Backcountry Cooking: Are you prepared?


By: Staff

6 Min Quiz

Image: eclipse_images

About This Quiz

Going on a camping trip? Definitely meal plan ahead of time because you don’t want to wind up snacking on fire-roasted squirrel for days on end! Campside food can actually be an enjoyable experience if you pack just the right equipment, seasoning and tools.

If you must survive largely on items you carry in your pack or catch in the wild, choose snacks and foodstuffs that are dehydrated so they’ll fit compactly in your backpack. Such food can be quickly cooked using only water, and will certainly complement that wild-caught fish. Small tins of canned meats, fish and other high-protein foods, as well as carbohydrates like rice are recommended for campers, especially if you plan on a lot of activity, like hiking.

If you are going to be staying in the same spot and it’s not too far from your car you’ll have the luxury of coming with a stocked supply, but be careful to mind storage recommendations. The last thing you want is to attract hungry wildlife to the place where you’re sleeping!

Great camp cooking requires more than a stick and a pack of jet-puffed marshmallows. Take our quiz to see if you've got the tools it takes to move your cuisine from the kitchen to the backcountry.

How many calories must a backpacker consume per day to maintain good health?

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!


True or false: A good camping dish serves multiple purposes.

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.


True or false: All camping stoves can easily be carried in a backpack.

Weighing as much as 85 pounds (39 kilograms), some portable range tops, grills, ovens and smokers are more practical for car campers than backpackers.


To reduce weight, some backpackers carry a tool that's a combination of two eating utensils, known as what?

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.


True or false: Whether a spork is made of plastic, aluminum or titanium, it generally weighs less than 1 ounce (28 grams).

The cost varies, though, with plastic sporks priced around $2, aluminum at $7, and titanium at $10.


True or false: Some hikers use sand and gravel to scour their dishes.

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.


True or false: When rain threatens your camping trip, it's best to cook in your tent where it's dry.

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.


How do you purify any water you collect?

Experts recommend boiling water to purify it, but you can also use a portable water filter system, tablets or drops.


The first of these is the heaviest metal used to make backpacking pots and pans, and the second is the most expensive.

Stainless steel and aluminum are the heaviest and the least expensive. Titanium is the most expensive.


Which is an alternate cooking method if you find yourself without your equipment?

All of these are survival cooking methods that can be used if you find yourself separated from your cooking gear.


What item should you avoid using to wash your dishes while camping?

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.


True or false: Backpackers should leave cooking pot lids at home in an effort to lighten their packs.

Lids will reduce boiling time and are useful for cooking foods like rice, quinoa and couscous.


True or false: Plastic is the cheapest material from which camping dishes are made, but it's also the heaviest.

Plastic is the cheapest material, but it's still lighter than stainless steel.


Which two items are key for preventing food spoilage as well as keeping your pack light?

Dehydrating and/or vacuum-sealing foods before packing them will help keep food safe and light.


Which is a calorie-dense food?

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.


Spices weigh almost nothing at all and can kick up your cooking. Which is a must-have?

These four spices, on their own or as a spice mix, are must-haves for making camp food more palatable.


For more advanced cooking, how many pots and pans should a backpacker bring on the trail?

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).


Which camping dish are backpackers most likely to leave at home?

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!


Liquid fuel stoves burn what types of fuel?

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.


What three metals are most commonly used to make pots and pans designed to be used on backpacking trips?

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.


How far away from water sources and your campsite should you wash dishes?

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.


What balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein should you aim for to keep your diet bonkproof?

To prevent fatigue, aim for a balance of 60-65 percent carbohydrates, 20-25 percent fats and 15 percent protein.


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?

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.


Compressed gas stoves burn what types of fuel?

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.


True or false: Foods cook faster over a fire than in your home kitchen.

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.


Which is not a type of backpacking 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.


Which of these is not a factor to consider when choosing cooking tools for camping?

It really doesn't matter what color your cookware is.


What's the best way to dispose of soapy water after you've cleaned your cooking kit?

Pour or fling soapy water on the ground, preferably on soil rather than on rocks -- and never in a nearby water source.


How many servings of jerky does one pound of meat make?

One pound of meat will make about four one-ounce servings of jerky.


When it happens to distance runners, it's known as hitting the wall. What's it called in the backcountry?

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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