Whether you are traveling around the country in your RV or heading out into the wilderness, when you get hungry you want foods that can cook fast, and are actually tasty. Two new foods have hit the market that we think are the bomb for both the traveler and the backpacker.
For years now Idahoan has given us a wide variety of instant potatoes. We have all used them to make a quick side dish of potatoes by boiling water and whisking the powdered mix, adding some butter or sour cream, and BOOM, we have potatoes. They are very popular on the trail when many hikers are looking for starch and carbs to fill their stomachs after a long day. They are also used as a great traveling companion when looking to create a quick side dish along with dinner. They are light, compact, and very easy to cook.
So when we saw Idahoan put two new products on the market we needed to test these out in the field.
Idahoan Hash Browns 3 oz At only 3 oz, this bag can be divided into 2 parts and make 2 servings. (for 2 people) You only have to heat 1 Cup of water, let is soak for 8-10 minutes, then pan fry which is optional.
TIP: Recycle an old Freeze Dried Mountain House Bag. Keep these around so you can pour the hot water into these bags. That way you can keep the other half in the original bag. You can fry up the hash browns to get them golden brown but this is OPTIONAL. Of course Ariane and I fry them up with some Olive Oil that we pick up at our local Chic Filet.
Idahoan Premium Steakhouse Creamy Potato SoupThe Idahoan Steakhouse Soups are amazing. Finally a good soup that is can be re hydrated and actually has taste. At 6.6 oz these also can be split in two or three, (it makes a lot of soup) and be used as multiple meals.
TIP: Once again, save your freeze dried bags. These can be used to pour the contents of the Idahoan Soup into and then pour your hot water in. Eat right out of the bag and NOT your cooking pot. Saves you from doing dishes. Of course if you are traveling around in your RV dirty that dish and sit back and enjoy a great tasting soup that takes minutes to make.
Both products are very pack-able and lightweight and very very affordable. The Hash Browns you can buy for a dollar each and the soup can be found for around six bucks if you shop around.
The whole idea is to look for foods which you LIKE! But are also fast, lightweight and pack-able. Try these out and let us know what you think? We would love to hear from you.
Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.
With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression!
The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.
Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.
What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.
Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?
I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.
TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.
Both Ariane and I have used Alcohol Stoves for years now. After recently buying the Toaks Alcohol Stove, we wanted to test the efficiency and burn time between our Whitebox Alcohol Stove. I’ve had my Whitebox Alcohol Stove for 8 years and have always loved it.
I compared price, total burn time, and how fast to boil.
The conditions of the test were outdoors, 2 cubs of water in a 900 mil pot with lid. Winds were light to variable 5-10 mph. Both used Denatured Alcohol.
Specs on the Toaks:
Material: Titanium (Grade 1 or 2, no coating)
Weight: 0.7 oz (20g)
Capacity: 2.7 oz (80g)
Weight: 1 oz
Capacity: 2.5 ounces of fuel
Considering the weight and cost. The Whitebox Stove still comes out to be the better stove for the price and burn time. It is .3 ounces heavier, but that is just the stove. The Toaks comes out to be the same if you add the wire screen you need to place your pot on top of and the wind screen. AND you will pay a lot more for the Toaks.
I think it’s a matter of preference if you like Titanium over Aluminum.
Cold weather could obviously affect both stoves. But haven’t tested that yet. Have you?
Do you use an Alcohol Stove? If so we would love to hear what you use and how you like it?
If you are like us, then you love your cup of coffee in the morning. Anytime we are on the trail backpacking into the wilderness, the first thing we do in the morning is get out our stoves and get our water HOT. There is nothing better (in our humble opinion) then to look out from your tarp, gaze into the woods, and sip your hot piping cup of coffee.
We put together a list of what we think is some of the best coffee for backpacking based on price, weight and taste. We started with what we usually bring on the trail.
Rating System: High “Like”. Medium “Like”. Low “Like” on Taste. Same for Price.
Starbucks Via Instant Pikes Place
We give this a High “Like” for it’s strong coffee taste and caffeine. However, we give this a “Low” Like for Price.
You can purchase this at REI online or locally.
Cafe Bustelo Espresso Instant Coffee
Instant Micro-ground Ready Brew Coffee
We give this a High “Like” for it’s taste and a High “Like” for price.
You can purchase this at Target online
Nescafe Clasico Instant Coffee
We give this a Low “like” on this coffee. It’s powered and not real coffee. However we give it a high “like” for it’s price.
You can purchase this at Target for 99 online
Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals
We give this a Low “Like”, and a High “Like” for the price.
You can buy these in bulk at Amazon online. We have seen these go for a 1.00 for 7 packs. Check the expiration date however.
