5 Delicious And Easy Backpacking Dinners

High quality, nutritious meals are a must while hiking in the backcountry. After a long day of burning calories on the trail, I can’t think of anything better than cooking a hot meal to replenish energy and boost morale. There are a lot of different options out there to choose from. On my backpacking trips, I like to have a few options when packing for a trip to mix up the menu a little. It is also nice to throw in a ready meal option like an MRE every now and then, but they can be on the heavy side and won’t really work so well in an ultralight situation. Let’s take a look at 5 delicious and easy backpacking dinners below.

Meal #1 – Spicy Fried Rice – Approximately 600 calories

Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice is an excellent meal to have on the trail, and it isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here are the ingredients for this easy to make night one dinner:

  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tablespoons of [amazon_link id=”B0097FOR8A” target=”_blank” ]dehydrated onions[/amazon_link]
  • ¼ cup of [amazon_link id=”B007C7D2D6″ target=”_blank” ]dehydrated peppers[/amazon_link] (of your choice, mix and match to add spice)
  • [amazon_link id=”B007JE8PMK” target=”_blank” ]Kikkoman fried rice mix[/amazon_link]
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil
    [amazon_link id=”B001QC336E” target=”_blank” ]Salt and pepper[/amazon_link] to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • .5 L water

Pack all of the dry ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag, shaking them up to mix well. When you’re ready to cook and eat, boil the water and add it to the bag directly (it is recommended to have the bag in another pot or bowl). Stir and cover for 5-10 minutes until everything is re-hydrated and cooked. Mix in the olive oil and it is read to eat with trail crackers.

Meal #2 – Mountain Chicken Pasta – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B000EXKS1E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Knorr Pasta Sides, Butter & Herb 4.4 oz (Pack of 12)[/amazon_image]

This is one of my favorite backcountry recipes. It is delicious and very easy to make on the trail. Here is the ingredient list:

  • [amazon_link id=”B000EXKS1E” target=”_blank” ]2 Knorr butter and herb pasta packets[/amazon_link] (8 total ounces)
  • 1 3-5 ounce packet of chicken
  • 3 ounces [amazon_link id=”B00CRL9HHM” target=”_blank” ]sun dried tomatoes[/amazon_link]
  • 5 ounces of [amazon_link id=”B001H8R00M” target=”_blank” ]grated parmesan cheese[/amazon_link]
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated onions
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated assorted peppers

Pack the tomatoes, pasta, parmesan cheese and all the other ingredients in separate bags, and keep the chicken in the pouch. When cooking, boil 1 cup of water and pour over the tomatoes. Let sit while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When 5 minutes remain, add the mixed herbs, dried veges and chicken to the pasta. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pasta. Pour in the cheese, stir, and enjoy!

Meal #3 – MRE Of Your Choice – Approximately 1250 calories

[amazon_image id=”B009ZIDU0U” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) Genuine U.S. Military Surplus (1 Pack) Assorted Flavor[/amazon_image]

You’re probably thinking, “wait a minute, I wouldn’t count any MRE as delicious.” Maybe you’re right. But there are a few MRE options out there that I really don’t mind eating at all. You might even say I like them. But only in a certain context: the middle (or towards the end) night of a grueling backpacking trip. By this point, I’m usually expending more energy than I am taking in and in need of a surge of calories. This is what a full MRE meal offers. They aren’t lightweight (not dehydrated and full of water weight), don’t pack very well, and lack a bit of sophistication, but it’s hard to beat the per ounce caloric intake from an MRE. Throw in an MRE heater, and you don’t even need to get your stove or cooking gear out. It is the perfect mid-trip meal all around. A few that I enjoy include: beef stew, meat loaf with gravy, the beef patty, and spaghetti with meat sauce. Avoid the jambalaya, anything with ‘chicken’ in the title, and the tuna options.

