We repackage all of our food using a heat sealer. This reduces about 50% of bulk, and eliminates carrying out a lot of paper and foil packaging. We take no cans except for the beer, and pre-package the food into individual meals. Shown below are (left) before repackaging, (center) after repackaging, and (right) the trash we left at home.
Here is a picture of the heat sealing machine, and a good example of size reduction. The bag on the right is 4 ounces of beef jerky as it comes from the store. On the left, without opening the package, is a similar bag with the jerky pushed to one end, and the bag re-sealed using the heat sealer. Makes you realize just how much (or rather how little) you are getting for your money, doesn't it......
The all important GORP. We used to use a cereal base, but abandoned that because it tended to pulverize under the rigors of backpacking. We now use only four items; freeze-dried pineapple, M & M's, banana chips, and salted cashew nuts. You could live on this stuff if you had to. The Gorp is nearly indestructible, but the M & M's will tend to mush if it gets too hot and you bang them around a bit too much.
Butter on a nine day trip in 100 degrees? Not a problem. We use Ghee (clarified butter) which requires no refrigeration, and has a specified shelf life of at least one year. We make some small plastic packets with the heat sealer, and shoot the butter in with a pastry decorator gun. It is a lot less expensive than buying those pre-packaged camping butter packets, if you can find them any more.
For convenience, all of the ingredients for a main course are heat sealed into a continuous plastic bag, with individual heat sealed compartments. That way, I do not have to go digging around in the food bags looking for a bunch of items. Things like salt and powdered milk are added in when the items are sealed. Preparation directions are written right on the plastic.
The main course and dessert are placed into a Ziplock bag, and marked according to the particular suggested day and meal it is for. I say suggested because we usually switch the meals around depending on what we feel like at the time. The Ziplock serves as an additional barrier to keep the food odors down to not attract squirrels or mice.
Peanut butter is carried in a squeeze tube. The tubes are available in most camping supply stores. They come with the bottom open for filling, and a push-on thingy for sealing the open end after it is filled. We use the pastry decorating gun for filling the tube, and one tube easily holds enough to load 24 pilot crackers. We usually throw the tube out after a trip because it is a pain to clean.
Shown here are meals, drinks and snacks for nine days on the trail. Everything is then stored in two waterproof Hydroseal bags. The bags are always kept inside of our backpacks, and the backpacks are kept inside of the tent when we are not hiking. The system seems to be effective, and to date, we have had no mice or squirrels get into our food.
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