Well, lots of folks are heading out for the trails this weekend. Which reminded us of this excellent and totally not useful guide to food storage. Enjoy – Ed.
So you’ve planned a long trip. So long, in fact, that you can’t carry all the food you need for that many days in the backcountry. You need to put together a food cache, and come up with a strategy for how you’re going to get it to where you’ll be when you are near running out of your first food supply. Here are a few tips on how to do it right:
Keep it light: If you’re in a position where you’re caching food, obviously weight is a big concern. Consider limiting your food cache beer supply to ten beers per person per day.
Paper bags are the most environmentally friendly container for your food cache. Consider using paper or other biodegradable materials to transport and store your food cache.
You can weatherproof your eco-friendly cache container by smearing it with apple butter, bacon grease, or deer blood.
When depositing or burying your food cache, take a look around. If you see a bear nearby, take a picture and post it on Instagram. People love bear pictures. Don’t worry about the food cache. Bears are more trustworthy than people when it comes to food. Same goes for pine martens and most other wild animals.
Instead of leaving your food cache out in the wilderness for days or weeks while you complete the first part of your trip, give it to someone to deliver to you at a predetermined rendezvous point. For instance, your old friend Larry, who is chronically late, forgets his own kids’ birthdays, and couldn’t navigate his way out of his garage without a GPS app. Give Larry something to do to make him feel useful/part of the team. Trust Larry.
Lots of people use a GPS to mark the location of their food cache so they can easily find it later. Well, this is adventure, and nothing should be easy. Don’t use a GPS. Instead, just try to remember where you placed your food cache. For example, “near a tree in the forest around Mile 48 or 49,” or “under a rock near where I estimate we’ll be on Day 7 or 8 if we don’t have any bad weather.”
If you’re burying your food cache in snow, don’t mark it with anything. People don’t want to see a bunch of wands or sticks marking up a pristine white landscape. If you must, build a small snowman to mark the location of your cache, but no higher than 18 inches.
You’re not going to see your food cache until around Day 7 of your trip or later, and you’ll be hungry. Make sure you put lots of high-calorie, tasty foods in your food cache. Raw meats like bacon and sirloin steaks are great. We didn’t claw our way to the top of the food chain eating granola!
But make sure to also put some fresh fruit in there with the steak. You don’t want to get scurvy out there, do you? Strawberries, watermelon, and pineapple can make great, refreshing treats after you’ve gone without them for a couple weeks.
If you’re mailing or shipping your food cache somewhere, like a U.S. Post Office or general store somewhere along one of our country’s great long-distance trails, don’t worry about paying extra for things like “delivery confirmation” or “tracking.” Getting your package to its destination on time is their job. It’ll be fine.
After a week or more in the backcountry, you may have experienced a very weak cell phone signal, or a total lack of cell phone coverage–which means you can’t look at Facebook or Instagram. To remedy the crushing boredom of an off-the-grid nature experience, consider packing some entertainment in your food cache, as a reward for making it through the first several days of your trip. Hardcover books, jigsaw puzzles, or a board game like Settlers of Catan can help you pass those hours out in the wilderness when you can’t access the Information Superhighway and have nothing to look at but sunsets and the the glassy surface of calm alpine lakes.
But seriously, folks, proper food storage ain’t no joke. We like these options
The Bear Vault BV500 is popular for a reason — reliable, durable, you can see your food. There are reports out there that in some zones bears have figured out how to open these, but we’ve never had any trouble with them. $80
If you prefer to hang your food, the Ursack Major is our go-to.
We’ve heard very good things about the Frontiersman Bear Safe, but haven’t tried one ourselves. $70.
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar