How To Pack Enough Food For A Week In A PLCE Side Pocket

by Paul Kirtley

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Want to pack food for a week into a side-pocket?  Read my notes and watch the video below...

Want to pack food for a week into a side-pocket? Read and watch below…

In a previous video I packed up all of the kit that I take when I working on UK bushcraft courses or camping in that way. It’s my typical baseline northern temperate kit. It all fits easily into a Karrimor Sabre 45 with side pockets, with room to spare.

At the end of the video I said there was still room to pack a week’s worth of food into the side pocket which remained empty after packing all of my kit.

Really?!

A fair few people have questioned my claim about being able to pack enough food; Or at least, they’ve asked if I could show them how to get a week’s worth of food into the side pocket of a Sabre 45 rucksack. That is, a week’s worth of food in a PLCE side pocket.

Being Realistic

If you’ve watched the previous video, you’ve probably noticed that I use the Arktis side pockets, which are a bit bigger than some of the side pockets available. But they are also quite difficult to get hold of these days.

So, what I’ve done is take one of the smallest side pockets that I could find in my cupboard, the side pocket of my Berghaus Vulcan rucksack. These are definitely smaller than the Arktis pockets. I wanted to make sure I demonstrated something that can be replicated by other people, even if they are not using a larger PLCE side pocket.

Enough Food, Even In A Smaller Side Pocket

I selected a menu and filled the side pocket with food. It is, for me, enough food for the week if I were hiking outside of the winter months.

I think the key thing to think about when planning this type of menu is to think not about the volume you might want on your plate but to think about the calories you need and to make sure you get a balanced split between carbohydrates, fats and protein, along with other nutrients.

Dual Purpose

I should point out that I’m attempting to kill two birds with one stone here.

I’m regularly asked about packing food for camping trips, backpacking journeys, bushcraft outings and even attending self-catering bushcraft courses.

I also hear from people that they are turned off by the price of some of the specialist pre-prepared camping meals.

And those who turn to British military 24-hour ration packs often complain about the weight and bulk.

So, what I also wanted to share with you in this video were some ideas on inexpensive, compact and lightweight foods that you can find in any supermarket. Moreover, I wanted to show you how you can combine these into a tasty, varied and nutritious menu.

If you’d like to learn more, then please watch the following video:

[You can also view How To Pack A Week’s Food Into A PLCE Side Pocket on YouTube.]


Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below…

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog

How To Pack A Bushcraft Camping Outfit

A Bushcraft Camping Outfit – Equipment For Living In The Woods

What Gear To Pack For A Day Hike In The Woods

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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.

 

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

Hans

Exellent, video!
There is a lot of option for food to find in the supermarket. Which is good both for adding flavours and for the wallet. In Sweden a freeze-dried meal is about 7-9 euro, which is ridiculous overpriced. Also if you add some supplemental home-dried vegetable (both easy to make, and light, not a lot of calories though) into the mix you get some more flavours and cooking options. I also generally like to bring some Blueberry Soup Mix to supplement my evenings hot-drinks.

The biggest problem I have is to find dehydrated meat in the supermarket, different kinds of air-dried sausage is a good option. You can also dehydrating mince meat yourself in your oven.
For more info about home dehydrating http://www.backpackingchef.com/dehydrating-food.html

Besides spending some time cooking is one of the high-points of the day, after all it is all about enjoying the outdoors right?

Reply

Linda

How much did the side pocket weigh before you unpacked it? Thanks.

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Ian

Hi Paul, first class video has helped me recap how I go about feeding myself when out and about. The only thing I would add are hot chocolate sachets as a bit of a luxury.

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Colette Descent

Excellent video, simple and very effective food selection. I dehydrate my own ground beef, peas and corns at home for variety (all very compact and lightweight). I like to bring dried fruits and chocolate peanut M&Ms for snack. Also, we all pack a mandatory flask of single malt in our neck of the Canadian woods… Question: do you have problems with black bears raiding your food in the U.K? Cheers!
Colette

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Brian

+1 for the whiskey! A great morale booster, especially after a day of hard portages heavy on the biting flies!

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Kurt

Paul,
Great video! I use Rice instead of pasta due my son having celiac disease same with the couscous I replace it with pre packaged rice with either chicken or veggies in it… I also take Chicken or beef Bouillon to add flavor to the rice. I take beef sticks as well as the chorizo, the beef sticks can be eaten on the move while I like adding the chorizo to my eggs or to the rice. We take powdered eggs for breakfast or gluten free granola. Depending on the temperature range of the trip the fats can go up much higher with Ghee and or olive oil… You are spot on with the cup of soup or bouillon at the evening meal it is a great morale booster if there is a chill in the air!
My best,
Kurt

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Steve

That was an excellent video Paul and gave me some food for thought (pun intended) about the foods I take when I’m out and about.

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hamish morton

Well done Paul, Just a great video for my up coming Canada trip! My Children just said you missed out marshmallows 1KG and I would also add Glenlivet 18 years ( if you find out how to dehydrate that then let me know)
Hamish

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Shiver

Glenlivet 18 … what a great idea!

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Chris Allen

Hey Paul. It never ceases to amaze me how people feel okay with spending silly amounts on those so called ‘camping meals’ when all it takes is a little thought and effort cooking, to feed oneself cheaply and still enjoy the food when out. Also, season and area permitting, we like to supplement our meals with various wild edibles, which will add wonderful flavours too.

Great advice, yet again Paul.

all the best.

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Jon Silver

Another excellent video, Paul. I often watch your videos, not only to learn anything new you might have thought of which I’ve missed, but also just to affirm that my own thinking isn’t way off the mark. It occurred to me a long time ago that the specialist camping foods weren’t any better than readily available convenience items. I also avoid heavy watery things, favouring dehydrated foods. I tend to go the Pasta’n’Sauce route, as well as savoury rice. I favour oat based porridge for breakfast, though it does involve heating which is ok if you have a quick stove or keep a fire going, which is necessary for most of my clean water needs anyway. Chorizo or salami is great, but also a traditional can of corned beef is quite good as a versatile ingredient… And the traditional key-opened can design is quite reclosable if you get it right. I like to take some flavourings like some salt & pepper, as well as some dried mixed herbs too. One original idea you’ve given me, which was a bit of a kick-yourself moment, was the dried mushrooms. I use them a lot at home, so they’ll be going with me in future.

