Gear Shed

Q:

What's the Best Food for a 15-Day Expedition?

Dried Apricots

Dried Apricots     Photo: Itinerant Tightwad/Flickr

A:We had a food question a few weeks ago from someone embarking on a long canoe trip, and my answer was pretty much “learn to cook.”’ Maybe that was snarky. But it’s true: With the right ingredients and tools you can make just about anything you want.

Backpacking is a bit different. And 15 days? Is this one trip, with no chance to re-stock? I did that sort of thing once while climbing Denali and we were pulling big sleds. Carrying food and fuel for a trip that long is a tall order.

Anyway, my thoughts:

  • Breakfast. Pretty easy. These days I just tend to take some Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars, dried apricots, and a whole bunch of Starbucks Via instant coffee. Starbucks Via ranks alongside Vibram soles, closed-cell foam pads, Gore-Tex, and the internal-frame pack as one of the Greatest. Backpacking. Things. Ever.
  • Lunch. Really hard. I mean, what can you pack for lunch on a long trip? On trips up to four or five days I take bagels, peanut butter, salami, or canned tuna (the small cans). My friend Jake takes pita bread. Maybe try dried fruit.
  • Dinner. Pretty easy. I often take dried soups like those from Nile Spice, empty them from their cardboard container, and store in zipper-top plastic bags. Freeze-dried dinners work because they’re light. None are that good, but I’ve found that Italian-themed dinners like Mountain House’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce for Two ($6.50) are at least decent. That’s two servings, though. Not two full meals.

 

All of which will get pretty grim after, oh, about three days. To help, pack a small spice kit. Go to the supermarket and get seasoned salt, garlic salt, coarse-ground black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, cinnamon, and maybe some Tabasco. Decant the seasonings into small plastic containers, or even plastic straws (seal the ends with a lighter flame). That'll add some variety to your food kit.

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