Commercially available freeze dried foods

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This has been a point of contention between Chick and me forever so we decided to let the board make the decision.

On our canoe trips I have always placed my freeze dried meals in zip locked plastic bags in the barrel. I double bag everything (toothpaste, sunscreen, etc) and always have. I point out that in all of my (our) years in the back-country I (we) have never had an issue with a bear in camp. Plus, those bags come in handy for trash and what not.

She feels, how should I put it, that I'm an idiot.

So, for all the marbles, do I continue my practice or embrace her seemingly cavalier attitude towards getting us both killed and saving $4 bucks?

Full disclosure - on a Scout trip in '72 or '3 we did have a bear in camp but I didn't know her yet.
 
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I read somewhere that the metal foil-lined, factory-sealed bags most commercial freeze dried foods come in are odor proof (as is a regular old "tin" can for that matter).

Regular zip loc bags may cut down on odor but they are not remotely odor proof. Have you never put something in a zip loc in the fridge and then smelled it the next time you opened the fridge?

Try putting something fairly odoriferous (chop up an onion) in a zip log bag or even 2. Then put the sealed zip loc bags in something like a cooler at room temperature (to help further contain/concentrate the odors that are escaping the bag), seal it with packing tape and put it somewhere away from your living space so your nose doesn't get desensitized or accustomed to the odor. Then open the cooler after a day. If you still have a sense of smell, you'll get a snootful of whatever was in the zip loc bags. Now imagine how much that must smell to a bear!

Now repeat the experiment with a single Opsak bags. No smell I can detect. I have no idea whether there's enough odor leakage from an Opsak for a bear to detect or not.
 
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Zip locs are handy rather then just throwing your used bag back in the barrel. I don't double bag everything though.. just make sure I have a few Zippies for trash. While I have seen bears on a lot of my trips ( like about a third of the time) I have never had one in camp ziploc or no ziploc.
Perhaps my freeze dried food is boring.
Now in parks I get a chuckle about bear rules.. Never feed a bear they say. Good idea but when the campsite is in a berry patch....
I don't think ZIp Loc is your guardian angel but do what you feel is best.. I am not coming to clean out your barrel..
 
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I don't think odor is the problem with freeze dried food. I just don't like to eat it.
I use it for portaging trips which is almost never around the West. I use it for the end of hot weather trips when there is no ice left. Often we can find a town in 75 miles of traveling and resupply.
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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Not sure I understand the OP question. Is it about putting sealed commercial freeze dried meal bags in ziploc? If so, two things.

First, I don't believe any food odor can escape an unopened commercial meal bag.

Second, but we do open them. And then eat or pour out of them. And then scrunch them up, preferably after rinsing, and carry them as garbage. All of which is odoriferous.

So, I use two large, allegedly odor proof Opsaks. I put all my commercial meals and other snacks in one Opsak and use the other one for garbage. Since those are the only foods I eat on a solo trip, which never lasts more than a week, I can fit everything in those Opsaks. (I'm a non-cooker and anti-gourmet.)

I've never used a barrel. For the past 10 years I've put the Opsaks in a bear- and critter-resistant Ursack, which is very light, takes up minimal space, and shrinks further as you use the food. For a longer trip or more than one person, a second Ursack would be necessary.

My white Ursack with all my food and garbage in Opsaks is tied on the tree on the bottom left. I move it further away from camp at night.

Ursack on tree.JPG
 
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Keeled, if it is in the original packaging leave it there. The metalized Mylar bags they come in are indeed completely odor-proof as the continuous aluminum layer of the multi layer bag is gas impermeable. If like Nancy and me you buy bulk freeze dried and/or dehydrate your own food and make up your own meals standard vacuum sealer bags are far better than zipper lock bags but remain somewhat gas permeable. If absolute odor prevention or long shelf life are your highest priority you can buy good Mylar bags and seal your own and, for long term storage, add an appropriate oxygen absorber to the contents.

Note that I say "good Mylar bags" because there are a lot of low quality and outright counterfeit Mylar bags around. We get our Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers from packfreshusa.com although I rarely use the oxygen absorbers and keep open packages of them in vacuum sealed canning jars they will absorb all the oxygen they can capture in just a few minutes and be useless. We aren't "preppers" and aren't packaging for 25 year storage but I do sometimes use Mylar bags for hard, sharp foods and usually wash the Mylar bags and reuse them at the cost of about an inch or less lost to cutting off the sealed strip each time you reuse it. Mylar bags will need a couple of sealing impulses to reliably seal with a Foodsaver style sealer. Or just buy a stand-alone impulse sealer.

