I received an email the other day asking some questions about the backpacking video that I recently put up on the blog. They are great questions and so I thought I’d share the email and answers here.
Question: What sort of Food Bag do you use? Is it insulated? Does that keep frozen foods cool enough to prevent bacterial growth over a summer weekend?
The food bag that I use is the Sea to Summit Trash Dry sack. It is a 10 liter dry bag. Total water proof and more importantly reduces the oders. I repackage all my food into heavy-duty zip lock bags and then it all goes in the “inner bag” of the food bag. It is not insulated. In so far as frozen foods. The foods that are frozen I put in the freezer and keep it there until Friday when we leave. Typically it will stay cold and thaw in time for me to cook it. I have never had a problem with bacterial growth. The food stays cold enough. Having said that though.. I live in Oregon.. and our temps don’t get to high until August. I have used cold streams to store the food in also when I think there is a need to keep things cold. Our water is never warm. That is another nice feature of the bag. It can be placed in water and everything stays dry. I love the hooks on the side. Makes it easy to hang. This bag is endorsed by the Leave No Trace Organization.
Question: Was that a metal spork you were using to stir up the meal? I had always been taught that metal utensils will damage the anti-stick coating in pots. I could see using a plastic spork, but I wanted your opinion if you thought this was important.
Yes that is a metal (Titanium) spork. It is the REI Ti ware spork. I have used that spork for years now. And yes it will scratch the surface of a non stick pot if you are not careful. I would not recommend this to Scouts that do not care for their gear, but it works for me. I think it is worth teaching the Scouts to be careful.. even plastic utensils will begin to scratch if not careful. I have an ASM that cringes every time I do that.. but my pots seem to not be worse for the wear.
Question: What sort of lid lifter do you recommend for Scouts? I have looked for something like this to purchase, but have not been able to find anything under a “lid lifter” search.
I actually have an MSR pot lifter that came with the pot set. Since I started using the Imusa mug to do most of my cooking however it have been dropped from the packing list. Here are some of the types of lifters that I would suggest for the Scouts. LINK. Most if not all of our out fitters locally have them for purchase. They range from about $4 to $15 dollars depending on the brand. I have gotten so used to using the rag with the Imusa mug that it has become routine. But pot lifters are a great idea.
Question: What sort of coffee do you prefer? I take it you must bring along the instant packets if they fit in that little Nalgene bottle.
I have been using Maxwell house instant coffee lately. I transfer it all into that Nalgene bottle so I only have to fill it about every 4 camp outs. I like the Starbucks Via coffee also, but the Maxwell House International Cafe stuff is cheaper and tasty. I don’t have to add anything also. As much as you could argue that there is nothing better than fresh brewed coffee.. when I can roll over in the hammock and fire up my stove, boil water, and in minutes have some good tasting coffee.. I will take it. Besides, when backpacking, sometimes less is better and a Nalgene full of flavor and a little pick me up, well, that’s all I need. I think talking about coffee is like discussing religion or politics… everyone has an opinion. I generally use the backpacker philosophy of “Hike your own Hike” when it comes to coffee. everyone’s mileage will vary and everyone have their own taste. As with all my gear, it is what I am comfortable carrying and using, I do not proclaim that how I do it is the best, but it all works for me. Having said that though.. It is how I teach our Scouts, how they adopt it and use it is up to them.
I have often said that I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil.. and yet many of the Scouts of my Troop use it.. They Hike their own Hike. We always reinforce this idea. “Here are some ways to do it, some gear to do it with, and recommended skills that will help… now find your style, gear, and routine and hike your own hike”.
I hope this helps. Sometimes I look back and see that I put something out… and of course it makes perfect sense to me.. it’s my stuff. Glad you asked the questions.
Have a Great Scouting Day!