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  1. #1
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    Default Noob about to do a 3 dayer. Need advice.

    My wife and I have been planning and prepping a 3 day hike in Oct, through PA. After looking at MRE's for ages online (Amazon, et al), I found this site, and the 3 page thread of MRE's being the stupidest thing in the world, minus a few times for a nice meal. I read the "Sample menu" thread, and it seems to have a lot of things about dehydrated foods, and freezer bag meals. First: What is a freezer bag meal? Second: Do you buy bulk dehydrated meals, or even the camping packages? Does everyone carry a stove and pans? Do you just add the hot water to the bag, or actually cook it in the pans, and if so, how do you CLEAN your pans? What do you all suggest I do for a 3 day trip (1 carni and one veggie on the trip)? We are purchasing a crap ton of supplies as it is, so that is another 30$ on a small stove (any I should look for/avoid?), and can of fuel (one, two? five?). I was set on doing heated MRE's, but it seems to be a bad idea. Third: How much WATER does one carry for each person, for cooking and drinking? This will be in PA in Oct, so I doubt there will be any heat related issues or dehydration. Is a 2 L camelback good? Shelters seem common, so refills should be plenty....right???? Can I get away with a stove, one pot for water, and a few bags of food? (plus breads, trail mix, bars, etc)
    Pre-thank you for the help and suggestions!

  2. #2
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    1. Freezer bag cooking.

    2. No.

    3. Not everyone. Most folks carry a kitchen, but some eat cold food all the time. I go cold in the summer.

    4. FBC means adding water to the bag to rehydrate everything. Use a homemade cozy to keep the bag hot.

    5. Cleaning stuff: get a piece of a nylon mesh onion bag, maybe 8 inches square. Carry a tiny dropper bottle of dish soap. Use a couple of drops of soap in your pot with some hot water, and scrub with your nylon scrubbie thing -- this can clean your pots, spoons, etc.

    6. Any small canister stove that takes the tiny butane-mix canisters (NOT the big green propane canisters). The MSR Pocket Rocket is a good one. One small canister for a weekend.

    7. Carry 2 liters or so to hike. You'll need more than that for camp, so either camp someplace with water, or plan to carry extra for making dinner, drinks, breakfast, and cleanup. Oh, and some to carry the next morning. I can do all that on 3 liters, which leaves me 1 liter to start hiking in the a.m.

    8. Yes, you can bring one pot, one stove, and some bags of food for two people and it'll work just fine. You'll have to be careful about the bags of food, of course.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  3. #3
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Sample weekend menu:

    Friday dinner: two separate FBC meals, one per person. A couple of decaf tea bags for a hot drink if needed. Red wine. Dark chocolate. (You're hiking with your wife, dude.)

    Saturday breakfast: two separate bags of cereal with powdered milk, dried fruit, maybe some nuts. I like granola, but plenty of hikers choose instant oatmeal. Two packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee. Add a hot chocolate pack for a mocha.

    Second breakfast: a pack of Pop Tarts or a Clif Bar or similar per person, usually eaten around 10am after 2 hours on trail.

    Lunch: a packet of tuna salad with some cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. Instant iced tea mix. Fig Newtons.

    Dinner: repeat of Friday's dinner.

    Sunday breakfast: repeat of Saturday's breakfast.

    And just keep repeating with minor changes as long as you'll be out on the trail.

    Have fun! (And avoid the MREs, seriously.)
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  4. #4
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Oh, and you'll need a lot of small snacks. GORP is popular, just mix nuts and fruit and chocolate in any combination. But don't forget salty snacks -- I love the Combos cheese pretzels on the trail. Or mix small pretzels with spicy Cheezits and some honey roasted peanuts. Mmm. Oh, and Snickers bars.
    Ken B
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  5. #5
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Bigcranky's responses look pretty good to me. You might also consider freeze-dried meals, which are about as simple as you can go for the weight but not as tasty as other alternatives. Frankly, they work well for me when I'm out for a week.

    I rarely need to wash anything if I'm just boiling water. I use my (clean) finger to clean out my cup with water -- drinking the waste water -- and I've found that bringing a few pieces of paper towel can help if I spill something (alternatively useful as TP).

    I can get by with a small (100g) isobutane canister for a week's worth of breakfast/dinner boiling if I'm careful. Half that for two people. Wind will dramatically increase fuel usage.

    I typically carry 2 liters, which I would recommend for a new hiker. Experienced hikers can get by with a single liter or less, but having run out of water once and typically hiking during dry Fall weather, I almost always have 2 liters with carry capacity for up to 3 liters or more depending on the section.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  6. #6
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    You've already got a lot of good suggestions. Perhaps you'll check back aftER your trip and give us a follow-up report?

    Always good to hear how it went.... You now, like a lessons learned.....