We have both a commercial type chamber vacuum sealer (a Vacmaster VP112 left over from our farm owning days) and a very rarely used Foodsaver style sealer. Chamber sealers have a high up front cost but even heavyweight chamber sealer bags are far less expensive than Foodsaver type bags at around $.04 for a pint bag up to around $.08 for a gallon bag and it can seal wet foods such as soups and stews. Foodsaver style vacuum sealers are less money up front but have a far higher per bag cost. How many bags you will seal over the years, your budget and whether you need to seal wet foods will determine which might make more sense for you. Any sealer that allows you to initiate the sealing process can be used for freezer died or other foods to seal them before pulling a full vacuum without crushing the food or puncturing the bag if sealing sharp foods.
The best source I've found for Foodsaver type waffle textured vacuum sealer bags is vacuumsealersunlimited.com where Lisa B. will sell you pre-made very high quality vacuum sealer bags for a lot less than Foodsaver's bulk rolls cost. You can also buy gusseted and zipper lock Foodsaver type bags there. In the interest of full disclosure I have probably bought thousands of bags from Lisa and have no business relationship with her beyond that but she has "comped" me free bags for sausage making or meat curing demos at sportsman's shows and has given me discount coupons for the audiences.
If you are looking for standard food grade polyethylene bags, especially in small or odd sizes check out https://www.clearbags.com/bags/food where you'll find zipper bags, gusseted bags and heat seal bags (not for vacuum sealer use....) etc.

I hope all this rambling helps.


Best regards to all,


Lance
 
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I travel in black bear country, I hardly do anything to reduce food odours, usually sleep in the same shelter with all my gear and food and when I'm using a small tent I often eat inside because of the bugs. More than once I have gotten up in the morning to find fresh bear tracks walking right past my shelter, ignoring me and ignoring my smelly cooler bag that is in the canoe (starts as a cheese/fruit bag and transitions to a trash container).

Now I'm usually travelling in areas with few if any humans, the bears don't seem to care, if I'm near a fly-in lodge the bear there are a different story. What I have had problems with are raccoon and mice, they can smell and will investigate the smallest crumbs of food if left around.

I would not have this attitude is I paddled in Grizzly country or in most of the eastern US or anywhere close to a park with a camping area where many bears are habituated to humans and the munchies they bring.

I do double bag anything containing liquids but that is more to prevent leakage than to be critter safe.
 
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Sleeping with your food in your tent is a practice that eventually gets people in trouble.
 
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You're using the forum to gather evidence in the hope of beating up the woman that tolerates you? Go buy her a gift (or do something useful around the house) and apologize for what you have done. She can do a lot more damage to you than a bear.
 
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Thank you all for the info. Needless to say I lost hands down, so going forward my freeze dried will live freely in the barrel with no encumbrances. (commando?).

Gumpus, you made us both laugh right out loud - thank you for that. As Chick said, I had better adhere to your policy!!

I did find all of the information very interesting. While back in Michigan I always hung my food. As I arrived in NY the ADK's were a real wilderness and I followed the rules. I even used to paddle my food to an island at the start when it made sense. As time went on and I grew accustomed to the area I found my self getting lax about hanging. It started innocently enough - I would simply move my barrel 50-60 yards in the woods. Fast forward and I now just leave it in my campsite. I do keep a very clean campsite.

Recped just blew my mind. Is this a common practice up north? The Missinabi is on my list - I even have the savings account started. The only real thing I was concerned about was bear activity, and not overly so. Just curious if this would be an area where you feel comfortable keeping food in camp?

The Ursacks and Opsacks have captured my attention - it's just I have 2 60 and 1 30 liter barrels with a harness. But I am doing more looking at these. Glenn, out of curiosity, how far to you generally move you food at nite? I know there are many variables but generally how far, and when you move them do you still tie them to a tree or something?

Lance, I had Chick check out your post. I would love to avoid the cost of the commercial stuff. My issue is that I don't cook. Anything. I grew up in a tourist town and worked in restaurants forever and it killed my creative food drive. She showed some interest in home preparation, and the cost savings helped even more. She hates it when I buy the commercial stuff due to the cost, and lack of variety. This might end up being a win-win.

I appreciate this information. Having never done anything in Canada except Quetico, I love the trip reports of those of you who have traveled the north country, and the practical experiences passed on via the boards. I will travel the far north. I see the Missinabi as a stepping stone, hopefully to the Thelon.

Thank you all!
 
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Bears are interested in other things than your freeze dried stuff. Never ever camp at a shore lunch fishing site. They are creatures of habit so if they found good picking before they will be back expecting the same.