Folgers Coffee Singles
Folgers Coffee Singles Are Single-Serving Coffee Bags Made W/Mountain Grown 100 Percent Pure Coffee
We give this a High “Like”, and a High “Like” on Price.
These tea bag coffee packs are REAL coffee grounds. We have used these for years and love them. TIP: put two in a cup to get a stronger cup of coffee. You can buy these at Walmart Online and get a much better price point per cup.
Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee w/Creamer & Sugar
All dressed up with creamer & sugar
Pack of 10
Made with 100% Arabica Coffee
We give this a Medium “Like” for taste but a High “Like” for price. For just $1.99 – that’s about 20¢ a cup! AND you don’t have to pack creamer and sugar. You can buy these at Trader Joe’s. If you want the price break, you have to buy them IN the Store.
Trader Joe’s Pour Over Brew in a Bag
Self contained filtered coffee system with rich taste of French Press
Included are six pouches of Brazilian Dark, Medium Roast Arabica
2 servings each pouch, just add water and you decide the strength
We give this a High “Like” for taste, but a Low “Like” for packing it in your pack. We give it an extra High “Like” for the price. At 1.49 you can squeeze two cups of coffee from one bag. It’s real coffee. So you can’t go wrong with the taste. However, they are big and bulky and hardly going to fit nice and snug in your food bag.
You can buy these at Trader Joe’s. OR Amazon if you want to buy in bulk. If you want the price break, you have to buy them IN the Store.
Folgers Cappaccino French Vanilla
Instant Micro-powdered Coffee
We give this a Low “Like”. However, that is just us. We have seen many backpackers use this. We just are not cappuccino drinkers. We give this a Medium “Like” for price however. We found that Target had the best price.
We probably missed some of your favorite coffee. This is what we usually see on the trail. Post what you like. Do you even drink coffee in the backcountry? Maybe Tea?
One of the drawbacks from getting older is that my eyesight just isn’t the same anymore. I have fought over the years wearing sports glasses, sunglasses, contacts, my regular glasses, the list goes on. Being active, I rarely keep a pair of (fill in the blank) for any long period. They usually break in my pocket or I lose them.
Recently my Eye Doctor recommended a pair of sunglasses/glasses/sports goggles, that have been perfect for all kinds of reasons.
A cross between a sunglasses and a goggle the Adidas Climacool Elevation is great for Skiing, Snowboarding, Backpacking, and simply sitting on the beach soaking up the rays. The Adidas Climacool Elevation model A136 has been around for a couple of years now but no one has managed to copy it or – beat it!
The best part: I don’t need a second pair of glasses to read a map. (Can’t see close) If you need prescription lenses then simply snap in your specially made prescription glasses into your Climacool Elevation glasses.
ClimaCool by Adidas is a dynamic ventilation technology.
The ClimaCool Technology for eyewear (made up of the specially engineered vents on the pad) allows for air to be directed in a way that does not disturb the eyesight but rather manages moisture and prevents fogging providing a more comfortable wear throughout. The foam pad surrounds the entire frame front and is easily detachable. It can then be replaced with the sadle nose strap and be transformed into a cool looking sunglass.
The Adidas Elevation is very versatile. within minutes you can change the side and lenses to produce a goggle suitable for windsurfing in low lighting, canoeing or climbing as the image below shows. Everything is configurable to meet your needs. You can take apart the stems and snap on a band that fits around your head incase you are in a situation they may drop off.
A spare set of lenses are included, these are orange lenses which are suitable for low lighting – they enhance contrast and show up lumps and bumps in the ground – so making them ideal for skiing or snowboarding. Just pop out the lenes.
There are quite a few places to buy these. Consult your Eye Doctor to make sure your prescription is good to go. My Doctor was able to send my bi-focal prescription out and they couldn’t be better.
Let’s discuss some backpacking cookware and how the Sea to Summit X Pot (1 liter) did on our field test.
I guess the first thing we need to talk about is: How are you going to use your Cookware System? I love to cook in the backcountry. So I may bring a extra (lightweight) pan to cook additional foods in. Like bacon, eggs, or bagels. But for some, you may only use it to boil water. How you cook and what you are going to cook is important before you go out and start buying cool gadget cookware.
There is of course the difference in metals. Some cookware is made out of an Aluminum base, and some cookware is Titanium. The most common rationale for choosing titanium over an aluminum one is weight: But just a quick FYI, Titanium is actually heavier than Aluminum as a metal. However, you need more aluminum to equal the same amount of (strength as) titanium. Makes sense right?
