Saturday, 19 June 2010

Packing for a long trip.

Photo courtesy of Fjäderlätt

When going on a long trip often it is your food that takes up the most space. I am about to set off on an 11 day, 10 night, trip along the Nordakalotten, the weight of food I am carrying is planned to be 8.5 kg, now in some ways the weight is not important, however, the volume is. Given that as every day progresses the weight and volume in my pack will decrease ideally I would like to start out with too much stuff in a small pack than a large (heavier) pack whose weight and volume will soon become redundant.

This is my challenge for the trip.

I could take an Aarn Natural Balance 85l pack which will hold everything and weigh 2.2 kg or take an Aarn Mountain Magic 55, a 55 litre pack which may struggle initially but only weighs 1.54 kg (which is a weight saving equivalent of almost a days food.) So there is an obvious benefit then in using the smaller pack so it is the volume of the food that becomes critical.

Over at Backpacking Light there was a very good article on food and travelling light in the Sierras. The essence of the food section of this article was 2000 kj per 100 gms in food with 680 gms of food every day resulted in 14000 kj per day which was seen as sufficient for the trip. Which seems to me to be about right. So with that in mind I have aimed for foods that offer 2000 kj per 100 gms and are of low volume. Oils are off course one of the most obvious solutions but a bottle of oil a day does not seem to me to be an ideal solution.

So my basic menu is built around porridge in the morning, lunch of cheese and tortilla wraps or couscous meals and for dinner Real Turmat.

Porridge I use a menu developed from Bill McCartney's book Travel Light, Eat Heavy Along the Appalachian Trail and Other Mystical Routes and comprises oats Pecan Nuts raisins along with powdered milk and brown sugar.

Lunch is cheese and Tortilla Wraps or Lemon flavoured couscous with pine nuts and raisins.

Dinner is Real Turmat meals with home dehydrated fruit for dessert. The challenge with the Real Turmat meals is the bulky packaging. The packaging is robust and will withstand a lot of punishment, but when it comes to packing it is space hungry. Robin over at blogpackinglight has successfully tried repackaging Real Turmat meals and I am sure that this will help to reduce volume in the pack.

Packing the Aarn packs is an art, if you have a single sack bag with maybe some external pockets then everything has to fit into the main sac, but an Aarn pack requires you to think different. As I sit here writing this blog entry I have about 3 kg in each front pocket with about 11 kg in the main sack. The front pockets must contain all the days needs including food, camera, first aid etc so that the main section of the pack with dry bag is not opened.

I will let you know if I succeed