Join Date: Oct 2001
Food & Water
FOOD & WATER
How much you need to eat is a personal decision. Weather conditions, physical exertion, and your experience will dictate how much food is necessary for you. You may find that over 48 hours, you only need two large meals plus snacks. Alternatively, you may need a large dose of calories every 6-8 hours to sustain yourself. While bringing less food has obvious benefits, do not short yourself on the energy you’ll need to operate for the duration of the simulation. Some types of events pose some unique challenges when it comes to food choices. In some situations, you may only stop for a few minutes. Perhaps you’ll need to eat on the move. In the cases that you do end up at rest, how long will that be maintained? Can you be sure you have the 20 minutes it takes to boil water and rehydrate a meal? Can you spare 2 cups of water from your drinking supply?
Things You Should Consider
- The more space and weight that your food occupies, the less room you have to haul other gear. The weight requirements of hydrated food can add up quickly, and should be factored into your pack weight. However, food is consumable. As you eat, you’ll gain that extra room in your ruck. Don’t forget that you’ll need to pack out all your trash. Keep this in mind if you’re considering canned food.
- Personal Needs
- Your experience will always dictate how much and what type of food you personally need to keep up your energy. Consider previous events you’ve attended and how you coped with the activity requirements and the food you ate. If in doubt, packing extra snacks and ready-to-eat (RTE) items is a small space investment but can pay off if you run low on meals.
- Preparation Time
- This is critical. Know that occasions to stop for 30 minutes and boil water to cook food might not happen regularly enough to sustain you. Also consider the possibility of being bumped during this stop. Will you be able to pack up your food and gear quickly and fight your way out or are you going to have to ditch it in place? What resources are you going to lose if you do so?
- Preparation Needs
- Do you need a stove? A pot? Do you need extra water? Have you factored these requirements into your load? A meal that requires extra equipment to prepare is less desirable than one you can simply consume. Do not underestimate how quickly these pieces of gear eat into your weight and space limits.
- Water is critical, but there’s not much that can be done about carrying it. You either do, or you don’t. Your personal requirements will dictate how much you will need, but it could be in excess of 3L a day. You will also need to consider water you may use to cook food, or perform personal hygiene.
- Snacks / Ready to Eat (RTE) / Prepared Food
- These items may consist of energy gels and chews, energy bars, or simple trail mixes. They are very light and take up a small to moderate amount of space, but they require no preparation work or equipment and can be easily eaten on the move in short amounts of time. Additionally, some prepared items like sandwiches may work depending on conditions.
- A single MRE or IMP box contains a meal consisting of multiple food items, accessories like salt and jam, and electrolyte drink mixes and/or coffee. MRE boxes are rather large and heavy, but can be broken down into their components so only necessary items can be packed. In the end, they’ll take up a moderate amount of space. Items are hydrated and ready to eat, however heating them is always an option. Boiling the package in water or using an MRE heater are both valid options but take additional time and resources. Typically the actual food items would be consumed at a halt and not on the move.
- Dehydrated Food
- Backpackers Pantry, Mountain House, and other backpacking meals are one to two servings of food in a very lightweight package that takes up a moderate amount of space. These meals are dehydrated and require you to add boiling water and let the meal sit for up to 15 minutes before consuming.
- Carrying vs. Filtering Water
- Water is heavy. If you’re looking to carry it, bladders and bottles/canteens are your only real option. Bladders have the benefit of being low weight and can change size based on the amount you have left. You also have the option of filtering water. If there are water sources nearby, a good quality filtration system and a few minutes at boiling will remove all of the pathogens. However, filtration and boiling will not remove chemical contamination.
- Snacks with MRE/RTE (Sean)
Food preparation takes time. Boiling water or using heat packs means you're committed to your position. You risk having to lose/ditch all of that kit when you need to suddenly and urgently go mobile.
I choose to use snacks and gels because they can be consumed on the move, and need no time to prepare. The reasons for choosing MREs were similar. While heavier to carry, they did not consume my drinking water and can be eaten cold.
That said, do NOT underestimate the morale boosting power of a hot meal and some coffee. We typically ensure one man in the team is carrying a stove, and each member is encouraged to carry a metal canteen cup so that water can be boiled if the tactical situation permits. I may also carry one larger dehydrated backpacker meal that can be prepared in a base area if one is available.
- Prepared / Fresh Food (Mike)
In regards to food, one of the reasons why I keep breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds in my pocket is because they do last a long time, and they are a morale boost. Boiling water takes a long time, waiting for it to rehydrate takes time, plus you have to carry a stove pot and fuel with you. Why not bring sandwiches that have fillings that won’t wet out the bun and spoil it. Put it in some tin foil and then it’s ready to go immediately.
I like a good high calorie trail mix, perhaps some fruit cups and of course energy food. Even pre-cooking bacon and throwing it in some ziplock bags is a great idea that requires no prep time. The waste from all of these things will cost you grams, not pounds, and it won’t take up much pack space.
"Solving an imaginary world's contrived and over dramatic problems... 6 millimeters at a time."
Last edited by Bravo One-Six; February 3rd, 2016 at 21:52..