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Andrew John Price

Thanks at last your manage to fit this guide in nice one. Would be useful to attach the list of the items with some info on a PDF as a guide? Others may find this useful.

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david

Very good. I find it interesting that there is basically no fruit and veg. Dehydrated mixed veg like your dried mushrooms really can add to the flavour and texture of the meal. Downside is that they do take a big longer to cook.

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John Clarke

Paul,

an absolutely brilliant video ! Please keep up this excellent work.

John

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john

Hi Paul, very good video.The price of special food is silly money,I never use them.I pack much the same as you supermarket food .Rice instead of couscous and more cup of soups also Chocolate drinks last thing at night at the camp fire are a nice treat.Take Care
John.

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Ian

Nice one Paul. Thanks. I will be watching this video again when I prepare for my next trip. A thought from me: flapjack gives you more long-acting carbohydrates per gram than cereal bars. And they’re really easy to make yourself.

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Julian

Paul,

Once again an excellent video, thank you very much. I did a backpack with my Scouts and they were staggered (well their parents were) about the price difference and the quality of supermarket available food. I like the re-pack suggestion and also the use of pasta. To add one to your list we took Uncle Ben boil in the bag rice – its not dehydrated but it is fairly dense and weight:calorie efficient.

Your video has given me an idea for an extended hike-backpack-hike camp with them so thank you very much!

Julian

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Richard Tiley

Another great and very informative video. It will certainly change the foods that I buy and the way in which I pack them. As a Type 1 diabetic, I do have certain things that I need to keep an eye on: the Snickers option for me is a bit of a non-starter so I would try and replace this with a slower release form of carbohydrate; generally, I only carry chocolate as a morale booster for the end of a heavy day. In a similar vein, I reckon that dried fruits – apricots and dates in particular – are a very useful form of fuel as they don’t melt or crumble when stuffed into a pocket or pack.

Many thanks for yet another really useful and interesting video!

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Josh Hemingway

Thanks Paul. Some fantastic tips. Too much maths for my brain, but I really should embrace the maths, seeing as it will eneure you get enough food but don’t overpack (I’m usually at one extreme or the other). I will be passing this on to my brother, who is training for his ML. Many thanks, Josh.

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Stephen Walker

Hi Paul
Entertaining and informative video as always.
A good all-round feed for a week, packed into a small(ish) bag.
I like the comment about ‘nightmare for weight-watching’, for, as you so rightly say, this is the opposite; packing in maximum calories with minimum weight. Water is the obvious one, and I really can’t understand why, in our climate, folk cart around heavy and expensive ‘trail food’ packs.
I very much agree about taste too. After a hard day’s crafting the last thing one needs is tasteless mush. Bushcraft engenders heightened sensitivity to the world around, so palate tickling is a complementary must!
Most is down to personal preference, but I would certainly throw in some home-made gorp, rather than just the nuts. I’d put some some mixed dried fruit in there, and maybe even some chocolate raisins ;)
Along that line, I would make some fruit leathers and also some spicy jerky.
Now I’m getting hungry!
Great video.
Cheers Paul.
Steve

Reply

Ingrid

Thank you, another great video and some great tips …. My biggest challenge overpacking!

Reply

Cees

Hi Paul,

Again a nice video, thanks man.

gr
Cees

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Shiver

Ive been waiting for this video, mainly to compare notes, thanks Paul. You have a few things there I hadn’t thought of but I was pretty much on the same thoughts as what you had, the most helpful thing was the calories in each food item, I usually pack a small plastic jar of peanut butter for calories, I also include porridge, lots of dried fruit and nuts, but Im going to look more closely into Oatcakes, good energy source high in calories and again you divided up your cheese, good organization skills, ill have to start doing that, saves on spoiling through a whole block, and helps you keep track of what you have gone through. Its the little ways you have sub divided food that will make life easier when backpacking, and that makes for less kit explosions. I’ve learnt alot
P.S. I highly value chocolate and boiled sweets, Its great for morale and when food is sometimes a little bland its something to look forward to with a good brew.
Thanks Paul.

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Smilyan

Hi Paul,

Great video again! I just came back from an 8 day hike recently in Mallorca and we ended up having the soups, which brought a lot of moral in the evenings and mornings sometimes, we were carrying a lot of peanut butter, nuts, raisins and biscuits to eat with the peanut butter. It turn out to be a great energy source for the size/weight and it kept us going fast. For reference we hiked about 190km in 7 days with a lot of ups and downs.

Thank you for the article again.

Regards,
Smilyan

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Cay

Brilliant! Thanks Paul. Just packing for 10 days on the trail in Iceland. I had my food sorted (all supermarket faire) , but you have given me some great ideas to increase variety.

BTW, For breakfast I have 70g readybrek with 10g custard powder and a pinch of nutmeg – lovely!

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Jonathan Deval

Good solid info in there. Pretty much the same as you, but I carry hot chocolate instead of tea/coffee now and I’m addicted to the wild boar/venison salami that Aldi sell. Oh, and a 58 patt water bottle full of mead ;-)

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John

A great video as always, thank you.
I do think olive oil in the pasta or couscous after rehydration makes it very palatable and is also a good source of a calorie dense food, something like 800 odd calories per 100ml.
Thanks again,
John

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Pehr Blomkvist

Hi Paul,

Thanks for sharing your system.

Tend to base my system more heavily on fats and there for use nuts as a base. These days you can buy almond and/or hazel meal in most stores in Sweden.

I also use regualar butter as well as dehydrated meat (dehydrate it myself in a regular oven). As for greens, in the summer I go with wild edibles but for winter I dehydrate it before hand, again just using the oven.

Another thing I tend to bring is dehydrated berries (lingonberry and or blueberry) not so much for energy as for the antioxidants, I do belive they help my immune system stay on top even when out and about.

