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!
As most of you know I am Troop Guide for Wood Badge Course W1-492-11. One of my Might Buffalo patrol members needed some help with his ticket. One of his items is to introduce his Troop to the many different ways of preparing meals while camping. So he called me up and asked if I could do a presentation on Backpack cooking. Well, one thing led to another and we just could not get dates that worked for me, him, and his Troop.. So I thought.. the next best thing to being there is video. So my son and I shot this video on Backpack cooking. It was an excuse to get out a bunch of gear and a way that John could break in his new GoPro camera.
Hope you enjoy.. I did.. got to eat some good chow at the end! Have a Great Scouting Day!
OK.. I tried to get this post out yesterday.. not sure if it was the computer or the operator.. but lets try it again…
I have been playing with a new stove the last couple months. Taken it out on the last three outings and I am in love with it.
The Esbit Alcohol Stove is designed like the Trangia stove out of Sweden. The Esbit is from Germany and is built to last just like the Esbit chemical fuel tablet stove. When I was an 11 year old Tenderfoot I got one of the chemical tablet stoves, as most of the guys in my Troop had them. We lived in Holland at the time and it seemed to be the standard for our Troop. I still have that stove.
So back in February I wanted to find one to show the Scouts of the Troop. I found them and bought a new chemical fuel stove, and right next to it on the shelf sat the Esbit Alcohol Stove for $19.99. I picked it up and thought for 20 bucks it’s worth a shot.
Let me tell you why I like this stove, but first.. let me tell you what I look for in a stove.
First, I like a stove that is easy to use. To many buttons, knobs, pumps, or steps to operate frustrate me.
Next, I like a stove that is not too heavy. I am not a gram weenie.. but something that is too heavy is usually bulky also.
Finally, I like a stove that uses different fuels or multi fuel stoves.
And so.. the esbit alcohol stove has caught my eye. Let me throw some specs out at you. The stove weighs in at 3.2 ounces or 92 grams for those of you that count them up. The stove will burn denatured alcohol, solid fuel (chemical fuel) tablets, and white gas. The Esbit is made of Brass and is 1.8 x 2.9 in or 4.6 x 7.4 cm.
The stove has a screw top with a rubber seal. This is a great feature that allows you to keep fuel in the stove while its in your pack without leakage. It has a simmer ring or flame regulator. I love this feature. It allows you to either go for a full boil or simmer for delicate cooking and frying. This simmer ring has a nice fold away handle that works real well when on the stove. When looking for the full boil, 1 ounce of fuel (Denatured Alcohol) will get water to a rolling boil in 5 minutes. That was a time that I never thought I could get out of an alcohol stove. I am not big on faster boiling or cooking. The way I see it.. I’m camping, relax and enjoy it. Which brings me to another feature of the stove that I love. It makes no noise. It is absolutely quiet. Real nice to site around and chat with.
Alright… But the BSA has a ban on alcohol stoves.. right? No. the BSA has defined the prohibition like this; “Prohibited chemical-fueled equipment—Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed. ” – Chemical Fuels and Equipment publication. Homemade stoves are banned.. but stoves like the Trangia or the Esbit are manufactured with the intent of being used as a stove.
The fuel on the other hand is where the question and where you will have to make a judgment call. Denatured Alcohol is “Not Recommended”, but no where does it state it is prohibited. So you have to be the judge. Here is my take. Let me be clear here. This is MY take. I understand that the BSA has to make decisions based on the lowest common denominator. Denatured alcohol, while it may be toxic if swallowed, is non explosive and extremely stable. The absolute worst thing that can happen if it spills is evaporation. No gear is ruined, and it will be dry before you need it.
The danger comes in the color of the flame. The flame when first lit is almost invisible. This could lead to burns. But in my opinion that rule goes for any stove. Proper training and instruction is important when using this stove. So what I am saying is that when Scouts in my Troop ask if they can use one of these, the answer will be yes to Scouts that I trust can handle it. Scouts that have proven that they will operate it with care. I suppose it is just like giving a Scout his Totin’ Chip. Once they are trained and demonstrate proper use and care, they are allowed to carry and use a Knife, Saw, and Ax. We trust them with other stoves, but only after training. The Esbit Stove is much easier to use than most stove. It is clean, small, and easy to maintain. The only moving part is the simmer ring, which is not used when just boiling.
I love this stove and look forward to cooking many great meals on it. I’ll report more as I use it. Stay tuned.
In this show I have a lengthy chat with a fellow Scoutmaster and great Friend Bob Pierce. Join us as we talk a little bit about everything. Jamboree, Dutch oven cooking, Troop Guides, JLT, Anuual planning, Parents and Philmont just to cover some of the bases. It’s what happens Scoutmasters get together and shoot the breeze. The show was recorded on location at the Annual rendezvous of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Meriwether, so the crashing of waves and other camp sounds fill the background of this nice talk with my buddy Bob.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Please leave some feedback, drop us an email, or leave a comment in the comments section. Thanks for listening. Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last weekend our Troop went caving up at the Dead Horse Cave. We had a great time. Here is a little video of mostly the adult Scouters of the Troop. Sorry, it was way to dark in the cave to get real good video.
