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For peaks (I'm assuming modest ones but nevertheless treeless ones), unless you have a good supply of snow to melt, water is the primary consideration. It is your enemy for pack weight and at the same time your best friend for survival. There is nothing so disappointing as to run out of it if you have to hike a mile from camp to find more.

If you have sufficient water, I tend to take the attitude that hunger makes anything taste good. So I take anything that can be completely dehydrated and yet contain plenty of energy. I don't worry so much about how it tastes, just make sure I get enough nutrition to keep going. If I'm out for only a couple of nights I'll probably go the first day without even cooking anything. The second day I'll cook whatever circumstances allow. I usually have more food than I really need.

I've been known to take the freeze dried stuff but also regular rice, grits, oatmeal, tuna or chicken in pouches, noodles, spices, and depending on the terrain, maybe a frozen steak and some roasting potatoes (I do cook the steak and potatoes the first night, especially if the scouts brought gruel to eat, heh, heh).


For lunches, I've seen people eat ramen noodles (dry or soggy), cup-o-soup, etc. But I don't like the packaging waste. I do sometimes take little cans of spread with crackers (Fancy Feast cat food is just delicious). I'll pour dried tea mix into zip locks and mix it on the trail to drink, or Gator Aid mix, or Tang. It keeps the electrolytes in balance.

I was just kidding about the Fancy Feast. But if I have some new boys along, I kid them by swapping cat food can labels for deviled ham or some similar sized canned meat for spread. I did once, ahem, make a tragic mistake...never do THAT again!


But for me the best part of backpacking is not the food. It is the trail, seemingly endless, and coupled with the ability to keep putting one foot ahead of the other....


Edit: the cat didn't much care for smoked salmon pate either...(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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The trick is to convince the Scouts/Patrol to plan and pre-pare their grub. You can pack in cans of Dinty Moore and fruit salad and such, or you can take the cheap big boxes of pancake mix and parcel it out in plastic baggies, pre-measured per meal, pre freeze your burgers (when wrapped up, will thaw by dinner time on the trail), and even carry raw fresh eggs in the proper packing. It depends, ultimately, on (1) what your appetite and calorie requirements require (winter camping needs more calories than summer, but camping needs more than TV watching)(2) what your pocketbook will allow (precooked, lightweight freezedry food is expensive) , (3) whether you are car camping (patrol box 50 feet to tent site from car) or trail hiking (10 or 20 miles between tent sites on the AT or Philmont trails), (4) how experienced your Patrol is (go slow, build up to the expedition).

(5) and how easily your boys see the advantage of Patrol cooperation (not everybody needs to do or carry everything for themselves) (6) whether you will be camp fire cooking, or small stove camping, or LARGE stove camping. What are you willing to carry how far? Sometimes the Dinty Moore "outweighs" the "Mountain House", but you have to do that comparison yourself.

I once did a demo for my home troop. I showed them the BIG box of Bisquick, box of powdered milk, then pre measured into a baggie amounts of mix and milk. Which do you want to carry on the trail, the BOXES or the BAGGIES? I added sufficient water, mushed it around, lit my old Primus and oleoed up a small cook kit fry pan. Fried up the batter (made three cakes) and turned 'em over with my fork. Small baggie of strawberry jam, Yum! , No glass to break, no heavy big boxes to carry, fewer pots to clean, Scouts suitably impressed and we saw some (not all) different cuisine on the next camp/hike.

Demos, discussions, research (don't reinvent the wheel), tryouts, competitions (Patrol cooking at Troop meeting?) all can lead to good eating .

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This went over well with the scouts on a recent trip:

Pasta parma rosa carbonara:


2 Packets Knorr brand Parma Rosa sauce mix

powdered milk


Hormel brand Real Crumbled Bacon, precooked 4.3 oz package

1 pound of pasta, your choice. (Rotini works well)

Start water boiling for pasta. Prepare the sauce as per package directions, using powdered milk. A stove capable of simmering, and a small whisk would be helpful. Prepare pasta as per package directions. Dump the package of precooked bacon into the sauce during the final minute. Drain pasta, add sauce with bacon.

You can also use sliced pepperoni. This method uses a fair amount of water to cook the pasta, so if water is at a premium it doesn't work as well. I'd like to figure out if you could make this in one step (and one pot), furguring out the correct proportion of water to have the pasta absorb it and leave the sauce the right consistency.

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Consider investing a mere $10.85 for the best backpacking cookbook on earth for Scouts: The Conners' Lipsmackin' Backpackin'






The book is like a candy store, my Scouts go crazy for this stuff.


It can be hard to get boys to read cookbooks. I find it works best of you as an adult leader try each recipe at home, then introduce it yourself the first time.


To start off, use the Scouter.Com search box to look up their addictive "Appalachian Trail Jerky," a meal in itself.


I have used their "Piute Mountain Pizza" (below) to get Scouts hooked on backpacking, although to be an effective recruiting tool you should make up a "rule" forbidding them to make it for regular campouts or at home, as our Troop's "Backcountry Trekkers" do with alarming regularity :)


The recipe works well because of the Boboli brand pizza sauce. If you are unfamiliar with it, the sauce is packaged in backpack-friendly plastic pouches, each supposedly enough for a large pizza.


You pack this sauce and the cheese into a pita shell, fry it on one side, then flip it over and fry it on the other.



