New Food for Hikers and Hunters: Pouches is the Word
I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist. I’ve been eating the same stuff on the trail and in camp for thirty years. Freeze dried meals. Crackers. Salami. Cereal. Cheese. Some jerky. Raisins. A Snickers bar being the big treat. That is, until last spring.
We were mapping a portion of the Continental Divide trail in New Mexico. Matt was a young buck from the east with all the best gear. Joe, a rock, newly back from service with the infantry in Iraq. Grizzled Michael, a 25 year veteran of the Forest Service, fighting fires across the west.
Sitting down to eat was like opening your brown bag in elementary school. As I unwrapped mine I glanced around. What do they got?
Man. They had stuff I’d never seen. By day two I was salivating over it. By day three it was clear there was going to be no trading. I carried no food currency. At day five I was asking questions. Almost all of this grub came from a grocery store. It was not only better than my lunch, it was probably cheaper.
So here’s what’s new in outdoor, lightweight, belly-filling food. Pouches is the word.
Meat: There are big improvements here over freeze dried meals. No matter how they try, meat just never dries well.
And why does that freeze dried stuff come with all the flatulence. I have wondered where they got all the flatulence to dehydrate anyway. Rehydrated and freshly processed that stuff will blow up a sleeping bag like a dirigible. I’ve seen tent mates lift off, floating in mid air in their methane contraptions, bouncing off the ceiling. Heaven help us in the event of a spark or lightening strike. The Hindenberg revisited.
Now there are pouches. Pouches of tuna, salmon and chicken. This is good meat, better than canned, lots of protein, low fat and quick to heat. Just add to your new carbs and you have gourmet in the wilds.
I’m happy to pass on the stew for some yellow fin. I hope someone will begin pouching some beef. Meanwhile the salmon is great.
Carbs: Grocery shelves have lots of quick-cook stuff to stick to your ribs. The rule is simple. The less boiling needed the better. Couscous in its many flavors is tops. Stove top stuffing is good. Ramen and macaroni are standbys. Instant mashed potatoes. Quick cook rice. And there are all of the flavored noodle mixes.
Breakfast: While I woke up to cold granola, my new friends, still in their sleeping bags, were boiling up a little water and dropping in, yes, pouches of instant oatmeal, the maple aroma wafting on the breeze.
Bread: Tortillas, now in every size, color and thickness will keep well for a few days. Packaged bagels will last even longer.
Flavorings: More pouches. Grab up every kind of free sauce at the convenience store and fast food islands. Mustards, relishes, hot sauce and salsa, ketchup, mayo, salad dressings. It’s all good on that old standby, salami.
Drinks: Gatorade powder, in several weird flavors, usually mixed at half strength. If you want the electrolytes and a little flavor without all the sugar there are the tubes of Nuun Electrolyte Tablets–the only thing listed that is only available from an outdoor supply store), Just for flavoring and variety there are the little tubes of Crystal Light lemonades, instant teas and other stuff. And of course pouches. Little free pouches of lemon juice from the Subway take that skankiness out of warm, filtered swamp water.
Desserts and Snacks: Gorp is always good, with its peanut protein, salt and carbs, now in a million mixes. String cheese, yes in their little clear packets, is indestructible, thanks to the miracle of chemistry. With chocolate, remember that dark (except for Dove) melts less than milk.
And don’t forget the Snickers, now available in dark.