[Cdt-l] Food Weight, ETC

Charlie Thorpe charliethorpe at att.net
Wed Feb 27 17:38:06 CST 2013

Hello Doug

You asked some questions that we all probably ask ourselves from time to time:

> Just wondering if there are any tips for saving on food weight?

There are a lot of food schemes used by distance hikers and I would guess we could eventually learn to balance personal needs against carrying too much food weight for each of them.

I like to cook and dehydrate my own trail one-pot meals at home before the hike.  I package each day's worth of food into one-day bags and pack an appropriate number of days into resupply parcels if I am section hiking.  Otherwise I put the bags into the freezer so that my wife can mail them to me if I my hike is long enough to make setting out resupplies impractical.  

I have tried both going cold and using off-the-shelf one pot meals by grazing in trail town supermarkets, but these options have worked out somewhat heavier for me for the kinds of foods I like on the trail.

> Better to carry a little less than a little more?

One of the good things about section hiking a long trail is that you get pretty familiar with getting trail hard over and over and over <g>.  I have gotten pretty good at estimating the amount of food I will need before I get trail hard, after I get trail hard, and when the weather gets cold (hiking and sleeping in below freezing temps).  

In general, I do tend to pack just a little bit more than I think I will really need (just in case…), but I always carry any left-overs on down the trail with me.  I don't like to throw trail food away where the wild critters can get it and you never know when you will meet a fellow hiker who will be VERY happy to help get rid of that small extra weight <g>.

> And am I the only one that finds some foods that sound good to me at home- I had hardly stand on the trail?

I only cook/dehydrate trail meals that I already enjoy as regular meals at home.  I usually throw in at least one "new" trail meal I haven't  tried before on the trail during each section hike - I use that meal once during each resupply cycle to see how I like it on the trail.   I can put up with just one meal out of the 6 or 7 I usually use for a resupply cycle if I find that I don't like it as much on the trail as I thought I would.  

Some of these meals make the cut and get used on the next hikes and some don't.

> I am finding a more bland type food appeals to me better than the spicy stuff.

I have found that for me the opposite is often true.  While I do on the average like to eat the same meal over and over during a hike, I also carry a little garlic powder and Tony Cachere's to perk things up when needed.

> I used my 30* summer bag in temps well below that and was cold both nights.  I tried using a small quilt I had Feathered Friends make for me that is about 4' x 5' inside the bag for added warmth but I could not get the quilt to cooperate with me and it kept moving around all night.  Maybe I could safety pin it in place.  Cold nights are miserable and I think I am coming down with a cold. 

My personal metabolism ramps way up when I finally get trail hard and I then tend to sleep warmer unless I get hungry during the night.  I have learned to eat some cheese before going to sleep to carry me through a freezing night.  

I mostly hammock camp (Hennessy hyperlite w/underhammock & open cell insulation) and use a comforter (made from a 30 degree NF down bag cut in half lengthwise) until night temps get down into the single digits.  I use a Shires Tarptent when there are no trees with an ancient 20 degree NF Blue Kazoo down bag  w/Thermarest NeoAir mat.  I use the same Blue Kazoo in the hammock when night temps go single digit.

I carry long johns to use for sleep clothing to help keep the sleeping bag or comforter clean(er) - lightweight Capaline during warmer months, expedition weight when nights get below freezing.  I picked up a set of Body-Sensors (Terramar) expedition weight tops and bottoms in Dubois almost by accident (was on fall sale at the nice little outfitters there) - turned out to be the best (by far) that I have tried.  The long johns double as sleep clothing and as an extra layer when the weather gets really ratty on the trail.

> My best trail food is a block of cheese and a nice onion on a tortilla shell and an individual pack of mayonnaise.

I got sick as a dog from bad mayonnaise that was on the outside of a pack of good mayonnaise.  I noticed that the good pack felt greasy when I opened it, but I didn't think much of it.  That greasy feel transferred from my fingers into the food I put the good mayo on and I came down with a case of food poisoning that put me down hard for almost three days.  Fortunately I was fairly near a town with a hospital and the ER doc told me that he had seen this happen before.  

My take-home message was to use soap and water to wash any mayo packets before I put them into my resupply packet and make SURE that none have burst open when I get ready to use them.

> I can't stand any floaties in my water or strange colors

I have been trying to remember any NM water which didn't have floaties or strange colors <g>.  I have been happy to find water that looked like loose lime jello and cheerfully dipped water out of elk hoofprints many times…my personal water standards have changed considerably since I started hiking the CDT <g>.

If it was me I would definitely check out that train sound…there are LOTS of inclines on the CDT.

Good luck!

- Charlie

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