Thanks again for a good vid.

Sincerely
Pehr

Reply

Josh Hemingway

That’s really interesting. How do you use the ground nuts as a main meal? Do you mix them into a sauce? I would like to use more nuts in my outdoor cooking.
Cheers.
Josh

Reply

Pehr Blomkvist

Hi Josh,

I tend use the nutmeal both for breakfast as well as my dinner.

For breakfast I tend cook it into a type of watery porrage, with a click of butter and chocolate powder it tasts very nice. A few times I have also done nut bread that I bake on split log by the fire (to get good consistency you do need to use an egg, so bread is mostly something I do for an overnighter when the risk of breaking the egg is not a huge deal).

For dinner I mostly do meat soup, I then use the nutmeal in the soup for consistency.

I hope that gives you some ideas.

Sincerely
Pehr

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Josh,

It’s good to hear from you. I hope you are well.

I think my comments in the video may have been a little ambiguous. I meant simply that I could eat some of the nuts at the evening mealtime, alongside my meal. I was implying nothing more complicated than putting them in my mouth and chewing.

But yes, I’m sure you could come up with all sorts of recipes. Some sort of Szechuan but sauce for perhaps?

A favourite campfire meal of mine is pan fried trout with capers and flaked almonds. But that, of course, is contingent on getting some fish…

Once you admit the possibilities of adding to menus from nature, the doors to a whole other world of possibilities are opened of course.

Lots to go at here….

Warm regards,

Paul

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Dean White

Thanks Paul really useful vidoe especially as I’m planning to canoe the Spey with some friends later this year, I’ll be sending then the link and challenging them to the side pocket requirement!!!

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oldimer

It’s spooky how similar your methods and tastes are to my own. As usual, I find it hard to disagree with anything you post.

I have taken at one time or another all the things you include and, in addition, I include at least one pack of noodles. This is because they need minimal cooking time and so less fuel. Much of my camping is in areas where fires are not allowed, so fuel has to be carried.

The fuel question is something I bear in mind when supermarket shopping. I always read the cooking instuctions carefully and reject anything that require lengthy simmering. It may be worth pointing out that different pastas have different cooking times and I always go for “quickcook” fusili as being the most versatile. I rely heavily on couscous because it need only boiling water to be added. 500cl makes enough for a brew and a cup of couscous.

I do so agree about taste. I include tiny packs of herbs and or spicesand always pepper sachets pinched from service stations!

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Stewart Lomax

Paul,

That’s great! I have never packed for a whole week only ever for a long weekend using the same principals. What I have done though is used those cuppa soups as a sauce with the pasta. Just drain off most of the cooking water then add the soup mix. Not as much water as for the soup which makes it thicker.

Stew

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James Gohl

Hey, thanks Paul,

You’ve opened the door to a topic I’ve been interested in for some time, namely: the different tastes from other countries. You British like your tea, I get it.
Here’s my preferences from The States.
Lots of coffee
Spices & seasonings (especially Tobasco)
Olive oil packets
“coolaid with sugar”
Sardines canned
Oysters canned
Pop tarts
And, don’t forget the vitamin tablets!

An interesting and informative video, Paul. Thank you.

Jim

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Steve Bayley

I really like those packs of couscous & with a little care they can be rehydrated in the packet. Little packs of Haribo and/or jelly babies are my sugar-boost treat. I also like the better quality noodles that can be had from good Asian super markets, Korean brands are a bit more chewy and satisfying (125g pack = 370 calories). Tom Yum stock cubes give anything a spicy kick, Knorr make them but again you have to scour the Asian supper markets, whilst your there look for powdered coconut milk too. As you say flavour is important. So +1 for dried ceps. And chilli flakes. And ras el-hanout (especially in couscous). Gravy granules are a good thickener for improvised pasta sauce, and parsley sauce granules go great with your tuna & Smash. Many supermarkets stock dried onion.

I keep a ‘camping food’ box at home and buy things with a long shelf-life when they are on offer and throw them in the store box for later. There are some good tips, especially regarding cooking times, in your video and in the comments.

Such a shame we don’t see powdered orange-juice in super markets any more. Typing this has also just made me think of Vesta curry! Classic camping food from the 1970s :-D

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John

Hi Paul, good video as always. Very similar to the way I pack, however I tend to prefer rice dishes over the pasta, beef jerky as my meat source, and hot chocolate and coffee to drink. Usually just put instant coffee in a ziplock mixed with brown sugar and coffee whitener. I also like to add to my food by fishing and foraging, but I always have enough incase I don’t catch or find anything.

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Eric Yaffey

Hi Paul,
A-ma-zing. Great! All packable into a side-pocket and all from a supermarket (Sainsbury’s? – my regular). I tend to be really conservative when it comes to food on my camping trips (usually only a few days long) – I take the same stuff each time and have pretty much the same for each meal each day give or take a few different flavours. Veg stew: potatoes, carrots, turnip, whatever, diced and boiled with a tin of mackerel or a tin of meat curry, say bunged into the billy can. Lunch is apples/bananas/clementines plus lump of cheese plus nuts/raisins. Breakfast is porridge with diced banana and ground almonds followed by apple. Tea throughout day. Occasional hot chocolate treat. And for morale (carried in first aid kit) is bournville chocolate, two chunks per day average. All this is really heavy and bulky. I now realise because of your article that it is because of the water in the veg, fruit and tins. It’s all good, healthy, delicious stuff … but no wonder I don’t get very far … it’s because of the weight! Thanks for the article, really useful.
Eric

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Paul Shakesby

Great video, this will really help.
No oats so simple though? (Or Oats very complicated if you are James Bath x)

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Paul Kirtley

:-) I think James would say Oats So Sickening…

I’m a bit off OSS at the moment too Shakey.

Granola for me these days…

The two mixed together are alright too.