[amazon_image id=”B00AB63708″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) – Two Course Fresh MREs with Heaters – 5 Year Shelf Life (Pack of 6)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”B007RZ804E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Case of 12 MRE Entrees from Meals Ready to Eat[/amazon_image]

 

Meal #4 – Cheesy Potatoes – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B00I4KUDDW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Idahoan Real Mashed Gable Carton, Premium, 52 Ounce[/amazon_image]

Instant potatoes are a common staple for backpacking because they cook ‘instantly’ and are filling and hearty. My cheesy potatoes recipe is easy and requires the following ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups of [amazon_link id=”B00I4KUDDW” target=”_blank” ]instant mashed potatoes[/amazon_link]
  • ½ cup of [amazon_link id=”B004VITI0K” target=”_blank” ]instant dry milk[/amazon_link]
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001EQ5AU4″ target=”_blank” ]crumbled bacon[/amazon_link]
  • 1 package of [amazon_link id=”B000F9ZM7M” target=”_blank” ]powdered cheese spread[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tbsp dried onions
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp of [amazon_link id=”B00DC5ZKQE” target=”_blank” ]butter powder[/amazon_link]
  • 4 ½ cups of water

Mix all of the ingredients in a quart sized Ziploc bag. Boil 4 ½ cups of water and add to the bag (place bag in another bowl for easy mixing and eating) and stir well. Wait for about 5 minutes, and add additional water if necessary. Enjoy your cheesy potatoes with camp crackers.

Meal #5 – Sweet Chicken and Rice – Approximately 500 calories

Chicken And Rice

Because I’m such a rice fan, there are two recipes with rice on this list. It is easy to make, and perfect for the last night on a five day excursion. Here is what you need:

  • The seasoning packet from 1 box of instant wild rice (my favorite is the [amazon_link id=”B000GZSBZ0″ target=”_blank” ]toasted almond flavor[/amazon_link])
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B00OAEVSTY” target=”_blank” ]dried cranberries[/amazon_link]
  • 1 7-ounce [amazon_link id=”B000V1LXU4″ target=”_blank” ]packet of chicken[/amazon_link]
  • 2 cups [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 3 cups of water

Boil 3 cups of water and add the instant rice with the seasoning packet. Stir in the chicken and cranberries. Let stand for 5 minutes and that’s all she wrote!

Final Thoughts

Nutritious meals are essential for backpacking success, but it isn’t as easy as grilling up a burger or cooking with refrigerated ingredients in your spacious kitchen. It takes a little more planning to pack lightweight, easy to cook meals. The five meals listed above are easy to make, packed full of calories and flavor, and did I mention delicious?

What are your favorite easy backpacking dinners? Have you tried one of the recipes (or a variation on one) above? Let us know the recipes in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy trails!

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The Top 5 Backpacking Stoves – It’s All About The Weight

Esbit Pocket StoveWhen compiling this list of our top 5 backpacking stoves, it became very apparent that the weight of not just the stove but also of the fuel source was the number 1 factor. This is especially true if you are an ultralight backpacker, with a weight limit of just 10 pounds total in your bag. It’s all about the weight of our top five backpacking stoves, as all of them are under 4 ounces (the stove itself, not including the fuel source). Let’s kick things off with the number 5 backpacking stove.

Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove – 2.7 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B0009VC7UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove[/amazon_link]The Coleman Exponent line of stoves features some nice backcountry stoves, including an option that will burn just about any type of liquid fuel. But the Exponent F1 Ultralight stove is one of the lightest stoves on the market today. It utilizes butane or propane as its fuel, and you can attach the tank right to the stove. This portable stove can boil a Liter of water in 3 minutes 40 seconds on high, and it also comes with additional settings for easier cooking settings. It features push button ignition, a portable foldable design for easy packing, and a flicker-proof regulator. For around $60 plus $9 per fuel canister, you really can’t beat the ability to boil water and cook food fast. The stove weighs 2.7 ounces, plus a 7.75 ounce fuel canister to total a 10.5 ounce cooking powerhouse capable of cooking on high for 50 minutes or for 2 hours on low. Click the following link to order your Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove today!

