Showing posts with label Tramping Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tramping Food. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Tramping food: Homemade 24 hour ration pack

My 'take' on a 24 hour ration.....

By way of comparison with the Backcountry Cuisine 24 hour ration pack featured in my previous is my own take on the same type of ration pack. This was produced with items of food and sundries sourced from supermarkets, Asian food warehouses and outdoor stores. 

I ate this ration on the first day of my recent trip to Nelson Lakes National Park....

Homemade 24 hour ration + snack pack

This ration pack contains all of the food and associated items I need for a day and comprises breakfast, lunch and dinner items....some snacks and beverages at a very modest weight of 580 gms. I would estimate the contents of the pack cost me approximately $30-40 dollars so on par with the BCC commercial variety. 

This is typical of the type of rations I make and carry when I am going out on a over night tramping trip. It also includes items like a Chux cloth in lieu of a tea towel, water purification tablets, salt+pepper and a scrubbing pad. 

Food items for a whole day

I usually only carry meals for breakfast and dinner...for lunch I usually have wraps or Arnotts Sesame Wheat crackers, cheese, salami or some other cured meat, sometimes fruit and a hot or cold drink depending on the availability of water. On this trip I had noodles as I was going to be at the hut in the early afternoon and would have the time & facilities for preparing hot food.

Usual lunch...crackers, salami, cheese and some drinks...

I usually take 3-4 snacks per day to be eaten on the trail during rest breaks or after dinner as a dessert item. I use a chux cloth to dry my dishes and carry salt, pepper and olive oil to flavour my meals. 

This 24 hour ration contains the following items;

Main meals: 
Porridge with dried milk, fruit and sugar
Two minute noodles + Continental simmer soup
Chilli Con Carne and Macaroni Cheese (Chilli Mac)

1 pkt raisins
1 pkt salted peanuts
1 Teriyaki steak bar
Freeze dried pineapple

1 pkt Raro (sweet navel orange)
Tea bags (Earl Grey) and Splenda Artificial sweetener

Miscellaneous items:
2x salt sachet
1x pepper sachet
8x Aquatab water purification tablets
Medium Chux cloth
Green 3M pot scrubber

I like to pack all the food into a ration...I'm used to it from my army days but also it is a great way of keeping track of what you are eating. The contents are placed in a zip-loc bag usually with the day of the trip written on the outside. 

Homemade ratio pack: Freeze dried chili, macaroni, dried pineapple

For breakfast I had instant porridge with sugar, raisins, milk powder and this I add hot water and eat it from the bag. I will have this with tea or coffee depending on what I packed in the ration. 

As mentioned before I had noodles for lunch on this trip....I added some cubed salami to the noodles for a bit of protein and a squirt of olive oil to improve the flavor. I had the Onion simmer soup in the late afternoon before my evening meal...I always start dinner with a soup by way of a top up...

Homemade Ration Pack:Snacks, Raro, chux cloth and miscellaneous bag

Dinner was Chili-Mac....freeze dried chili from Absolute Wilderness (the best freeze dried meals available in New Zealand in my opinion) and a packet of instant macaroni and cheese. This is really good...even better on a wrap or with a couple of crackers broken into it. I had the Raro drink powder with dinner and the re-hydrated pineapple for dessert.

Homemade ration pack: 2 minute noodles and pre-packed porridge

This is plenty of food for me for a 24 hour period and I never feel really hungry if i eat all of the contents of the pack. I sometimes add chocolate bars as a dessert but I'm not much of a chocolate person so it is a rarity. I carry my tea and sweetener with my cook kit as I sometimes like to stop for a brew if I am walking for more than 3 hours...nothing like a char enjoyed under a shady tree looking at the wilderness...

Nothing like swinging the billy on trail....

There is no limit to the type of ration packs you can is only limited by your own imagination and available ingredients so it is definitely worth trying some of your own ideas out. 