For that reason I avoid islands. Bears swim well and use islands for rest and recon. Somewhere I have pics of bears on islands.
When you move to boreal forest you understand that nothing really will support anything.Just stashing out of the site in the woods where Mr Bruin Habit won't expect it.

We have traveled some Yukon Rivers and just kept the food out of the tent. We can survive a couple of weeks without food. But never been bothered. We use a barrel and there is nothing at all to hang from

IMO the more wilderness you get into the less bears are looking for your food. The Adirondacks are not at all wilderness. I used to live there for many years and those bruins are habituated. It is an ongoing effort to dehabituate them.We used to drive to the dump to watch the bears pad all over cars.

Keeled Over you are on the right track.. Just stash out of the way.. You might think about the location of the island you are on.

We did the Missinaibi some 20 years ago. Never saw a bear until we got to Moosonee. The locals ran a bus tour to see bears in the dump. The more remote you go the less the bear issue.
 
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We have a high density of black bears over on the coastal rivers like the Klamath, Eel and the Trinity. They also have salmon and steelhead fisheries. I always see bears in that country, much fewer bears are around in the drier country further east. I always look for tracks when we land on a beach. Sometimes it is hard to find a beach without bear tracks on it. I keep looking. We hang our food. And I always bring dogs as the early warning system and bear deterrent.

Working in SE Alaska I saw bears every single day, but I never had any dogs around. I never got used to it. Working with my head down especially solo, there is nobody on watch. Very disconcerting. Natives always have dogs around.
 
G

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She feels, how should I put it, that I'm an idiot.

Maybe don’t show Chick these responses.

I don’t Zip-lock freeze dried meals packs, for the odorless reasons above. Well, I sorta do; I only rehydrate a half a freeze dried meal at a time, the other half goes in a Zip-lock and the foil hydration bag gets rinsed out to reuse the next night. Or a couple nights later if the previous meal was my least favorite chewy beef stew.

Even the beef stew is less chewy since I started using an insulating Reflectix meal coozie. “Let seep 12 minutes” means eating rapidly cooling beef stew in cold weather. 20 minutes later in a Reflectix meal pouch it is more thoroughly hydrated, and still tongue burning hot. Leaving the pouch in the Reflectix coozie it stays how while I eat it, without having to shovel it in as fast as I can swallow.

https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...ed-meal-coozie

Those simple, easy to DIY meal pouch coozies made a world of difference with rehydrated meals, even beef stew.

The design of those meal pouch coozies improved over time (simplified Mark IV version dimensions and construction, Post #14), and some are now double insulated. Reflectix coozies are also handy for serving from pots or pans after they come off the stove or fire.

In terms of food odors I am more concerned with other victuals, cheese, cured meats, my precious peanut butter, and with how “odor-proof” the barrel or bucket in which they are stored.

When I leak tested three blue barrels by pouring a couple gallons of water inside and turning them upside down two of the three poured water out. Not dripped, poured. One needed a new gasket, one needed a new snap ring. They would not have been very waterproof in a capsize, or worse, strapped in the canoe in a pin, and if they leak water they sure as hell leak odors.

I leak tested all of our “waterproof” containers.

https://www.canoetripping.net/forums...iner-leak-test

I was really surprised that the screw-top lab buckets didn’t leak. We had several of those ruined when site habituated squirrels or chipmunks nibbled away at the lids. Eh, in the test I did screw the lids down so tight I needed a hammer to help unscrew them, so that camp nibbleage may have been operator tightening error.

I admittedly had years of untested, misplaced confidence in the blue barrel waterproofieness, much more than in the pails or drums. I’m glad to have discovered the leak issues at home in the shop instead of after a capsize recovery. Such an easy test, and an opportunity to scrub out the barrel if anything ever spilled inside.

FWIW, at home I no longer snap the rings around the lids of the barrels, or tightly screw the lids on the buckets or drums; gasket compression over time is an issue.
 
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This is great information - getting into the finer nuances. I showed Chick the threads on the coozie and she is all over it. I had never thought about splitting up a freeze dried meal. I have always been bothered by the fact the 2 person freeze dried meal is $9 while the 1 person is $8. I have purchased the 1 person but it fundamentally bothered me. Save money and have a better dining experience - win-win. I like to get out before the black flies but the temps do cool the meals too fast. Can't wait to use the coozie!

Re the barrels, I guess I had put my faith in them without ever questioning it. As I go out to wash all the pollen off my boat today I will be adding some barrel experiments! I have both emotions - on the one side if they leak like some of Mike's I'll be pissed I put the money into them, but if they do leak I get to buy more gear with screw top lids. Love buying gear. And that line about the monkey and the football just killed. I might have to use that - tell me where to send the royalties.