Probably the reason Aluminum doesn’t last as long if you cook it over the fire. (Like I do)
So when you are determining how you cook, you also have to take a look at as to what you are going to eat on the trail. Again, I use a 900 mil Titanium pot because I love to put stuff in the pot. Not only hot water, but multi-use my hot water by cooking stuff in bags that are in boiling water. Uncle Ben’s Rice in a Bag for example.
Then there is the SnowPeak Titanium Cups. Weights 2.4 oz. You can pick these up for around 30.00. You are limited however when it comes to creative cooking. But great for just boiling water.
PRO TIP: Campbell’s® Hot N Handy© Classic Mug Mug holds 14 oz and weighs 2.4 ounces. AND has a lid. It’s BPA Free. The huge TIP here. It costs 5.00 and weighs the exact amount as the SnowPeak 450 Mil Titanium Cup.
The other piece of Gear that we love is the MSR FLEX Skillet. In fact, we have put this in our backpack to replace our old (bacon cook pan), yea, we love bacon. AND it only weighs Weight 7 oz.
Our review of the Sea to Summit 1 liter X Pot is we like it. However it’s NOT going in our backpack. We love this for Car Camping and cooking soups and our famous Texas Chili. But we think it has a lot of gear failure after long term use on a Thru-Hike or just wear and tear use. Also, if you are using an Alcohol Stove, this pot will NOT work. The flame is just too wide for this pot. Again, we love Sea To Summit Gear. Just don’t think this pot will last through a long distance hike. Very pack-able however.
Do you have a favorite cook system? Let us know and share what works for you.
We are eagerly waiting for this jacket to get to market. One of the great things about this new OR Ascendant Jacket is it’s weight. Lightweight and easily pack-able for late fall, early winter backpacking trip. Breathability is the key with most soft-shell jackets. The OR Ascendant Jacket uses a new technology called Polartec® Alpha® Direct.
According to Polartec’s web site:
Polartec® Alpha® was originally developed for the U.S. Special Forces when they required a more advanced insulating material in their combat uniforms. This fabric is a new technology with active insulation that regulates core body temperatures during both dynamic and static activities. This latest advancement in adaptable breathability helps eliminate the need of shedding or adding layers while on the move.
Jacob from Outside Magazine does the production of this video and does a great job getting us pumped for the gear coming out in 2017. Looks like it’s coming out in early Spring 2017. Click HERE to watch the Video
If you spend anytime in the outdoors whether it’s camping, or backpacking, you can understand the frustration when it comes to healthy eating. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy a freeze dried meal and pack it. What a pleasant surprise to eat a GOOD TO-GO Meal while backpacking last week. Most freeze dried foods are only really a benefit after your body starts burning thousands of calories a day. But what about a 3-5 night backpacking trip? Some foods just are NOT good for you. Loaded with high sodium and preservatives, just not something you may want to eat.
Good To-Go was founded by Jennifer Scism, accomplished chef and long-time co-owner of Annisa, a nationally recognized restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village. Jen’s career has long been focused on the importance of good food. As a backpacker, Jen struggled with the limited opportunity for fresh and delicious foods. Being a professional chef, she was not going to last eating the packaged meals already out there. So she began preparing her favorite meals and dehydrating them in her countertop dehydrator. It was do or die, or at the very least…go hungry. Through trial and error, the two were able to sit down, take in their surroundings and complete their adventures with an amazing meal. Jen’s creations were so delicious that they wanted everyone to be able to enjoy them.
We tested the GOOD TO-GO THAI CURRY SPICY YELLOW COCONUT CURRY WITH VEGETABLES & JASMINE RICE. All we could say was “WOW”!. We are SOLD! Not only were we impressed by the all natural ingredients, but it’s also Gluten Free. So refreshing to eat a freeze dried meal that is actually good for you.
I brought along Outdoor Author and advid backpacker Ariane Petrucci to sample some of the other GOOD TO-GO MEALS, like Smoked Three Bean Chili and the Pad Thai. We went out for a 3 night trip in the Pisgah National Forest and our packed dinners did not disappoint.
To see all of GOOD TO-GO MEALS check out their site and see for yourself their story.
Huge thank you to Justin Hagen at GOOD TO-GO for the opportunity to try out these absolutely great tasting (and healthy) dinners.
A unique option for couples who are backpacking or camping in warm-weather or milder climates, the Exped DeepSleep Duo 400 Plus is a down-filled double-wide quilt/fitted sheet combo that mates with two sleeping pads (sold separately) to deliver a comfortable night of sleep.
