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  1. #1

    Default Emergency food rations?

    What do you carry for those "just in case" situations?

    Hypothetical situation: You're on an infrequently traveled trail, in the winter when a snow storm moves in stranding you for 3 days. Your shelter,sleep system and stove/cooking system are adequate for the conditions and you are near a good water source but your food bag is empty or nearly so.
    Do you have an emergency food pouch? What's your emergency food of choice? a few MountainHouse type meals? some homemade dehydrated delicacy? some of those emergency Daltrex bars? a jar of peanut butter? maybe a bag of buckwheat (like Lars, the YouTube, Survival Russia guy likes so much)?

    Extra points go to suggestions that are light weight but calorie dense.
    Not so concerned with the balanced nutritional value, assuming you're only gonna be stranded for three days.

    any thoughts?

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    If I'm someplace where I could get stranded by a snowstorm for three days, I'm either way the heck into a seriously remote place where I would likely have several days worth of food already in my backpack and might just alter my exit plans before I ran out completely, or I am really stupid and didn't bring the right equipment to deal with moving through potential weather hazards.

    Old classic standbys include jello and various powdered broths that, mixed with hot water are high in calories and heat and liquid.
    I generally carry a little extra snack food and hot drink mixes to give me variety and a little extra calories if my food estimates or needs are not what is needed.

    By and large, food is not really an emergency. Shelter and water can be.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  3. #3

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    I carry a generous supply of extra food on my gut. Most people, except maybe avid runners and cyclists, do too. Otherwise, Snickers and gorp.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    I did a 6 day backpacking trip once on a 9 day fast (not recommended), so it's possible to go a long while on a trip without food. "Not recommended" because it's hard to climb tough nut hills with pack and a totally empty stomach.

    Your scenario reminds me of a guy named Steven Frazier who was stranded in a sudden snowstorm and hunkered in for 12 days until rescue. He made his two days of food last 12.

    See---
    http://oldwestnewwest.com/2008112915...h-country.html

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    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Back in the day, I used to carry some extra "emergency" food. I quickly learned, however, that I normally carry too much food, so eliminated the "emergency" rations. I have seldom not ended a trip with significant extra food, so I no longer worry about it.

    Many years ago, I frequently heard/read that folks would carry baggies of dog food. Would provide energy if needed in a true emergency, but one would not be tempted to eat it normally. Seemed reasonable and light.

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    There is an expression "you carry up your fears". It applies to emergency food. Let's look at this rationally:
    1) You can go any days without food.
    2) If you are stuck in your tent and unable to move for days then you also aren't burning as many calories so your food lasts longer.
    3) You have tens of thousands of calories on your body in fat reserves.
    4) Carrying the extra weight could slow you down or cause other issues to get you into a situation where you "need" the extra food. (Unlikely from a single day food but if carry all your fears then very possible.)
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  7. #7

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    I see it less as "carrying your fears" and more "carrying your comforts".

    And of course backpackers carry all sorts of gear---because maybe they fear freezing to death or getting soaked and hypothermic or twisting in the wind without a proper shelter or using boots to fight the fear of hiking thru the snow in barefeet. "Considering what can happen" is a better way of putting "carrying your fears".

    As far as food goes, I always end up carrying about 3 or 4 days more food than I need. It's home dehydrated meals for the most part and very light---though can stretch out a winter trip for a while in tough conditions when I can't get out. It's just food. You can always dig a deep hole in the ground and bury your excess food towards the end of the trip if you don't want to haul it.

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    In this particular scenario, an extra 3 days of winter food for me would be about 6 lbs. My snowshoes weigh about 3 lbs, or 1/2 the weight of three days food. So, which would be better, and extra 3 days of food to hunker down or a pair so snowshoes to evacuate yourself if you are hiking in an area with a risk of an "unexpected" snow storm?

    Of course, in most of N. America weather forecasts are available enough and reliable enough that there really isn't much excuse for getting caught in an truly severe unexpected storm.

    My mantra:
    Pack so you'll be comfortable 85% of the time, safe if uncomfortable 99% of the time, and alive 99.99% of the time. Then accept that there is a 1/10000 that you will die from your outdoor active lifestyle.

