Backcountry Cooking: Are you prepared?

Estimated Completion Time
4 min
How many calories must a backpacker consume per day to maintain good health?
250 to 600
2,500 to 6,000
A backpacker should consume 2,500 to 6,000 calories per day. That’s 1.75 to 2.5 pounds (0.8 to 1.1 kilograms) of food daily!
25,000 to 60,000

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True or false: A good camping dish serves multiple purposes.
TRUE
True. Cups can be used for drinking, measuring food or liquid and boiling water. Some bowls are collapsible and have a bottom that doubles as a cutting board.
FALSE

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True or false: All camping stoves can easily be carried in a backpack.
TRUE
FALSE
Weighing as much as 85 pounds (39 kilograms), some portable range tops, grills, ovens and smokers are more practical for car campers than backpackers.

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To reduce weight, some backpackers carry a tool that's a combination of two eating utensils, known as what?
knirk
spoofe
spork
A "spork" combines the scoop of a spoon and the stab of a fork either on the same end or on opposite ends of the utensil.

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True or false: Whether a spork is made of plastic, aluminum or titanium, it generally weighs less than 1 ounce (28 grams).
TRUE
The cost varies, though, with plastic sporks priced around $2, aluminum at $7, and titanium at $10.
FALSE

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True or false: Some hikers use sand and gravel to scour their dishes.
TRUE
Sand and gravel can serve as a great, readily-available abrasive for weight-watching backpackers. For more traditional dishwashers, a kit containing soap, a small scouring sponge, a small strainer or bandana, and a dishtowel work just fine.
FALSE

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True or false: When rain threatens your camping trip, it's best to cook in your tent where it's dry.
TRUE
FALSE
Cooking in your tent isn't a great idea given the fire danger, the noxious fumes emitted by the stove and the fact that your tent will smell like food and attract bears. If rain is a possibility, consider bringing a small tarp with which to rig a temporary kitchen shelter away from your tent.

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How do you purify any water you collect?
boil water for one minute, plus an additional minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level you are
filter water with a portable water filter system
use water-purifying tablets or drops
all of these
Experts recommend boiling water to purify it, but you can also use a portable water filter system, tablets or drops.

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The first of these is the heaviest metal used to make backpacking pots and pans, and the second is the most expensive.
aluminum, stainless steel
stainless steel, titanium
Stainless steel and aluminum are the heaviest and the least expensive. Titanium is the most expensive.
titanium, aluminum

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Which is an alternate cooking method if you find yourself without your equipment?
cooking over coals
hot stone cooking
spit cooking
all of these
All of these are survival cooking methods that can be used if you find yourself separated from your cooking gear.
none of these

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What item should you avoid using to wash your dishes while camping?
small scouring sponge
dish towel
regular dish soap
Don't use the dish soap you use at home. Biodegradable camp soap is better for the environment; even so, it should not be used directly in lakes or streams.

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True or false: Backpackers should leave cooking pot lids at home in an effort to lighten their packs.
TRUE
FALSE
Lids will reduce boiling time and are useful for cooking foods like rice, quinoa and couscous.

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True or false: Plastic is the cheapest material from which camping dishes are made, but it's also the heaviest.
TRUE
FALSE
Plastic is the cheapest material, but it's still lighter than stainless steel.

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Which two items are key for preventing food spoilage as well as keeping your pack light?
dehydrator and carbonator
dehydrator and vacuum sealer
Dehydrating and/or vacuum-sealing foods before packing them will help keep food safe and light.
meat grinder and vacuum sealer

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Which is a calorie-dense food?
beans
oatmeal
nut butters
Nut butters are calorie-dense and packed with protein and good fats. Oatmeal and beans are high in fiber but have a low-calorie density.

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Spices weigh almost nothing at all and can kick up your cooking. Which is a must-have?
salt
black pepper
smoked paprika
cumin
all of the above
These four spices, on their own or as a spice mix, are must-haves for making camp food more palatable.