See you soon,

Paul

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Kris

I might be wrong but looking at the food there I can see a lot of calories but almost no vitamins and minerals. Everything is heavily processed and nothing is fresh produce. When I pack I always try and take as much fresh fruit as possible. I know they take more space and weight more but are full of vitamins. I can’t imagine taking some bananas and dates for example. After eating such foods as in your video for a week I feel shit.
Another thing is animal protein, especially casein (protein found in cow’s milk) isn’t very good for you and even stimulates cancer growth. I would stick with plant protein. All details to back this up are in “the china study” by T.Campbell (sorry, I don’t know if I can post these details here, if not then please delete it) and couple other books.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Kris,

Thanks for your comment.

While I agree that this is far from being a diet of fresh produce, it is highly impractical to pack fresh fruit and vegetables for a week long hike where you are covering any real distance (10-20 miles per day) due to the high water content. If you are bimbling around the woods or hiking for a day into a fixed camp then taking side walks away using only a day pack, then maybe.

There is much more scope for taking some fresh produce on a canoe trip – I favour carrots, onions and red cabbage in particular as they last a good long while. These can be used to cook as well as make nice salads, which can also contain dried fruit such as sultanas.

Remember that the proposed menu in my video is answering a specific question – how to get a week’s worth of food in a side pocket – and it is doing so in the context of equipment packed for woodland living/bushcraft in the northern temperate or boreal environment with the presence of trees. Therefore I’m working on the basis that their will be no shortage of either fuel (i.e. firewood) or water.

If you know that “after eating such foods as in your video for a week I feel shit”, then you don’t need the suggestions it contains and you should find alternatives which suit you, even if that means carrying a larger/heavier rucksack. Trips always involve compromise when it comes to packing and provisioning. The compromises we make have to be based on both our own physique and physiology as well as the aims and practical constraints of the trip.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Rody Klop

Paul,
Again great video about food. Food is a difficult subject for a lot of bushcrafters. Although the dehydrated vs hydrated food have both strong points. Hydrated food can be taken on short trips (2-3 days), because you mostly can eat them uncooked and do not use extra water (no fire needed and takes no water from your current water supply), but gives some extra weight. On the longer trips I would go for the dehydrated food, but still would take 1 day of food hydrated. Funny that I got 70-80% of the same food choice.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Rody,

It’s good to hear from you.

I agree – you have more flexibility with food choices for shorter trips. Also, I think you are right that you can take fresh food for the start of a trip. This is something I do more on canoe trips than hiking trips but is a valid point for either.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Liam Gadd

Paul,
I have been long awaiting this video as I knew it would benefit me.

I had some ideas from the elementary course when we did the short hike and stayed out, also I have been using the Freezer bags.
I have been taking Pasta, Oats, Tuna (or other fish), Cereal bars etc. Also I always have a bannok mix ;) (it’s my fave ”camp” food)

My problem is meat. I will eat the dried spicy sausage type foods if I must, but I would much prefer an alternative as I’m not that keen on them.

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James Gohl

Supermarkets carry beef stew & chilli in cans. Also, chicken and corned beef.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Liam,

If your are not a fan of chorizo, you could always pack more fish. Alternatively, jerky is a good option. Also, in terms of protein, you could even take dried TVP mince aimed at vegetarians…

Cheers,

Paul

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Sandy

Excellent video as usual. When I went on a long distance hike I craved salted peanuts. I think salt is quite an important commodity. I walked the Ridgeway LDP and carried all my own food and worked out the calorific values before hand too, just like you did.
I am going on anothe long distance hike soon. It is good to have an adventure.
Sandy

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Thanks Sandy.

I agree salt is important and I’ve craved it on walks before. Once your body gets used to the exertion of a multi-day hike, though, it craves things a lot less. I don’t eat a lot of salt generally and this side pocket diet contains a fair amount of salt (e.g. granola and oatcakes).

Adventures are indeed good. Where are you headed on your next hike?

Cheers,

Paul

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Ruud

Paul

Great informative video, gave me a good insight on how foods can be packed for week-long journeys and how to distribute the calories-intake over the days and meals. I’m getting to work right away, my food bag needs some modifications after seeing this!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Ruud,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this was useful to you.

Let me know how you get on with the new ideas.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Steve

Hi Paul, great video, I really enjoyed that.
I can’t stand the pre packaged pasta and sauce mixes, so the idea of taking the packets of powder is a brilliant idea I had not thought of!!
I would love to no the weight of the pouch full of good and maybe the cost please?

The only thing I would add to that is maybe some meat other than chrizo as I’m not a big fan, I would either dehydrate a big bunch of hamburger rocks/minced beef and also maybe buy some packs of flavoured and plain jerky to add to my pasta dishes as it rehydrated very well.
Other than just a few packets of instant hot chocolate as I love that before bed when I’m camping.

Keep the videos coming mate.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Steve,

It’s good to know that the video provided a few ideas for you.

The weight of the food is in the video with other key data at 12:40 – 12:50. 5.2kg.

Jerky is good if you can make your own. Otherwise I think it’s very expensive – very small amounts in packets that make it look like you are buying more. I don’t disagree that it’s a good thing to take though. We pack several kilos when we head out winter camping on northern Sweden.

I’ll do my best to keep the camera rolling… :-)

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

James Harris

Hi Paul
Excellent video mate, your menu is about 90% the same as what i usually like to take out with me even down to the brands. I like to slip a few sachets of porridge oats into my pack, I find a hot breakfast in the morning is a good morale booster and i quite often take some flour to make bannock. I agree about the hydrated camping meals, too heavy too expensive and some of them are pretty rubbish (I slipped a couple into my pack for the bushcraft show and wasn’t impressed).

James

Ps. You can’t beat sesame snaps, have you tried the yoghurt coated ones.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi James,

As always, it’s good to hear from you.

I agree, sachets of porridge oats are good source of energy. I think I’ve eaten too much of them over the past ten years – we use them a lot on courses. I’m on a bit of a granola revival at the moment. I used to eat a lot of granola and muesli back in my mountain biking days. Granola mixed with plain Oats So Simple is a good combo – takes the edge off the sweetness of the granola but a lot more interesting (both in terms of flavour and texture) than plain OSS.

