Author Topic: Help me with long distance camping  (Read 4127 times)

LonerMatt

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Help me with long distance camping
« on: July 09, 2017, 04:07:07 PM »
So I know that there are a lot of people on this website who are into camping, the outdoors, etc and I'm hoping for some advice.

At the end of next year I would like to walk this trail: https://theaustralianalps.wordpress.com/experience/aawt/ - 600-650km, takes about 6 weeks. It will be summer then, so it will be warm (but not as hot as the rest of Australia at that time due to the altitude).



At the moment I am definitely fit enough to walk 20 km a day for an extended period of time, and have done in the past. But the thing I am not so sure about is preparation: gear, food and training up for the task.

Over the next 18 months I want to spend time hiking and camping on my own so that I can become more proficient. I have a few 3, 4, 5, 7 night camp/hikes planned. So that's the easy part, right, finding smaller hikes to do, but I have some questions that I'd love people's opinions about.

1. Gear recommendations - currently I own some shoes, a backpack (though it's unlikely to be big enough), the requisite clothes, and that's it. So any recommendations for for  tent, sleeping mat, etc.

2. Safety recommendations - what are some reasonable ways to be proactive around safety. There will be snakes, but they are unlikely to be as big a problem as, say, dehydration, potentially twisting an ankle, etc. Are there safety trackers, GPS, or other gadgets that are likely to make a big difference

3. Food recommendations - the trail is 'self-sufficient', so water and food are things I have to carry. There will be drop offs, though how frequent these are I am not sure of yet - reading a few blogs about the trail people drive one way dropping off their food along the way, and hike back picking it up.

Due to the nature of Australia most of the trail is fuel stove only - no fires. It's also possible that there might be some days where stoves are banned due to extreme bush fire danger. What sort of food is viable? Dehydrated? Dry? Something else?

4. Other tips, advice or ideas based on what you guys have done - anything to make the training, or the hike, easier, more doable, etc?

This is very preliminary - I'm mainly looking to better understand my end goal so I can make sure my preparation is as useful as it can be, and so I don't have to buy two or three tools for one job. There are several guidebooks published for this route and I'll get them, permits and licenses needed, etc

Rocketman

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 04:25:19 PM »
Look up ResQLink+ by ACR. Also I would read up on other long hikes. The application trail ,Great Western Trail, plus several. Blogs of people that have done your trail.

Good Luck

Lady SA

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 04:48:20 PM »
Gear: look for a light 1-2 person tent that packs down small. DH and I have a Ledge Sports Scorpion tent that we have been very happy with.
Sleeping pads, look for inflatable ones. DH and I don't like foam as they don't pack down small. We really like ones that come with a bladder thing you whip full of air and squeeze into the sleeping pad. The fully inflatable ones I find are more comfortable than foam and pack down smaller.
Sleeping bag, in the desert it likely gets colder than you think at night. We have two bags that are rated down to 20 degrees, but are also comfortable in warmer weather.
For pillows we use the sleeping bag stuff sack stuffed with clothes or puffy jackets.
We also have a light solar panel and battery that we hang off our backpack when we walk so we can charge phones, headlamps, etc.
Get a good headlamp!!
A proper backcountry camping pack is worth the money.

Safety recommendations: Have a good first aid kit, and we have an old smartphone where we download offline maps of the area we hike and it has GPS on it. We put it into airplane mode/emergency mode and it lasts for a week or more without charging.
The best safety thing you can do is plan a detailed itinerary and figure out periods of time where you can get in contact with people. For instance, when you get close to civilization, there should be a cell signal (research coverage areas along your route). Then make a plan with someone back home on exactly which days you should be getting in contact based on your itinerary and generally where you should be each day. That way, if you don't get in contact as planned, they can contact authorities with a general location where you were last and approximately you should be now. Try to plan to get in contact at least once per week.

Food: we usually get the freeze dried packets of emergency food. All you have to do it boil water, add to the bag, shake, and let sit for a few minutes. We look for sales and often can get boxes of them for less than $2 per serving. We like these because there are no dishes and the mylar bags are resealable after you've finished (great for backpacking in bear country for extra protection). That does require a stove to boil water, however, so I have no tips on alternative food to eat when stoves are a no-go.
We have a few anti-microbial sporks (spoon + fork + knife) that we bring along to eat all our meals.
A few weeks before a trip DH and I get fruits from the supermarket to dehydrate and add to a trail mix, just because we like fruit (apples, bananas, berries, peaches, nectarines, etc)
Raw nuts are extremely good trail food - they are full of nutrients and fill you up. Cashews and Almonds are great.