[amazon_link id=”B0009VC7UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B000PY9T0S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Butane Fuel Canister[/amazon_link]

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove – 2.6 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B000A8C5QE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR Pocket Rocket Stove[/amazon_link]MSR is no stranger to backcountry cooking. They have several lines of stoves that are awesome for the solo hiker up to the group expedition. The MSR Pocket Rocket is a fantastic ultralight option, weighing in at just a hair over 3 ounces. The Pocket Rocket utilizes MSR’s IsoPro fuel canister (isobutane), which is a short bottle of the 230 gram (7.75 ounce) size. It is very efficient, boiling a liter of water in under 3 minutes 30 seconds. It also features a wind clip protector to enhance thermal efficiency in windy conditions. It is easy to use with no priming, pressurizing or maintenance. It also has an adjustable switch, to go from a boil to a simmer with the twist of a knob. The total package weighs in at 10.4 ounces (stove + IsoPro fuel canister), and for around $40 (not including fuel), you can’t go wrong with this amazingly light system. To get your MSR Pocket Rocket, click the following link today!

[amazon_link id=”B000A8C5QE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR Pocket Rocket Stove[/amazon_link]

Snow Peak LiteMax Stove – 1.9 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B002D4X26U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak LiteMax Stove Stoves[/amazon_link]Snow Peak’s LiteMax stove features titanium and aluminum construction, which enables this stove to break the 2 ounce threshold. The LiteMax utilizes Snow Peak GigaPower Fuel, which is a propane to isobutane mixture. It takes a little longer to boil a liter of water (4 minutes, 25 seconds), but it puts out more heat per ounce of fuel weight (mixture). The fuel mixture also is capable of burning down to 17 degrees F, which makes this a great 3 season or high elevation cook stove. The total weight of the system comes in at 9.6 ounces, and for around $60 + fuel, you can’t really go wrong here. If you are interested in buying the Snow Peak LiteMax Stove, click the following link today!

[amazon_link id=”B002D4X26U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak LiteMax Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B001GTUTSC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak Giga Power Fuel Canister[/amazon_link]

Esbit Pocket Stove – 3.2 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B001C1UGVO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove with Six 14g Solid Fuel Tablets[/amazon_link]There are several different brands of hexamine fuel tablets, but the Esbit brand of tablets and stove is a great option, especially when you consider the price. For $10, you get the stove plus 6 tablets. These tablets will burn for approximately 12-15 minutes, and can be cut smaller for smaller burn times. It takes longer to boil water, approximately 7 minutes to boil 1 cup of water. Esbit tablets don’t burn as clean as the fuel canisters do, and they often leave a sticky brown residue on your cookwear. Each Esbit tablet weighs less than 1 ounce, so the 3.2 ounce stove plus 12 tablets (around 8 ounces), is about 11 ounces total, and will last quite a while if broken up into smaller tablets. This is a great bang for your buck option, and is one of the lightest options available today, especially since you can bring as many tablets as you will need on your trip rather than a half full canister that you aren’t sure when it will run out so you bring another full one along. Follow this link to order an Esbit Stove and some fuel tablets today!

[amazon_link id=”B001HYIHGC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B005NGMJLY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Fuel Tablets[/amazon_link]

Home Made Heet Alcohol  Stove – 1 ounce

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]As far as the stove itself, making your own alcohol stove is the lightest possible option today. They can be made out of cat food cans and soda pop cans with ease. You can also purchase more ‘deluxe’ versions as well if you aren’t a do-it-yourselfer (like the Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove pictured to the left) . They can weigh between .5 ounces and 1 ounce, which is like basically carrying a feather. They utilize alcohol as the fuel, in either ethyl or methyl alcohol varieties. Alcohol is only about half as efficient as canister fuels, so it will take a lot longer to boil water with one of these, especially in colder or breezy conditions. It really depends on how well the stove is built, and the boiling times vary between the different models and alcohol types greatly. A bottle of methanol (Heet) weighs 12 ounces and will last for several boils, and is very inexpensive (~$2). When it comes to price and weight, the alcohol stove is the king of our survey, as they are very popular with the ultralight backpacking community. Click one of the following links to buy a deluxe Vargo Titanium stove and some fuel today!

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B0016GXNC4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]12 Ounce Heet (Ethanol)[/amazon_link]

For ideas on building your own, watch one of these following videos.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

It really is funny how the least expensive and easiest to use stoves ruled our survey. That is not to dissuade you from purchasing one of the other awesome lightweight stoves on this list, but the Esbit and the Alcohol stoves really are a favorite of our team’s on the trail. Keep in mind that they have limitations, and don’t handle cold or windy weather very well or large groups for that matter. Hopefully this list will help you to get the right stove for your needs. As always, thanks for reading, and happy trails!

