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  1. #21

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    I watched an Asian hike nobo on youtube several years ago. His mom was cooking him stuff as iff he was there, dehydrating it and mailing his food supplies. So it was like he was eating panda express every day on the trail...lucky guy

    Took me several tries but my number one tip is that presoak is essential to both fuel consumption as well as tenderness, that as well as small food pieces prior to dehydrating,
    Trail Miles: 4,090.3 - AT Trips: 71
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 116.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  2. #22

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    Along the lines of dehydrating is buying in bulk either dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients and preparing one's own boil-n-soak aka freezer bag cooking meals. I've ordered from Emergency Essentials and find they have a pretty good variety. In the interest of disclosure I am only an occasional customer and have no other affiliation with them.

  3. #23
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    Thanks guys. Which vacuum sealer would you recommend? I really need to find a cheap one that can seal large portions at once. I plan to fill my 9 tray up and would like to seal the whole batch up at once. Any suggestions for alternative methods would be greatly appreciated!

  4. #24
    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    I have this Seal-a-Meal model -- http://www.amazon.com/Seal-a-Meal-FS...ds=seal+a+meal

    It was a Christmas gift last year and I am very happy with it. It has worked very well for me sealing all sorts of things from meals to DIY instant 3-n-1 coffee. I find that Ziploc brand vacuum bags work the best, over the other brand bags.
    igne et ferrum est potentas
    "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." -​William Byrd

  5. #25
    Registered User HeartFire's Avatar
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    I cook and dehydrate all my meals - buying in town vs mailing - I'd love to see real figures on it. But, it does come down to why you are doing it as to which method will work. I'm personally all about being a vegetarian, and eating healthy - I doubt I would ever eat anything available in a gas station or dollar store. My food is mostly organic, whole foods, free of any chemicals or preservatives, so for me, the cost of postage is not even considered. Postage is cheaper on click and ship if you pay and print on line, tracking is free (we do a lot of shipping for LightHeart Gear, so I am familiar with shipping stuff). Depending on where you are shipping from and how much, the regional rate boxes could be cheaper than the flat rate boxes, and standard priority mail could be cheaper (but probably not) than flat rate.
    I don't use a vacuum sealer - it makes "bricks" and if you don't want to eat the entire meal, you can't reseal the bag. Also, once you cut it open, add hot water, you can't re-seal like a ziplock. I use the freezer ziplock brand bags for everything. You can ship to many stores on the trail (outfitters) that are open on weekends when the post office isn't or to hostels. motels etc. It may take a little extra planning to make your won and ship it to you, but it is not a hardship as many people make it out to be. When I hiked the AT, I had 30 different dinners - so every night of the month I could have a different dinner. You won't get that sort of diversity or quality food shopping at the dollar general, and if planned ahead, buying food in bulk on sale, it can be cheaper. I really think you would probably spend more than $20.00 in town on buying food.

    just my opinion.

  6. #26

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    I just ordered a cheapo dehydrator. I'm not a fan of meat jerky, so wasn't overly concerned with temperature control/timer, etc. Rather than shipping whole meals, I figured I'd focus on a few healthy items, like veggies, berries and mushrooms that can be mixed into the store junk. Then plan on one maildrop per month for at least an occasional dose of healthier food. More of a supplement than anything I'll really rely on. Should be easy enough to get a different variety of dehydrated food and spices each month to keep it interesting. I doubt I'll save any money, but the thought of subsisting exclusively on Idahoan mashed potatoes and Knorr sides makes me a bit ill.

    Also planning on zip lock bags, and if necessary some sort of desiccant.

  7. #27
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    Just wanted to chip in here as there was onne bit of incorrect, or at least, misleading info. It is correct that priority mail for large boxes is close to $20, though I will add that most people I researched were using the medium ones. HOWEVER, you can do regional rate flat rate boxes instead. Depending where you are shipping from, it could be under half this. It depends how many zones you will send it. My boxes will be sent from NJ which is pretty sweet, towards the middle of the trail, and it's going to be $6 something per box.

    I would say though, if you are planning to just eat normalish food buying along the way is the way to go. If you have health issues or want to be healthy, or if you have a sweet deal on some supplies, then mailing really is a solution, and don't listen to others who say, don't bother to mail drop. You do need to be prepared to plan a lot and know your tastes well though. For me, it's a no brainer to do this- I am getting some donations/sponsorships, have some ways to get the groceries to make the stuff for almost free, using friends' dehydrators (and kitchens for that matter) $6 a box shipping is totally fine for me, and someone else is going to pay that up front anyway (will pay back after the hike). Also, I'm not working now, so I have oodles of time to plan. This isn't most people.

    PS- How on earth did it cost $60 to make a month's worth of hummus? Did you include the dehydrator in that? Cans of beans are $1 or less, or get a bag of chickpeas for $1 and it's even cheaper. Tahini is maybe $3 from an ethnic market. Maybe $5 at a grocery. Spices/lemon juice basically free/lying around the pantry.