  7. #7
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    Wait wait wait--stop stop: Don't get sucked into marketing hype to decide what you need to stay alive for 3(just three)days in the wild woods!

    OK--welcome to WB by the way.

    Look, you do not need a 'ton' of gear. You just need the right gear and without experience you can not know what you will need. Do a lot of reading here befor you shell out a bunch of money for things you will never use again because you are so overwhelmed by the weight of your overstuffed packs. We just want you to have some fun and not make a bunch of useless purchases based on fear of what it will be like out there.

    Ok, so food: Just take what your vegitarian half eats on a daily basis and add some canned or dried meats for the carnivore. Take what you find at the grocery store and lean toward the no-cook options. Take 1(one)prepackaged freezedried meal, from walmart 6 bucks-put it at the bottom of your pack and think of it as emergency food-if you have to eat it it will taste ok. For a stove, if you must cook on this trip, look at a small canister type with an auto start feature--the MSR Pocket Rocket would be good and two small canisters will do for a short trip--actually one would do but the second one is a spare to make up for set up and use problems caused by inexperience and as a feeling of security. Get a good water filter--you can live three days with no food at all but you need water.

    Again, don't go overboard on gear. Maybe you can borrow or rent some of what you need. As you narrow down your choices, ask for recommendations here befor you buy. There will be lots of advice and opinions offered to sift through and make your choices better ones.

    You know, John Muir walked out the door with some bread in the pocket of his coat and called it good. You can do that too once you get some experience. Muir carried in his head a lot of knowledge of the outdoor world that made up for having no gear. He was extreme, but you can get by with a lot less than you thnk you need--it is about walking not about buying stuff.

  8. #8
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    Relax. You can get all your food at any supermarket, cheap light pots at Goodwill, and an inexpensive canister stove at any sporting goods store. No need to break the bank, or your back. Knorr Sides are a traditional backpacking dinner, instant oatmeal the basic breakfast, and any snacks you like make your lunch. In October, you will probably want hot drinks, too. Big Cranky's posts are full of good ideas. At worst, you'll not care for some items and bring somethig different next time.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayfox View Post
    Wait wait wait--stop stop: Don't get sucked into marketing hype to decide what you need to stay alive for 3(just three)days in the wild woods!

    OK--welcome to WB by the way.

    Look, you do not need a 'ton' of gear. You just need the right gear and without experience you can not know what you will need. Do a lot of reading here befor you shell out a bunch of money for things you will never use again because you are so overwhelmed by the weight of your overstuffed packs. We just want you to have some fun and not make a bunch of useless purchases based on fear of what it will be like out there.

    Ok, so food: Just take what your vegitarian half eats on a daily basis and add some canned or dried meats for the carnivore. Take what you find at the grocery store and lean toward the no-cook options. Take 1(one)prepackaged freezedried meal, from walmart 6 bucks-put it at the bottom of your pack and think of it as emergency food-if you have to eat it it will taste ok. For a stove, if you must cook on this trip, look at a small canister type with an auto start feature--the MSR Pocket Rocket would be good and two small canisters will do for a short trip--actually one would do but the second one is a spare to make up for set up and use problems caused by inexperience and as a feeling of security. Get a good water filter--you can live three days with no food at all but you need water.

    Again, don't go overboard on gear. Maybe you can borrow or rent some of what you need. As you narrow down your choices, ask for recommendations here befor you buy. There will be lots of advice and opinions offered to sift through and make your choices better ones.

    You know, John Muir walked out the door with some bread in the pocket of his coat and called it good. You can do that too once you get some experience. Muir carried in his head a lot of knowledge of the outdoor world that made up for having no gear. He was extreme, but you can get by with a lot less than you thnk you need--it is about walking not about buying stuff.
    To defend myself, I'm not going out and buying everything off the shelf. But It would be nice to have a sleeping bag....and a bag to carry it. Maybe a knife for emergencies or boots to walk 50 miles in. I have none of that. I'm not extreme, nor do i even WANT to do this, but I agreed too, and the 20 miler I did last year didn't kill me. I believe I am making wise choices on what I purchase, but all the little things. A spork, a small pan, a can of fuel, a stove, bug spray, some rope, alllll adds up quickly. And after hearing about the MRE's being expensive, and I KNOW the freeze-dried packages are as well, I'm glad to find this site!! I'm glad someone mentioned the trailcooking.com site and FBMs, because without this simple knowlege, I would have been spending more. Yes, it's only 3 days. I ws a cub and boy scout in the past years, but that was highly caterered too. I've learned a lot, and will be glad to keep some of it handy on this trip. I've never done this, and as mentioned, rather not. I might as well be comfy in my journey. I'm also a diabetic, so food is always an issue, even if I think everything is dandy during a normal day, bad things happen.
    THAT SAID...
    i will be reading this site very much so in the next few months, asking MANY questions. Maybe even going out for a nighter to test my skills.