What is your favorite backpacking stove? Is our top 5 completely wrong? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!

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New To Backpacking? Get Started For Under $300

Are you interested in backpacking, but not willing to commit a large amount of money upfront until you know you are going to like it? Are you on strict budget? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this article will hopefully help you to see that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get into this great hobby. Below, I will go over some of my favorite low cost (but still high quality) gear to consider.

For the sake of this article, we will assume you have no backpacking gear. That means you will need to buy a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and other items to keep you going, less the consumables (food, fuel, etc). Let’s say you have a strict budget of $300 to get all the gear you need to go on a summer weekend (3 day, 2 night) backpacking trip that is more or less on a flat trail.

Here is a breakdown of the items, and below will be more details of the gear choices:

  • Backpack$115 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack[/amazon_link]
  • Tent$110 [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2XT 2 Person Backpacking Tent[/amazon_link]
  • Sleeping Bag$40 [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Scorpion 45 Degree Ultralight Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]
  • Water Prep – $25 [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 Ounce Flip Top Water Filter Bottle[/amazon_link]
  • Food Prep$10 – [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stainless Steel Mess Kit[/amazon_link]
  • Total Cost = $300

Backpack – $115

[amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Internal frame Backpack, Forest Night, Medium/Large[/amazon_link]For the backpack, the Kelty Coyote 80 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]can be picked up off of Amazon currently for $115[/amazon_link]. That is a great deal for a backpack that boasts 78 Liters (4750 cubic inches) of interior space. This is more than large enough for a 3 day excursion. It is more suited for a longer trip, but at that price point, it’s hard to pass this deal up. Additional features in this pack include:

Bag Features:

  • Top loading
  • 420-denier polyester Ball Shadow body fabric
  • 420-denier polyester Oxford reinforcement fabric
  • Hydration compatible
  • Reservoir sleeve
  • Front-panel access
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Mesh water bottle pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Load stabilizer straps
  • Spindrift collar
  • Ice-axe loops
  • Daisy chain
  • Key fob
  • Zippered waist belt pockets
  • Lid converts into lumbar pack
  • Carry handle

Suspension Features:

  • CloudLock II adjustable suspension
  • LightBeam II dual aluminum stays
  • HDPE frame sheet
  • Removable HDPE reinforced dual density waist belt
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Ventilating back panel
  • Load-lifter/stabilizer straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Patented Scherer Cinch

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 4,750 cubic inches (78-liters)
  • Weight: 5 lb. 9 oz.
  • Measures 16 x 34 x 16.5 inches (W x H x D)

Highlights of the Kelty Coyote 80 backpack are the price point, the capacity, removable waist belt and lid (converts into hip pack), and construction. The pack is on the heavy side at 5 pounds 9 ounces empty, but as long as it isn’t over packed for a 3 day trip, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Tent – $110

[amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2 - Tent (sleeps 2)[/amazon_link]The tent of choice is the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent. This is a lightweight 2 person backpacking tent that is also a very palatable price right around a hundred bucks. We chose the Apex 2XT tent because of the price, as well as a few features, such as: the 2 door design with 2 vestibules totaling 27 additional square feet, solid construction, and light weight (6 pounds 5 ounces). Here are some additional features and specifications:

  • Seasons: 3
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Floor dimensions: 7′ 6″ by 4′ 11″
  • Center height: 3′ 10″
  • Minimum weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces
  • Frame: Freestanding, shock-corded fiberglass
  • Vestibule: 2, with 13.8 square feet of storage each
  • Storage pockets: 2 mesh
  • Clothes line loops: 4
  • Flashlight loop: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime

This is great tent, and for the price, you won’t be disappointed. [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Pick yours up today[/amazon_link].

Sleeping Bag – $40

[amazon_link id=”B006WPZBA6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports FeatherLite +20 F Degree Ultra Light Design, Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag (84 X 32 X 20, Red)[/amazon_link]Since this is a summer trip, we can get away with suggesting a summer sleeping bag. And that is completely fair, because if you are new to backpacking, you probably don’t want to get into a cold weather trip right off the bat because you might ruin your outlook on the hobby. Start with a mild, warm weather trip to see if you like it first, then as you get more experience and become more adventurous, expand. Back to the sleeping bag of choice – [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Featherlite 20 degree ultra light sleeping bag[/amazon_link].

