A few minutes ago I uploaded a 14,000-word manuscript to FedEx Office. I’ll be giving away free paper copies of it later this week at Outdoor Retailer at the Sierra Designs booth — swing on by!
This manuscript is entirely about backpacking food: what and how much to pack, trail-tested stoves with which to cook it, and how to store and protect it; it also includes seven of my favorite recipes. I pulled together this “pre-edition” in two days, mostly by consolidating content that I had developed previously for this website, an SD LIVE webinar, and personal use. There is some new content as well, including a thorough explanation of why I often sleep on my food and why I never throw bear hangs.
My original thought was that this content would be a viable e-book. But with it already at 14,000 words, and with some obvious missing content (e.g. my winter backpacking stove system and two additional breakfast recipes), I’m starting to think that it may be worthy as a paper book.
To help gauge public interest, I’ve made the PDF available for immediate download for just $5. Order it now.
Is it worth $5? If you’re not an avid reader of my blog and/or if you want a consolidated resource about backpacking food, then yes. If you’re intimately familiar with my blog and/or you’re willing to spend some time tracking down the content, then maybe not, although there is some “bonus content” in this e-book that is not yet available elsewhere.
Table of Contents
- Backpacking style
Part 1: Rations
Part 2: Recipes
- How many recipes do you need?
- A case for soups and gruels
- Ingredient information & sourcing
- Cheesy Potatoes
- Oatmeal with Fixings
- Beans & Rice with Fritos & Cheese
- Curry Couscous
- Polenta & Peppers
- Pesto Noodles
- Thai Peanut Noodles
Part 3: Stove Systems
- Fuel preferences
- Shared selections
- Gear lists
- The Dirtbag
- The Cadillac
- Hot & Heavy
Part 4: Storage & Protection
- Protection methods
I did not grow up in a backpacking family, and I never received any formal backpacking instruction. Instead, I learned to backpack the hard way: by making mistakes.
The list of my food-related mistakes is especially long. Four highlights:
- At the start of my second-ever backpacking trip — a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2002 — my stove system weighed over four pounds, or eight times the weight of my preferred system now. It included a liquid fuel stove, two stainless steel pots (1.5L and 2L) with a lid, a full set of utensils, a bowl and plate, plus a few more extraneous items. Despite having resupply opportunities within a few days, I was also carrying 16 oz of fuel, enough to last nearly a month.
- On a thru-hike of the 480-mile Colorado Trail in 2004, I underestimated my caloric needs by about 25 percent. In sixteen days I lost about ten pounds, and I spent most of the southern half of the trail daydreaming about food. My energy level was chronically low, and big climbs were especially brutal. In Durango, I had the best burrito of my life.
- That fall, while passing through New York’s Adirondack High Peaks as part of my Sea-to-Sea Route hike, I ignorantly buried my leftovers from an unpalatable dinner (a DIY entree of couscous with rosemary, without any salt, olive oil, or other spices) in the firepit. Naturally, a black bear visited the shelter that night, pushed aside easily some rocks and ash, and had a feast. Because of my stupidity (and that of others), hard-sided bear canisters are now required in the High Peaks.
- On one of my first guided trips, in 2011, for several breakfasts I supplied the clients with cream of wheat and butter. That’s it; no sugar, berries, nuts, or even extra salt. This “recipe” was not a crowd-pleaser, and in hindsight I should have considered more the context when I had grown fond of it — on a 6-month, 4,700-mile loop around Alaska and Yukon by skis, foot, and packraft. Indeed, hunger is the best seasoning.
My goal in publishing Backpacking Food is to help you have a better and mistake-free food experience on your next trip. It offers recommendations on the types and amounts of food to pack. It includes recipes for seven hearty but simple breakfasts and dinners. It describes in detail three trail-tested 3-season stove systems. And, finally, it discusses the pros and cons of various food storage and protection methods.