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Dehydrating Camping Foods

Pre-packaged meals can be expensive, and may not meet your dietary needs. Making your own is easier than you think

FOOD: a long distance backpacker’s or camping enthusiast's best friend! It provides nourishment, energy, warmth, and comfort after a long, gruelling day on the trails. Pre-packaged backpacking meals can be purchased, but they are expensive, and may have preservatives, chemicals, additives, and other ingredients that may not meet your dietary preferences. The best solution? Make your own! It’s easier than you think. Here’s how.

REQUIRED TOOLS:
  • Food dehydrator
  • Food scale
  • Parchment paper
  • Ziploc bags (large, heavy- duty freezer type with areas to write on the front)
  • Backpacking stove and pot
  • Your favourite recipes, cooked and prepared – sauce based meals like chili, stew, spaghetti, soup, or casseroles work best. The beauty of this is that you can custom design your meals to any specification: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. Try vegetarian chili or home-made mac and cheese.

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Take a pre-dehydrated weight: using the food scale, weigh a serving for one person of your cooked and prepared meal before you dehydrate it. Be sure to factor out the weight of the bowl or container the meal is sitting in. This will give you a base weight so you can calculate how much water will be needed to re-hydrate your meal on the trail. 


     
  2. Place your home made meal in the dehydrator: place the meal on the dehydrating tray lined with parchment paper. This will prevent liquid and small pieces from falling through the tray. Spread the meal in a thin and uniform layer to ensure even dehydration. 
     
  3. Dehydrate overnight or until dry: follow the instructions of your home dehydrator. A fully dehydrated meal should be brittle, and easy to break away from the parchment paper. It should be free of any moisture. If necessary, dehydrate an hour or two more until completely dry. 


     
  4. Take a dehydrated weight: place the dehydrated meal in a Ziploc bag and using the food scale, weigh the dehydrated meal. The difference in weight between the pre-dehydrated and dehydrated meal is the amount of water you will need to add. With a permanent marker, write on the Ziploc bag, the contents of the bag and the amount of water to be added. 


     
  5. Rehydrate your meal on the trail: place the dehydrated meal and the required amount of water into a pot and heat on your backpacking stove. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Test a spoonful to check if it is fully hydrated. 


     
  6. Enjoy!
 
Tips and Tricks:
  • Be sure to test a few recipes out at home first. You don’t want an epic FAIL on the TRAIL!
  • One fluid ounce of water weighs roughly 1.043 dry ounces. For most recipes, it is sufficient to use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Add an ounce or two of extra water if you would like to simmer the meal for an extra few minutes.
  • Store dehydrated meals in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
  • You can pre-soak your meal to save fuel and reduce cooking time.
  • Instead of Ziploc bags, use the foil packages from previously purchased meals that have been brought home and thoroughly washed.
  • Dehydrate your leftover weekday meals and tuck them away in your freezer for your weekend adventures.

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Heel Striking For Runners - How Bad Is It?

It has been reported that up to 95% of all runners instinctively strike the ground with their heel first. Meanwhile, running experts and shoe companies have been pushing hard for change for quite some time, proposing with vigour that mid-foot and even fore-foot striking is the better way to go. Their

argument goes that by landing further forward on the foot, it decreases landing loads on muscles, joints and tendons, and in the process makes you a more efficient and faster runner. Some claim that we have become overly reliant on cushioned shoes that brace our impact to the point that we no longer recognise the damage of landing heel first.

Despite these assertions, there exists no hard proof that mid-foot/fore-foot striking reduces injuries. What is true is that some people, often high-level runners, naturally land on the mid-foot (they tend to be “biomechanically perfect, with wide forefeet, neutral arches, and flexible calves”) but the larger issue is the conversion of natural heel-strikers to try to alter their landing pattern. Anecdotal evidence suggests that inexperienced runners attempting to make this change often develop injuries such as Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Fasciitis and, in some cases, even metatarsal stress fractures.

In fact, studies have shown that recreational runners are more efficient striking heel first. The results of one study confirmed that walking with a heel-first strike pattern “reduced the metabolic cost of walking by 53%.” This, in large part, demonstrates why slower runners usually make initial contact with their heels.

As well, most recreational runners clearly stated during research that heel-striking is more comfortable than mid/fore-foot striking and video evidence showed that the transition to minimalist footwear by this group of runners did not significantly alter their strike patterns.

The fallout is that contrary to what many ‘experts’ suggest, heel striking is safe and, for many, a more efficient way to run. 95% of runners can’t possibly all be wrong.