The price is right at $40, and the weight is also a bonus coming in at 3.4 pounds. This sleeping bag is nice because is compresses well and takes up minimal room. It is a synthetic fill sleeping bag, so even if it gets wet, it should keep you warm down to 30 degrees or so. It also comes with a stuff sack. Pick up one of these affordable 3 season sleeping bags today!

Food and Water Prep – $35

For cooking your food, this [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]stainless steel mess kit[/amazon_link] is just right. It offers a frying pan, pot, two lids (plates) and a plastic 8 ounce cup. At just over $10, all you need to have is a bed of hot coals and you can cook food or heat water.

[amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28oz Flip Top Advanced Filter Water Purification / Filtration Bottle[/amazon_link]As for purifying your water, the [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 ounce flip top water filter bottle[/amazon_link] is a high quality option that is affordable ($25). It removes 99.99% of bacteria, virus, contaminants, and pollutants from water. It can filter up to 100 gallons of water, depending on the quality of the water (dirtier water = less filtering capacity). It weighs just 11 ounces and you can fill it up from any body of water along the trail.

The Bottom Line

If you are just getting into backpacking, and you are worried that you won’t like it, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on gear. I can tell you that if you like nature, exercise, the outdoors, and camping in general, you are going to absolutely love backpacking. But keeping your start-up costs low just in case you don’t is a good idea. The nice thing about all of these items is that they could all be sold used to recoup most of your money if you decide you don’t like backpacking. Another nice thing about all of these items is that if you do like backpacking, they are high quality products that you will be able to enjoy for a long time.

Use this list to find the right gear for your needs. This is just a list of the most essential gear items. I didn’t include hiking boots because they require such a specialized fit and vary greatly in price. For a flat 3 day hiking trip, sturdy tennis shoes should be alright. Other items might include a good flashlight, first aid kit, survival kit, GPS, fitted hiking boots, multi-tool or pocket knife, and a sleeping pad. They will greatly increase your comfort and safety in the backcountry. As always, happy trails!

Do you agree with this list? What would be your $300 starting setup? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

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CRKT Guppie And Eat’N Tool Combo Review

When it comes to compact, portable multi-tools on the market today, it is hard to compete with the Leatherman Juice or Squirt lines. CRKT has released a new take on the small multi-tool, the CRKT Guppie. My first glance at the CRKT Guppie left me shocked, as I have never seen a multi-tool this size based around an adjustable wrench. The idea is different than the traditional multi-tool idea of building the tool around a set of pliers or scissors. Was it a good idea? Read on for my in depth review of the CRKT Guppie and the additional Eat’N tool that came with my combo double pack.

CRKT Guppie Multi-tool

[amazon_link id=”B001F3XAUI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]3325 CRKT GUPPIE MULTI TOOL[/amazon_link]

The Guppie boasts the following features:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Folding 2 inch blade
  • Removable bit carrier with LED light
  • Phillips driver bits (2)
  • Flat head driver bits (2)
  • Carabiner with Bottle opener
  • Belt clip

The Dimensions are as follows:

  • 4.1 ounces total weight
  • 3.5 inches overall length
  • 2 inch blade

Adjustable Wrench

CRKT Guppie Wrench

Opened Wrench

Starting at the top of the features list is the adjustable wrench. The idea of having a portable adjustable wrench built into a small multi-tool is fantastically novel. Capable of opening up to 1/2”, the adjustable wrench offers the ability to tackle most small scale jobs. My Guppie has no problem gripping the nut securely, contrary to a lot of complaints. The main issue I have with the wrench is the shape. If the nut is not fully exposed, it is difficult to reach it. There also isn’t a whole lot of handle to grip to generate leverage with. For most jobs requiring an adjustable wrench, this one will work fine. Remember that this is a pocket multi-tool, and is designed to give you options while away from your shop and other tools. In a pinch, the Guppie wrench is better than the alternatives (ie hauling a large set of adjustable wrenches everywhere you go or having none). This nice feature might interest you if you an avid mountain biker.