Yes, I’ve tried the yoghurt covered Sesame Snaps. Very good!

All the best,

Paul

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James Harris

Thanks for that link Paul, I’ve been having trouble finding them recently. I just ordered 2 packs.

All the best James

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John

What are boiled sweets?

Reply

Colette

Hard candy

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Chris Roberts

Hi Paul. Great video and some very useful tips. I would probably include some packeted savoury rice as an alternative to the pasta or maybe a combination of both. Thanks for taking the time to do the video and for sharing. Take care. ATB Chris

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Chris, yes rice is a good alternative. The flavoured/spiced packeted versions make a tasty, convenient option.

Good suggestion.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Gareth

Hi Paul, excellent video, there were a few things in there I would never have considered before but you have given me some food for thought (sorry, couldn’t resist) some excellent choice and menu options making the meals interesting, I shall spend my next shopping trip with the wife and kids with an alternate shopping list checking out the relative sizes and weights and even looking at other options. The one thing I do take with me are a few mug shots, they use near enough the same amount of water as a brew and not much longer to make and eat, they’re easy to pack and if you have space you can fit them anywhere. This article will make an interesting evening or two with my cubs and scouts,
Cheers, Gareth.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

haha Gareth, good pun :-)

I’m glad you found it interesting and hope you find it useful going forwards.

Good tip re the Mug Shots

Thanks for your comment.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

peter

If you. Haven’t got much in the way of reserves atora atora atora at night, 50g+ will have you wide awake and full of energy

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Peter, yes lard and suet both increase the calorie count considerably.

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Jim the Canuck

Great video and it mirrors much of the packing that we do in Canada for northern canoe trips. Nevertheless, I would add a small bottle of cooking oil as oil has double the calories by weight of protein. As well, I make my own beef jerky, and also dry chick peas (from canned chick peas) – both are versatile and are good additions to stews.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jim,

Yes, fat is 9 calories per gram, more than double the 4 calories/gram of carbs or protein. The fat content of the food in the video is reasonably high but I agree a bottle of oil goes a long way to increasing this. I certainly take oil on canoe trips, where I have more room for bottles, etc., even in a small wannigan.

Another option for adding more fat content to your food, especially if you are carrying flour for bannock, pancakes, flatbreads, etc is to take some suet too. You can use this combined with the flour to make dumplings at least but also melt it and use it in a similar way to oil, without the risk of it leaking along the way.

I’m a big fan of chick peas – both in stews/tagines as well as making my own houmous at home. Good choice sir!

Warm regards,

Paul

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Rob

Enjoyed the video,
We (my son and I), just returned from a backpacking trip in the Green Mountains of Vermont. (The Long Trail to be specific). We could have taken your menu exactly but we substituted instant oatmeal for our breakfasts. Something we often do is bring some frozen steak for our first evening meal. Yes, it’s heavy but by the time we get to where we’re going and set up camp, it is defrosted and makes a delicious entre’ for our first day on the trail. Besides, our packs are that much lighter when we start out the next morning!

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Rob,

It’s great to hear that you and your son go out hiking/camping together. Yup I also use instant oats sometimes but I find it a little harder to clean up after than granola. A granola/oat mix is also good.

I think your idea of taking out a steak for the first night is a nice one and something I’ve certainly done in the past. It fits well with the short/half-a-day start that works so well to ease you into a journey… like the Hudson’s Bay Start.

I hope you get to enjoy many more backpacking trips together (with good food!) ;-)

Warm regards,

Paul

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john pethick

The side pouch is a useful pack limiter. If equipment and clothing fit into a pair of side pouches, chances are that’s going to work as a load, by the time food and water are added to the burden. At least in hotter climates. I have been known to set off to the airport with two well packed side pouches, inside a ruck with space to spare. There is such a thing as too much gear.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi John,

Yes, limiting kit or food to a particular volume definitely focuses your mind on what is important.

As hard as it is, sitting at home, cutting back to the bare necessities, you always thank yourself for having that discipline once you hit the trail.

Cheers,

Paul

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Kirkland Baptie

Has this video been taken down? It’s the only one which does not play.

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Paul Kirtley

Nope. It’s still there!

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Jason

Hi Paul,
A very informative video, I just wondered what your thoughts are on rice or mielie-meal in place of the pasta (maybe take portions of all 3?) to add further verity?

Thanks Jason

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Jason,

Yes rice or mealie-meal would make a decent substitute.

Long grain brown rice is around 370 calories/100g dry weight.

According to this resource, mealie-meal is 328 calories/100g, with 72g of carbohydrate.

Variety is always good but also take what you enjoy.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Zed Outdoors

What a timely video as i’ve been looking into exactly this, on my recent trips i’ve carried way too much crap and not enough calorie rich foods. It didn’t cross my mind to carry solely dehydrated foods as you are right, the water full ones are way to heavy. I’ve never been a fan of the camping meals as they are way over priced for what they are. Many thanks as always for taking the time to share this video and yes, I was one of those people who watched your previous video thinking “How the hell does he fit one weeks worth of food in that one side pouch…” :) ~Peace~

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Zed,

Good to hear from you my friend. I’m glad this video was both timely and useful.

Let me know how you get on with some of my suggestions.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Ian C

Hi Paul thank you for posting the video about the food you take for a week, I have recently been taking packets of dehydrated rice, super noodles and salami, I do take stock cubes, packet soups, mixed nuts and raisons, small bars of chocolate small resealable bags of sugar, milk powder and packets of porridge, I still carry a 24hr ration pack in my kit (old habits)

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Ian,

My pleasure. Thanks also for sharing what works for you. Sounds like a good mix.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Dave

I’d be interested to know at cookset you use Paul, for 7 days, packed in your sabre 45, and if your diet [and cookset] changes when you are in a canoe?

Thankyou.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your message.

All the details of the kit and how I pack it are in the following two posts. If you haven’t seen them, you’ll find them interesting, I think:

http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2011/bushcraft-camping-equipment/

http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2013/how-to-pack-a-bushcraft-camping-outfit/

Yes, my diet and cooking apparatus do change somewhat when I am in a canoe. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that you can carry a tonne of kit in a 16ft canoe (anyone who claims you can has never done much portaging), you are afforded with more space for your kit as well as the fact it is not on your back ALL day.

