A Ranger's Pantry

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Greg
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A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Greg » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:42 am

Ever since I organized my trekking tools into the tool roll I've been carrying a few years now, I knew I wasn't finished. I had taken my "kits" from being a pile of bags with separate uses and made them into a single organized package, easily stowable, but the rest of my pack lacked...cohesion. Some of my dry goods were in my horseshoe roll in the 'bean socks' I devised, some were in my snapsack, others in my need-wallet...

In short, despite being perfectly functional, I felt I was a mess. Once again, I wanted ways to carry more, be more efficient, but at the same time cut down on weight. Seems impossible, of course...but I like a good challenge, so here we go!

What I needed was something that could hold enough dry goods for a week, not counting on-the-move food (nuts, bread, cheese, dried fruit, etc.) all in one place, and able to fit in my snapsack. Organized, lightweight, rationed, and filling.

It worked!

What we've got is a walnut-dyed tubular linen drawstring bag with a flat bottom, stuffed from bottom to top with dry goods bags in the order they're most likely to be needed.

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When unpacked, it's stacked like this, from left to right (bottom to top):
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A bag of flour for dumplings, Cookpot (containing a bag of salt pork and a tin of pipe-weed), a bag of Milled Oats for hot breakfasts, a bag of pocket soup to either fortify an evening's stew or to function as a standalone when goods become scarce, a bag of mixed vegetables for soups (chiefly shallots and fingerling potatoes, though others sneak in), a tin-lined Copper Gil cup for measuring/rationing and drinking, and a striped bag containing a tin divided in thirds carrying bay leaves, rubbed sage, and dried thyme seasonings.

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The entire thing fits into my snapsack with room to spare alongside my tool roll, a pair of wool gloves, and a coil of rope. Since it is its own separate entity, I can hang it in a tree to keep it clear of critters if needs be without losing the availability of my snapsack for other tasks. Fully loaded for five+ days of trekking, the quiver, snapsack, and tinderbox all together weigh less than ten pounds. Add to that my bow, cloak, groundsheet, and waterskin (everything that's not hanging on my belt) and I come in at 15.7 lbs carried on my shoulders and/or in my hands, which is less than most modern backpackers I know.
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Elleth » Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:14 am

awesome! Reminds me of Urthgard's setup once upon a time. :)

... do you still keep a couple just-in-case waycakes in your needwallet?
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Greg
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Greg » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:19 am

Elleth wrote:awesome! Reminds me of Urthgard's setup once upon a time. :)

... do you still keep a couple just-in-case waycakes in your needwallet?

Now that this is updated, I want to update that recipe so it's more appropriate for that purpose, so yes.
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Udwin » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:28 am

Wonderful! So compact but no space is wasted. Love it, and wish my own kit could be so pared-down. (Just out of curiosity, what are the approximate dimensions of the stuffed tube?)
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Taylor Steiner » Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:38 pm

Wow looks great Greg! That lasts a week? Outstanding!
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Iodo » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:33 pm

Amazing setup, nice work :P
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Elleth » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:47 pm

Now that this is updated, I want to update that recipe so it's more appropriate for that purpose, so yes.


May I ask what wasn't working? They looked grand from pictures. :)

... not hard/dry enough to keep?

For what it's worth, I've *still* got some bricks of hardtack lying around from a year or more ago - I think from wheat I ground at home, though I imagine store whole wheat wouldn't be any different. It's an awful "rustic" waybread, but it's surprisingly sweet and lasts longer than I have any right to expect.

(though clearly that means I'm not getting out nearly enough not to be using it up. :mrgreen: )
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Greg
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Greg » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:42 am

It functioned just fine...I felt that it wasn't working as per the descriptions. Didn't feel "wafer-y" to me. I just made up a batch of whole wheat hardtack yesterday, rolled SUPER thin, that'll ride in that slot for now, until I think of something better or decide that works well enough.

The tube is approx. 5" in diameter by ~14" long.
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Ruinar Hrafnakveðja » Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:25 pm

What a fantastic set up! I love that it’s a self contained kit. You’ve definitely given me a lot to consider. Though I still can’t believe that this would last you a week! Do you think you can give a rough estimation of the percentage that these rations vs. your separate ready-to-rations make up of your total food? Like is it a 50/50 split, or a 60/40, something along those lines?

