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  1. #1

    Default random question: how do you all handle doing dishes on the trail to avoid animals?

    basically the title is my question. i was wondering how this works? my first cookset purchased is in the mail on the moment but wanted to be sure I use it right in this respect.

    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Basically, I don't want my campsite to smell too sweet for any bears or mice or whatever else might come along. Dumping dish water with food remnants somewhere seems counterintuitive. Whats the ideal way to handle this? I really hate not being able to edit posts on here without donating..

  3. #3

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    First things first....go ahead and donate.

    Secondly, doing dishes is not necessarily something you have to do if all you do is boil water and rehydrate in a freezer bag (common with thrus).
    But, if you do have to do dishes, if depends on where. Some shelters/camps have a screen area specifically designed for food waste. Otherwise, pack it out. Try not to have leftovers.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

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    It always depends on what you're cooking. If it's ramen then no need to do much cleaning. Just swish some water around the bowl afterwards and drink that. Done. If it's something that'll stick to the pot (mac n' cheese or potatoes... or both) then put a teaspoon of fine dirt in the pot along with a splash of water and rub the mix around - it works as an abrasive that cleans the pot amazingly well and you're only left with a small amount of grey water. Dump the grey water away from the shelter in a small cathole. Done.

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    Yeah, we split mountain house meals into separate freezer bags and put them in a cozy. Rehydrate with boiling water and pack out the trash. If we went on longer trips, this would get expensive, but on a 2-3 night trip, it's not bad.

  6. #6
    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Freezer bags. I only bring one 'pot' with me on trips and it's a Snowpeak titanium mug. I'll boil two cups of water at a time - part of it will rehydrate my meal, the rest is for tea.

    Eat right out of the bag and there's no mess to clean up!

    And all you need is a pot, stove, spoon. I have a cozy I made of Reflectix that keeps the meal hot while it rehydrates, but you could easily use your winter hat or bandana as an insulator.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    Quart NAME BRAND freezer bags for FBC. I carry a gallon sized one or two for the trash over several days.
    Old Hiker
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    I usually stop and cook dinner a hour or two before I figure on setting up camp, cook and eat, and then hike on to where I want to stop for the night. And I use the freezer bag method. Doing so, eliminates many of the issues you're thinking about. This works for me, but as you'll see on his site, many different things work for many different people.

  9. #9
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    I don't have dishes. I usually have a singular pot and maybe a mug. Just rinse out with water and be done with it. Embrace the funk.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by QHShowoman View Post

    And all you need is a pot, stove, spoon.
    That's it. Keep it simple, especially in the winter when you will not feel like cleaning a bunch of stuff with butt cold water. Pot. Spoon. Pass the fried eggs.



    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    I don't have dishes. I usually have a singular pot and maybe a mug. Just rinse out with water and be done with it. Embrace the funk.
    I consider a "singular pot" dishes. I hear occasionally of backpacking "chefs" taking out all sorts of crap---plastic ladles, a set of bowls, several plates, plastic/lexan silverwear out the butt, cups and mugs, nesting pots and fry pans, even a rolled-up cutting board! This is lunacy but HYOHUYFFO---Hike Your Own Hike Until Your Fingers Freeze Off. When push comes to shove and it's -10F in camp, none of this stuff will want to be cleaned.

  11. #11
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTATHiker View Post
    It always depends on what you're cooking. If it's ramen then no need to do much cleaning. Just swish some water around the bowl afterwards and drink that. Done. If it's something that'll stick to the pot (mac n' cheese or potatoes... or both) then put a teaspoon of fine dirt in the pot along with a splash of water and rub the mix around - it works as an abrasive that cleans the pot amazingly well and you're only left with a small amount of grey water. Dump the grey water away from the shelter in a small cathole. Done.
    If you're on a thru, you may want all those calories sticking to your pot. Washing your pot with clean water and your spoon or finger means you can drink those calories up. That's what I do. If that grosses you out, dig a small cathole and dump the water in there, well away from your camp (say 200 yards or so). And +1 to the fine dirt. I prefer to use a bit of ash from the fireplace but they're "roughly" equivalent.