  8. #28

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    With the broken foot and all, I can't exactly be productive by hiking or exercising much, so I'm channeling that productivity into dehydrating. In two days my cheapo dehydrator has spit out four bunches of bananas, four tubs of blueberries, four tubs of mushrooms and is currently working on four pounds of ground beef. Tomorrow is beef jerky day, and then I'll move on to apples and hummus, and granola. Everything is being stored in the freezer for now.

    I bought a bunch of $1 Knorrs sides, Idahoan potatoes, and a pile of granola ingredients. When the cheapo vacuum sealer arrives I'll repackage all of the store bought sides into slightly healthier/tastier meals and snacks. Should be twenty days of food at three meals and two snacks a day, shipped in six packages. I figure I'm shipping maps and portions of the guidebook anyway, I may as well send them along with some food to the tougher food sections.

    $60 equipment
    $120 postage
    $120 food
    $10 Ziplock bags, parchment paper, oxy packets

    Total of $310 for 20 days of food. 100 meals/snacks for average of $3.10 each. Rounding involved, ignored incidentals like spices, sugar, electricity and the gas to drive to the store.

    I can recoup more of the cost of the equipment in coming years if it doesn't break down, lowering the average portion in the future. Of course if I don't complete the thru-hike I'll have 100 portions that taste like regret.

    A lot of effort for 20 days on the trail, but it keeps me amused at least.

  9. #29
    Registered User Manaphy's Avatar
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    Personally I won't dehydrate the food, because I don't love the taste of dehydrated food; I just vacuum seal the food I need before trails. And I think if you just buy a vacuum sealer at crazysales you it won't take that much. You said dehydrators and vacuum sealers are going to cost around $300 totally and I think it is the dehydrator that costs you most. I got my vacuum sealer for $89; and those dehydrators I've seen are mostly for over $100. In all my experience tells me vacuum sealing food is the way to go.

  10. #30
    Registered User Manaphy's Avatar
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    Personally I won't dehydrate the food, because I don't love the taste of dehydrated food; I just vacuum seal the food I need before trails. And I think if you just buy a vacuum sealer at crazysales you it won't take that much. You said dehydrators and vacuum sealers are going to cost around $300 totally and I think it is the dehydrator that costs you most. I got my vacuum sealer for $89; and those dehydrators I've seen are mostly for over $100. In all my experience tells me vacuum sealing food is the way to go.

  11. #31
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    I'm ordering my stuff on Amazon Prime and not paying a dime for shipping.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    EXCUSE MY POOR MATH! Make that $400 (20x20) This Dain Bramage is a killer . . .

    Large flat rate Priority box (12x12x6 and up to 70lbs) is currently $17.90, but will increase on Jan 17th to ???. I've heard $19.75 or so. Non flat rate at similar sizes and with normal food weights will typically be equal or more. Standard Post (old Parcel Post) isn't much cheaper (if at all) and cannot be forwarded for free like Priority, besides often being slower and less reliable. You would have to pay to have it forwarded or returned.

    If you're hiking frugally, you can probably hike a long way on $400 in trail food bought along the way.

    Check out this thread and the OP's video http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/show...t=#post2029099 and expenses https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...t?pref=2&pli=1 but keep in mind he had lots of help from family/friends with freebie shuttles, lodging, meals along the way

    Also this by Weathercarrot regarding his 2003 hike (factor in inflation) http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/cont...-(Hiker-Advice)
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



  12. #32
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    You say that like Amazon Prime is the only place on earth that offers free shipping. Wake up. Look around. Is anybody paying shipping these days? I doubt it.
    Wayne


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  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by HeartFire View Post
    I cook and dehydrate all my meals - buying in town vs mailing - I'd love to see real figures on it. But, it does come down to why you are doing it as to which method will work. I'm personally all about being a vegetarian, and eating healthy - I doubt I would ever eat anything available in a gas station or dollar store. My food is mostly organic, whole foods, free of any chemicals or preservatives, so for me, the cost of postage is not even considered. Postage is cheaper on click and ship if you pay and print on line, tracking is free (we do a lot of shipping for LightHeart Gear, so I am familiar with shipping stuff). Depending on where you are shipping from and how much, the regional rate boxes could be cheaper than the flat rate boxes, and standard priority mail could be cheaper (but probably not) than flat rate.
    I don't use a vacuum sealer - it makes "bricks" and if you don't want to eat the entire meal, you can't reseal the bag. Also, once you cut it open, add hot water, you can't re-seal like a ziplock. I use the freezer ziplock brand bags for everything. You can ship to many stores on the trail (outfitters) that are open on weekends when the post office isn't or to hostels. motels etc. It may take a little extra planning to make your won and ship it to you, but it is not a hardship as many people make it out to be. When I hiked the AT, I had 30 different dinners - so every night of the month I could have a different dinner. You won't get that sort of diversity or quality food shopping at the dollar general, and if planned ahead, buying food in bulk on sale, it can be cheaper. I really think you would probably spend more than $20.00 in town on buying food.

    just my opinion.
    Additionally, I've had issues with vacuum sealed bags losing their seal. I'd say approximately 25% of the meals I've dehydrated and vacuum sealed have lost their seal. Of course this depends on the type of food being dehydrated.