Blade

CRKT Guppie Blade

Blade

The folding blade is a tool usually found on every multi-tool iteration out there. The 2 inch folding blade made of 2CR13 steel is hollow ground to a drop point, and is not serrated. I like the fact that the Guppie has a blade. I like to have backups with every carry system that I employ, and the blade on the Guppie gives me a backup blade. But that being said, the blade on this tool is just that – a backup. There is no locking mechanism with the blade, making it a little sketchy to use. Just the way you have to grip the tool to cut anything wraps your fingers underneath the blade. I found the blade to be sturdy and durable, but the edge left something to be desired of a blade out of the box. It wasn’t completely dull like other reviewers have said, but I needed to sharpen it to give it a decent edge. Time will tell how the blade holds an edge. As with the adjustable wrench, having a blade when you need it is better than not having one at all, and this tool gives you a nice, sturdy (even without the lock) 2 inch blade.

Bit Driver

CRKT Guppie Driver

Driver

Having removable driver bits is another idea that I think is fantastic for a small multi-tool. Most other multi-tools have a Phillips and flat head driver built in, but you are left with the one size. I have also found that with the Phillips head screw drivers on Swiss Army knives and Leatherman tools I own, they get stripped out with minimal use and you are left with a Phillips head driver that is ineffective. With the Guppie, simply replace the Phillips head driver bit with a new one. The bit carrier is held to the main Guppie tool by a strong magnet. Some reviewers have said it doesn’t stay attached while in a pocket or bag, but I haven’t had any issues with this at all. The bit carrier holds 4 standard hex bits, so you can mix and match your own (star driver, square, Phillips, and flat head).

CRKT Guppie Bit Carrier and Light

Bit Carrier and Light

The carrier has a lanyard hole on one end (which makes it easy to carry the bit carrier separate), and has a small LED light built in the other end. The light is powered by 2 CR97 batteries and features 1 small LED bulb. The light isn’t terribly bright, but it is now the only multi-tool that I own that has the option of a light. This has been a gripe of mine for a long time. I said above that I like to have backups, and several times when I have needed a light, I have either forgotten my every-day carry light but had my multi-tool. This little light is a pleasant feature, and a much needed backup.

Carabiner Bottle Opener

CRKT Guppie Carabiner Bottle Opener

Carabiner Bottle Opener

The carabiner bottle opener is a simple feature, also one that is incorporated in just about every multi-tool out there. I have never had much use for this feature, but if you need the assistance of a bottle opener after a long hike, whip out your Guppie and there it is.

CRKT Eat’N Tool

[amazon_link id=”B004YY369K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]CRKT EAT N TOOL BEAD BLAST[/amazon_link]

My Guppie came in a combo pack with the Eat’N tool. It boasts the following features and dimensions:

  • Spork
  • Metric 10mm, 8mm, and 6mm wrench cutouts
  • Flat head screwdriver/pry tip
  • Bottle cap lifter
  • Small pocket carabiner
  • 3CR13 Stainless steel
  • 1.5 ounces
  • 4 inches long

The idea of a spork with additional tools built in is innovative. I have used this spork in the backcountry, and its weight allows me to pack it on ultra-light trips without hesitation. The ‘spoon’ part could be more concave, as it seems that it is a little shallow as far as spoons go. The ‘fork’ prongs are a little bit too blunt and thick, limiting their ability to grip food. One thing I noticed about the fork prongs is that if they were sharper and longer, carrying this tool in your pocket wouldn’t be very comfortable, and is probably why it was designed the way it was.

The handle is a little shorter than I would like it to be. This either limits the reach you have for food in a container or guarantees that your fingers will be swimming in your food. In the backcountry, this isn’t a huge concern since I usually skimp on fancy cutlery in order to save weight and space in my pack. Having anything at all to eat my food with other than my fingers is a luxury I never had before this tool.

I don’t see myself ever using the other features on the Eat’N tool, except for maybe the pry feature (for prying open a can of tuna while on the trail, for example). I usually don’t use a conventional camp stove in the backcountry, I use a homemade alcohol stove (ultra light). I assume the metric wrench cutouts will fit most nuts on stoves for backcountry repairs, but I would imagine if my camp stove broke or went out in the field, I would cook over an open fire or eat my food cold before attempting a bush-fix with pressurized fuels.