Other: When backcountry camping, all you get is what you can carry on your back, so prioritize light equipment that packs small. Your biggest things space-wise will likely be your sleeping bag and tent, so everything else needs to also fit into your pack. Often packs can squish down on your back if it isn't all the way full, but you can't add more stuff to a smaller bag. Especially as a single person, I'd get a larger bag because you'll need to carry everything yourself instead of being able to share the load with others in your group.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 05:09:48 PM by Lady Smartass »

lentil

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 09:26:56 AM »
Eighteen months is plenty of time to train and plan! Good that you're thinking ahead, and it looks like a fabulous hike. I definitely think some shorter multi-day hikes are going to be important to help you shake things out.

Quote
1. Gear recommendations - currently I own some shoes, a backpack (though it's unlikely to be big enough), the requisite clothes, and that's it. So any recommendations for for  tent, sleeping mat, etc.

My suggestion is to visit some outdoor stores near you and "try on" their tents, and other gear. You're looking for the lightest tent (lightest everything, really) that you can possibly find, but factors like ease-of-setting-up play a role too. The suggestion to read blogs from other long-distance hikers is a good one too -- most people list their gear in obsessive detail, so lots of highly specific recommendations out there. A small pack is actually good, if you can find gear to fit it, as the lighter you can make your loaded pack, the better. If you do decide to buy a new pack, try it on fully loaded so you can get a good idea of fit before buying.

Quote
2. Safety recommendations - what are some reasonable ways to be proactive around safety. There will be snakes, but they are unlikely to be as big a problem as, say, dehydration, potentially twisting an ankle, etc. Are there safety trackers, GPS, or other gadgets that are likely to make a big difference.

Be sensible, carry good maps (and know how to use them), learn about water sources ahead of time, and consider taking a wilderness first aid course if you have one available (maybe an orientation or general safety course too, even if it covers things you already know). Is there a trail association for this hike? If so, join it, and ask about recommendations for further safety precautions and rescue protocols. Having a contact off-trail who knows your itinerary, won't panic if you're late by a day or two, but also knows who to call if you're later than that, is a good thing too. A lighter pack reduces your risk of injury overall too.

Quote
3. Food recommendations - the trail is 'self-sufficient', so water and food are things I have to carry. There will be drop offs, though how frequent these are I am not sure of yet - reading a few blogs about the trail people drive one way dropping off their food along the way, and hike back picking it up.

Due to the nature of Australia most of the trail is fuel stove only - no fires. It's also possible that there might be some days where stoves are banned due to extreme bush fire danger. What sort of food is viable? Dehydrated? Dry? Something else?

Lots of long-distance hikers go stoveless, which you might try out for one of your shorter hikes to see what you think. Saves time and (usually) weight, although it's not for everyone. You can rehydrate plenty of things with cold water, or opt for things like peanut butter burritos.

Backpacking food is fundamentally a question of calories. Over time, you will burn far more calories than you can carry, and after a couple of weeks of hiking, this caloric deficit tends to show up as an insatiable appetite (AKA "hiker hunger"). Your shorter training hikes really won't give you any idea what this feels like, at least not in my experience. So, for food, I recommend getting really obsessive about calorie/weight ratios, looking for foods you think you'll find palatable that pack a lot of calories/ounce, and then being prepared to adjust somewhat as you go. How much you have to carry at a time depends on the distance between your resupplies, and the exact menus probably depend on whether you're stashing resupplies ahead of time or planning to restock at local shops.

Everyone has a different system for food. What works for us on long hikes is to pack daily rations -- that is, not just having a bunch of bars and eating one when I'm hungry, but knowing that we each have precisely three bars/day (or whatever); instead of a huge bag of trail mix to snack from at will, we have one smaller bag per day, and so forth. It helps me get enough calories during the early days, when I actually struggle to eat enough (not everyone has this problem, but my stomach usually goes on protest for the first 4-6 days of a backpacking trip), and then later, it helps prevent us from eating all our food in one sitting. It also helps prevent us from eating all the "best" foods first and then having to eat nothing but raisins for the second half of each leg, and lets me pack in "treats" that vary from day to day...you'd be shocked how happily I can hike just knowing that I have something slightly different to go with dinner that night!

