Carrying you food on the trail

9:14 a.m. on December 26, 2009 (EST)
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I was wondering how do you carry/organize you food inside your pack when you go for a multi-week hikes? So far I been using standard plastic bags and sometimes tried to separate the portions for every day but that's it. I'm not too consern of keeping it dry but just thinking if there is a better way of doing it. What are you using? ziplook bags? dry sacks? I'm not hiking in bear country so that's one last thing to worry about...

9:52 a.m. on December 26, 2009 (EST)
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When you say multi-week hikes, are you actually talking about going out with one food load w/o resupply? The longest I've ever been out with one pack load of food was 18 days on a 23 day trip, and I had two BearVaults cached on Day 18 to get me to Day 23. Carrying 18 days worth of food put my pack in the 80lb range.

On that trip I had three food bags:

** one stuff sac was just for cookables--stuff edible only after cooking.

** another stuff sac was just for snackables--stuff I could eat w/o cooking.

** a long-trip "overflow" third food sac which I put on top of my pack under the top lid flap--barely had room for it. In it I tried to put the lightest items like rice cakes and a loaf of bread, etc.

Of course, before a trip I always go thru the "Ziploc frenzy" whereby everything gets bagged. (I go with Hefty now, found ziplocs to open more often for no reason).


This is a fairly difficult thing to do unless you keep your food in your tent or tent vestibule, not a good idea for several reasons. So, finding a way to keep your food bags dry while hanging out can be a challenge, especially in a 3 day nonstop deluge. On my last trip I took an industrial strength 55 gallon trash liner(overkill)and put all my food bags in it and closed and cinched the top and hung the whole wad up in a tree where it stayed dry(and unfrozen). A once-wet-and-now ice encrusted and frozen food bag ain't much fun to pack, so often in a blizzard I'll just stash my food bags in the tent vestibule and deal with the scurrying rodents(and hope a bear doesn't clamp down on my head in the tent ha ha ha--not really funny).

2:31 p.m. on December 26, 2009 (EST)
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My longest trips are for about 10 days. I'm not real fond of freeze dried food so I make up my own meals in Ziploc freezer bags and add boiling water. Each freezer bag goes into a plastic shopping bag organized by meal; i.e. all breakfasts go in one bag, lunches and snacks in a second bag, and dinners in a third bag. I carry the three bags in an XL Intergal Designs silnylon stuff sack which is seam sealed to keep out water. It has worked in down pours and snow storms. The stuff sack then goes into the top of my pack where it is easy to access.

I hike in bear country so I always hang my food but 'mini-bears', raccoons, and other 'varmints' are a much bigger threat to my food cache than their bigger cousins. I once had a chipmunk help himself to my cashews while they were sitting right next to me. The little ones that fly under the radar will get you every time!

2:34 p.m. on December 26, 2009 (EST)
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Yea I do mean 2-3 weeks with no resupply. I did it before hiking in Mongolia and I'm going to spend the coming summer in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. But I'm talking in general. So far I being using simple plastic bags and I was thinking that if all my gear is pretty technical why should I not move on for something more substantial for organizing my food? A friend is using ortlieb roll-top bags (the one's for maps and documents) and I am thinking about it, it's just sound a bit of a over killer for carry rice. Animals never going to be a big problem where I hike so keeping the food in the night is easy task. It's more about the actual packing methods.

2:38 p.m. on December 26, 2009 (EST)
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Splitting the food by the meals of the day does make a lot of sense! thanks!

10:49 a.m. on December 27, 2009 (EST)
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I separate and prepare my meals at home. puting them into zipploc bags. Marking what is in the bag. I then put those bage into a larger ziplock. This is how I hike with them. When I stop for the day I put them all in a garbage bag then in a old tent bag to hang in a tree. By keeping them in smaller bags I can distribute them around in my pack. Of coarse I keep my hiking snacks and small meals where I can easly get to them on the trail.

12:58 p.m. on December 27, 2009 (EST)
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I use Ziploc freezer bags because they are stronger and will last for many trip. I bring them home and wash them out after each camping trip, turning them inside out to dry better. I use three different colored stuff sacks large enough for a the meals inside for a certain size trip. Yellow bags for breakfast,red for lunch and a blue bag for suppers. Ibuy all my food from the standard grocery stores or health food shops. I repackage evrything that is needed for a meal. Example I put the macaroni, a couple pinches of salt and the cheese packet iino a Ziploc. I used to put dry milk liquid into the cooked macaroni and a lil oil but stopped doing that years ago, finding the taste and texture is fine without it. I often buy bulk macaroni and grated cheese and put them in Ziplocs to make my own Mac and chs dinners on the trail.

10:03 p.m. on December 27, 2009 (EST)
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I repackage any commercial products, especially the dehydrated ones, getting rid of some weight and a lot of bulk -- retaining any instructions. Then we make meal portions and package in zip lock bags and, using a straw, suck out as much air as I can before finally sealing them with any instructions. I have a friend who I sometime remember to borrow one of those vacuum things for food storage. Then I number them by day. Staples such as rice, flour, pasta, powdered milk, peanut butter, sugar are simply softly packaged in plastic bags and layered in a large Berikade personal cannister -- even if not in bear county. Amazing how much can be stuffed into one of those if you use a fuel container end as a tamper.

Honey (and similar such as oil) stays in the plastic squeeze container it comes in...after we had a disaster.

10:32 p.m. on December 28, 2009 (EST)
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I agree with SnowGoose. I use a roll top stuff sack for all my food and it is easy to hang in trees. I usually don't separate all my dinners because I just make rice and depending on my appetite, I measure my dinner out of a larger bag that has all my rice. This does cut down on the 15 or so ziplocks that end up as trash. I also do the same for breakfast too; instant oatmeal in a very large ziplock and choose accordingly.

10:41 p.m. on December 28, 2009 (EST)
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Same as most of the ideas above. Will wack them in dot points
- dry most of our meals and ziploc
- remove every bit of spare packaging
- pack all ingredients together for one meal in a ziploc
- have a snacks bag, breakfast bag & drinks bag (ziploc)
- crushable / fresh items we use a plastic container (like tuppaware) , last thing into pack
- lunch stuff, soup for the day in that tub for easy access
- meals/ snacks etc not needed for days in bottom of pack
- use a heap of ziplocs but it works for us!

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