    What happens is as the food dries, it becomes hard with sharp edges. Then as the sealer shrinks the bag around the food, it punctures tiny holes in the plastic. Even Babelfish5 acknowledged this in one of his videos.

    I still have a couple of dehydrated Barbecued Spaghetti with pork dishes on hand that I dehydrated 10 months ago but did not vacuum pack. I ate one the other day and it was still good.

    In my experience, vacuum sealing isn't needed for dehydrated foods, even meat based dishes.

  14. #34

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    I'm thru-hiking next year and have begun dehydrating some of my meals. I think it's a bit unrealistic to try and eat your own dehydrated meals for the entire trip. There are plenty of affordable alternatives at supply points. What has worked for me is to dehydrate proteins, lean ground beef, turkey... This weekend I dehydrated scallions, red peppers, peas, potatoes, corn to add to ramen. I've dehydrated left over meals like spaghetti and meat sauce and it worked out well on the trail. Unless you are going to eat a dehydrated meal with meat right away, you should vacuum seal the bags. My .2.


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  15. #35
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    Venchka,

    The full phrase should have been "free two day shipping." They really push the envelope to get your stuff to you quick. And with the Amazon Prime Pantry perishables, you don't want it sitting in a box for a month.I've found that when I order things from non-APrime sources, I often find myself anticipating it being on my stoop two days after I order, and I have to preform "expectation management" with myself to calm down. LOL. We're so spoiled these days. When I order specialty items from cottage industries, I tone it down because the wait is worth it, but for normal everyday stuff that Amazon and their competitors have in the distribution center, they've really got it down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    You say that like Amazon Prime is the only place on earth that offers free shipping. Wake up. Look around. Is anybody paying shipping these days? I doubt it.
    Wayne


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



  16. #36
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    I suppose. "Spoiled" is the operative word. Kinda goes against the whole idea of hiking through the woods.
    Have a great hike!
    Wayne


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  17. #37

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    Like HDLV said, nutrition and variety. Not much in the way of savings for a thru hike.

    I bought a cheap dehydrator. My intention was to bring more healthy vegetables on the trail with me to supplement the easily available Knorrs sides, Idahoan potatoes, tuna and jerkey diet. I did that, and it was minimally cheaper than buying dehydrated veggies in bulk online. Dried veggies also lose a good bit of the nutrition in the drying process. Both methods require mailing, so the mailing cost was a wash for me.

    If you want to dehydrate all your meals instead of buying Knorr sides and potatoes, I suspect you'll lose money on the increased mailing costs. Mailing in general, I tried to restrict it to very healthy things, very flavorful things to supplement what I could find in town, and very expensive things that needed to be portioned into reasonable sizes.

    As for dehydrating jerky, it would have been a small savings, but it was so very delicious that very little of it made it to the trail. I ended up gaining weight over the winter.

    So, my suggestion is to only dehydrate the vegetables that you won't be able to easily find along the trail... or, just eat a lot of vegetables when you hit the trail towns in addition to all the other food you're cramming into your mouth in trail downs.

    I do expect to gain some small savings from the dehydrator on shorter trips based directly out of my home, where mailing isn't involved. At that point I can just dehydrate everything, and end up with a nice variety of food ready for the trail.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deacon View Post
    Additionally, I've had issues with vacuum sealed bags losing their seal. I'd say approximately 25% of the meals I've dehydrated and vacuum sealed have lost their seal. Of course this depends on the type of food being dehydrated.

    What happens is as the food dries, it becomes hard with sharp edges. Then as the sealer shrinks the bag around the food, it punctures tiny holes in the plastic. .
    I have had the same problem, especially with rice or pasta dishes.

    I now store my bulk dehydrated food in a glass mason jar vacuum sealed with the Food Saver jar sealer attachment. I can store the mason jars in a freezer for several seasons. When preparing for a trip, I weight out the number of portions required and then re-seal the jars.

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vegan Packer View Post
    I dehydrate, but I don't vacuum seal. I just use ziplock type bags. You can always find dehydrators online for about $50 or just above that. Many people buy them, try them once or twice, and then get rid of them after having them sit around, not being used for a long time.
    Check out yard sales. I got two dehydrators that way for a total investment of $12. I have seen vacuum sealers, also. Look around.

    "To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." - T.S. Eliot

  20. #40

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    I have been making jerky in the oven for years.
    Jerky in stores is ridiculously expensive.

    Received an Excalibur as a gift last year and have been doing more dehydrating but I just don't see all that much money saving.
    I would never consider making my own meals for a 5 month hike.
    You would end up spending a huge amount of time in the kitchen.
    As the old saying, time is money. I would rather being spending time outside, playing with my kids, even yard work.

    I realize once you set it you can go off and do other things I just don't like leaving things running while not at home.

    Since I typically get out for long weekends or a week at best, dehydrating makes perfect sense.
    I can also modify my dishes for my picky 9 YO hiking partner.
    I do think it is a healthier method of eating on the trail.

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