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March 2021 Issue
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Keeping kai organised

Mesh bags and ultralight dry bags are perfect for organising food. Photo: Matthew Cattin

Keeping food organised in the outdoors will allow you to spend more time enjoying nature, and less time rummaging through your pack.

Like beauty, organisation is in the eye of the beholder. Some trampers use colour coordination, labels and lists while others throw everything in a sack and keep a catalogue in their well-organised mind. Regardless of your style, do what works for you to keep on top of your food – it will save you time, effort and stress.

In the bag
Lightweight bags are an excellent way of organising food, and there are plenty of ways to go about it. I tend to use one large drybag for everything, including my pots, cooker, dinners and a small mesh bag containing breakfast, tea and coffee for those early morning starts. Other trampers like to bring a bag for each day’s food, which makes it easy to count calories and ensure food won’t run out. Keep perishables, bags and packets away from sharp gear to avoid punctures.

Pick your pockets
Depending on your pack design, you may be able to store the day’s snacks in your hip pockets or lid. This allows for easy access on the go, and keeps your snacks separate from your meals – making it easier to organise breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With a little ingenuity, single use plastics can enjoy a second life in your tramping kit. My mum discovered that if you cut two milk bottles in half, and slide the bottom halves together, you can make a container to protect bread. As you eat the loaf, slide the ends closer together to reduce the size. My partner uses two tiny plastic soy sauce bottles from a sushi restaurant to hold salt and pepper. Used chopsticks make good kindling to get a difficult hut fire going, and bubble wrap is perfect for protecting soft fruit and vegetables. Next time you throw out packaging, first consider how it could add to your tramping kit.

Wrangle your waste
The better you organise your waste on the track, the easier it will be to deal with when you get home. Keep your recycling, waste and compost separate, and rinse as much residual food as possible from tins, sachets and bags to prevent odour and mould. If you’re anticipating smelly rubbish, a teaspoon of baking soda will help to neutralise the odour.

Extra hacks for experts

  • Draw measurement lines on your bowls, cups, pots, containers and ziplock bags to help you to make precise measurements of water and food.
  • Silicone squeeze tubes are often marketed as sauce dispensaries, but work equally well for peanut butter or table spreads.
  • Packeted items – like chips and cookies – are full of air and difficult to pack. Make a pinhole in the packet, and squeeze or suck out as much air as possible, then tape over the hole.
  • If you make store bought dehydrated meals in your pot – instead of the packaging – you can reuse the bags for homemade dehy meals.
  • Use beeswax wraps and twine to wrap bread and loaves.