  10. #10
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    Thank you all for the good advice. I will be reading up more on many things, including my finalized route (I'm sure there is a topic for routes?) I will look more into the food. And yes, I will be posting a nice follow up as much as I can. post-walk. Won't be for a few months, so you might forget about me

  11. #11

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    I like oatmeal,and instant potatoes,but not together.Have a great hike and to White Blaze,grits and potatoes ain't bad though.

  12. #12
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    Riff42, please know that all of us here enjoy the mentoring aspect of this site. Our comments are not, usually, meant as attacks even though some of us have real strong opinions about some stuff. We love to have new people we can help, mostly because it helps the AT and other trails to have new, and younger, advocates. People protect what they come to love and value. I expect that even though you have some reluctance in this adventure, understandable form the diabetic standpoint, you will have a good time and possibly one that will improve your health both physically and psychologically.

    After you are here for a while, you will see many new people who are buying new gear, go out for a trip or two, and then we see a for sale post of their lightly used gear and we wish we could have been of more hep to them. We just don't want to see you in this category.

    That said, your trip is not till Oct so you have plenty of time to break in some new shoes, practice cooking with your new stove, plan your trip around the weather and plan 'escape' strategies if you should need them. It may be cold so bug stuff might take a back seat to a warm sleeping system. And your partner should use this time to learn how to help you, if they do not already, with issues that are controlled by you blood sugar levels--this is no small responsibility and should not be taken lighty, pun intended. There are many threads here dealing with diabetic issues so do a search-though some old threads seem to be having problems in finding them with the search feature. You may find some people here with experience in this that you can PM to find more specific help.

    Don't worry, we wont forget about you and will be looking foreward to your trip report and are happy to be of what help we can give you.

  13. #13
    Registered User Driver8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grayfox View Post
    You know, John Muir walked out the door with some bread in the pocket of his coat and called it good. You can do that too once you get some experience. Muir carried in his head a lot of knowledge of the outdoor world that made up for having no gear. He was extreme, but you can get by with a lot less than you thnk you need--it is about walking not about buying stuff.
    +1 To the OP: Keep it simple and destress. PBJs for day 1, for all three days if cold enough, as it may be in October, almond or cashew or sesame butter if peanuts are a problem. Dried fruit and nuts. Some cans of tuna and packets of mayo. Maybe a small pot or two to boil soup and make tea or coffee in, with the packets of soup and bags of tea or coffee container.

    And most important of all - have a ball out there. Choose a beautiful place, hope the weather cooperates and enjoy it. Bring a notepad and pencil or pen to take down observations about gear, the experience, what-have-you. If you see how you can improve your gear configuration, you can write it down along the way.
    The more miles, the merrier!

    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; Northeast 4K: 27/115; AT: 124/2191

  14. #14
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    Before you put out some money for a stove, check out making alcohol stoves on youtube. A very simple but super effective stove is called a supercat, made out of a fancy feast cat food can. When you pick up a can of catfood for about 59 cents, you will figure that there is no way a can that little can cook a meal, but I bet you have fun doing it! A cat food can and a can of denatured alcohol from lowes or walmarts paint dept will let you cook a bunch of meals! There are lots of posts about alcohol cooking on WB. I usually cook with a soto canister stove, but it is more because I like gadgets. I have a couple alcohol stoves, and I would use one in a minute if something happened to my stove. It's also great to keep them around the house in case of power outages and stuff like that.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whack-a-mole View Post
    Before you put out some money for a stove, check out making alcohol stoves on youtube. A very simple but super effective stove is called a supercat, made out of a fancy feast cat food can. When you pick up a can of catfood for about 59 cents, you will figure that there is no way a can that little can cook a meal, but I bet you have fun doing it! A cat food can and a can of denatured alcohol from lowes or walmarts paint dept will let you cook a bunch of meals! There are lots of posts about alcohol cooking on WB. I usually cook with a soto canister stove, but it is more because I like gadgets. I have a couple alcohol stoves, and I would use one in a minute if something happened to my stove. It's also great to keep them around the house in case of power outages and stuff like that.
    +1 - what he said.

    When I first got into backpacking a few years ago, I had a sleeping bag already and that was about it. By the time I got my backpack, hammock, compression sack for the sleeping bag, etc, etc, etc, I was over $300, and I still needed a stove. I didn't know anything about the different types of stoves though, and I hated spending money on something I wasn't sure about. As a temporary solution, I made an alcohol stove from the plans on Sgt Rock's hikinghq.net website. 5 years later, I retired that alcohol stove, and replaced it with a supercat/firebucket combination.

    If nothing else, trying an alcohol stove will give you time to figure out what you really want to do long term.