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For more advanced cooking, how many pots and pans should a backpacker bring on the trail?
two pots and one frying pan
Two pots and one frying pan is suggested. Frying pans typically come in 8-, 10-, and 12-inch (20-, 25- and 30-centimeter) sizes, while pots can be found in sizes ranging from 1.5 to 4 liters (1.6 to 4.2 quarts).
one pot and two frying pans
two pots and two frying pans

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Which camping dish are backpackers most likely to leave at home?
plates
Many backpackers prefer to eat out of bowls, but those looking to lighten their load may eat from a cup or even the pot in which they cooked the food!
cups
bowls

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Liquid fuel stoves burn what types of fuel?
white gas, kerosene or alcohol
Liquid fuel stoves burn white gas, kerosene or alcohol. One of the benefits of using a liquid fuel stove is that the fuel it burns is readily available in nearly every corner of the world.
kerosene, alcohol or motor oil
white gas, liquid hydrogen or alcohol

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What three metals are most commonly used to make pots and pans designed to be used on backpacking trips?
aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron
copper, stainless steel and titanium
aluminum, stainless steel and titanium
Backpacking pots and pans are usually made from aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. Pots made from these metals are sometimes coated with non-stick coatings, which can make them easier to clean but prone to damage by harsh abrasives.

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How far away from water sources and your campsite should you wash dishes?
It doesn't matter; it's OK to wash dishes in lakes and streams.
15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters)
150 to 200 feet (46 to 61 meters)
You should be 150 to 200 feet (46 to 61 meters) away from water and your campsite. Keeping this distance will help reduce your impact on aquatic habitat and protect your sleeping quarters from unwanted animal visitors.

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What balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein should you aim for to keep your diet bonkproof?
60-65 percent carbohydrates, 20-25 percent fats and 15 percent protein
To prevent fatigue, aim for a balance of 60-65 percent carbohydrates, 20-25 percent fats and 15 percent protein.
15 percent carbohydrates, 60-65 percent fats and 20-25 percent protein
20-25 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent fats and 60-65 percent protein

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It's important for backpackers to consider the weight of cooking tools. Experts recommend backpackers load packs with no more than what percent of their total body mass?
5 to 15 percent
15 to 25 percent
The answer is 15 to 25 percent. That's 22.5 to 37.5 pounds (10 to 17 kilograms) for a 150-pound (68-kilogram) hiker.
25 to 35 percent

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Compressed gas stoves burn what types of fuel?
butane, butapropane and propane
butane, isobutane and propane
The answer is butane, isobutane and propane. While these types of fuels are lightweight and offer sensitive simmer control, they don't perform well in colder temperatures.
isopropane, propane and hydrogen

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True or false: Foods cook faster over a fire than in your home kitchen.
TRUE
FALSE
Yes, your cooking fire is hot, but it's not screaming hot. Cook your food as if you were cooking it at home, in a 350-degree oven.

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Which is not a type of backpacking stove?
liquid fuel stove
compressed gas stove
liquid-gas hybrid stove
There's no liquid-gas hybrid stove for backpacking. A third type of stove is the solid fuel stove, which burns wood or flammable pellets.

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Which of these is not a factor to consider when choosing cooking tools for camping?
the number of people for which you'll be cooking
the type of food you'll be cooking
the color of the cookware
It really doesn't matter what color your cookware is.

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What's the best way to dispose of soapy water after you've cleaned your cooking kit?
fling it on the ground
Pour or fling soapy water on the ground, preferably on soil rather than on rocks -- and never in a nearby water source.
pour it into the closest water source
treat it with chlorine dioxide tablets

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How many servings of jerky does one pound of meat make?
about eight 1-ounce servings
about six 1-ounce servings
about four 1-ounce servings
One pound of meat will make about four one-ounce servings of jerky.

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When it happens to distance runners, it's known as hitting the wall. What's it called in the backcountry?
hunger knock
hitting the wall
bonk
When you're feeling rundown and out of energy, you're what distance runners would call "hitting the wall." Among backcountry campers, it's known as the "bonk."

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