Logistically, it sounds like you need to research the question of trash options. Even packing carefully, there's some inevitable trash (more so if you  pack out used toilet paper, which is often a good thing to do), so figuring out a way to get rid of trash while picking up your resupplies is usually good. Trash stashes need to be animal-proof too, of course, so they're still there when you go back for them!

Quote
4. Other tips, advice or ideas based on what you guys have done - anything to make the training, or the hike, easier, more doable, etc?
Unlike on shorter hikes, you will probably want to plan for occasional rest days, where you hike zero (or very few) miles. Especially for the second half of your hike, as your body really starts to feel the stress. There's a strong mental component to long hikes, and not a lot of distractions, so be aware that low days and emotional swings are probably inevitable. But I think a lot of that is just something you experience and figure out on your own, and it probably varies a lot by person.

I'm glad you say you already have shoes. Comfortable footwear is a necessity, and way too many people get talked into boots (full disclosure: I hate boots). If you have a pair of boots you love, that you've hiked hundreds of miles in, and that treat your feet well, then by all means hike in them, but don't rush out for boots otherwise! Most long-distance hikers wear trail runners. I usually hike in sandals, including on some long trails, and it works great for my feet. Hiking with happy feet is the very best.

I think planning for an adventure like this is half the fun, so enjoy yourself!

apricity22

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 11:09:52 AM »
You typically can't carry as much water as you will need. Water is heavy! Make sure that you know where water is available along your trip so you can refill as needed. Get a water purifier so you don't risk getting sick out there.

I think the gravity water filters are the easiest to use although they don't work so great when all you have access to is a spring with just a small trickle:

https://www.rei.com/product/849794/platypus-gravityworks-water-filter-system-kit-2-liter
https://www.amazon.com/Platypus-GravityWorks-Water-Filter-System/dp/B00G4V4IVQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499705775&sr=8-2&keywords=gravity+water+filter

This is a good product that is cheap for your personal drinking needs:

https://www.amazon.com/LifeStraw-LSPHF017-Personal-Water-Filter/dp/B006QF3TW4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1499705891&sr=8-2&keywords=life+straw
https://www.rei.com/product/860034/lifestraw-water-filter

Here is a hand pump water filter. This take more effort than the gravity system I posted above but they do work better if you don't have a nice stream or pool of water to scoop water out of:

https://www.amazon.com/Katadyn-8018273-Hiker-Pro-Microfilter/dp/B002CN82V2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499705971&sr=8-1&keywords=katadyn+pump+filter
https://www.rei.com/product/830746/katadyn-hiker-microfilter

You can also always boil your water too. I usually do that for water that I cook with although when I am carrying the gravity filtration system I will usually filter cooking water since it is so easy to filter larger quantities of water with that product.

Backpacking is similar to living a frugal life, each person is going to choose which luxuries are important to them and which to forgo. For me one luxury item I throw in my backpack is a Kindle because I love having access to a great book when I'm out on the trail. The Paperwhite versions have a long battery life that will last most trips but I also have a solar charger that can be used for GPS, camera/phone, Kindle etc.

LonerMatt

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 03:02:38 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone. There's a lot to digest and a lot more to research.

Keep the advice coming!

bognish

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 08:56:53 AM »
I don't know anything about this trail, most of my backpacking has been in the US. For planning purposes I think it would be useful to get an estimate for how far you need to walk each day and how long it will take you. For your training trips try and match that distance and pace. I pack a lot differently if I am only covering a short distance per day or if its mostly flat than if I am covering a lot of ground and walking from dawn to dusk. After a few long hard days I am only sleeping, cooking or eating when I have stopped. Books & gadgets turn into dead weight after a few big hills.

LonerMatt

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 03:41:39 PM »
Thanks bognish.

I'll have to get the guidebooks pretty soon to better plan my training.

My initial though is to start by buying some of the gear, then do a bit of training, then buy a bit more to do longer training. The thing is the training will be infrequent (once every month or two), with only a few bigger trips to 'really' prepare.

human

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 05:31:03 PM »
Those water filters are old school go sawyer squeeze or steripen.

You need to check out backpackinglight for gear and pay the five bucks for the forum.