    FBC is another method with easy clean up if that's your style.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    That's it. Keep it simple, especially in the winter when you will not feel like cleaning a bunch of stuff with butt cold water. Pot. Spoon. Pass the fried eggs.





    I consider a "singular pot" dishes. I hear occasionally of backpacking "chefs" taking out all sorts of crap---plastic ladles, a set of bowls, several plates, plastic/lexan silverwear out the butt, cups and mugs, nesting pots and fry pans, even a rolled-up cutting board! This is lunacy but HYOHUYFFO---Hike Your Own Hike Until Your Fingers Freeze Off. When push comes to shove and it's -10F in camp, none of this stuff will want to be cleaned.
    I'm a camp chef sometimes and manage to use a single pot and a spoon for everything. It's all about preparation at home.

  13. #13

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    I always drink my grey water. Even with sticky stuff you can get it clean with some water and your finger. If you need some abrasion throw some baking soda in and the grey water will taste a little salty. The baking soda should be in your pack as tooth powder because it requires little clean up as well.

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    Hopeful Hiker QHShowoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasty View Post
    I'm a camp chef sometimes and manage to use a single pot and a spoon for everything. It's all about preparation at home.

    Rasty makes a really good point. Since you're new to backpacking, xalex, I would recommend doing a few car camping trips at local campgrounds. This way, you can bring all the cooking (and other) gear you THINK you'll need and figure out what you actually used and what you can do without. And if you think you want to do freezer bag cooking, etc., try it out at home or on a camping trip where you can easily obtain more food if your experiment doesn't work out.
    you left to walk the appalachian trail
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  15. #15
    Registered User Statue's Avatar
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    Baby wipes and some leftover water.

  16. #16

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    I put my wash water into the fire pit. The charcoal filters the water, absorbs odors and any incidental bits of food scraps get burnt or eaten by mice. But if you have more then a tea spoon of left over food, that needs to be packed out with your garbage.

    I do not use soap of any kind, just rinse with water. I have a small piece of "Scotch Bright" pad to scrub with if needed. If I really burn something to the bottom of the pot, I use some dirt/gravel as an abrasive.

    I once saw a woman scrubbing her dishes in a stream, using moss pulled from the bank. Sure, that's the way to do it...
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  17. #17
    Kilted Thru-Hiker AT'04, PCT'06, CDT'07 Haiku's Avatar
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    I put clean water in the pot, scrub with my finger, lick my finger clean, and then drink the water in the pot. No lost calories, and no dumped water to attract critters. I don't like pouring hot water into freezer bags because that releases bad chemicals (BPAs), and it also means that I get to re-use my freezer bags for the next resupply.

  18. #18

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    Get a Flex fry pan from MSR and it cleans itself. Teflon. If you're lucky it MAY last a year before you start ingesting PTFE---polytetrafluoroethylene. I did 2 trips before the top lip of the thing starting peeling off---but it's my favorite pot/pan as it holds enough to cook soups and morning coffee and doubles as a fry pan for toast and eggs, etc. I clean it with a damp paper towel.


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    When I'm cooking and not doing FBC I carry a small square of netting from a bag of onions. Wadded up it makes a scrubbie for the pot, and it doubles as a rock bag (holds together with a carabiner) when it's time to hang my food bag.

  20. #20
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    I have a Jetboil Sol Aluminum and I cook directly in the pot. For breakfast, I typically first have a cup of coffee. Then I have oatmeal and attempt to eat every bit of oatmeal out of the pot. Then I boil water again and make another cup of coffee which will have some oatmeal residue in it. After drinking that cup, cleanup is pretty trivial. Boiling the water for the coffee does the trick. For dinner, I cook directly in the pot and eat every bit of food in the pot. I then add about 2 ounces of water, swish it around and use my fingers (cleaned prior to dinner) to dislodge any residue. I also have a small piece from an onion bag that I use as a scrubber if something is particularly hard to dislodge. I dispose of the tiny amount of grey water well away from my shelter (I know some people drink this ... I just can't do it). No, this doesn't get the pot entirely clean BUT boiling water the next morning for coffee should sanitize the pot sufficiently.
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