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NOLS-Style Rationing

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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby rlown » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:57 pm

NOLS looks great for expedition planning. I tend to go with 2-3 others on trips, communal cooking style. Communal here implies more about sharing fuel and stoves and pots.

Kinda depends on taste and length of trip. Most of my trips are 7-10 days, before the comradery runs out. We anticipate trout where we go, so, that could lighten the load. I'm not sure you have to be communal for breakfast, other than water. Oatmeal or Malt-o-Meal packets fit flat in the can. As for most of us on our trips, lunch is the big meal. Seems to be personal. I like small sourdough rolls, cheese, and summer sausage. Converted most of my cohorts to that so we can agree on some of the fixin's.. Others like nuts and berries, jerky and we share that freely.

Guess i'm missing the point of NOLS except for expeditions outside the Sierra.

Cooking Yeast bread seems really, really silly.



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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby huts » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:10 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Daisy.
I was at NOLS in Wyoming in the early '80's. I recall being told that the amount of leftover food was NOT unusual and that the instructors lived on it between courses. (entirely hearsay, of course)

I do very much agree with the NOLS form of rationing when considering a full-on expedition. It is less costly and allows for a certain amount of creativity. I have met people who can eat the same thing for every meal for the entire PCT but others want more variety. It just seems that the amount of fuel that needs to be carried (we had optimus kerosene stoves in my course) also needs to be considered. And the amount of time involved in preparing meals when almost everything has to be cooked isn't always going to be available.

It is interesting how then use of bear cans has altered food choice! I estimate that more than half of the space in my container(and more than half the calories) is "lunch".

And rlown, yeast bread is real silly, especially trying to get it to rise.
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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:26 pm

I worked NOLS from 1969 to 1975. I did mostly mountaineering courses, including winter mountaineering. They may have added more food in the 80's. We were ALWAYS out of food when re-rationed! Our average student was an 18-year old male - have you ever fed teenage boys? It is like anything else, you do it long enough and you become accostomed to it. Cooking was never seen as a chore; the cook always got to serve - guess who got the biggest helping! Optimus 8R! that was the stove. Heavy! I made many a successful loaf of yeast bread (when we were low enough to have fires). When you are not near civilization for 35 days, the yeast bread is just such a taste treat - so different from regular backpack food.

How correct about the bear cannister and how it has changed how I choose food. Cous-cous and rice vs. macaroni. FD pinapple (less crushable) vs strawberries. Malt-o-meal vs oatmeal. Almonds pack better than walnuts. I now have to sacrafice weight savings for volume savings. Bulk packaging does save a bit of room.

The bulk method saves time up front, but takes a bit more time in the field, if you are using regular food. Say you need 11-12 day's worth of breakfasts. Buy a 28-oz-23-serving box of Malt-o-meal and dump it in a large bag. Count 2 servings for one breakfast, so that's 11 breakfasts. Buy a 15-oz can of raisins, dump in a bag- that's about 1 oz. per breakfast. Fill up a bag with powdered milk. Buy a 1 pound bag of almonds, dump in a bag. Throw 2 sticks of butter in an old peanut butter jar. Have a nice spice kit to add flavor variety, and there's breakfasts. If you want more variety, just half the bags and use two different types of cereal, nuts, or fruit. For a per-meal basis, you need to measure out each portion, mix the cereal, milk, nuts, raisins and put in an individual zip-lock bag, add a shake of salt and spices. Do this 12 times. Now say you had to do this for 10 people. It becomes quite a chore. At outdoor schools, expeditions, boy-scout camps, etc, usually one or a few people are putting together food for a lot of people. Think of bulk food method as the "institutional" method. But when you are talking a week's trip for one person or if everyone does their own food, it does not make a lot of sense.

Interesting how we are all different. I am big on breakfast and dinner and not much on lunch or snacks during hiking.

And those who do not have to worry about cost or bulk, they can just go to REI and pull everything of the freeze-dried food hooks. Not my style, but it certainly can work.
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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby BSquared » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:25 am

Glad to see this topic getting hit again, and thanks SO much, you NOLS-experienced posters! What I decided after using the technique last summer is that for a small group (two in our case) it's really a lot easier to do individual meal planning (at least dinner planning), and that seems to be reflected in the posts. For what it's worth, we seemed to have about the right amount of food overall, though it's hard to tell since our trip got so thoroughly rearranged as we proceeded (for those who didn't see my brief TR last fall, we aborted our original JMT through-hike at Reds Meadow after a week, and then I restarted with a different group, going in via Paradise Valley and finishing at Whitney Portal).
—B²
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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby Tom_H » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:44 pm

Bringing this thread back from the dead.

I worked for a small outfitter in the 70s and 80s. Our director was a graduate of NOLS 39 day mountaineering and expedition course. We typically took groups of 8-16 on trips from 5-17 days and used the NOLS system. One typical meal, Fired Egg Noodles-Ham and Cheeze, required boiling noodles 20 or so minutes, draining them, adding cheeze and rehydrated ham and onions, then sauteing them with butter in a frying pan for 5 or so minutes.

Most of the meals required similar preparation. Just like NOLS and OB (both started or co-started by Paul Petzoldt, a leader of the 10th mountain division in WWII), breakfast and dinner were the only meals, but munchies were consumed throughout the entire day. In food groups of 4, each participant carried various ingredients, 2 Peak 1 stoves, 2 billy cans, 2 frying pans, and 1 Optimus oven. If I were guiding similar groups today, I would not use this system. Modern freeze dried meals complete in the pouch are lightweight, easy and quick to prepare, and require far less weight and volume in fuel.
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cooking from bulk ingredients

Postby Oubliet » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:22 pm

I tend to pack bulk ingredients for backpacking meals.

I recently returned from an 10 day trip on the southern JMT and was able to fit 10 days of food into a Bearikade.

Rather than weigh portions, I tend to "eyeball"the volume of, say, quinoa or rice for x number of meals. I also bring home-dried veggies and sausage to round out the meal. I bring a combination of different spices to impart different flavor for a meal: e.g.. mediterranean (sun dried tomato, olive oil, porcini mushrooms, garlic, &onion bouillon) or Asian flavors (ginger, sesame, soy sauce) or a curry spice combo.


It works very well for me. I save on volume spec and get to fix what my fancy decides when out in the field. I bring a small pot and cook.
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Re: NOLS-Style Rationing

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:42 pm

I now do meal-by- meal planning for myself. I do not do the bulk packaging, but I DO cook from scratch. I am not fond of freeze dried commercial meals. A few of them and I have had it. They play havoc with my digestion. And I think they over salt everything. For people who cook a lot the cooking required by NOLS type meals is not difficult. I like to have a spice kit and start with basics and flavor it differently depending on my mood and make it taste JUST as I prefer. I just finished a 40-day backpack with two resupplys where I walked out and spent 1 day in town. Too much of the same thing will drive you nuts on a long trip. Right now I do not ever want to eat another trail bar! Even when I had pre-packed my meals when the time came I would take out individual ingredients and re-mix with other stuff. I think a lot is what you are used to. I doubt anyone who has not taken a NOLS course would easily adapt to the NOLS method. At my age, I am limited as to how many hours I can hike in a day. I enjoy cooking meals from scratch at the end of the day. It is sort of recreational to me. Husband reads books; I cook.
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