For gear my reccomendations are tarptent for a tent and zpacks for sleeping bag (or tent as well but super pricey).

desk_jockey

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 08:30:29 PM »
Here is a blog that I've enjoyed: walkingwithwired.com

Before or after most of her long hikes she does a review of the equipment that you might find of use.  Check out her Hayduke trail hike for a hot, self-supported hike with limited water.  In 2016 she also did some Australia hikes that could give you ideas (haven't read those yet).

fx

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 11:41:47 PM »
Sounds like it'll be an awesome trip. Am keen to hike in kosciuszko national park at some point - tho not sure about the whole 600k ;-)

Re. Safety: the bushwalking tips on the link below are all the usual good advice, plus definitely recommend taking a personal locator beacon with you

http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/community_issues/crime_prevention/trek

Consider that hiring kit is an option if you cant decide what to buy: I hiked the overland track in Tassie a few years ago and hired a tent/cooking gear/locator beacon then. I have since bought a (much lighter, smaller) tent. I liked the trangia cooking gear I had hired, so bought a set for myself.



MoonLiteNite

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2017, 02:34:12 AM »
At the moment I am definitely fit enough to walk 20 km a day for an extended period of time, and have done in the past. But the thing I am not so sure about is preparation: gear, food and training up for the task.
Do not overestimate your hiking speed on day hikes. Doing them back to back hikes can slow you down alot, and the landscape maybe harder. So i think they say a good rule of thumb is 65% of your day hiking speed should be your planned average speed while on a distance hike.
If you have no time frame that you MUST complete the trip, then no worries, but if you have to get back to work or something, you might want to tack on another 2 weeks of vacation time.

1. Gear recommendations - currently I own some shoes, a backpack (though it's unlikely to be big enough), the requisite clothes, and that's it. So any recommendations for for  tent, sleeping mat, etc.
Figure out how much weight you want to carry, then start adding up your gear. Before you buy anything try and plan it all out. There are a few good free sites that help with that stuff. https://lighterpack.com/
Depending on how cold/hot it gets a thermo pad will save your butt. So i would get one, 3 basic types to pick. You can easily good thermo pads and find info  on the 3 main types and figure out which one is best for you.
As for a test, i love the Big Agnes Bitter Springs UL 2 Tent (the two person is very roomy for 1 person!)
Backpack, i actually use an old heavy one, NOT meant for long trips but i too cheap to buy a better one.


2. Safety recommendations - what are some reasonable ways to be proactive around safety. There will be snakes, but they are unlikely to be as big a problem as, say, dehydration, potentially twisting an ankle, etc. Are there safety trackers, GPS, or other gadgets that are likely to make a big difference

EYES! Your eyes and ears will help the most for the critters.
Being in aussie i guessing a firearm is a no go? For me an extremely light firearm, under 1kg, is normally brought along. But if not, then a decent knife and peperspray (also helps with the bears in the states)
For dehydration, i have only done long distance hikes where water is "normally" found at least every 50km (generally close to 20km) so just carry enough water for 2 days to be safe. I am a HUGE fan of Sayer's filters! So if you have sources of nasty dirty water, that is water!
GPS i use an etrex 20, battery life is about a day if left on, and can store TONS of tracks, has decent screen, and is very tough.
There are the satiliate GPS systems that can do SMS, even phone calls, and they all do the 911 thing where they can send out a signal. Those generally have a high price and monthly fee.
And i carry a very very basic first aid kit, stuff to safe my life, not to make me feel better :D

3. Food recommendations - the trail is 'self-sufficient', so water and food are things I have to carry. There will be drop offs, though how frequent these are I am not sure of yet - reading a few blogs about the trail people drive one way dropping off their food along the way, and hike back picking it up.
Due to the nature of Australia most of the trail is fuel stove only - no fires. It's also possible that there might be some days where stoves are banned due to extreme bush fire danger. What sort of food is viable? Dehydrated? Dry? Something else?
I became a HUGE fan of dehydrated food, super easy to cook at home, and they compact like crazy! There are also pre-made dehydrated food you can buy online, but the "meals" are 7-15$ (USD) each, very high price. I also generally only do long hikes where there is a store or a public road at least every 50km. So i can easily hitchhike into a town and get more food.
Instant potatoes, and oatmeal are also very good, high cals, lightweight and just need to add water.


4. Other tips, advice or ideas based on what you guys have done - anything to make the training, or the hike, easier, more doable, etc?

Work out smaller trips then work your way up! Planning is key, and having a good path of where to get your water supplies and food at.
I didn't really look at your trial, but having "pickup" points where a friend can mail you your food packets is also pretty cool!
Do not worry about smelling good, or how you look. You will smell! Just stay clean on the medical side of things. Keep teeth cleaned, do not let stuff grow, etc...
And final thing, here is my little list of possible gear while i was buying up for my future OREGON section hike of the PCT later this year.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vOLj0uYKxB9wFqsKFK9aRRmP07Bt7jCGLt_tp_xEWHw/edit?usp=sharing

edit:
After reading some other comments.....
Poles are super nice once you get used to using them, they take the load off your feet by like up to  30% (think that is what i read) and you will be able to go alot more before getting sore.
Another one to save on weight, poles can be used instead of normal tent poles! Super handy :D You can see that in my gear list ideas in the link above
Also having a good real map is needed, and know how to use it properly. A GPS device can fail.... get lost or destroyed.
Solar panel chargers are NOT pratical if you are in a hurry, or in any type of shaded area.

edit2:
Following someone's video blog of a long distanct hike helped me know what types of things to think about. One of the ones i watched a while back was this lady.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSWTjQ0p3nU&list=PLXiz2lWve6AK4uaerP03vXav_HMs1YG6X
This is the AT in USA.

And currently she is in the middle of hiking the PCT, so the playlist is not completed yet, i think last video she actually had to get off the trail for some reason (i am a few videos behind)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9cv1hsggzA&list=PLXiz2lWve6ALxbJ3nURBtwQAnrbi9lLHN
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 02:46:03 AM by MoonLiteNite »

deborah

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 03:09:31 AM »
Have you walked any parts of the track? I have skied along it around the southern end (Baw Baw) and Howitt and done the trip from Hotham to Falls Creek a few times (both walking - summer - and skiing - winter). It's pretty exposed in a lot of places. That area sees fires quite regularly in summer. But it's glorious scenery!

Capt j-rod

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 05:40:19 AM »
I left the tent behind years ago and switched to a warbonnet ridge runner hammock. I literally will never sleep on the ground again... If there are trees on your route I would seriously consider it.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 06:32:50 AM »
I agree with scheduling some rest days or lighter days.

On your practice runs, after you get back, review everything you haven't used as you take it out of the bag. You don't necessarily need to get rid of it (like first aid!) but just check the usefulness vs weight.

I reduced the weight of my tent and sleep system until I struggled to sleep; then I hiked an extra day and slept fine the next night.

Don't be alarmed if after a while your thoughts get kind of ... intense. The solitude can do that.

Remember that you can put non-food consumables in your pick up packs too. Sunscreen, plasters, underwear, socks, battery packs if you are taking tech, maps for the next section.

GreenSheep

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 02:06:59 PM »
Regarding food... call me crazy, but after a while I start to crave fresh vegetables. One way to help with this is to grow sprouts as you hike. Attach a jar (preferably plastic, for obvious reasons) with a screened lid (make your own with actual screen or cloth, or buy a plastic "sprouting lid" online) to the outside of your pack so it can get sunlight, and grow some broccoli (or other) sprouts in there. They grow fast, so you'll go from seeds to fresh, crunchy greens in a few days. If you don't eat all of them at once, they'll keep growing for several days, and then you can start over once you've eaten them all. Or have two jars going at once, depending on your gear weight desires. Makes a nice addition to all the dehydrated food you'll likely end up eating.

Cookie78

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2017, 02:13:11 PM »
Awesome trip! I don't have any advice, just posting to follow because I want to do some similar trips in the next few years post-FIRE. :)

ChinoLawyer

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2017, 02:24:52 PM »
I like to read https://thetrek.co/.  It is a website devoted primarily to thru-hikes.  Most of it is on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, but there are articles on European trails, etc.  Has gear review articles and Hiker's chosen Gear Lists.  Even a suggested Gear List for the AT and PCT which might be helpful.  Nutrition Guides as well.  Good Luck.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 03:56:38 PM by ChinoLawyer »

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Help me with long distance camping
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2017, 08:21:23 PM »
Regarding food... call me crazy, but after a while I start to crave fresh vegetables. One way to help with this is to grow sprouts as you hike. Attach a jar (preferably plastic, for obvious reasons) with a screened lid (make your own with actual screen or cloth, or buy a plastic "sprouting lid" online) to the outside of your pack so it can get sunlight, and grow some broccoli (or other) sprouts in there. They grow fast, so you'll go from seeds to fresh, crunchy greens in a few days. If you don't eat all of them at once, they'll keep growing for several days, and then you can start over once you've eaten them all. Or have two jars going at once, depending on your gear weight desires. Makes a nice addition to all the dehydrated food you'll likely end up eating.

I never heard of doing this.... i guess if you got a lightweight can for it, it may be some fun weight to bring!