The above article (and the two linked articles) very much revolve on packing minimally for the woods, using a modestly sized backpack.

I’ll add some articles about canoe outfits to my to-do list ;-)

Warm regards,

Paul

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Dave

Thanks for the links Paul. I ‘d seen one but not the other. The canoe outfits sounds good. Keep em coming! :0)

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Paul Kirtley

Will do Dave, will do.

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Duncan Stillwell

I can’t really add much more to what everyone else has said, but I will say that I have always found your videos to be informative and instructional and I thank you for that. Well done Paul.

Comment #60 ;) LoL

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Paul Kirtley

Hey Duncan.

It’s good to hear from you. It’s been a while… :-)

Thanks for your kind words about my material. While one is only as good as their last video, I’m glad you are still following what I do after all these years :-)

Cheers.

Paul

PS well done for hitting comment #60 :-)

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tom nutter AKA Suburban Bushcrafter

Thanks for this…again…perfect timing, and great ideas…I am planning a 10-day solo trip for this fall, and food planning is a big concern.

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Paul Kirtley

Hey Tom, good to hear from you. Glad this was timely.

Whereabouts are you headed for your solo trip?

Warm regards,

Paul

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Chris

Hi Paul,

Great video, I didn’t think it possible when I read the title. I think I have been too reliant on boil in the bags in the past. Really like the tuna sachet idea. I do tend to carry the odd stock cube as well as sachets from instant noodles as a hot drink alternative, or additional seasoning, they take up virtually no space and weigh little. Glad to see you are a chorizo fan too.

All the best.

Chris

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Chris,

Yes, Chorizo is a firm favourite. Tasty as it comes; even more tasty cooked. A good, compact source of protein and fats on a trip too.

Stock cubes are a good idea, I agree. I particularly like them in winter as you can make a boullion drink with them too if you like.

Seasoning is a good idea too – a little salt, pepper and chilli go a long way ;-)

Thanks for your comment.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Bill R

Hi Paul,
Thanks for the video. I have a Sabre 45 that I traded for with someone years ago, and enjoy the pack. I’m glad you posted this, as I often pack one of the side pouches the same, and the other with my stove & water kit. I want to pass on a little trick I picked up somewhere when it comes to packing food, and creating a little more room.
One thing I do is break down my food into a 24 hour ration pack. I usually use a quart bag for this. Inside it, I have my breakfast items, to include my coffee, lunch, a powdered power drink, snack, dinner, and usually a cocoa packet and some sort of dessert-cookies, candy bar, etc. I mix & match for variety, but find this useful, as I can simply pull whatever bag is on top, and that’s my bag for the day for all my food. I do usually have a separate, smaller GORP type snack, or something like sunflower seeds, or hard candy, that I munch on throughout the day, that doesn’t get packed in with the rest of the food, but I found that by making ration packs, it keeps the food more organized, and is usually already broken down into serving size. I’ve been able to get up to 7 days worth of these into a side pocket. Hopefully, this little tip helps you, or others! Thanks again from across the pond!

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Jack

Hi Paul

Great vid. I’m on a bit of a weight saving exercise at the mo in an effort to extend me walking trips. And I like the ideas you have here, but have a question about your cook kit for it all.

I’m trying to get down to only carrying a small jetboil stove and wondered if you had tried cooking up your meals on such a device?

Currently I’m using dehydrated meals, but am looking for cheaper/more readily available alternatives.

Cheers

Jack

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Jack,

Good to hear from you my friend.

I have used Jetboils as well as the larger MSR Reactor. Both have excellent, low boil times. Neither are great for cooking with. They are designed to boil water quickly so boiling water for dehydrated meals is a strength and cooking starch staples such as rice or pasta works OK. Also boiling water to add to cous cous works fine. When it comes to adding sauces, they are not too great but it is possible. As long as you get the water levels right, it shouldn’t weld any food to the pot. If you are going to simmer dishes for any length of time, though, I’d look to a more versatile stove.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Jack

Ha, just as I feared. Looks like I’ve got some experimenting to do. I must admit for my bushcraft trips you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head for what I take. I did notice that you missed one vital element off of your list. And that was the 4kgs of sausages, but nobody’s perfect.

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Mike McCallister

Hi Paul, really enjoyed your talk at the Bushcraft Show.:-) Here’s a variation that I like.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG0rtPgmq0w

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kate

I do wilderness tripping. I have taken a lot of similar foods. One of the things I notice you don’t have is vegetables. And fresh vegetables are great on a trip after a couple of days. To that end I sometimes take mung beans and sprout them on the trip. They will grow fairly quickly and give you great fresh vegetables. Other than that, sometimes I take beef jerky…can either snack on it or use it in a meal. Also powdered hot chocolate mixes, and dried fruit (home made).

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Mike Whay

Great video Paul, I have forwarded a link to a group of my scouts who are doing several hikes in coming months….. Just to prove food can be lightweight, tasty and does not need to cost a fortune in the outdoor shops. Also like all the little tips like freezer lock bags

Mike

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Alana

thanks for the great video. funny how many of us have the same basic menu. i tend to haunt my local asian supermarket and found some ‘instant’ barley – basically cooked then rehydrated – and found that it’s a nice alternative to pasta. i also typically get landjaeger rather than chorizo and stick it in the dehydrator if my butcher shop doesn’t have any that is nicely mummified, as i call it. i tend to break down my base meal ingredients into daily portions so i don’t have to mess with portioning out. i found a repice for home made lara bar type snacks, and make my own that are more suited to my tastes; it’s a great energy boost and is pretty healthy as it’s nuts, dates, cocoa, a bit of peanut butter and a pinch of salt.

a great way to bring fat is to fill a tube or small jar with ghee; it’s great to add to oatmeal or supper, or can be used if you plan on fishing. there’s a brand of bullion called ‘better than bullion’ (available in canada) that while it’s moist, it’s infinitely better than just plain dried bullion in terms of flavour in your evening meal.