Tramping Food: The Backcountry Cuisine 24 hour ration Pack

A 24 hour total meal package from Backcountry Cuisine...

Several months ago I was in the Bivouac store here in Christchurch and spotted their supply of Backcountry Cuisine 24 hour ration packs. These packs are packed to be 100% complete and hold all of the food items you would need for a 24 hour period. 

The Backcountry Cuisine 24 hour ration pack no. 667

I decided to buy one of the ration packs to have a look at what was inside and see if indeed it contains enough nutrition to keep you going through a whole day. Backcountry Cuisine sell four varieties...two have meat as the main meals and the other two are vegetarian. The cost for one of these packs is $35 NZ dollars which is pretty good when you consider the freeze dried meals inside add up to $30 by themselves. 

Table of contents on a Backcountry ration pack no. 667

The main meals are freeze dried single serve portions from the Backcountry Cuisine meal selection, the item number for this particular ration is 667. I took this on a trip to Nelson Lakes National Park recently and this is what I thought about it....

Contents of the BCC Ration Pack...

There is a table of contents on the front of the ration pack which details all of the items contained in the pack. This particular variety contains a one serve meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner...the meals could be eaten in whatever order best suits your requirements.

The version I brought was one of the meat based varieties and had meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner a drinks pack and snacks. 

BCC 24 hour ration pack table of 667

This ration pack contains the following food/miscellaneous items:

Main meals:Porridge Supreme (one serve)
Classic Beef Curry (one serve)
Roast Lamb and Vegetables (one serve)

Snacks: 1 pkt Candy Chocolate (Smarties)
1 pkt trail mix 
I pkt Oatie Biscuit (two biscuits)
1 pkt jelly beans

Drink Pack: Orange Drink
1 hot chocolate
2 tea bags
2 coffee sachets
4 sugar sachets
4 creamer sachets
2 Salt sachets
1 Pepper sachet

Miscellaneous Items: 1 plastic spoon
1 small packet tissues

What they are giving you in this ration pack is three meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner), snacks for during the day and drinks to accompany the meals. That is basically all that most people will need when out on a tramping trip. 

Contents of  BCC ration pack no. 667 laid out on a table....

All the main meals are freeze dried so you will just need to heat water and add it to the pack so he meals are quick, simple and little to no clean-up required. If you do not like the particular meals in the ration pack you could of course change them but this would mean extra cost. 

BCC ration pack no. 667: main meals, drink sachet, ANZAC biscuits, tissue and spoon

Having three-four snacks for during the day is my standard system as well...all of the packs are large so it might be hard eating all of a particular snack in one sitting. I ate half of each and then had the other half for a dessert after my lunch/evening meal. 

BCC ration pack no. 667: breakfast meal,snack packs, drinks kit and bag

The contents are packed in a sturdy plastic bag with a table of contents and a break down of the nutritional value in each of the individual components. The tissue are included for toileting purposes and you even get a spoon to eat it all with. 

The BCC 24 hour ration taste test....

My original plan was to camp at Kerr Bay and do some day hikes but because it was raining and because the campground was shut for maintenance I walked into Lakehead Hut and stayed for two nights over three days. 

The cooking bench in Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

On the first day I ate a homemade ration that I had made up for the occasion...

My homemade 24 hour ration and snack pack....

I had the Backcountry Cuisine ration on the second day while lazing about in the hut. It was a cold, wet and windy day so I spent half the day in my sleeping bag drinking tea and reading my book. A better test would have been to use it on a day of physical activity but beggars cant be choosers as they say....

First up was the Porridge Supreme which I ate for breakfast...I added two of the creamer packets to the porridge to make it more creamy. There is a separate packet of brown sugar in the porridge pack for scattering over your pog. BCC freeze dried porridge is good and has fruit added to the meal to increase the calorific count. A good start...

The chocolate candies aka smarties in the ration pack

I had the snack meals over the course of the day..the jelly beans and candy covered chocolate were very nice...similar to other commercially produced products. The biscuit was good...crispy, not too sweet, nice flavour and good for dunking in your tea. Yum!!!