Piute Mountain Pizza


Total servings: 1


1 (5-ounce) bag Boboli Pizza Sauce

2 pitas

1 ounce cheese 1 tablespoon oil

I cup water

Other toppings (optional)


Cut cheese into small pieces. Heat oil in frying pan. Cut a 3-inch slice into the side of each whole pita, enough to cause the inside to separate. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and shoot the sauce into the holes of each pita. Stuff your cheese into the pita along with anything else you'd like to add. Place in the hot frying pan over medium heat and cook both sides. You can cover the pan, but make sure the pitas don't burn. When cheese is melted, it's ready.


Yours at 300 feet,




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Thankfully we will Be canoeing and I have a filter, so water is not an issue for this trip, just weight and flavor.


I like the patrol cooking at a meeting ideaK.


The Blancmange- How do you pack in the margarine?

this is one sugested backpacking meal plan


Some items that seemed to work well for the last hike in camp out. Amounts dependent upon attendees. You may have other ideas as well

We need to pack it in and keep it light. I removed items from boxes and put in Ziploc bags (tear off instructions and include if needed)

We have some trail mix, jelly, Tobasco, cooking spray and a few other items in the food bin in the garage.


Breakfast V Oatmeal or Nutri-grain or breakfast bars, dried fruit, Craisins

(Have used the pre-cooked bacon and warm up)


Lunch V on the trail V Beefstick (Randalls was the only place I found that had it in bulk, did not need refrigeration)

(Could carry trail stoves and cook Spam)

Flour tortillas

Squeeze jelly

Small peanut butter or restaurant packets

Trail mix, dried fruit


Trail snacks V trail mix, dried fruit, Hudson Bay bread


Supper V packaged chicken

Pasta shells -

Powdered cheese (popcorn topping)


vegetables V can mix with pasta or separate

Cornbread mixes V add water

cheese cake mixes V add water or milk

powdered milk packets



Quartermaster V

2 pots V 3qt with lids

Light frying pan

Utensils V spoons, forks

Coffee pot or small 1 qt pot with lid to heat water

Soap, chlorox, scrubbies

Water jug


Ground clothes

Parachute cord

First Aid kit


2 V 3 trail stoves V

2 pints fuel V

Cornbread, cheese cake pans

(water pan under cornbread, foil for cover)



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The Blancmange- How do you pack in the margarine? this is one sugested backpacking meal plan

Margarine is mostly vegetable oil, and does fine for a few days without refrigeration. On hot days, it will get quite soft, but it is not a food safety issue. Put a stick in plastic bag and keep it out of direct heat.

Actually, looking at a package, it only says, "refrigerate for quality,"  which I assume means so it doesn't turn into a messy blob.  

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Some variables - how many calories do you plan to burn? When we would backpack, we would usually cover around 6 - 8 miles per day if it was extended (over three days) and around 10 - 15 miles per day if it was a Friday to Sunday event. So plan for enough calories to get you through. I always have an 'on hand' supply of calories at my disposal I'm sorry to say.


Another thing, my troop's style was that when backpacking, meals were planned either individually or in pairs. We'd have about one Jet Boil per pair as a minimum and carry your own food. I'd rather go slightly hungry and carry less weight.


Some of my favorites things were the foil packets of tuna (I don't like any kind of cans), beef jerky, nuts, oats, dried fruit, etc. Things with high water content are heavy (fruit, bread, etc.). Packaging should be minimized.


We backpacked on N. Manitou Island one year (Lake Michigan) and ran across lot's a ripe wild raspberrys and other edible things - yummy. Good food I didn't have to carry and no packaging to pack out!


Water was never carried because we never went anywhere that was so dry we couldn't replenish our supply. Yes, I've had to rely on galvanized aluminum tanks for Elk in the desert that had a bloated dead rabbit, algae, etc. in the stagnant water but after went through a bandanna "pre-filter", hand pump micron filter and then blessed with a magic want (steri-pen) the water quality was much better than what comes from the tap at home.

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MacScouter has some free backpacking cookbooks:


Young Backpackers Food Hints and Recipes

Gourmet Backpacker Menus

More Backpacking Recipes




We tried a few of these recipes a decade ago, including "Mexican Fiesta" in the Gourmet collection. None of them were memorable.


While you are in MacScouter's cookbook section, however, be sure to download the The Geezer Cookbook, by Dwayne Pritchett, and The Dutch Oven Cookbook, by Mike Audleman.


Many of these recipes have been "borrowed" and appear in other Boy Scout cookbooks, but they are of uneven quality. So like all recipes, make sure you try them out yourself first when expanding the horizons of Webelos III Scouts!


That being said, Audleman's "Pizza Hot Dish" is as effective at getting Boy Scouts addicted to Dutch Oven Cooking on regular campouts, as the Conners' Piute Mountain Pizza is at getting them to cook over a backpacking stove. :)


Dutch Oven Pizza Hot Dish


2 pkg Crescent rolls

8 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 jar Pizza Sauce

8 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1-1/2 lb Ground Beef


Brown ground beef, drain. Line Dutch oven with 1 pkg of crescent rolls. Spread pizza sauce on dough. Add browned beef, the cheeses and use second pkg of rolls to form a top crust. Bake 30 min. at 350.


Yours at 300 feet,





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A great book, if you can find it, is the late Colin Fletcher's first edition of "The Complete Walker": The first one was simple, to the point, discussing both nutrition needs and a concept of managing foods and weight.


I'm less fond of his later editions, more words and less content... :(


I've had mine since my youth days as a Scout...

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