Favorite Quotes"Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling." - Henry David Thoreau
- May 2013 (7)
- April 2013 (3)
- March 2013 (2)
- February 2013 (2)
- January 2013 (5)
- December 2012 (6)
- November 2012 (2)
- October 2012 (3)
- September 2012 (2)
- June 2012 (1)
- April 2012 (2)
- March 2012 (2)
- February 2012 (2)
- January 2012 (4)
- November 2011 (1)
- October 2011 (1)
- September 2011 (1)
- December 2010 (1)
What do you prefer in the backcountry?
Some REA guides are all about the dry goods, while others are all over the dehydrated meals.
What are the pros and cons of each? What does it matter?
Here are some basic concepts to help you weight in on the platter:
- Cost: Lets face it, calories in calories out. In the backcountry, for the most part, we don’t need 5 star cuisine (though it’s nice on occasion). And most outdoor enthusiasts are complaining about never having enough money or blowing it all on there fancy new high speed, low drag, shiny, awesome, super light, super strong equipment. I can’t remember ever hearing a fellow backcountry enthusiasts brag about the food they purchased….
- Weight: The lighter a pack is, the happier the hiker is. On a multiple day hike, food begins to become the heaviest single thing that one carries (assuming that all your food is considered one item). Thus, the less weight the food is the better (i.e. one would carry a plastic jar of almond butter over a glass jar).
- Needs: This really ties into almost all of these categories, but really what were looking for is meals that require less stuff to make said meal. For instance, burritos are a popular backcountry meal because you don’t really need a dish to eat them with and they have lots of good calories and are fairly “simple”, however, you generally need more pots to cook with (one for rice, one for beans, etc).
- Time: We all love a good meal. However, at the end of the day, a meal that takes an hour or more to cook isn’t the best idea with a hungry group just wanting to settle down and go to bed, especially if the weather isn’t the greatest out (rain, snow, wind, etc). The shorter the prep/cook time the better.
- Quality: Depending on how hard core you are, this may or may not be a heavy factor. From the guiding stand point, a happy client comes back, so oatmeal and ramen don’t cut it for 3 days straight. (Though higher quality usually means more prep/cook time). This is where experience, research, and creativity begins to play in. How to get a good quality food prepared, while meeting these other categorical highlights.
- Mess: How much work is going into the meal after it has been consumed? No one wants to scrub dishes on the side of a mountain or have food scraps laying around in bear country. This category refers to the acts of scraping refried beans out of the pan or worrying about spilling couscous on the ground, etc?
- Garbage: What trash is left over after clean up? Do you have an LNT filter full of wasted food and soap that you now have to carry around? Or is there nothing but a top ramen wrapper left to deal with?
Keeping these basic concepts in mind, we can now begin to rate various things. For instance:
Category Dried Goods vs Dehydrated Meals
Cost Cheap Expensive
Weight Usually light Always Light
Needs Tends to be Higher 1 Pot
Time Tends to be Slow Always Fast
Quality Usually High Generally Low
Mess Varies Ultra Low
Garbage Varies Low
Creativity Must be Creative None required, none accepted.
A quick look at this basic break down would probably lead one to assume that dehydrated meals are generally better, but more costly. And if your in a hurry without much forethought, we agree.
However, with just a little bit of time, and a little bit of creativity, and perhaps a touch of research, anyone can put together a super light, super cheap, and even tasty meal that has almost no clean up (not to mention, save you tons of money, especially if your cooking for more than 2)!
Stay tuned for tomarows blog to learn more about cooking on a budget!
“In terms of protein, couscous has 3.6 g for every 100 calories, equivalent to pasta, and well above the 2.6 g for every 100 calories of white rice. Furthermore, couscous contains a 1% fat-to-calorie ratio, compared to 3% for white rice, 5% for pasta, and 11.3% for rice pilaf.” -Wikipedia