Questions -

Just yesterday I was watching some youtube videos on the Missainabi and I see these folks a few days into their trip cooking up eggs/bacon, cleaning fish on their blue barrel lids and canoe paddles, etc. These are things I would never do, and won't in the future, but I have a different perspective now. The videos showed some very well worn portage trails - with the increased traffic on the river would the bears be more habituated now and a bit more of a potential problem? (I really have no problem with bears, it's just my brain works with this statistical side like when the kids were learning to drive - "if you wear your seat belt and don't drive on country roads on the nites/weekends statistically you are safer.........")

What are thoughts on the Bear Vault? I had purchased one some years ago due to the fact you had to have one to camp at Marcy Dam at the time. I have never had any faith it it.

Yellowcanoe you did provide me with a sheepish grin when I read your post about the ADK's not being a wilderness. I agree 100%. In Michigan we didn't have the ability to get any geography that even touched 2000'. When I arrived here the ADK's were a bit imposing. I like to hike at night to watch sunrises from the summit, and while starting my 46 I recall being a bit nervous due to my lack of familiarity with the area (Bigfoot, mountain lions, aliens). That did quickly dissipate, and my search for true wilderness was amped up even more. Now I have to keep going north.

I appreciate the time spent by the posters on this, and other threads. There has been much thought - and time - spent on these by many. But I see the canoeing community as a close knit bunch of folks who truly care. Like most, I have several other hobbies/interests and I spend time on their respective forums, but they are so often reduced to silliness. There are always helping hands here.

Thank you.
 
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Why are you set on the Missainabi? Are you open to other suggestions of routes in a more or less similar area? There is a fair amount of travel on the Missainabi, more so than on many other Crown Land routes.

As for bears, people who live up here are not very concerned. The Crown Land routes we use are very lightly travelled, and if a bear sees you, it is usually running the other way. As previously mentioned, bears are more of a problem in places that humans frequent. Of course, there are always exceptions, but they are rare, and up here if a bear sees you waving a stick in the fire, it is more apt to think you have a gun than a hot dog stick.

I often take triple cold smoked bacon, the kind that comes in one big piece, and carve chunks off every morning to fry up. If a bear wanted to share it with me, he would have to fight me, and I would fight dirty for my bacon.

Nobody hangs their food up here. Usually just put the food barrel a few yards from the tent.

Anyway, if you do consider alternate routes, I have a couple of loop trips you could do, no shuttle necessary, just drive there, paddle and port fro ten days or so and return to your vehicle.
 
G

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I showed Chick the threads on the coozie and she is all over it. I had never thought about splitting up a freeze dried meal. I have always been bothered by the fact the 2 person freeze dried meal is $9 while the 1 person is $8. I have purchased the 1 person but it fundamentally bothered me.

On solo trips I can’t eat a 2-person Mt. House dinner, so I split them in half, use half the water, and augment the half serving with some sides. That is more economical, the wee “sides” make it seem more like an actual meal, and halves leaves me less groaning stuffed and full of sodium. Even with two people, maybe one of person isn’t in the mood for Beef Stew that night. At least you could justify bringing a few of the Zip-locks that way.

A Mountain House side note: I much prefer their breakfast meals. Although I eat oatmeal & dried fruit or cheesy grits & hot sauce for most breakfasts, I pack a couple Mt. House breakfasts for dinner variation, and if I’m really hungry can eat an entire two-person pouch of Breakfast Skillet.

Eh, I like most of their breakfast meals (Oh baby, Biscuits and Gravy, or Spicy Southwest Breakfast Hash); who the hell buys a $6 pouch of “Granola with milk and blueberries”?

I do like the simplicity of the Latremorj suggested fold-inside flap with pre-cut easy tuck angles, and the two inch fold on the base of the Reflectix pouch eliminates having to cut and tape on a separate bottom piece so the coozie sits upright. One minimal waste piece of Reflectix cut to size with tapered flap, tape all the cut Reflectix edges closed while the material is available flat, 2 inches folded in at the bottom to form a flat base, tape the sides closed, done.

I did put little pieces of Velcro on the back of the pouch and backside of the flap, so I could fold the flap held down while eating and not sticking up poking me in the face.

An aside; on sub-freezing off-season nights I put the canteens I carry inside that meal pouch, and put that inside the vestibule. Boiling ice water is a waste of fuel.