The chocolate candies aka Smarties in the ration pack

I was not so fond of the trail consisted of dried fruit, peel, nuts, banana chips, chocolate chunks and coconut. I found it to be overly sweet and I hate coconut so it was not to my taste at all. I would definitely exchange the trail mix for something more savoury like salted nuts or a Bhaji mix. 

Trail mix snack pack from BCC Ration Pack no. 667

For lunch I had the Classic Beef Curry augmented with a packet of 2 minute noodles...I often eat this as a tramping meal as the two go together very well. With the meal I had a cup of tea with sugar and the remainder of the jelly beans. The classic beef curry is one of the better meals in the Backcountry range so I did enjoy it. 

Preparing the Classic Beef Stew for lunch...with 2 minute noodles...

I had the Roast Lamb with Vegetables for dinner later in the day...the lamb and the vegetables are mixed together with the gravy powder. There is also a small sachet of mashed potato in the pack...the lamb is nice with a lovely savoury gravy and the mashed spuds are good especially after I added a squirt of olive oil to them. 

All of these are classic freeze dried meals and just need hot water added to them...that is sum total of the preparation needed.  

Contents of the Roast Lamb and Vegetables meal.....

Overall I found the meal to be palatable and filling...I don't think I would have felt hungry subsisting on these meals over the short term. If this was all you had to eat for an extended period I think you might start feeling a mite hungry. Overall my experience of the meals and snacks was very good with the exception of the trail mix which I really did not like at all. 

The BCC ration pack brew kit...

The ration pack had an extensive drinks kit included with it and consisted of; 

Drink Pack: Orange Drink
1 hot chocolate
2 tea bags
2 coffee sachets
4 sugar sachets
4 creamer sachets
2 Salt sachets
1 Pepper sachet

All of the contents were Porters brand which I have seen in hotels and motels throughout New Zealand. The quality is OK I drank all of the items and didn't have a problem with any of the items....

BCC drinks kit from ration pack no. 667

I had coffee with my breakfast and tea in the mid morning and mid chocolate after dinner. 

I would probably get rid of the creamer packs as they are not all that useful to me....I like both tea and coffee black and these non dairy creamers always have problems dissolving in your drink...who wants to chew chunks of powdery creamer in their morning coffee. 

Contents of the brew kit laid out,,BCC ration pack no. 667

There is also a loose pack of Vitafresh drink powder in the ration pack...this is the brand I usually carry when I go out in the bush in this case it was orange flavor. I mixed this up and had it with my evening meal as per usual...powdered drink sachets are a real morale improver after a long day tramping. 

What I would add to the ration pack....

While these ration packs cover most of the basic requirements there are a few items missing to make these total complete meal kits for a 24 hour period.  

The Backcountry Cuisine 24 hour ration pack.....

Here are some items I would add to these packs if I was using them on a regular basis:

Instant Soup:

First up I would add some form of instant soup to the packs...the obvious choice would be Continental or Maggi Cup-O-Soups...they have many flavour's and just require hot water to prepare. These are individual soups and make one cup or about 250mls. 

Cup-O-Soup...Dutch Curry...yum, yum!!!!

Other choices could be instant Miso, an Asian noodle soup or Continental/Knorr/Maggi simmer soups. These require slightly more preparation but are much tastier...the simmer soups make 1 liter (enough for two-three trampers).  All these soups can be found at large supermarkets or Asian food stores in New Zealand.

Knorr Simmer Soup...Chicken Noddle

Continental Simmer Soup....light, easy to prepare and flavour-some....

Water purification tablets:

The average adult needs from 6-8 liters or water per day preferably taken as just water but also as tea, soup, powdered drinks, coffee etc. In New Zealand you will often find that you can simply take water straight from a lake, river or hut water tank but this is slowly changing. With more people in the backcountry water sources are becoming tainted...pollution, human/animal waste, viruses and other ailments have entered many of our previously pristine water sources.