Enjoy! Have a Great Scouting Day!
Howdy, welcome back. This is show #97 and we are talking about conducting shakedowns for your next adventure, a great reciepe for filling up a cold belly, and providing service opportunities for our Scouts during this season of giving thanks.
The show is sponsored by ClassB.com Leave some feedback, I love to hear from you.
Listen to the podcast
Here is the recipe from the podcast: Sanna’s Mashed Potato Dinner AT HOME
Pack – 1 1/2 cups of instant mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon of butter or butter powder
3 to 4 scallions or 1/4 green pepper (I did both) (Cut and sliced)
1 small carrot (sliced)
1 ounce or one 1 inch cube of cheddar cheese
1 1/3 inch of pepperoni (thats about 1 ounce)(cut and sliced)
Cut up all of that and pack in zip lock bag. ON THE TRAIL
Boil 1 1/2 cups of water…
Add your potatoes to the water and let stand.
After the potatoes are done add the ingredients folding them into the potatoes.
This makes about one serving of 2 1/4 cups.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Thanks for listening and Have a Great Scouting Day!
Ok.. lets talk about food. I love to try new stuff on camp outs, like I have said in posts before, meals and food occupy a large amount of time on outings. And since I am a Do as I Do kind of leader, I figure the more creative or at least having a variety out there, the Scouts will see these meal options and eventually try them.
What has happened is that many of the Scouts have taken a liking to expanding their meal options. Looking into different ways to prepare pastas, rice options with different meats and yes even veggies.
Since we have a “No Ramen Alone” rule, noodles with extras have increased ways in which our Scouts prepare and eat also.
Prepared meals of the freeze dried or dehydrated variety have also made its way into the packs of our troop, and once again there are many options there also.
I have given many of them a try and some are better than others in my opinion.
Of course every one is familiar with Mountain House and the wide variety it has made available to the backpacking community. Now since this is a Blog and only my opinion here, Mountain House is my least favorite of the dehydrated options. they have a nice selection, are easy to prepare and when cooking for small groups (2 or 3) they are a great choice. I do think that they are a bit spendy at about $8 a meal on average. Some are cheaper than others, while the Beef stew (4 serving) will cost you around $10. This can get spendy and if buying Mountain House I would suggest buying it in bulk. Costco sells it on occasion by the case.
Another option in the dehydrated/freeze dried category is The Backpackers Pantry. Again, some really nice menu items and again, a bit spendy. I do like the “Complete Meal Packages” for 4 that they offer. The price for feeding 4 is pretty good for what you get. The packaging is good and the preparation is easy. Alpine Aire Foods is yet another option in prepared meals. They are in about the same price range, and they have some nice menu options, but I have to be honest, I did not find them the best when it came to taste, and to me.. well, why eat it if it’s not good. The Beef Rotini was hearty, but I was not crazy about the pasta. Hungry Hikers is a company that is local to me. They have some good meals that are very tasty . Not a huge selection, but enough to give you a variety. The biggest drawback to Hungry Hikers is the price. Very spendy for what you get. When you are providing this as an option for your Scouts, make sure they sell lots of Popcorn to afford these marvelous meals. The Chicken Pot pie is my favorite. I like their stuff, I just don’t like the price.
I will not talk about M.R.E.’s. they are novel to kids and some “Wilderness guru’s” think they are cool, but they are heavy and while you may get them at a surplus store on the cheap.. you get what you pay for.
My favorite dehydrated meals to date are from the Packet Gourmet. The food is really good tasting, easy to prepare and pack. Not to spendy and they give Scouts a 15% discount when you sign your unit up for a discount code. When talking price, I found them to be the most reasonable. The discount code costs nothing and it is easy to use. They ship the product real quick and have nice customer service. I highly recommend the Packet Gourmet. They even give away meals to get you hooked. Check them out. I even tried one of their desserts.. YUMMY!
Finally, there is always the “Do it Yourself” option. As I write this post I am dehydrating spaghetti with meat and sauce. It was left over from dinner tonight, so I figured why toss it in the disposal when I can toss in the dehydrator. I will make about 3 good servings and costs almost nothing to make. Investing in a Nesco dehydrator (around $75) is a great way to expand your meal options on the trail.
Full meals, snacks, and trail seasonings, and more are easy to make.
I hope this gives you a few more options to discuss with your Scouts. They can eat real well on the trail without Ramen.
Planning and preparing for an awesome time on the trail typically revolves around food in one way or another. I mean, face it.. we walk till we eat.. then we walk some more till we get to camp… and eat. We wake up, and eat. Point is meal planning is important. We will get into that more later, but I wanted to share with you one of the ways that I plan and prepare meals. I test them at home first.
I stumbled on this Krusteaz ”One Step” muffin mix at our local store. It’s great because you just add water.
I use silicone cups to do the baking in. You can pick them up everywhere. They are easy to clean and reuse.
Enjoy the video.
Bake some of these next time you are out on the trail.. You will not be disappointed.
One of the cool features of these bags is they can stand up, they have a spread bottom, so filling the with water or food items is a lot easier. Makes for a great way to dispose of all your garbage too.
Check out the recipes on this site too… another resource for menu planning.