The quilt is insulated with 700-fill power duck down. Down has a soft, comfortable feel and continues to be the insulation with the best warmth-to-weight ratio. The feathers and fibers are renowned for containing body heat and are very easily compressed which makes the insulation ideal for backpacking. NOTE: The one downfall to this insulation is that it loses much of its ability to maintain warmth when it gets wet.
The quilt has a 20D polyester shell and the accompanying fitted sheet is constructed of soft, durable Tencel and recycled polyester. The quilt includes an integrated foot box to enhance warmth and has a pass-through that enables it to serve double-duty as an insulated poncho (for one)! Together, the quilt and sheet deliver a comfort rating of 41-48 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fitting users up to 6’ 4” in height, the Exped DeepSleep Duo 400 Plus is available in Medium (fits two 20” wide pads) and Long Wide (fits two 25” wide pads). A stuff sack is included.
|Item Weight||Medium: 41.6 oz
Long/Wide: 43 oz
|Packed Size||Medium: 11.8″ x 9.8″
Long/Wide: 12.6″ x 9.8″
|Shell Material||20D Polyester|
|Liner Material||Quilt: Texped PR46 Polyester
Sheet: 65% Tencel/35% Polyester
|Fits to Length||6′ 4″|
|Fill Material||700 Fill-Power Duck Down|
|Temperature Rating||41 – 48 Degrees F|
There is nothing better than backpacking with a great partner. Especially, when you partner is your Dog. They always follow and never complain. Here is a great video that explains a typical backpacking system for their dog Barlely.
Video by Andy Timinsky
These are the typical items we take for Barkley on every backpacking trip. Keep in mind it is not recommended that your dog carry no more than 25% of their body weight in their dog pack.
List of the gear below: The gear below is good for 3 season – this will not work for the winter time.
-Ruffwear Approach pack
-Ruffwear Quencher bowl
-Ruffwear Climate Changer sweater
-Windshield sun reflector from dollar store- this is used to insulate him from the ground when he’s laying around camp and also sleeping in the tent.
-Dog food- Typically carry more than when we feed him at home since we are burning more calories.
-Plastic bowl for food or water – we reused a plastic container
-Nite Ize led light for collar
One other note: Dogs typically drink from the Creeks and Rivers. It’s always a good idea to have your local Vetrinarian give your dog preventative shot for Leptospirosis
Hit the Pacific Crest Trail with the Therm-a-Rest Saros Sleeping Bag in your backpack, and revel in three seasons of blissful sleep. Since this sleeping bag is insulated with synthetic insulation, you won’t have to pamper it in the backcountry as you would with a down bag, as it will retain its insulating properties if it gets wet. This full-featured bag is fitted with a draft collar and tube, as well as an anti-snag zipper, so you aren’t struggling with your zipper after a long day of hiking. An external zippered pocket is a great place to stash a headlamp, and the adjustable hood can be cinched down to keep your dome warm throughout the night. Like all Therm-a-Rest sleeping bags, the Saros features SynergyLink mattress straps, which allow the bag to be securely attached too your sleeping mattress for a warm and comfortable night’s sleep, no matter how much you roll around.
|Item Weight||Regular: 2lbs 15 oz
Long: 3 lbs 3 oz
|Packed Size||8″ x 18′|
|Shell Material||20D Polyester Silicone|
|Liner Material||20D Polyester|
|Fits to Length||Regular: 6′
Long: 6′ 6″
|Fits to Girth||Regular: 62″
|Fill Material||EraLoft Polyester Hollow Micro Fiber|
|Temperature Rating||23-33 Degrees F|
|EN Comfort Rating||33 Degrees F|
If you love to cook in the backcountry like I do, then you need some cookware that won’t weigh your pack down. We think we found just the cookware pan.
The MSR Flex Skillet has been a staple in you backpacking gear. I really miss it when I don’t bring it. I love just the pot but when you really want to make some fun food in the backcountry nothing does the trick better than this baby.
Nonstick, hard-anodized aluminum skillet.
A durable, nonstick surface makes this hard-anodized aluminum skillet perfect for everything from stir-fries to the perfect pancake. Conveniently nests inside a Flex 4 System and outside a Flex 3 System.
Easy Clean-Up: Scratch-resistant, hard-anodized nonstick aluminum.
Versatile: Nests with MSR® Flex 3 and 4 Cook Systems and Pot Sets.
Includes: (1) Talon™ pot handle.
Weight 7 oz / 199 g
Height 2.5 in / 6.35 cm
Diameter 9 in / 22.86 cm
If you are looking for a lightweight piece of cooking gear for your next backpacking trip, this is a must.
If you are planning a Thru-Hike, then you are obviously are looking for a lightweight shelter. Or at least we hope you are. The MSR Thru Hiker Mesh Houe caught our eye.
