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  • #3757785
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @Jerry – I don’t see why you couldn’t store FD food frozen. The main risk of freezing anything is that ice crystals will form and cause structural breakdown resulting in a slimy mess when reconstituted. With so little water in FD food, the risk of this is small. Plus, it is frozen during the final cycle of freeze-drying. So re-freezing seems pretty safe.


    @Andrew
    – I weigh food before and after, and calculate what percentage of mass was loss. I then calculate how many mL of water to add per 100g (a typical meal size) of food. That’s at home when I have nothing better to do.

    But when I am in the field I generally just eyeball it. Most foods take up water pretty quickly, so I slowly add hot water until there is just a little bit of excess free water remaining. I’ll check on it after a few minutes and add more water if needed.

    More generally, most foods lose 65-85% of their mass in the form of water. Meats and pasta are at the low end of the scale, fruits are at the high end. So adding 300 mL of water to 100g of food usually comes out about right.

    #3754635
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with Dan about the desirability of thru-hiking the CT. There definitely are a few sections with lots of bike traffic, especially on weekends (Buffalo Creek, Kenosha Pass, Monarch Pass). But the bikers are   courteous and their organizations are major contributors to trail maintenance. I am happy to share the trail with them, even if it gets a bit annoying to have to step off the trail frequently.

    There have been a couple of times when a place I planned to camp was already occupied, but nothing like the JMT, where if you don’t have a spot by 4pm you are pretty much out of luck.

    The CT is well-maintained, it’s scenery is spectacular (especially the west Collegiate route), it has fun trail towns, there are plenty of places to bail in the first 200 miles if things aren’t working out. It is an excellent choice for a first long-distance hike.

    #3754277
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Well said Mark.

    I think the term “thru-hike” is fairly useless as a categorical description of a hiking experience. After all, the starts and ends of long-distance trails are fairly arbitrary. They are mostly defined by human politics and history. Geography and ecology are secondary considerations at best.

    That said, a long-distance hike is a categorically different experience from shorter hikes. For me, that difference comes at the point where I become wholly immersed in my present surroundings and present experience. It’s when I stop thinking about returning home because I am home.

    This is an experience every hiker (and every human being) should have at least once. Maybe there are other ways to get to this state of mind, but walking long distances is the only one I know of.

    #3751476
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @Ari – I’m curious as to why Wh should be calculated at 3.7V. Since the battery charges my phone and other devices at 5V, this seems like the relevant voltage. After all, we want usable power, not theoretical power.

    #3745828
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    A lot of opinions here. This being BPL, those opinions are thoughtful and well-informed. A few more thoughts and responses:

    Multi-use, but not great for anything” – this is pretty much true of any multi-use item. You are trading performance for a lighter load. Everyone will have a different preference for what trade-offs are acceptable and that’s fine. The point of this article is not that everyone should wear ponchos but that ponchos should be considered as a viable option, especially if you are looking to hike light. Here is my weight budget for shelter and rain protection when poncho-tarping:

    MLD Pro Poncho-tarp  12 oz

    Stakes and guys               3 oz

    MLD BagLiner bivy        3 oz

    Tyvek ground cloth         3 oz

    That’s 21 oz for a kit that has kept me dry on the trail and in camp through dozens of storms, and allows me to cowboy camp in fair weather.

    “what if you want to leave your shelter for some reason while it is raining?” An extension of this question is what if it is raining when you are setting up/taking down your poncho-tarp? A solution to this very real issue is to bring a windshirt. My Montbell Tachyon (2 oz) will keep me dry for about 5 minutes, long enough to pitch/take down/answer the call. It also is a fine sleeping garment for extra warmth/draft protection. That system works in a fast-and-light hiking scenario, where I do little more in camp than eat, drink whisky, play my uke, write in my journal, and sleep. If you are planning to spend time hanging around camp, then a poncho-tarp is a poor shelter choice, not something you want to spend any leisure time in.

    Related tip: attach line-locs to the front corners and peak of your tarp. That way you can tighten/lower the tarp  without getting out and getting wet.

    #3744409
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Hi Bendrix- the article has links to a few representative papers that measure oxidation levels after various preservation treatments. These articles have references and “cited by” links that you can follow to answer your questions in more detail.