Aquatabs water purification tablets....

This means we need to treat our water either by boiling, chemical treatment or filtering. I use chemical treatment methods...chlorine based Aquatabs at a ratio of one tablet per 1 liter of water. I would therefore add Aquatabs or something similar to these packs...probably 6-8 tablets per 24 hour period.

Jerky style steak bars:

Another item I would consider adding to this ratio pack are Jack Links jerky meat bars or some similar product. I always carry these steak bars...they come in three flavors; BBQ,  Peppered and Teriyaki...all of the flavors are delicious and would up the protein content of the packs. I would eat these as snacks usually mid morning or mid afternoon. 

The Jack Links steak bar....BBQ, Peppered or Teriyaki flavor the choice is yours...

Dish scrub pads:

You need something to clean your cooking kit with my go to option is a 2 cm by 2 cm square of scrubbing pad and an all purpose outdoor soap like Dr Bonar's or Sea to Summit. I would add a scrub pad in a small zip-lock bag to the packs and carry a bottle of soap for general purpose use. 

Green scrubbing pads.....

Sugar substitute:

While these packs have four serves of sugar I usually find I need more than this in an average day. You could carry more sugar but this is quite a heavy food item...better still would be a artificial go to choice is Splenda. I carry a small dispenser of Splenda with me every-time I go tramping they contain 200 tablets equivalent to 200 spoons of sugar and weigh only 3 gms. 

How can you complain about that ratio....

Splenda artificial sweetener tablets

By adding these few items these ration packs become much more useful items to take into the outdoors. You could add/subtract a lot more but obviously that would defeat the purpose of buying a 24 hour ration pack.....

My conclusion: How good are these ration packs?

Overall I think this is a good concept and would provide you with all of the nutrition you needed for a 24 hour period in the outdoors. I have no real problems with the contents they are all perfectly acceptable. My main concern is the weight...850 gms is a lot of weight for one days food, my home made rations usually top out at 600 gms per day. For a single day it would be fine but anything over 1-2 days would require careful consideration of weight to calorific content.  

The homemade ration pack I also took to Nelson Lakes NP...580gms!!!

I don't know that I would carry these all of the time but they are certainly worth considering for their ease of preparation and convenience. You can find them at most outdoor Christchurch I have seen them at Hunting and Fishing, Bivouac and Torpedo Seven...

Jon making himself comfortable in Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes NP

Maybe grab one the next time you are heading into the outdoors. 


Monday, 20 May 2019

A photo montage of outdoor vittles.....

Refuelling for outdoor adventures..

I though I would chuck together a photo montage of me and my occasional tramping companions enjoying some fine vittles while engaged in our outdoor pursuits. I will add more photos to this post as time goes on so watch this space....

Enjoying my sandwich in the Otira Valley in the summer of 2016

Georgia eating a snack bar outside Packhorse Hut

The preparation and consumption of food plays a vital part in any outdoor activity, it can raise your spirits, can be fun to prepare and it provides the fuel we need to help us to achieve our outdoor adventure goals. 

A daily tramping food ration...

I like to pack my food into daily 'rations' i.e. one bag contains all of the food I will be eating for that particular day. This is packed into a large sized Zip-loc bag along with any instructions or content information I feel I might need to prepare the food.

Four days of tramping food being prepared for a trip....

Below is a typical daily ration from a trip I took on the St James Walkway back in 2015...

Breakfast:  Cream o' wheat + raisins + 1t sugar/milk powder + Tea
Lunch: Crackers + Pate + electrolyte drink
Snacks: Peanuts + Special K biscuit + scroggin pack+ Steak bar
Dinner: BCC Chicken a la King + mashed spuds + Miso soup + Refresh sachet (lemon/lime)
Extras: Puri Tabs + salt + pot scrubber +contents list
Nestle Iced Tea + tea ( 1 T sugar) (710gms total)

Kitchen duties: outdoor food preparation

At some point you are going to need to prepare food in the outdoors. Sometimes you will have a cosy shelter or hut to eat in...other times you might just be propped against a tussock on some hillside.

