Thursday, 9 April 2020

Useful Links

The recipes on this site are all my own (unless otherwise stated) but many of the techniques and tips on the walking / kit side of things I've gained from other sites.

These are a few well worth visiting:

Outdoors Magic

A great forum full of sane, friendly, helpful people with a world of experience of all things outdoorsy. The ideal place to ask technical or daft questions about kit, techniques or walking routes. They're all kit fiends so can give great advice before you buy and often point you towards a bargain.

A brilliant family business run by Bob and Rose. As the name suggests they sell backpacking gear but only if it's lightweight, quality gear that performs. They design some products themselves and source ethically where possible. Plus you get free sweeties with every order and often a personal phone call to check it all arrived OK.

This small company is run by a bunch of climbers and the basic idea is brilliant. They design the best gear, place an order direct with the factory and then sell it at very reasonable prices. The range is limited and often there's a waiting list for incoming items but that's because the quality and prices are outstanding. For example their 'Gamma' headtorch is the best I've found and it's only £15. Free delivery too.

This is an online shop for bikes and accessories but they do carry some camping equipment. Their prices are good but they also hold the record for UK delivery. 33 hours from click to doorbell - and that was using the free, 'slow' delivery option!


These are great bits of kit. You can pay upto £100 for a brilliant one that will handle anything or get a cheapo one (I paid £27) and use a bit of ingenuity to successfully dehydrate your food.

This my dehydrator from Westphalia (

It has 5 trays to hold the food, a top which includes the 'hairdryer' that provides the hot air which passes down the middle 'hole' and rises back up past the food. As the trays are slotted (it's really designed for dehydrating fruit) I have to use 'baking paper' while the food is wet

The basic idea is the same whatever you pay: you put in 'wet' food, the machine circulates warm air around it removing all the water. When it's done its work you end up with a dehydrated version of what you put in - at roughly 50% of the weight.

This means you can carry far more food for a given weight - a tasty healthy & substantial evening meal can be packed at 150-200 grammes.

To enjoy the food you simply add the required amount of boiling water, let it absorb and then you have fantastic food miles away from home which tastes like it's just come out of your kitchen.

How to dehydrate your food

  • Cook your food at home, allow to cool
  • Weigh a portion of the food in its wet form (ideally stick to standard weights eg 300 gm)
  • Prepare your dehydrator for the food you're going to add - if you bought a cheap one designed for fruit slices then you need to use baking paper or paper plates to hold the food in place in the machine.
  • Dehydrate your food, this can take upto 12 hours, check it regularly and be sure to break up and clumps of food.
  • Get a supply of 'A5' sized zip-lock bags, most supermarkets sell them, you want them to be just big enough for one portion.
  • When the food is completely dry place it in a bag and weigh it again. The difference in the weight is the amount of water that's been removed - 100gm = 100ml of water (apparently this also works in proper UK ounces/ fluid ounces but not US ones).
  • Write a description of the food and the water required to rehydrate on the bag and seal the bag.
  • Place the bagged food in the freezer until you need it, it'll last for months in there.
  • Once out of the freezer your food will stay in perfect condition in your rucksack for at least a week as long as it is kept completely dry.
To rehydrate your food

  • You need a cozy to keep your food warm while it rehydrates. Some people use a fleece jacket or hat but I assume I'll need them as a jacket or hat and prefer a dedicated cozy. These are made from insulating material so allow your food to rehydrate while retaining heat. There are instructions for cozy construction elsewhere on this blog.
  • I use two cozies, a small one and a large one, hopefully the logic of this will become clear. Place the bag of dehydrated food in the small cozy adding the required amount of boiling water. Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bag. Place the small cosy in the larger one.
  • After about 20 minutes (you need to experiment for each dish to find the exact time required) remove the small cosy, open the bag and using the small cozy to protect your hands eat the meal from the heat.
  • Using this method you can have good value, preservative-free, tasty food exactly as you like it with the minimum of in-camp hassle and no dirty pans or plates to wash up.
  • Be sure to dispose of empty bags responsibly

Dehydrated Food - Two Choices

There are two basic choices for preparing dehydrated food:

  1. Cook a batch of something and dehydrate it 'whole'
  2. Dehydrate ingredients and the mix them together to make up the recipe

Both work well. The choice of which to use is really down to the style of food.

Obviously for things like curry and stews then you need to use method 1, the cooking times required are completely impractical when camping.

Method 2 works well with quick-cook items such as porridge or noodles.

You can combine both these methods into your normal shopping / cooking routines; make extra portions of long-cooked items and dehydrate and store in the freezer, pick up seasonal items and/or special offers and dehydrate them, store in freezer and then use to make up portion packs. (I recently bought a load of spring onions and courgettes, sliced / julienned them and stored them to use in versions of the chinese noodles recipe. I also did apples for porridge)

Without major effort you can build up a 'bank' of dehydrated meals with a fantastic selection of recipes. This will easily outshine any commercial range for choice and quality as well as being far, far cheaper.