    Food chemistry is incredibly complex and well outside the scope of a backpacking article. The number of oxidative degradation products that are possible is essentially limitless. But all of these products are both less tasty and less nutritious. That’s the key take home.
    Humans have known how to identify and prepare nutritious food since before we were human. It is only in the last decades that we have learned to decouple taste and nutrition in the service of profit, thus making a once-simple task difficult.
    I recommend Michael Pollan’s “The omnivores dilemma “ for more on this.

    #3744406
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Loved this, love the use of public transport to get to the trail. DM me if you want some info on another canyon route in this area

    #3743163
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Weighing before and after will get you the information you need. Just remember to convert units of mass to units of volume (easily done if you use grams and milliliters) unless you plan to bring a scale with you on the trail.

    #3738592
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @Mark – thanks for the kind words.
    The title is indeed a reference to the Dead song, which in turn refers to old folk songs telling the story of an engineer whose obsession with schedules and being on time leads to disaster. There is an appropriate folk song reference for pretty much every backpacking story.

    #3737649
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @Kevin Garrison – I’d say more like 2-3 meals per tray (roughly a quart volume), so 8-12 per run if fully loaded. A run typically takes 30-36 hr, so 1.5 days rather than 3. Yes the process is slow, but the hands-on time with the dryer is fairly minimal: check/replenish oil levels in the vacuum pump, close the drain, a couple of entries on the touch screen and then you walk away until it’s done. You’ll spend much more time prepping the food (even take-out).

    The dryer does not do any food storage work. You can vacuum-seal, but I do that more for individual meals pre- trip. For longer-term storage I have been packing food in resealable mylar bags and tossing in a few oxygen-absorbing packets. I’ll address food storage at more length in a future installment as this is fairly crucial to maximizing the value of freeze-drying.

    #3735710
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Hey Rex, great article, which inspired me to order these gadgets in my never-ending quest to optimize absolutely everything in my pack. Plus waste time.

    When I clicked on the link for the USB meter, the model you referred to is no longer available. However, a seemingly equivalent model  “SE” is available on Amazon. This one does save mAh values and so is perhaps more convenient for measuring discharge capacities.

    #3732589
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @JCH – try dehydrating canned chicken from the grocery store. It is pressure-cooked and rehydrates well. Better yet, you can pressure cook it yourself if you have an InstantPot. I recommend getting boneless thighs – they are cheaper than breast meat (canned chicken is expensive) and thigh meat tastes more chicken-y. Add white wine or vegetable broth in the pressure cooker for added flavor and nutrition. Pressure-cooking also works well on pork shoulders.

    #3732483
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Wow – some great comments here, thank you all.

    There are some good ideas for future installments of this series. This is good, as Ryan asked for a dozen articles and I could only come up with ideas for about 8 on my own.

    A lot of concern about cost here, and rightly so. I’ll dig into costs and benefits in more detail in a future installment. The gist of it, for me anyway, is that the investment doesn’t work if you only use it for backpacking and only use it for yourself.


    @David
    Thomas – I have a Kill-a-Watt meter. Your calculations are on the high side, but pretty close. More details to come when I write about cost-benefits.

    #3728524
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Nice report – you did a fantastic job of conveying the experience in just a few words and clips.

    I hoped to hike this wilderness on my honeymoon (1987) but squandered my bride’s indulgence by spending too many days primitive camping on the Deschutes R on the Warm Springs Reservation during an absolute explosion of mayfly and caddis hatches. Not a fly-fisher, she was not thrilled to be swarmed by clouds of insects all day long.

    Thanks for reminding me that I still need to hike this wilderness.

    #3718666
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Thanks Rex – I think all of us have learned lessons from burritos also

    #3709290
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Well said Ben. Being in a place also means being in a community, one that stretches both backwards and forward through time.

    #3687556
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Ah, the lure of a distant ridge or hidden canyon. I totally identify. Thanks for taking us with you on a trip to Booger Country.

    #3656810
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @rmatt00

    Re: vegetarian/carnivore – I’d suggest keeping the meat separate when you are making up the meals. Pack the meat in a resealable bag and add water to it at some point in the afternoon. After you’ve cooked your meal your friend can add the rehydrated meat separately.