P8010002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The pot/pan coozies are almost as easy to make; a lateral strip around the side taped into a cylinder, a circular bottom cover taped on that, and even a separate top cover circle with a little slot for the handle if you like. A guide friend who cooks group meals with clients uses pot coozies on every trip. Folks tip better if their meals aren’t cold.

Even with pot and pan meals it is amazing how much longer stuff stays hot. Hell, I even a made cylindrical one for my un-insulated “oatmeal and grits” mug. That mug is Sharpie marked at 1 and 2 cup levels for rehydration water and the bottom of my insulated coffee tumbler happens to nestle perfectly inside that plastic mug. It also has sentimental value; 1988 Circle K free refill Coffee Club. I really should carry it into a Circle K someday and ask if the offer is still valid.

There is a tape cutting trick to adding circular bottoms. I like the Reflectix foil tape, the acrylic adhesive on that tape is made to adhere to Reflectix foil and has held for years and years without lifting or decaying.

But, for cutting short pieces of tape to wrap around a pot or pan bottom circle and up the side, it helps to cut one end of the tape at an angle, kinda |___\. With that angle the tape goes around the bottom edge and up the side without wrinkling, just place it across the bottom with the angled cut end up the sides. Also, as noted in the how-to description, that Reflectix acrylic tape adhesive gunks up scissor blades faster than any tape I have ever used. Have some acetone and a rag handy to clean the scissors.

You can help Chick by holding the Reflectix tape up while she cuts and applies short |__/ pieces to any circular taped-on pot or pan bottom. Just sayin’.

Re the barrels, I guess I had put my faith in them without ever questioning it.

Me too, and I was kinda “Oh shit” when two of them leaked that badly. A lot of years, a lot of trips and a lot of misplaced waterproof confidence. The word “chagrined” came to mind when the water poured out. Other words too. All of our barrels were bought used, so that probably didn’t help.

Please let us know if your barrels leak. Please have Chick video you if you opt to “Monkey screwing a football” ride the empty barrels in a pond as a leak test.

And, if you ever come across any used Cur-tec wide neck drums, grab them, they are awesome food or etc containers and are made in different sizes and shapes from 1 gallon to 18 gallon.

https://www.curtec.com/en/products/d...ide-neck-drums
 
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My experience with blue barrels is positive. Never had one leak. I store them out in the paddle shed all winter open.. Never closed and clamped. Yes I can see that over time the o ring will squash and deform and admit water. I had one get out of round after 25 years of abuse and it has joined the family of blue barrels (most of larger size ) that we keep filled with sand on our camp roads should someone get stuck in the winter.

My experience with Gamma Seal buckets not so much positive. They have to have an o ring and they have to be threaded correctly. I am the poster child of cross threading. Those CurTek drums look awesome and would fit in my barrel harnesses.

grr. Now I know where all the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet went.. Can't find any online.. the CV pandemic you know. I love it with a soft flour tortilla. But not the entire package.. Half of it. Tortillas are a gift to canoe campers. They seem to never go moldy as they are probably loaded with stuff like hydroxyquinininodododone. oops.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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The Ursacks and Opsacks have captured my attention - it's just I have 2 60 and 1 30 liter barrels with a harness. But I am doing more looking at these. Glenn, out of curiosity, how far to you generally move you food at nite? I know there are many variables but generally how far, and when you move them do you still tie them to a tree or something?

I tie the Ursack to the trunk of a tree, not a branch, about 20-25 yards from my tent. I try to pick a place that doesn't look like it's a trail for big animals. The bear can't bite through the Ursack or rope, but can of course crush the contents. But that shouldn't matter too much when all your food is already-crushed commercial freeze dried meals.

ursack on tree.JPG
 
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Memaquay - thank you for your offer. I may well take you up on that. The Miss came from my youth. My grandfather was a huge influence on my outdoor life. He stayed current on National Geographic's, and I loved reading them with him. I recall him talking about the river and somewhere in there I got it in my head to canoe it. Mother said I was making lists at about the age of seven so I have had this in my head for years. My retirement location is close to Sudbury so it's and easy reach.

I took my three barrels out today, put some water in and flipped them over for about an hour with no leaks.

A few more questions if you please -

For a trip like the Missainabi, doing upper and lower - or any similar length trip, how much space did your provisions require? I 60? More?

Where do you typically keep your water filter and stove? I have usually kept these items - minus fuel - in my barrel just for protection.

On longer trips do you typically carry a back-up stove?

Off the food topic - I have my canoes in my garage on a rack. Should I leave my CCS cover in place on the canoe or take it off? I know it can shrink so I thought about leaving it on.

I have to read through the other threads in more detail - movie nite - but I do have more questions.

Thanks to all so far!! !. .
 
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