Here are a few photos of outdoor meal preparation.

Preparing lunch at the Onetahuiti shelter, Abel Tasman National Park 2017

Soup before the main meal,  Packhorse Hut wardens quarters: we were doing a stint as wardens at Packhorse Hut

Brewing up and lunch prep at Onetahauiti Shelter, Abel Tasman NP 2018

Cooking dinner at the Packhorse hut wardens bivy..we were doing a stint as wardens at Packhorse Hut

Fixing lunch in the forest on Mt Thomas, North Canterbury

Campsite/camp ground cooking shelters

Some of the more developed tracks will have shelters for you to cook and enjoy your meals in. These are mostly clustered at DOC campsites or campgrounds and can range from the most basic three sided structures to edifices that look like huts. 

Eating at the Black Rocks Campsite shelter, Queen Charlotte Track

The massive and rather splendid cook shelter at Pelorous Bridge campgrounds

Camp shelters will often be the centre of camp life and the focal point for meeting other trampers/campers.

The campsite cooking shelter at Onetahuiti Beech, Abel Tasman NP

The slightly mangy cook shelter at Bay of Many Coves Campsite, Queen Charlotte Track

The campground cooking shelter at Kerr Bay, Nelson Lakes National Park

Cooking shelter at the Bar Bay campsite, Abel Tasman NP

Massive cooking shelter at Anchorage campsite, Abel Tasman NP

The pleasure of a hot or cold beverage outdoors

Tea is always a part of my tramping experiences wither it be billy tea, a quick lunchtime cuppa or a more civilised brew enjoyed once I arrive at the hut. Earl Grey (Chai Nui by choice or Dilmah) and always my soul.....or so I'm told....

Jon enjoying a mug of tea at the East Hawdon Hut, Arthur's Pass NP

Swinging the billy for some fire and billy boiling

Heating water for hot chocolate, Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula

Brewing up in the bed of the Blue-Grey River, Victoria Forest Park

Having a cup of tea at Davies Bay Shelter, Queen Charlotte Track

If you are going to drink tea have a full measure!!!!!

A sumptuous feast for morning tea, Hanmer forest Park

I also enjoy a cold drink from time to time...

Lunchtime tramping food

There is nothing finer in life than a tasty lunch after a couple of hours walking. It is a great pick me up and provides the energy you need to keep going into the afternoon.

One of the lunch mainstays I enjoy is pate.....this is usually small 90gm cans of pate made by the French company Haneff. Excellent on a wrap or crackers and power packed with calories to keep you moving while tramping. 

My French inspired lunch repast while walking around Quail Island, Lytellton Harbour

Pate for lunch while reading in Magdalen  Hut, St James Conservation Area it is pate with spinach wraps at John Tait Hut, Nelson Lakes NP

I am also partial to tuna fish at lunchtime, be it canned or in a foil pouch it never disappoints when you are hungry. Good on a salty cracker, in a sandwich or wrap and with or without condiments it is tasty and full of energy. 

Tuna and crackers while walking the Christchurch 360 Track, Summit Road, Port Hills

Tuna and crackers for lunch again..... on Mt Isobel overlooking Hanmer

Tuna and crackers while admiring the view from the Lewis Pass Tops in 2016

I also like cheese, salami and crackers, or for a change some peanut butter on crackers or a wrap...

Cheese, salami and crackers: a lunch of champions while strolling the Abel Tasman Coastal Track in 2018

If the trek is short or if you are willing to carry the weight your meals can be a lot more elaborate, like this anti-pasti spread Karen and I had while visiting Otamahua/Quail Island...

Antipasti spread at Swimmers Beach, Otamahua/Quail Island

Snacks for the trekker on the go...