Backcountry Samurai Thoughts

The CRKT Guppie and Eat’N tool fared well with my backcountry testing. While some of the tools weren’t that useful for my activities, other outdoor activities might find more utility out of them. The ideas and innovation on the Guppie and Eat’N tool introduced new features that I haven’t seen on other traditional multi-tools, and this is a nod to the engineers and CRKT. The price is in line with the features offered, and I would say this multi-tool set is of much better quality and usefulness than other similarly priced multi-tools. Overall, I think the idea of building a small, compact multi-tool around the framework of an adjustable wrench (or in the case of the Eat’N tool, a spork) works.

Weighing just over 4 ounces (similar to the Leatherman Juice S2’s weight of 4.4 ounces), the Guppie is a good addition to any outdoorsman’s loadout. The Eat’N tool comes in even lighter, and offers some usefulness to backpacking that I haven’t found with any other multi-tool. Remember that these tools offer additional options. As long as you aren’t expecting the Guppie blade to be your primary backcountry blade, or the LED light on the bit carrier to be your primary camping light, but rather backups, these tools will offer value to your outdoor experience. Click on the following link to purchase your CRKT Guppie multi-tool or CRKT Eat’N tool today!

[amazon_link id=”B001F3XAUI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]CRKT Guppie Multi-tool[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B005AONQS4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]CRKT Eat’N Tool[/amazon_link]

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What Food To Bring On An Extended Backpacking Trip

Any time you spend more than a weekend in the backcountry, carrying enough food is an important consideration. You can always supplement your packed meals by catching native fish or picking wild berries, but you definitely shouldn’t count on these sources of food to survive. What should you pack for a week-long or longer trek? Below, we will go over the basics of planning your backcountry meals for an extended stay backpacking trip.

The Building Blocks Of Life

Food and water are essential for human survival. Most humans can’t live longer than three days without water. Hiking rough terrain with a heavy backpack requires constant water consumption. Depending on activity and body mass, humans can live as long as two weeks without food. But surviving more than a day or two without food limits your ability to find more or get to safety. Since you won’t be able to carry a weeks worth of water on your back, you will need to purify water along the way. This is easy enough to do with a filter (MSR Sweetwater, Katadyn Vario) or by boiling the water, as long as you are hiking near a water source.

Food is a different story. Unless you are Bear Grylls, foraging for food on the trail won’t be an option. You will need to plan on bringing all the food you will need along, and that means packing it all in your bag.

What You Need

The typical caloric intake for an average adult per day is 2000. This will more or less result in no net gain or loss of weight, under regular day to day activity. Backpacking on even flat terrain can be a strenuous physical exercise, let alone on rugged mountain terrain. You should plan on consuming somewhere between 2500 and 3000 calories per day or more, including at least 30-50 grams of protein. This will sustain your frame during the trip and will keep you fueled for the oncoming miles.

Portability Vs Palatability

The argument of portability versus palatability has raged on for decades among the backpacking community. A hot meal after a long hike can seem very refreshing for many hikers, yet a hot meal means you will probably need to pack a camp stove, pot, and hot meal ingredients, which will add extra ounces to your pack. Ultralight minimalist backpackers go to the other extreme of eating trail mix for three meals a day. A healthy balance is necessary here, because some hikers lose their appetite during hot days or at higher altitudes. A hot meal might not seem appealing on those days, and a more light meal might suffice. On the other hand, a hot meal on a cold or wet day might be the morale boost that you need, where cheese and crackers might come up short.

A food item might also be super portable and palatable, yet it just doesn’t work on the trail. For example, peanut butter is a high protein, high energy food that is light and easy to transport. But try to find a good way to get the peanut butter out of whatever you have transported it in. It just makes a mess. If you’re a peanut butter lover, it might be worth the hassle. If not, the dispensability is a nightmare.

Hot Meal Options

MREs

[amazon_link id=”B007HOB4FC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) Premium case of 12 Fresh MRE with Heaters. 5 Year Shelf Life.[/amazon_link]Most of us are familiar with MREs. These military rations are packed with calories, and can be supplemented with small snacks throughout the day. Most MREs can be coupled with a one-time-use MRE heater, so you won’t need a stove or other cooking supplies. There are many different entre options available, and plenty of sides to go along. A full MRE meal can have as much as 1500 calories by itself. These are easy to prepare, and loaded with nutrients to keep you going.

