that pack size -- I generally bulge at the seams. I need at least 2 lbs a day after the first 2 days for me to be decently fed (hike mostly 20-30 miles a day when I'm out) and I don't like to hit the wall with being underfed. Mostly :

- summer sausage, instant potatos / ramen / liptons instant sides, sharp cheeses, tortillas, PB, Nutella, nut mixes, dried fruit, sesame sticks, crushed potato chips in a ziploc and eaten with a spork, olive oil (add to any food that you can), and some good hot chocolate packs (cold weather) or a nipper of vodka (any weather at all).

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: Odd Question on 11/11/2012 20:56:57 MST Print View

First: +1 on the alcohol. However, I usually find space in one of my pack's side pockets for a pint of bourbon.

As for 5 days of food-- in a pack that size, it would be tight for me, even if I did the usual arrangements (dishes from dehydrated ingredients for breakfast and supper, stored in freezer bags; shelf-stable food from the grocery store for lunches). I usually need every cubic inch of my food bag (12L; approx. 730 ci) to hold everything, once snacks get added into the mix.

It would be easier, I think, if I chose dishes that take less volume-- say, things with couscous, crushed pasta, rice and beans, without adding in large slices of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, dried meats, etc. But I eat like a foodie snob, so that doesn't seem plausible.

Don A.
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Odd Question on 11/11/2012 21:27:47 MST Print View

I dehydrate a lot of my food and also use some off the shelf stuff that will rehydrate well in a bag. You can dehydrate just about anything. Cook up some spaghetti in a meat sauce, chili, ground hamburger, ground turkey etc. etc. Off the shelf stuff like the Knorr side dishes, ramen etc. etc. Whatever strikes your fancy. In the end I only need 1.5 to 1.75lbs of food a day but I only hike 8-12 miles a day usually. I have a GG Murmur pack and could easily get 5 days of food in it for 3 season trips. I even put my Berikade weekender in it just to see if it would fit, it does but I wouldn't carry it in the Murmer--to much weight for the pack. Everyone will have different food requirements--you need to find what works for you. I recommend you try your food at home before taking it on the trail. There is nothing worse than being out a few days and finding all your food is tickling your gag reflex.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Dehydration on 11/12/2012 06:05:27 MST Print View

You might want to check out the food forum on this subject.

As a general rule, fat in meat and dairy can go rancid much sooner than other foods.
Salt and other preservatives can increase the shelf life of fats.

Powder whole milk like Needo or Klim will go bad much faster than powdered skim milk.
I still carry powder whole milk, but keep in the fridge when not hiking.

Dehydrating meals can also go bad much faster unless stored in a fridge if they contain fat. A weekend summer hike or multi-week in cool weather should be fine.

I try to plan my dehydrating so that foods that contain fat are heavily salted first.
I dehydrate meat separately this way.

I don't add salt to the other foods so that when combined with the meat, have a fairly balanced salt content.

I try to choose the leanest meat I can find for dehydrating, shop/slice and pack with salt a few hours before dehydrating.
I bring vegetable oil along on my hikes to increase the fat content of my meals.

Fatty meats like dried salami can have long shelf life with a high fat content because of the preservative ingredients(lactic acid, salt and others) that are part of the process.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 11/12/2012 11:52:26 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Compact food on 11/12/2012 06:10:36 MST Print View

P.S. When I need to pack into a small area like a bear canister or smallish pack. I only carry high density foods.

eg, angel hair pasta instead of ramen.

Volume per ounce is important.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Dehydration on 11/12/2012 08:59:11 MST Print View

I have been dehydrating all my camping meals for about 2 years now. First piece of advice is do not scrimp on the dehydrator. I wasted money on two cheap dehydrators before getting a Excalibur Food Dehydrator. It is a little more pricy, but the quality is significantly better that the cheaper models.

Rancid meat is not something I think you have to worry about and I have never added extra salt. In fact one of the reasons why I started dehydrating my own camping means was to get away from the salt in a lot of commercial camping meals.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Odd Question on 11/12/2012 10:38:16 MST Print View

I dehydrate my dinners, take bars for snacks during the day, and granola for breakfast. Bars and granola are dense and pack very well. Dinners, not so much.

