YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO EAT!

Among the clouds in the Rocky Mountains.
You may need more calories while hiking.
Make sure you have a plan for a water supply.


The marketplace has provided us a wide range of dining options for the backcountry. Food and stoves come in great varieties. I personally choose NOT to cook in the wilderness. I am more than satisfied by the really tasty freeze dried and dehydrated foods available today in many sporting goods stores.

I simply use a very basic stove to boil water. Modern camping entrees can be rehydrated in the heavy packaging bag. Just remember to thoroughly mix the ingredients and use a paper clip or small clamp to keep the bag closed while "cooking." I also use a food dehydrator (Ronco...seriously) to prepare fruits, vegetables and things such as tofu and other entrees for the trail. Like anything, it pays to practice your preparation and determine what you like and dislike weeks prior to an actual trip! The wilderness is full of surprises, your food should not be one of them. Small packets of condiments and soy sauce are available in restaurants...save your extra packets for camping. One advantage of preparing your own food (beside the cost) is controlling sodium content. Many commercial foods are quite high in sodium. If you don't mind the extra weight, you will find a variety of "canned" meats and fish in foil like pouches, and of course there is the good old Minute Rice and Ramen Noodles as well as other items worth experimenting with (before your trip). Oatmeal and dry cereal with powdered milk still taste good on the trail for breakfast. Raisins and other dried fruits are God's invention for hikers. ANY food tastes better in the wilderness.


Clockwise, starting with the Sierra Stove. The Sierra stove or Zip Stove, uses small pieces of wood, twigs, cones and leaves for fuel. A small electric fan underneath the stove creates some excellent flame. The drawback is finding dry fuel and the fact some areas do not allow open flame for cooking. In my humble opinion, this stove is as safe as any as the flame is contained in the metal chamber although I'm sure ash and embers could be a concern...I like this stove a lot. The next two stoves are Coleman white gas stoves and are inexpensive and quite adequate. The stove on the left is probably the cheapest and simplest. Again this Coleman is quite adequate and uses a canister of compressed fuel. The only drawback to this stove is you never know for sure what your fuel reserve is. The gold or brass colored cylinder in front of the Sierra stove is a ring designed to sit atop a Sterno can. I like to carry this ring and a can of Sterno as a cheap emergency stove in the event of a mechanical problem with the regular stove. The yellow tube contains a fire starter paste useful with the Zip stove in wet weather. NO MATTER WHICH STOVE YOU USE DON'T FORGET WATERPROOF MATCHES AND A LIGHTER! My father ( a former hunting and fishing guide) used to say you could start a fire by rubbing two boy scouts together but I think he was kidding.

Whatever your food and stove preference some things are mandatory. ALWAYS prepare your food and eat far downwind of where you sleep! This is a bear thing and very important. Also, do not keep food in your tent. Likewise, please pack out all trash and secure it away from your camp at night. Many people choose to suspend their food cache between trees out of a bear's reach. I personally prefer a bear box.


These hard plastic containers are bear proof and must be opened with a coin or screwdriver...items not carried by most bears. These boxes are believed odor retaining an unlikely to be carried by an animal. Mine is a Garcia Machine and is less than 9" in diameter, 12" long and weighs 2.7 lbs. It will hold 4 to 6 days food for one person.

You will need water...for cooking and drinking...probably more than you needed in civilization. You will need a good water filter or enough fuel to boil all of your water. Sadly, water anywhere can now be contaminated. The days of drinking from a fresh mountain stream are over (if they indeed ever really existed...we don't know much about the medical fates of the mountain men who didn't make it to legend).

Wide mouth bottles are more convenient. Pur and MSR make excellent filters. There may be others. Check the literature to see the limits of your particular device. When in doubt, boil. I also carry a back up vial of water purification tablets. There is no need to buy an expensive cooking pot if you are only boiling water. I have had excellent results from using an old lightweight coffee pot, lexan spoons and a durable plastic drinking cup of a Sierra design.



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