Also was wondering if you happened to remember where you found your seasoning tin? I’ve been hunting for a tall cylindrical tin like that but all I’m finding is stuff way too small and flat or unreasonably large. Thanks!
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Greg
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Greg » Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:35 pm

A few things:

First, Here's my seasoning canister.

Next, a few people seem shocked at my going a week with this much food. Allow me to explain and re-iterate a little bit.

Breakfast consists of 1 Gil's worth of hot oats cooked in my pot, which helps sop up the previous night's soup grease, etc. 7 Gil's of oats easily fit into that bag.

Next, for lunch, I largely stick to dry bread, cheese, and nuts...all of which I stated in the Original Post as being carried outside my snapsack so they're more readily accessible. So no, I don't live exclusively out of this bag for a week...it gets help.

For dinner, I make a simple but delicious stew every night using Salt Pork, onions/shallots, potatoes, flour or crumbled hardtack (for dumplings), and seasonings. That sounds like a lot of ingredients, but think about two things: The size of my cockpot, and the size of a typical can of soup at the grocery store.

The two vessels are quite close in size...this is not a large cookpot. This is not a stew with the intent of feeding a family of four...but a single store bought soup can easily fills me to bursting, so the same can (and is) true in the wilds. If I'm still hungry after my stew, I leave the pork in the pot, add more water, and boil it up for extra broth to feel more 'full'. Water goes a long way, and you can never have too much of it on the trail.

How is all of this carried? I use about 1/2 a Gil's worth of flour for dumplings every night, so that's an easy ~4 Gils' worth of flour in that bag. I pre-slive my salt pork (thanks for the tip, Ursus!) which helps ration easily by simply counting slices...2-3 per night is an easy 21 slices for a week, which fits inside the pot for carriage, no problem. Now...Potatoes. That sounds big and bulky. It would be, if I was making a whole baked potato every night...but I'm not. I carry fingerling potatoes that are smaller than a ping pong ball each, and I slice up no more than two into each stew. If I put in more, there's be no room for anything else. 14 tiny potatoes fit into one hand! A week's worth of seasonings fit happily in the patch canister, and I carry my salt separately in my tool roll, though I can go without due to the pork's inherent salt content.


What makes the bag seem so small is our modern perception of how much food we need on a daily basis because of (for example) the size of a burger. I certainly can't carry seven burgers in this bag. Heck, I'd have trouble fitting seven double-doubles in my snapsack if it were empty, and that'd still only cover me for dinners!

...but that's not the point. Calorie-rich foods exist in lightweight packages, and as my good friend Odigan once said "We eat way more than we need, and we can teach our bodies to live on less." Do I starve on my trips? Absolutely not! I eat quite heartily, if I may say so! I've just spent time getting things dialed in.
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Elleth » Fri Feb 21, 2020 3:42 am

Aaaah.... And I just now caught on how you're using the metal pot to keep the greasy bits off of everything else without having to resort to hard-to-clean, impermeable waxed bags that always seem to promise eventual food poisoning.

There's some obvious-after-the-fact wisdom born of long experience I bet!
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Ursus » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:20 pm

Top notch as always Greg!

I’ll second what Odigan said to you about eating less. For what it’s worth Ruinar I also eat much less when on the trail. In fact during the MERS October trek I only cooked one meal which was breakfast on our first morning out. Other than that I tend to eat many small snacks made up of a variety of dried foods measured out in generous handfuls.

Elleth- A good tip for waxed bags that I use is to turn them inside out and give them a good rinse in warm water and then fold them into a foil packet and essentially re-flow the wax in the oven. This is mainly for the bag I carry salt pork in but I’ve yet to suffer any illness to date.
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Greg
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Re: A Ranger's Pantry

Postby Greg » Sat Feb 22, 2020 12:04 am

Elleth wrote:Aaaah.... And I just now caught on how you're using the metal pot to keep the greasy bits off of everything else without having to resort to hard-to-clean, impermeable waxed bags that always seem to promise eventual food poisoning.

There's some obvious-after-the-fact wisdom born of long experience I bet!


I've tried transporting salt pork in various ways, and grease was always an issue. I had it soak clean though dry parchment paper on a weekend trip midsummer a few years back...not fun. This seems to be working well.
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