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Martin

Another superb presentation Paul, Thanks.

I learned the hard way walking the North Downs Way earlier this year. Each 24 hour ration pack did for two days (I needed to lose a bit of weight for the tracking course) but the weight! Ugh. This would have made a lot of difference going up some of the bigger hills. Only one thing, though; Chorizo is the work of the devil. However, John Deval’s wild boar and venison salami sounds worth a try as a substitute!

Again, another a top quality, well researched presentation, thanks for sharing.

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James

Great article, I’m a big believer of the KISS rule and your video adheres to this principle totally.

One thing I tend to do is take a few sachets of instant porridge along with some sachets of hot chocolate for breakfast. It makes the porridge taste a little less bland and mixes well with the porridge as it already contains powdered milk. A great little pick me up especially if it’s been a cold/wet night.

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Andy

like many comments above, i tend to shy away from food that requires long simmering times. as you say, it’s less of an issue with wood fires in the woods rather than being reliant on petrochemical fuels on a hilltop.

smash (dehydrated potato flakes) is an amazingly versatile food. you can make an easy to drink pap with smash and a cup-a-soup when you’re just too knackered to eat a proper meal. it can be used to thicken stews and combined with oat flakes and or flour for alternatives to run of the mill bannock.

the little sachets of dried vegetables don’t add much in the way of calories, but do add a little bit of colour to yet another meal of mash or rice, (not a huge pasta fan me) as does a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

good article, cheers, and.

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Jon Crossfield

Hello Paul,
Yet another great video….thankyou, I found it very informative.
Personally I like to have some bannock pre mixed with some chopped hazelnuts, chopped or flaked almonds & raisons with me. I know it’s weighty & a little bulky but it’s just so tasty. I also like them smoked sausages as they go well in with pasta or with chorizo to make kebabs when cooked over the fire. I don’t have a sweet tooth & suffer quite badly from tooth ache when I eat sweet things so I carry Dextro Energy tablets instead of the boiled sweets.
I’m a big fan of finding & catching other food sources while I’m out….you can’t beat natures larder! :-)

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Patrick

Nice video. I’m just back from a seven day hike in Sweden, my first longer multi-day hike, and I’m pleased to see you pretty much have the same foods as I’d brought. Although I have to admit I had less at 2.4kg after dumping all my lunches which brought it down from 4.4. I was fine although by day 6 I felt I didn’t have the strength to chance a 30km walk involving climbing Kebnekaisse, which was a disappointment given the amazing weather. I had about 240g of porridge inc mixed in lentils and dried fruit for brekkie, followed by a Snickers bar for lunch, and a Cuppa-Soup and bag of noodles or cous-cous for evening meal, and that was it. All from Lidl and Aldi. I’m 6 foot and usually weigh about 87kgs and after four days stuffing my face in Stockholm I’m still about half a stone under what I’d started out with. Had the forecast been worse or it been longer duration I’d definitely have had all the extra stuff, but I know from multiple 1 to 2 day hikes at home that I can easily survive on this much without being hungry so I decided a week was easily do-able and a good way to lose some flab.

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Windy

Smashin’ video amigo. Will take some of those ideas on board. Off into Sandwood Bay area for a few days wilderness and fishing. Smoked sausage is a nice alternative to chorizo too. I always take some herbs n spices, chilli powder, curry powder, corriander just to add some flavour. Might also stop en route at Glen Turret to see if they’ve perfected some dehydrated single malt. :-)

Cheers fur noo and dinnae be a stranger.

Windy

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Windy

Smashin’ video amigo. Will take some of those ideas on board. Off into Sandwood Bay area for a few days wilderness and fishing. Smoked sausage is a nice alternative to chorizo too. I always take some herbs n spices, chilli powder, curry powder, corriander just to add some flavour. Might also stop en route at Dalwhinnie to see if they’ve perfected some dehydrated single malt. :-)

Cheers fur noo and dinnae be a stranger.

Windy

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Paul Kirtley
Paul Kirtley

Howdy Duderino,

Thanks for your comment on the video.

Glad you liked it.

The spices and flavours you mentioned are all good ones – yum!

Dalwhinnie is always worth a stop, whatever the excuse. Let me know if they have the dehydrated version yet. If not, I’ll check again soon ;-)

TTFN

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Martin

Hi Paul,

Good factual video as always, thanks for putting in the effort. I always take dried oats as it doesn’t take long to cook, especially if you can pre soak for a bit. I can’t stand skimmed milk, but in the Asian stores you can get full cream dried milk, much tastier. Condensed milk in a tube might be a bit extra weight, but so worth it for breakfast and brews. Chocolate raisins or M&M’s are also worth considering. I add oxo cubes for a brew or food use as I’m not keen on cup soups, and dried ‘erbs chile powder etc for pasta and rice. Spicy dried sausage is great at the end of the day toasted over the fire with a wee dram of Jameson, and a brucey bonus if the stars are out.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Martin,

Thanks. I’m glad you like the video.

I like your additons, particularly the M&Ms and the Jameson’s :-)

All the best,

Paul

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Joe Garnett

Really informative video Paul, thank you!
It was very useful for me to be shown the concept of thinking in terms of calories I and not just size of meal as I do eat a lot and tend to take quite a lot of food but this has allowed me to reduce the amount I take by being more efficient with the calories.

One thing that I would perhaps replace one of the chorizo sausages with is a can of corned beef (opened and stored in a bag) because I find it adds some more variety and contains a good amount of protein and fat.

One again, an excellent video!

Joe

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Joe,

It’s good to hear from you. I hope you are well and everything is going well?

I agree regarding corned beef as a good alternative. I use it more on canoe trips, when absolute weight (and bulk) of packaging is less of an issue.

Good stuff!

Warm regards,

Paul

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Joe Garnett

Hi Paul!

Yes thanks, got on the instructor’s course and start on the 10th, very excited! Also starting work as a Judo instructor which should be fun!