I use a ULA Ohm which has a measured 2500ci in the body, plus another 600ci in the extension collar.

Five days in the main body is easy, as is 10 with the extension. I have managed 12, but it was tight.

FWIW, I can get 4 days + a dinner into a Bearikade Weekender which has a volume of 650ci volume.

And when you say a 2400 ci pack, you need to know if that is in the body, or includes all of the exterior pockets as well.

It's smoke and mirrors when it comes to pack volume.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Rancid Meat on 11/12/2012 11:59:30 MST Print View

As far my statement about foods containing fat going rancid faster.

I meant this in cases where you need to dehydrate food to last for a long period of time without refrigeration.

An example would be to dehydrate over the winter and mailed to resupply points for a thru-hike. You could end up with food being stored for several months some of that time at summer temperatures.

Otherwise, dehydrated fatty meat can store for a very long time when refrigerated.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
33 liters on 11/12/2012 12:12:05 MST Print View

brian k, for 3 season, ie, not snow or too cold, no problem packing in 5-7 days of food into a 33 liter pack, that's about 2100 cubic inches, not counting outside pockets (sides/back). As noted above, you can't ignore your body weight + your daily mileage when figuring your food requirements. I'm average I'd guess in mileage, 8,9 hours a day is fine with me for hiking time.

No commercial food except some dried veggies/raisins/dates, almost all dried in dehydrator.

Fat is olive oil carried in a bottle outside pack.

Breakfast: oatmeal, flattened style, dried apples, olive oil. Can add dried milk if you want more protein.

snacks: dates, raisins, pemmican, home made, dried fatty meat.

lunch: dried homemade heavy whole wheat bread, I cut it into small slices then dry. Salami is a good topping, or dried humus mix, whatever. the dried bread is the bulkiest thing I bring, if I could make that take less room, maybe some homemade flat bread, 7 days would probably be doable in that that pack in winter/rainy times.

Dinner: dried cooked brown rice, dried sliced/diced potatoes. brined, then dried then chopped meat. Dried veggies.

All the foods are stored in bulk food bags, so there's no waste of space. Cooking is boil then put pot in cozy until rehydration is complete.

last trip I brought enough for 7 days but only went for 5 days due to a miscalculation and some glitches, 33 liter pack, myog, 24 pounds when I walked out the door, with I think 1 pint or so of water. Not sul, or ul, just light in terms of baseweight.

Olive oil and pemmican are about the densest energy/nutrition sources in existence, and way better for your body than sugary stuff, and weigh the least per calorie than anything out there.

I have to admit I scratch my head when I see these larger packs, I tried making one initially that was about 45 or 50 liters and realized it would be 1/3 empty even when all my stuff is in it, following what must be an old template from thru-hiker. Winter and bear canister I could see needing more room, 40 or 50 liters inner capacity.

I got a cheap fanless circular stacking tray dehydrator, used, and, after some testing, realized it was drying at around 140 degrees, which cooks, not dries, the food, I added in a hacked computer case fan (92mm) plus power supply (ac->dc 5v, 1000ma, the fan is 12 v so using a 5 v adapter slows the fan down to the right speed for the temp desired) brick on top which drops the temp to about 120 degrees, which is ideal. No need to spend a lot on a high end machine, but the high end ones have the built in fans and temp controls, but they eat a LOT of power compared to what I use. Total cost, about 8 dollars I think, give or take, I had the case fan already. Works great, not as fast, but fine. A thermoter is needed if you don't have a thermostat operated dehydrator so you can know what temp it is drying at.

If I had a yard with full sun I'd use a solar dehydrator, which are easy to make, and run off solar thermal energy, of course, that would be awesome, but I don't have a yard.

Edited by hhope on 11/12/2012 12:16:19 MST.

Brian Kelly
pack size on 11/12/2012 13:16:52 MST Print View

Thanks for all the replies. I guess I could put this in the food section, maybe i should, but i was unsure because it was about pack size. So what this comes down to is i am getting a windrider pack but cant decide on weather to get the reg windrider(2400) or the 3400 pack. Plus i was going to buy a dehydrator (Excalibur) but wasn't sure it was worth the extra money to get the dehydrator?