There is nothing like a snack on the trail as you make your way from one point to another. It might be savory or sweet or a combination of both. Personally I lean heavily to the savory (olives, steak bars, jerky, cheese wedges, Bhaji mix and I love a salty nut ....Brazil's, peanuts or macadamias) although my favorite outdoor snack is a box of raisins...

Le Snak: crackers and cheese spread...a great tramping snack

Very occasionally I will eat muesli bars...Hanmer Forest Park

Snack time on the Arthur's Pass Walking Track, Arthur's Pass NP

My favorite tramping snack...raisins!

I sometimes like a Kellogg's LCM snack bar to go with my tea....

My daughter Georgia chowing down on chocolate, Kaituna-Packhorse Hut Track

,,,tacking into a Kellogg LCM bar atop Mt Herbert, Banks Peninsula....

Snacks also include an ice cream if walking the Christchurch 360 Trail

Tucking into a freeze dried meal...

Most outdoor people will have had the dubious pleasure of tucking into a freeze dried meal at some point. The ubiquitous freeze dried can be heaven or hell depending on how you cook it, the mood you are in or how hungry you are feeling.

The ubiquitous freeze dried meal...before adding the water

A Backcountry Moroccan Lamb meal after adding the hot water

Wither it be a Backcountry, Outdoor Gourmet,  Absolute Wilderness or some other brand we can all associate freeze dried meals with some outdoor adventure...

Miso soup with my freeze dried meal at Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula

Cooking a freeze dried dinner at Nina Hut, Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve in 2017

Tucking into a Backcountry Tomato Alfredo Pasta at Mid Robinson Hut, Victoria Forest Park

Backcountry Lamb & Veges and red wine, Hawdon Hut, Arthur's Pass NP

Soup and Outdoor Gourmet Butter Chicken at Totoranui, Abel Tasman NP

An Outdoor Gourmet Venison and Rice Noodle Stir fry, Packhorse Biv

DOC Huts: cooking benches, gas hobs, tables and general hut life

I enjoy the variety of cooking/dining facilities you find in DOC huts....again the quality of the experience depends on the facilities and your mood. Time spent in a hut will include sitting down to a meal or snack at some point.

Cooking space at the Rod Donald Hut, Te Ara Pataka, Banks Peninsula

The cook bench at Lake Christabel Hut, Victoria Forest Park

Clinton Forks Hut, Milford Track: Great Walk huts sometimes have cooking facilities provided

Georgia eating some soup at the Packhorse Biv in 2018

Hut life...various trampers enjoying the late afternoon sun and each others company

Brewing up at Hawdon Hut, Arthur's Pass...

Lunchtime tramping vistas to die for

A good lunch stop will often depend on the view you are enjoying while eating. Some of our lunch stops are pedestrian but some are gorgeous and worth all the effort used to reach that point. 

Lunchtime stop on the Christchurch 360 Trail looking at the Estuary at Redcliffs

Mt Balloon, Milford Track from the lunch shelter at McKinnon Pass

Tonga Island from the beach in front of Onetahuaiti Campsite, Abel Tasman National Park

FYI: Pt 913 shown in the photo below is the second highest point on Banks Peninsula and is only 6 meters lower than the summit of Mt Herbert. It is to the south east of the Mt Herbert massif and has a radio relay building on its summit. 

Lunchtime view from Pt. 913, Mt Herbert Scenic Reserve, Banks Peninsula

The Apprentice (1678) from a lunch stop on the Lewis Pass Tops

Lunch stop on the summit of Mt Grey, North Canterbury

Break time atop Mt Bradley, Banks Peninsula in 2013
Kaikoura Peninsula from a memorable lunch spot on Mt Fyffe, Seaward Kaikoura Range

Lunch el-fresco in Hanmer Forest Park

View from picnic area, Swimmers Beach Otamahua/Quail Island

Bon appetite!!!