That makes a lot of sense. I haven’t done a walking trip longer than 4 days where we have taken all our food but I can imagine that any weight that can be saved should be for a longer trip.

Best wishes,

Joe

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James de Ferrars

Hello Paul, I have just returned from my six week trek through the Alps and found this video waiting for me. I thought I would share some of my recent experience. I found that over a long period you need to be adaptable. This led me, when I found a shop, to choosing food that could be used in a variety of ways. The logic of this took me to carrying more basic ingredients. When the granola ran out I found myself eating a custard made with dried milk, powdered egg, and raisins and sugar, thickened with polenta for breakfast. This dish developed after my supply of Birds Eye custard ran out! In fact powdered egg, which I found marketed as a sports food supplement is incredibly useful, although a little smelly! The powdered egg also went into spaghetti carbonnade, scrambled egg, pancakes and scones and drunk neat as a sports supplement. The polenta, which is similar to semolina, also thickened packet soups and of course could be used as simple carbohydrate with cheese and tomato sauce. The raisins could be eaten as a trail food and were also put into the scones. The other decision I made was to give up the coffee, which contains hardly any calories for hot chocolate. A thick mug of hot chocolate makes a good calorific pudding for very little weight. I also bought dried mountain sausage and ham which can be eaten heated in a dish or uncooked.
I have one final thought. On the trail I developed a routine at the end of each day of making myself drink 600ml of water ie a nearly full mug of water with a dissolved fizzy electrolyte tablet. The difference this made to my energy levels after a long hot day was remarkable, and gave me that boost to enjoy setting up camp. Best wishes James

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Paul Kirtley

Hi James,

It’s great to hear from you. I was thinking about you just the other day actually – I wondered how you were doing and remembered I still owe you an email from way back at the beginning of the year!

Thanks for sharing your experiences – and concoctions – from your Alps trip. Even from your discussion of the menu, it sounds like you had a great adventure.

I agree powdered egg is useful – I’ve used it regularly in Canada, where it is more easily available. Carrying flour, powdered eggs and powdered milk, along with baking powder allows you to make a whole range of things, including pancakes.

I hope you are not now coming back down to reality with too much of a bump?

Warm regards,

Paul

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Andrew Hope

Excellent video Paul, enjoyed watching it and love your presentation of it including the breakdown table to review all the portions and the calorific content. It’s important to remember the calories needed and just watching the video after you showed all the things you would take for a week I don’t see how people couldn’t think that wasn’t a weeks worth of food or wasn’t a “big” meal. I thought they were all huge and could easily see myself getting by on that and I’m a bigger lad too :)

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John Brady

Hi Paul,

Great video and after a sly watch at work, I’ve sent the link home to watch in comfort! I think it’s great you break it down so well and cover nutritional needs properly, rather than just cramming in even more noodles!

I don’t get many extended trips to the woods, but as a strength athlete I take a lot of food when comparing it to other folk on nights out. Of course, I accept my diet will suffer when I’m away from my fridge full of steak and brown rice – I don’t try to gain weight in the woods nor worry about power – but doing my best to stick to my meals ensures I don’t start flaking out when I’m solo – and remain human when in company! I joke, but on a recent walk across South Downs, wildcamping all the way with all my kit plus heavy tripod and camera, it REALLY became important I remained positive and focussed, for my sake and my two friends also.

I don’t exactly count my macros (aka calorie counting), but I’m well attuned to the amounts of each (protein, fats, carbs) I need to function right – stops that “I’ve just eaten dinner and I’m already eating tomorrow’s lunch” kind of situation developing. I need to do a lot more research though, as I understand some of my regular foods aren’t a good idea in the outdoors. Walnuts for example, I’ve been warned away from by Bushcrafters, as with dried mango. It’s stuff I’ve seen hints of but as I say, I need to research it in depth. Not sure if it’s all down to them “costing” you a lot of water in digestion… I’ll work it out though.

Cheers for the the vid and all the other info I’m absorbing on your site!

All the best

Brady

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ADRIAN

Just as an alternative if you aren’t partial to pasta, I like to use polenta as a main source of crabs. It has some advantages over pasta, firstly you save lots of fuel in cooking it as you don’t need to boil it like pasta and rice, you bring your water to the boil then add your maize to it and you can, with experience adjust the texture to you own preference. Second it can be made into both savoury meals or sweet. Try making a quick caramel sauce in your in your Billy can with sugar and water. Add milk powder to your polenta water ( make it on the runnier side) a pinch of nutmeg then drizzle the caramel over your pud. “jumbo delish”. Try different combinations of savoury or sweet.

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Nobby Hall

Excellent vid, with some top tips. I take powdered potato, Mr Mash as it lacks the back taste of other brands. For sachets, look on e-bay especially for ‘Squash Stix’ also for sachets of various other things use e-bay or ‘sachetsandmore.com’. Butter will keep if kept out the sun and powdered egg is a must for me. It’s available and not a WWII thing, Dried fruit including blueberries or ‘Erts’ (ertleberries) down here are easily available and of course nuts of varying hues……..Good item and well written/commentated/researched. Taken a lot of the mathematical homework out of it for the serious explorer and like myself bumbler/ambler alike

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Rob chester

Thanks very interesting video I will share with members of my scout troop to try and further their thinking and imaginations for hiking

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vinny boyle

hey Paul thank you for the video i find it very informative i was surprised at how much food you got the pack. it certainly give me food for thought. being a big guy i always have a problem with food but after watching your video i have now a better idea of how to Pack for long term camping .
please keep the videos coming i learnt so much from you and others it really is a blessing thanks again. Keep er lit

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Vinny,

Thanks for your comments. I’m very happy to read that you found this article and video valuable. Thanks for your feedback on the usefulness of my material. Keep getting out there and trying things, making them your own.

Warm regards,

Paul

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kez ewens

paul an add to your dried noodles just tried Tiger instant noodles singapore curry flavour wow .Not your average instant noodles three sachets to add oil/soy spice/chilli and a separate flavouring.The tastiest i have ever tried and only 50p .Great blog

Cheers Kez

Reply

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