View Full Version : Advice for packing food in the bear canister?

07-21-2013, 17:12
I'm trying to get my food together for my upcoming JMT hike and am running into some problems. I need to be able to carry 7 days worth of food in my BearVault500 bear canister and I am struggling to fit everything. I have already had to cut back on the amount of food I'm bringing due to space. Do you guys have any advice?

07-21-2013, 18:15
Opt for HIGH cal/oz and HIGHLY nutritious foods that are dense taking up less volume. Repackage everything yourself eliminating packaging, packaging wt, and the additional volume that's often inside the package; do this just before hitting the TH or mailing a box. Keep a day's food outside the canister but most of it inside your pack. Eat less(be careful with this one though!). Get a larger canister. Consider your total daily caloric goal and stick to it by weighing, resizing, and repackaging all meals and snacks for EACH day's trail food you'll eat. You may be surprised how much you an get in the BV 500. I typically can get 6 days(Maybe 7 days) trail food in a BV 450 by allowing myself 3200 - 3400 cals per day while on the JMT doing about 25 MPD! I know that's extreme though. I supplement with additional calories by eating BIG meals at my next resupply stop(be CAREFUL with this too - it can lead to things like Bulimia and Anorexia!). For the JMT those BIG meal places are Tuolomne Meadows, Reds Meadow and Mammoth Lakes(Much prefer taking the bus into ML), Vermillion Valley Resort, and possibly hiking out over one of the passes to wherever. Once getting down to the parking lot at Whitney Portal they make sandwiches, do some grilling, and have french fries.

One of the things thru-hiking has done for me is MAKE me get a handle on how much I really DO NOT NEED which includes food. Take that statement in context with a 7 day period between resupplies. It's not an eternity.

07-21-2013, 19:07
Ok I'll try and restructure everything. Just out of curiosity, what did you bring for food?

07-21-2013, 19:30
That is why they make, and rent, the Bearikade expedition?

07-21-2013, 22:43
"Squishy" foods are better too. Throw out the ramen and replace with couscous in a flexible bag that can fill in the gaps around other foods. Granola will fit better than granola bars. I like to use ziploc freezer bags, but they don't compress as well as other thinner bags. If you do have a ziploc failure, it should be OK since it's all inside the plastic bear can liner. Just take a good one for the snacks you'll have out on the first day, and keep reusing it. Also, when you pack, place the stiffer items in first, then carefully pack the other squishy foods around them, making sure you don't leave any extra space. Sure, it's a pain to retrieve food for the next day, but at least you can fit more it, and it will get easier as you eat.

07-21-2013, 22:55
Remove as much packaging as possible. The heavy plastic most foods are packaged in are for long term storage. Transfer the products into zip lock sandwich bags. Even the freezer bags are overkill for most foods unless you are adding boiling water into the bag.

07-22-2013, 01:10
There you go. Bati has the concept down. Open up those pricey freeze dried Mountain House, etc packages especially. They have lots of air in them. Rebag them into plastic ziplocs, roll them up tight, and rubber band them or flatten them out and stack or place on side of bear canister and place squishier things in the middle in those gaps which shouldn't be too big if you're really packing the food in. Avoid bulky stuff like pretzels, oreos, full unbroken potato chips, etc Most of those types of bulky things don't have a high cals to wt ratio AND good nutrition anyhow. Many things are dense low volume high cal/oz. Try peanut or nut butters, some cheese, nuts(macadamia nuts have the greatest fat profile), seeds(pumpkin(pepita), sunflower, hemp. chia, etc), EVOO, coconut flakes, SOME! energy bars(if they don't have at least 120 cals/oz they don't go in my longer food hauls between resupplying), SOME small dense pastas(like made from Quinoa, buckwheat, etc), SOME protein powders that are also high in GOOD fat, dried milks(I like vanilla soy, goat, coconut, etc).

Here's a simple example. Even if I was to take Ramen Noodles I would crush them up a bit(not to a powder though, about 1 1/2 packs for my trail dinners), discard the salt/MSG flavor packets(they are crap anyhow), rebag into a just big enough ziploc. and instead add flavor with a pinch of red pepper flakes(dried chives work too) and a teaspoon of sesame seeds. Then into the bag add a whopping amount of dried coconut milk(other fatty dried milks can do but coconut milk is both flavorful and high in cals/oz and I get some OK nutrition with it, if having a hard time locating dried coconut milk substitute coconut flakes, coconut flakes can be added to other dishes too!), and a separate 1.15 oz packet of Justin's or Peanut Butter and CO peanut butter. This makes for a tasty Asian type noodle dish that I eat warm or cold kinda like the cold sesame noodles(made with tahini) you can sometimes order at Chinese food restaurants.

Here's another simple example, Take a dehydrated rice and beans meal but add cals, nutrition, texture, and flavor and increase cals/oz for the entire meal by adding in some raw unroasted sunflowers seeds, hemp seeds, or chia seeds(alsoi called SABA), and top with some EVOO (I usually carry a small(2 oz) plastic screw top plastic bottle). That takes a so so to good cals/oz ration and increases it dramatically and also makes it dramatically more nutritious.

I think it a shame, that because some lack a bit of creativty and knowledge, they settle for often bulky nutritionally poor trail food that is often heavy.

07-22-2013, 01:10
Rasty gives more good advice.

07-22-2013, 11:58
All great examples and I re-packaged my dehydrated meals also. A package of tortillas fits nicely right on the bottom of a BV 500 and you can get really creative with them.