    Re: Panko – I’ve used this (but bread-based, I think) and it doesn’t work quite as well, probably because of the bigger crumb size. You could always crumble the Panko with a rolling pin or mortar. For that matter, it is not very hard to make your own bread crumbs. All you need is stale dry (not moldy) bread. A food processor will turn it into crumbs in no time. You could make gluten-free (or any other variety) bread crumbs this way.

    I’ve never tried rice-based bread crumbs, but I think they should work. 1/2c per lb is reasonable. Try it and post the results here, I’d be interested to know.

    Re: spices and blotting. You might lose some of the fat-soluble flavors (like capsaicin, the spice that makes peppers hot) this way. I use 90% beef to minimize the mess. If you use 70%, I’d wait until it is almost done cooking, drain off the fat, then add spices and cook a few minutes more.

    Have a great time on your trip. I hiked the TST last summer and Fernandez Pass had some of the best views I’ve ever encountered in the Sierra.

     

    #3656206
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @bestbuilder

    Apologies for not being more clear. Mix the bread crumbs with the raw meat, kneading it in until it is thoroughly mixed.  Brown over medium heat, chopping it up into crumbs with a spatula.

    #3649703
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Re: hipbelt sizes, @olias_of_sunhillow, @mtwarden, @jjmcwill

    My waist size is 34″, at the upper range of the medium size spec (29-34″). I opted for that because my waist shrinks during hikes and I hate running out of room to tighten down.

    Even though I am at the upper end of the nominal range, you’ll note there is plenty tag end on the straps. Something to keep in mind if you are deciding between sizes. Although I can’t speak for Seek Outside, I bet they would accommodate you if you asked to order two and return one.

    How much wrap one prefers is subjective of course. I found the hip belt ride of the Divide 4500 to be one of the most comfortable of the many packs I have owned over the decades. Perhaps the large size would have been even better, but I have no complaints.

     

    #3648055
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    This is a property of all filters. There is no manufacturing process that produces pores of absolutely uniform size.  This is why the EPA standards are 99.9999% and not 100% filtration of bacteria. Your best bet is to only buy filters or other treatments which meet this standard.

    Don’t let this freak you out. Ingesting a few bacteria or Protozoa rarely leads to illness in immune competent adults. The minimal infectious dose (the amount required to infect 50% of healthy adults) is thought  to be around 10 for giardia cysts and 100 for enteric bacteria that cause diarrheal disease. Those numbers are also averages around a distribution but you get the idea. It would take a fairly epic filter fail in heavily contaminated water to make you sick. Most of the time, anyway.

    #3641284
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    @scfhome

    Glad you found the review useful.

    I grew up in Tucson and have slept tentless many nights in the desert. Scorpions have never bothered me nor have any rattlesnakes attempted to share my sleeping bag with me. I can’t swear that those things have never happened but it seems that those stories are always second hand or lack corroboration.

    “A snake crawled into my bag and bit me” is perhaps a less embarrassing explanation than “I was being a dumbass and poked a snake with a stick”

    #3631470
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Excellent review Andrew. I’m in much the same place as being “hammock curious”. I bought the Hennessy setup and have experimented with it on summer trips.
    It is well designed but indeed requires a lot of fiddling and rope craft to set up. And the tarp provides minimal shelter. I don’t have much confidence that it would keep me dry. After reading this review I may sell it on eBay and give the Kammock a try.

    #3538861
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    I’ve used a Starlyte/Caldera combination above 12k ft many times with satisfactory results. Can’t say there’s no drop off in performance but if there is, it’s not large enough to be a problem.

    #3532933
    Drew Smith
    BPL Member

    @drewsmith

    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Hmm… I have to say your results with the Starlyte Mod are completely at odds with my experience.

    When I first got it, I did a set of similar experiments – 1 pt water at 50F  in a Caldera Cone Sidewinder, in a couple of different Ti pots (0.9L Evernew and 1.3L Toaks). Fuel – which could be a critical difference, was denatured ethanol. Ambient temp 65F, no wind. Elevation 5400 ft.

    Times to boil in four runs ranged from 9:20 to 10:10, roughly half of what you observed. Fuel use averaged 17g. I’ve used this setup hundreds of times on trail, and although I’ve never timed it, I think this is pretty representative of performance.

    Prime suspects for the different results are fuel type, elevation, and pot type.

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