One has to be prepared for anything on the Pacific Crest Trail: marshy meadows and mosquitos in the Sierra Nevadas, bear encounters in Yosemite, thunderstorms in the Cascade Range, and, apparently, marriage proposals near Mount Adams. At least that’s what Erin Parsons and Mike Porzio experienced during their PCT adventure in 2014. For Erin and Mike, it was a life-changing trip across approximately 1,000 miles in 100 days. For the MSR Shelter team, which was at the time
The MSR Thru-Hiker shelter system offers users the excellent ventilation and bug-free protection they want, but in an ultralight shelter with enough livable space for two or three people (depending on the model) to be comfortable for months on the trail. What’s truly unique about the design is its highly adaptable pairing system, allowing one to choose a preferred weight and protection level for a particular trip or specific thru-hike segment.
I have to say right off the bat: I really like Marmot bags. Having had the Marmot 15 degree Aspen Adventurer, and the Marmot ultra light 40 degree bag. I have never been disappointed. One of the good Winter bags I highly recomend is the Marmot Sawtooth 15 bag. Great bag, and you can always find it on sale somewhere.
The Marmot Sawtooth 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag weighs under three pounds—that’s less than 16oz for each of the three seasons you’ll be camping in. Compact, lightweight, and insulated by lofty 650-fill down insulation (treated with Down Defender to keep it warm if it gets damp), the Sawtooth helps you slumber soundly spring through fall, and even on mild winter hut trips. A host of features like a down-filled collar, five-baffle hood, roomy, trapezoidal footbox, and draft-stopping zipper tube add to the light-and-warm comfort.
The Sawtooth features a mummy shape that offers plenty of room at the shoulders before tapering down at the feet to keep insulation closer to your toes, which are going to be extra-warm thanks to the heat-trapping trapezoidal footbox. It’s been designed with stretchy baffles to accommodate your inevitable nighttime thrashing, and a face muff to seal the warm air in around your mug. There’s even a stash pocket to keep nighttime items close by, and hang loops for easy drying and re-lofting.
Video Production by: Backcountry Edge
If you have used this bag, give it a star rating so others can see. [ratings]
I often get asked what do I use to for plates, cups, bowls, etc. Well, there are a ton of options out there and plenty of product. I guess it depends on whether I’m going to eat right out of a Mountain House bag or not. More often that not, I don’t eat out of a bag.
One of the plates or “dishware” I like is the Sea to Summit Delta Plate. It’s light, and packs well. Easy to clean also, which is a big plus.
The ultimate in expedition and outdoor dinnerware, the Delta Plate from Sea to Summit is lightweight and practical—the Protex hex pattern base reduces weight and lessens surface temperature so it can be held comfortably with hot foods.
Eat well my friends.
Video Production done by: easternMNTNsports (Video no longer available)
I can’t tell you how many sleeping pads I have in my closet. But lately I’ve really been picky as to pads are going to be durable enough to last more than a year. Especially the way I sleep. I saw this pad recently and liked it.
This is a perfect three-season backpacking companion, the EMS Siesta sleeping pad is lightweight, durable, and built to provide years of cozy, comfortable nights in the wilderness.
|Sleeping Pad Type||Self Inflating|
|Weight||1 lb. 5.5 oz.|
Video Production by: easternMNTNsports
New for 2014! The self-inflating Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 sleeping pad delivers 4-season performance for two sleepers. Measuring 77.5″ x 52″ x 3″, the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 is ready for use at the campground or anywhere you need a portable bed. And the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 is versatile; Velcro strips on the sides allow it to be folded into a 4″ thick single mattress, which allows extremely comfortable 4-season use for one sleeper.
Air-cored foam insulation provides a luxurious sleeping base whether being used in the 3″ or 4″ thick configuration. Soft tricot fabric on the surface of the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 provides slip resistance and next-to-skin comfort. High frequency welded seams and strong lamination provide reliable durability.
The Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 has an R-value of 6.4 when laid out in the doublewide configuration and can be inflated by mouth or with Exped pump accessories such as the Exped Pillow Pump or Exped Schnozzel (each sold separately).
|Recommended Use:||Year Round Backpacking and Camping|
|Item Weight:||7 lbs 6.9 oz|
|Dimensions:||77.5″ x 52″ x 3″|
|Type:||Self Inflating Sleeping Pad|
|Other:||Stuff Sack Included|
Video Production by: CampSaver
If you have used the Exped Duo before, rate it, or tell us what you think? [ratings]
Video production done by: BlackOwlOutdoors
If you have used this product, give it a rating to help others review it. [ratings]