    -FA

    P.S. Sgt Rock also has a lot of tips about using stuff you already have (or can find cheap) for backpacking. I think he calls it 'dirtbagging'.

  16. #16
    Registered User Double Wide's Avatar
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    I love my canister stove, although I've got an open mind towards the alcohol stove--I just haven't had enough backwoods/backpacking experience to run into anyone who uses one, that's all (my hiking buddies all use pocket rockets, but I use a Coleman one that I preach as being far superior...anyhow...) As far as meals go, I've discovered a few things that I like to take on quick overnighters:

    1) Dehydrated black beans. Rehydrate, put in a slice of cheese, a taco bell sauce packet, and eat it on a taco-sized flour tortilla. GREAT dinner!
    2) I like granola as a snack or mixed with yogurt, but not so much on the trail. And I really never acquired a taste for oatmeal. My preference is instant grits. Salt, pepper, and a small container of squeeze margarine works great. I also put cheese and bacon bits in mine, and it's a great breakfast (the cheese and bacon bits work great if you don't have margarine, and you can leave the bacon out for your veggie partner)
    3) I love trail mix, but my favorite gorp recipe is cashews, M&Ms, raisins, and a little bit of Chex cereal--2 salties, 2 sweets, all good!
    4) Knorr side dishes. I jazz them up with summer sausage or pepperoni, or in a pinch, the dreaded Spam single
    5) I know it borders on heresy to admit this here on WB, but I have a stash of Mountain House and Coleman freeze-dried meals and desserts, and I always have a couple in my food bag. They're less than $5 at my local Walmart, so I always pick up a couple when I'm there. Yeah, they've got a lot of sodium in them, but so does GORP.

    Also, no matter what kind of stove you get, go with a titanium pot if you can afford to splurge. They're tough, they weigh next to nothing, and they heat up and boil water in a hurry. My advice is to try out your stove out on the back patio a couple of times and sample some of the suggestions you've seen here a few times before you go. Then after that, try it on the ground or a 'flat' rock. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to knock your dinner over the first time you don't set your stove on a man-made surface. Trust me on this...
    Double Wide is now BLUEBERRY
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  17. #17
    Registered User BigHodag's Avatar
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    Default re: Noob about to do a 3 dayer. Need advice.

    Might take a peek at Sgt Rock's articles on "dirtbagging" abd the $300 Gear Challenge.


    As others have noted, its just 3-days. Its OK to be a bit heavy on the gear and haul a few luxury items like chocolates and wine. Just ensure you can stay warm and stay dry so the trip doen't turn into a survival test.

    I put together an online course for Noobs that you may find helpful. Just click trough the link below. The food page provides info on water and meal planning. The gear page provides info on stoves, packing light, and packing inexpensively.

    Good hiking!
    Appalachian Trail Online Course
    http://at-trail.blogspot.com
    Information and resources for the A.T. hiker

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  18. #18

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    Definantly stay away from MRE's. In my experience, they are just plain nasty and high in sodium and preservatives. Maybe I got the wrong ones?? IDK. I found some dehydrated meals that were good. BackCountry I think? I prefer to dehydrate my own and have had great success. Fruit veggies rice beans. I've made much better beef jerky than I have bought and a whole lot cheaper too. Instant oatmeal with dried fruit is great for breakfast. I have a small plastic french press that makes the BEST coffee. I cannot function without a decent cup of coffee in the morning and the french press rocks! Check out this website backpackingchef.com for lots of great food ideas. I'd love an update. For me, multi day trips with my husband were an incredible bonding experience.
    Happy Trails!

    Quote Originally Posted by Riff42 View Post
    My wife and I have been planning and prepping a 3 day hike in Oct, through PA. After looking at MRE's for ages online (Amazon, et al), I found this site, and the 3 page thread of MRE's being the stupidest thing in the world, minus a few times for a nice meal. I read the "Sample menu" thread, and it seems to have a lot of things about dehydrated foods, and freezer bag meals. First: What is a freezer bag meal? Second: Do you buy bulk dehydrated meals, or even the camping packages? Does everyone carry a stove and pans? Do you just add the hot water to the bag, or actually cook it in the pans, and if so, how do you CLEAN your pans? What do you all suggest I do for a 3 day trip (1 carni and one veggie on the trip)? We are purchasing a crap ton of supplies as it is, so that is another 30$ on a small stove (any I should look for/avoid?), and can of fuel (one, two? five?). I was set on doing heated MRE's, but it seems to be a bad idea. Third: How much WATER does one carry for each person, for cooking and drinking? This will be in PA in Oct, so I doubt there will be any heat related issues or dehydration. Is a 2 L camelback good? Shelters seem common, so refills should be plenty....right???? Can I get away with a stove, one pot for water, and a few bags of food? (plus breads, trail mix, bars, etc)
    Pre-thank you for the help and suggestions!

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