In This Issue
- Excalibur Dehydrator Five Tray Model 3526TCDB
- Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze
- LuminAid Packlite 16 Version 2
A premium food dehydrator with five trays, a clear front door, and an adjustable temperature range that is low enough to preserve the active enzymes in fruit and vegetables, but high enough to safely dehydrate meat for jerky. MSRP $269.95.
- Adjustable thermostat from 105 degrees Fahrenheit to 165 degrees Fahrenheit
- 26 hour timer
- Five trays 15’’x 15’’ each (BPA free)
- 10 year warranty
- 5’’ fan 440 watts
DIY hikers like to tinker, so why not tinker with food? Some justify the activity of home food dehydrating as cost-saving, time-saving, and nutrition-saving, but for most of us, it remains an interesting hobby that gives us more ownership in our outdoor experiences.
In my inaugural test with the Excalibur Dehydrator, I (Ryan) decided to see how it could handle one of the more complicated food types to work with – salmon. Its fatty meat is notoriously difficult to dehydrate and preserve without turning the salmon to either a pile of mush or a firestarting stick.
What separates a quality dehydrator from a lesser one is its ability to maintain consistent temperature control and air circulation. When I dehydrated my batch of tamari-malabar seasoned salmon, the result was exactly what I was hoping for – a dry but chewy texture and the full flavor of the meat without being too jerky-like.
Having an insatiable appetite for data, I rigged a datalogger with thermocouples throughout my salmon-drying experiment just to see if temperature control across different trays and in different tray locations remained consistent throughout the 18-hour dehydration cycle. I set the thermostat to 155 deg F, and the temperature varied by less than 3.5 deg F regardless of location or time during the drying cycle.
So with my need for technical performance satisfied, the other key highlights are that it’s easy to use (two knobs!) and easy to clean (trays go in the dishwasher!). For an extra $130 you can either upgrade to the far more attractive stainless steel model or spend the cash saved on about 10 pounds of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, which can be cut up and dehydrated into about 100 snack-sized pieces for your upcoming trekking season!
Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze
Munk Pack Oatmeal and Fruit Squeeze is a snack that you can consume on the go without any utensils. This oatmeal is certified gluten free, non-gmo verified, and has 3-4 grams of fiber per serving. MSRP $14.99 (six pack).
- Sugar only from fruit, three grams of fiber, and eighty calories with twelve calories from fat
- Rolled oats and flax seed for sustained energy
- BPA free pouch
- Omega 3’s
- Ready to eat on the go
Outstanding texture and flavor, quality ingredients and energy, and packaging that allows it to be accessed and eaten while moving on the trail make this a very appealing product to the outdoor athlete. Unfortunately, its abysmal calorie-to-weight ratio (25 Calories per ounce) disqualify it as a food source for the ultralight backpacker interested in saving food weight on a multi-day expedition. If the product could dial in a 100-Calorie portion for less than two ounces, and offer lighter packaging, we’d be more inclined to recommend it to you. It remains a good option as a training food, however, for day trips where sucking gels or dry-mouthing an energy bar gets old.
LuminAid PackLite 16
The LuminAid PackLite 16 is a solar powered inflatable emergency light that provides up to sixteen hours of light, weighs less than three ounces. MSRP $24.99.
- Recharges in seven hours of direct sunlight
- Waterproof up to one meter and can float (IPX-7)
- Weight 2.9 ounces
- One button operation switches between lighting modes (Extra bright, high, low, and flashing)
- Dimensions 8.25’’ wide by 12’’ long (uninflated)
This lantern is light enough that I will use it as my secondary light source. This is going to replace my head lamp since I prefer to use a small handheld flashlight that has a pocket clip (clipped to the bill of my hat) for the majority of my lighting tasks. The light output is good enough to light up your immediate working area at night, and not having to switch batteries is a nice feature. Ease of use is also a positive when considering the interface since there is only one button to cycle through the lighting modes. The lantern is inflatable and I have seen mention of it being used as a pillow. I might try this, although I have a pretty comfortable way of folding my jacket into its hood, which is what I currently use. Durability is a concern that I have since it is a soft material. I think as long as I take the care necessary to fold it up properly and not poke it with anything sharp, the lantern will hold up. The price is low enough that I don’t have any reservations about my purchase, even if I end up having to replace it after a few trips. There is also another thing to consider when purchasing. You can spend just a little more money and buy a light (the older version of the lantern) and choose an organization that will send the same lantern to someone in a different country that needs it, in hopes that the person won’t have to rely on a kerosene lantern for their night time light source. You can read more about that here.