    Change those percentages for your personal taste in comfort, risk and reward remembering that the lower the risk, the more you carry and the harder you'll work. You will never, ever, ever be 100% safe. And, as is often said, knowledge is a lot lighter to carry even if harder to acquire.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malto View Post
    There is an expression "you carry up your fears". It applies to emergency food. Let's look at this rationally:
    1) You can go any days without food.
    2) If you are stuck in your tent and unable to move for days then you also aren't burning as many calories so your food lasts longer.
    3) You have tens of thousands of calories on your body in fat reserves.
    4) Carrying the extra weight could slow you down or cause other issues to get you into a situation where you "need" the extra food. (Unlikely from a single day food but if carry all your fears then very possible.)
    All excellent points and agree. However, I do tend to carry just a bit more when I head out there to the more remote areas with the potential for severe weather... maybe an extra 3-4 ounces per day, like 1.75 pound per day vs. 1.5 pounds per day (1/4 lb more in the winter).

    There's the rule of 3's:

    you can live 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    My mantra:
    Pack so you'll be comfortable 85% of the time, safe if uncomfortable 99% of the time, and alive 99.99% of the time. Then accept that there is a 1/10000 that you will die from your outdoor active lifestyle.
    .
    Fantastic little rule, mine is similar, I just cast it to "sigmas", but very similar numbers.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    My mantra:
    Pack so you'll be comfortable 85% of the time, safe if uncomfortable 99% of the time, and alive 99.99% of the time. Then accept that there is a 1/10000 that you will die from your outdoor active lifestyle.

    Change those percentages for your personal taste in comfort, risk and reward remembering that the lower the risk, the more you carry and the harder you'll work. You will never, ever, ever be 100% safe. And, as is often said, knowledge is a lot lighter to carry even if harder to acquire.
    I define backpacking as "Managing Discomfort". Goes along with your "comfortable 85% of the time."

    In your example you could've carried both---the 6 lbs of food and the 3 lb snowshoes. I like this Ed Viesturs quote---

    "What's another ten pounds when you're in great shape?" Ed Viesturs(as a Ranier mountain guide with RMI)

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I define backpacking as "Managing Discomfort". Goes along with your "comfortable 85% of the time."

    In your example you could've carried both---the 6 lbs of food and the 3 lb snowshoes. I like this Ed Viesturs quote---

    "What's another ten pounds when you're in great shape?" Ed Viesturs(as a Ranier mountain guide with RMI)
    Yep, I can totally see why you define backpacking as "managing discomfort!

    And Ed Viestures is way more than just an RMI guide, he's basically THE only elite American mountain climber in recent years. HE's the only American to have summited the world's fourteen 8000 meter peaks. Kinda goes along with an old George Carlin bit, "the pu$$ification of America"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSrzwB1DVFs

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    There's the rule of 3's:
    You can live 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.
    Should add: you can live 3 hours without warmth.
    Sad but true: people can die if they expend tons of energy to ensure they have the means to eat when they should be ensuring they have the means to stay warm & dry. Once you start to feel cold, either from inadequate clothing / shelter or because you got wet (even from excess sweat), you have just a few hours to remedy the situation. If your hands start shaking, you have less than thirty minutes to get SOME warmth; and body shivering is your LAST CHANCE to stop and do SOMETHING. Soon after shivering comes disorientation, at which point you won't even realize you're on your way to death.

    A few days of hunger will be annoying, but hardly life-threatening. A few hours without warmth will kill you.

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    On my thru it was a mountain house or perhaps 2. They lasted a very very long time.

  15. #15

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    I agree with everybody. Being hungry for three days is not a true emergency but, on the other hand, it's not pleasant especially if you have a period of high exertion ahead of you. Obviously, in summer weather, where access to resupply is easy, maybe a cliff bar is all you'd need for your emergency backup but in remote areas in winter, an emergency stash of something calorie dense might be prudent.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I define backpacking as "Managing Discomfort". Goes along with your "comfortable 85% of the time." ........
    I like your definition. I have slightly different but essentially same definition of backpacking as maximizing your level of comfort with the minimum amount of equipment possible.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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    Do we know of a single case where three days extra food would have made a life or death difference on one of the long trails?
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

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    Snowshoes would have made more of a difference than food in this case.
    http://karlfmoffatt.blogspot.com/201...n-new.html?m=1
    Wayne

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    I carry nothing extra on my yearly section trips to the Appalachian Trail. I run out of food on purpose. When I start to run low I ration it out so I can get 1 meal a day. Last year those last 3 days before Abol bridge were memorable. Made the grease burgers taste even better. I like the challenge, I did it without begging, although I caught 4 crayfish with my hands and also ate some blueberry's. I'm not sure we need to eat every day. Modern humans seem to have settled on the 3 meals a day routine. We are spoiled, no wonder we are so fat. Amazing what we can get used to.

  20. #20

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    If your hiking on a remote trail in the winter you best be prepared for what ever might happen. Extra food? You bet. I typically have a package of Ramen noodles kicking around the bottom of my food bag in case I get really desperate for a meal.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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