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Sodium considerations and pack weight

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  • Sodium considerations and pack weight

    I’m looking at attempting the NPT this fall again. While the hike itself isn’t what I’m looking for information on, its pack-able meals with lower sodium than the freeze dried commercial ones that range from as low as 65mg for a breakfast granola to 930 and more for anything with meat in it.

    Sodium in general is not to concerning as long as we keep it below the rda of 2300mg, which is still A LOT.

    I need to take into consideration lower amounts as now I only have one kidney, and I cannot afford to impact its functionality.

    So for those with one kidney, or those who are vegan, vegetarians, I’d like to know your workarounds and what you have done to keep the sodium down, and weight of your meals.

    I am also interested in those who also take into consideration these benchmarks regardless of health concerns or preferences.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Craig; 07-08-2020, 08:59 PM. Reason: typos
    If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled ~ Red Skelton

  • #2
    Have you considered foil packs of tuna and salmon?
    They're one of my favorite go-to's when hiking. It's good for you and lightweight.
    The flavored ones are great for mixing it up and they also fall well below 2300 mg threshold.


    • Craig
      Craig commented
      Editing a comment
      I've actually used them, and some are quite good. I smear them in a flavored wrap.

    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Yup wraps work very good. I bring small mayo packets with me when I make them.

  • #3
    I have a friend who's son at one time worked several years planting trees in Alaska. The crew he was with had to bring along their food as the jobs were very remote.

    His diet consisted of a lot rice, had a big spice kit. We hiked with him in Denali one summer and his cooking tasted pretty good.

    I took a Knorr Rice Side backpacking and it was OK. Put into coffee mug, pour in boiling water, wait 15 min. Not exactly the same as the microwave version but OK.
    Not low sodium though. But I did check Minute Rice both Potassium and Sodium are Zero. I'm going to check it out. MInute Rice + Boiling water and see how it does.

    Because of Sodium in the commercial dehydrated dinners one my hiking partners is going to experiment with a dehydrator.



    • mastergrasshopper
      mastergrasshopper commented
      Editing a comment
      rice, wraps, pita pockets
      pre cooked rice meals throw out sodium flavor packs and add own spices and get large pack of freeze dried peas to add more vegetables.
      used to back pack in to base camp with avocados in bubble wrap
      also I'm a fan of tuna packs

    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      One of my hiking partners brings original oatmeal. I checked package. Zero sodium. Has potassium at 1 mg per every calorie.

    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      I tried the minute rice. Fill mug 1/2 with minute rice. Top off mug (to near top) with boiling water. Wait (not sure I got sidetracked) something not more than 20 min. Ready to eat.

  • #4
    Meat is overrated.
    For a short backpacking trip you may switch to a diet with a lot of cereals, bread, powdered milk, low sodium cheese, dried fruits, nuts, etc.


    • Yury
      Yury commented
      Editing a comment
      Store bought roasted nuts may have added salt.
      My favorites are home roasted pecan nuts.

  • #5
    Natural Peanut Butter has no Sodium or Potassium.


    • CatskillKev
      CatskillKev commented
      Editing a comment
      One ounce of raw peanuts, has, I read, 5 milligrams of sodium and 200 milligrams of potassium.
      Last edited by CatskillKev; 07-10-2020, 06:50 AM.

    • Old Hunter
      Old Hunter commented
      Editing a comment
      Kev if that is correct then it pays to read the label as always since the natural pb I have says none.

  • #6
    I would look at borrowing (or buying) a dehydrator. Then you can prepare a whole variety of foods the way you want.


    • #7
      I've been carefully considering this interesting question for a couple days now while I construct my reply. As a classically trained chef and a backpacker it is of particular interest to me.

      Some real good advice has already been given. Rice is, as has been already mentioned a couple times, a very versatile option. Try to avoid the packaged varieties that come with seasoning pouches and just stick to buying the bulk bags of plain rice. Similarly, avoid the instant rice products that tout a 3 or 5 minute cooking time and any of the real hard rices like brown or sushi style unless you want to simmer rice in the woods for 45 minutes. Plain white converted rice can be made in about 20 minutes and still contains most of the nutrients that you are looking for. Supplementing it with your own seasonings and your own desired level of sodium content give you a lot of flexibility with just one product. Adding in things like dehydrated peas, corn, carrots, or freeze dried chicken, shrimp, (or TVP) gives you quite the list of possible options.

      A food dehydrator (a good one) is going to be the best option for expanded backcountry menu choices. In particular dehydrated macaroni products that you already cooked then put in the machine to dehydrate work extremely well. Much like the rice situation, the possible combinations of things you can put with dehydrated cooked pasta is only really limited by personal taste and choice. Macaroni products like Ziti, Rigatoni, and Penne seem to work better than noodle products like Spaghetti or Linguini. Elbows work real good too. You can toss in a handful of the dried peas with a tuna pouch and water and cook up tuna noodle "casserole" (cook it with some water and Nido). You can also dehydrate a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and make 3 or 4 meals with that. All very simple things you can do when starting out with the dehydrator so you don't get ahead of yourself on the learning curve.

      Other random items that you may or may not wish to work into your meal planning but which work well on the trail are:

      -Quick Oats (much like the rice and pasta, very customizable)
      -Butter (a pound in a ziplock goes a long way, stir it into your oats your hot chocolate, your coffee even.)
      -Nestlé's Nido (powdered whole milk)
      -Pitas, Sandwich Wraps, Naan Bread
      -Hard Cheese
      -Dried Fruits/Nuts
      -Tang Powder
      -Hot Beverage Mixes
      -Tuna/Chicken/Salmon Pouches
      -Instant Mashed Potatoes
      -Gravy Mix

      You definitely do not have to be constrained by the contents of commercially available products. A little bit of planning and experimentation at home will allow you to come up with some options that you find tasty and that will fulfill all your nutritional requirements on the trail while keeping that sodium level at a place you are comfortable with.

      Good luck with your planning. I look forward to hearing about the trip after you complete it and how the food situation worked out for you.
      Adopt a natural resource. Give back.


      • mastergrasshopper
        mastergrasshopper commented
        Editing a comment
        instant mashed potatoes !!! I had forgotten those
        winter back pack trips with my son were
        oatmeal in the morning and 2 servings of 4 cheese mashed potatoes 1 each lunch and dinner

      • Commissionpoint
        Commissionpoint commented
        Editing a comment
        Instant mashed (your choice of variety), diced chicken pouch, brown gravy powder. Backcountry Sunday dinner.

    • #8
      There has been a lot of great options, ideas brought up here. Some of which are something I hadn't even considered before (or thought of). I honestly don't know why I never thought of dehydrating my own food before now.

      Thanks everyone for the input!
      If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled ~ Red Skelton


      • #9
        The best thing about those mountain house dinners is the pouch. Dehydrating dinners is great but if you could put them in one of those pouches it would be really great.

        Washing dishes is a pain and not good for the environment. You either wash them in a stream which is not good for the stream or on land and then you have to spill out the food scraps on land which is not good for the critters on land.

        Leave No Trace!


        • #10
          Home dehydration of your own meals is the way you want to go. Beware that it requires a lot of time with all the manipulation.
          Jaffe's (Yaffe?) book, Backcountry Gourmet will get you started (and take you a long way). I decrease the salt called for in her recipes. She has recipes for granola, snacks, soups and a lot more.

          You can make your own low-sodium beef jerky too.

          You will have no trouble keeping your sodium intake to your target level.