MREs are bulky and heavy. You don’t need any water to cook them, which is a plus. However, that means you are carrying extra water weight within these packs. If you have tried an MRE, you might not have been impressed with the flavor. A lot of hikers are particular about what they eat, and MREs usually don’t make the cut based on flavor alone. But if you are looking for an easy hot meal, these are great options.

Freeze-Dried Meals

[amazon_link id=”B000G2TOMM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain House 72-Hour Emergency Meal Kit[/amazon_link]Mountain House used to own the freeze dried meal market. Now there are a lot of companies offering these type of backpacking rations. Freeze dried meals come in sealed mylar pouches (for a decent shelf life), and there is probably a wider variety of meal options than MREs. The nice thing about these hot meals is that they are dried – meaning there is no extra water weight inside the pouch. They are easy to prepare, and taste much better than MREs.

You will need to boil water to add to the pouch (so what you gain in not having to carry the water weight, you lose in the extra weight of a stove, fuel, and a pot), and the food takes time to reconstitute. These are also great options for hot meals on the trail.

Other Hot Meal Options

MREs and freeze dried meals might be the most convenient hot meals available, but can be a little pricey. If you get creative, you can easily create your own trail meals out of ingredients from your pantry. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Cup of Noodles
  • Pasta And meat Sauce
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Instant Soups
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Tuna Helper
  • Spam, Tuna, Salami, Salmon

These meal ideas are easy to prepare, and you can create your own portions with ziplock bags.

Cold Meal Options

A lot of backpackers will plan at least one hot meal per day, and this is usually dinner (extra prep time). Breakfast could also easily incorporate a small hot meal (oatmeal with hot chocolate or coffee/tea), but is a good time to go with a quick and easy cold meal. This is where some creativity comes in.

  • Cliff bars
  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix (home made or store bought)
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Crackers (animal crackers, Ritz, Triscuit, etc)

The key here is to have a variety of snacks to eat. If you only plan on having one hot meal per day, the rest of the day will be cold foods. The better the variety, the more likely you will keep up with your caloric needs. Taste fatigue can occur if all you eat throughout the day is trail mix. Candy bars are a nice break, but melt easily.

Drinks

Many backpackers get tired of the taste of water on long trips. Having some flavoring powder to liven up your water will do wonders for your morale. GatorAide and PowerAid both make electrolyte replenishing, water flavoring powders. Crystal Light pouches are a sugar free option. The small single serving packets are very light, and easy to add to bottles and hydration bladders.

Pack some instant hot chocolate, cider, tea or coffee for morning/evening sipping pleasure. These packets weigh next to nothing as well, and will help warm you up when it’s cold outside.

Packing It All Up

Backpacking Ziploc MealsBecause your food will take up a good portion of your backpack’s internal space on an extended backpacking trip, it is important to save as much space as possible. Remove unnecessary packaging from foods. For example, take crackers out of their boxes and pack them in single serving Ziploc bags. Remove MREs from their bulky packaging.

Organize your large meals together inside their own Ziploc bag. Label them accordingly. If you are planning group meals, besides organizing your pack, this will also make it easy to pull all the necessary ingredients together for the meal.

Remember to keep snacks within reaching distance. You don’t want to have to take your pack off to dig out some trail mix. Most backpacks have waste belt pockets, which work out perfectly for holding hiking snacks. Another reminder: if you are hiking in bear country, follow all the essential bear country food packing and hanging tips. This will prevent a potentially dangerous encounter. Below, you can click on the image to purchase the Backpacker’s Cache.[amazon_link id=”B0002ZB5Y8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Backpackers' Cache - Bear Proof Container[/amazon_link]

Just In Case

Preparing backpacking meals can be one of the most time-consuming planning steps of trip planning. Make sure that you go over the daily menu to see that you are getting enough calories and nutrients to keep you going. It is also a good idea to pack a few days extra meals or food, just in case you get stuck in the backcountry longer than expected. Here are some menu ideas, calorie counts, and pictures to help you get started. Happy camping!

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