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LTR - Packit Gourmet Meals - Thomas Vickers

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  • Thomas Vickers
    HTML here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/PGTM-LTR-TV/ Long Term Report October 1, 2009 Locations: Southeast Texas, Sam Houston National
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 1, 2009
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      HTML here:


      Long Term Report
      October 1, 2009

      Locations: Southeast Texas, Sam Houston National Forest, W.G. Jones State
      Forest, and Padre Island National Sea Shore
      Temperatures: 80 - 100 F ()
      Stoves used: Home-built alcohol, MSR Simmerlight
      Pots used:m

      One of the things that I liked was that all of the meals I tested were one
      pot meals. Only a couple required anything extra and the instructions were
      clear that the bag was a good substitute for a second pot. My experience
      was that this was a perfect way to keep the kitchen needs to a minimum and
      save on washing chores after a meal. I used one of two pots on this test.
      The one serving meals were perfect for my smaller pot and the two serving
      meals required a bit larger cooking vessel. No matter what size pot was
      needed, it was definitely nice that only one of them was ever needed.

      The meals came equipped with a lot of extras such as hot sauce, gravy
      pouches, and other items that helped make great meals, but left me with a
      severely cluttered cook site afterwards. I do not feel that it created too
      much trash because the included items were of great benefit in making the
      meals a complete and savory dining experience. I would rather create a
      little more trash to carry out and enjoy a first class meal than suffer
      through some tasteless dreck for the sake of less trash.

      The one word of advice that want to share is that every meal can benefit
      from the free (but must be added to each meal separately) is the Tool Kit.
      This includes salt, pepper, moist towelet, and a paper 'prep' mat to prepare
      the meal on. While it is a little extra to carry, it is nice little extra
      that comes in real handy. I never realized how much of a difference that a
      clean piece of paper to put ingredients on or cut sausage on makes while in
      the woods.

      In the end, I feel that these meals are easy. Most of them just require
      boiling water, the ingredients, and maybe some simmering to create a tasty
      and feeling meal.

      The one issue that I have with these meals is the portion size. The one
      serving meals were great for breakfast or lunch, but seemed a bit skimpy for
      dinner. Being able to add dehydrated meat to the pasta meals is one way I
      think I could stretch them into more filling portions, but did not try
      during this test.

      The two portion meals were no where near two portions for me. I am not a
      huge portion hound, but when hungry on the trail, I need to eat. The two
      portion meals all worked to about 1.5 meals/portions for me. I could get one
      nice meal out of the package and then almost enough for a lunch or
      breakfast. The only issue with this is that cooking a meal for dinner would
      leave me with leftovers and I am not thrilled about keeping prepared food in
      my camp overnight no matter where I hike.

      I am not sure if I have an answer for the portion question in my head, but
      it is something that makes wonder how I would prepare for a long trip using
      these meals.

      Entree Notes:
      Creamy Italian Polenta with Sausage
      Stove used: alcohol stove
      My breakfast of choice on the trail has long been oatmeal. It sticks with
      me, is easy to cook, and is even easier to carry. On a long 9 mile ( km)
      hike along the LoneStar Trail, I stopped and cooked up the Creamy Italian
      Polenta with Sausage for breakfast.   It was pretty easy and all I had to do
      was heat water with my alcohol stove, bring the water to a boil, then mix in
      the polenta and sausage.  When it had cooked for a few minutes I pulled the
      polenta off the heat, added some parmesan cheese, and waited for things to
      cool off. 

      The wait was more than worth it. I was starving after hiking for about two
      miles ( km) and the Polenta was tasty. It had a great texture and most
      importantly it filled me up. It was just enough for a hot breakfast or
      lunch, but not enough for a dinner. While I am not a grits fan, this polenta
      was pretty close to what I consider grits and I would eat it again. In fact,
      I am pretty sure that I have found something to alternate with my oatmeal
      while planning trail breakfasts.

      My only complaint with this meal was that the accessory kit that I requested
      with it came with a moist wipe that was completely dried out when I opened
      it. Other than that, this was a fast, easy, and hot meal that combined great
      taste with an easy prep.

      Jump Start Fruit Smoothie
      Stove used: none
      This was something that I never thought I was going to be able to use or
      enjoy. It was peach flavored and I loathe peaches and during the Texas
      summer I had no idea where I would find the cold water that the instructions
      called for. Guess what? I fooled the hell out of myself on this one. After
      camping for three days on the beach I was hot, parched, and pretty much
      tired of drinking beer or water.  I broke out the Jump Start Fruit Smoothie,
      mixed it with melted ice water from an ice chest and let it sit for a few

      I cannot even begin to describe how refreshing it was. It was cool. It was
      fruity. It hit the spot on a scorching morning at Padre Island National Sea
      Shore.  For someone who really does not like peaches, I really liked this
      drink. My only issue is that the fruit chunks needed to soak and rehydrate a
      bit longer, but I was thirsty and in search of something cool to drink. I
      have to give this item a great deal of respect. It was so much better than I
      imagined and was a welcome relief from plain water.

      Bangers & Mash
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      I love potatoes and was very hesitant about this meal. Instant potatoes are
      not big on my list of "good things" and this is basically a meal of instant
      potatoes.   This is also another meal where ordering the free "accessory
      kit" is a good idea. It gave me a clean area to prep the sausage on and that
      is important since this was a multi-step meal for me."

      The first thing I had to do was heat 10 ounces of water on my alcohol stove.
      Once that came to a boil it was time to pour half the water on the  potato
      mixture which I had dumped in the plastic prep pouch.  I dumped the cut up
      sausage and dried vegetable pouch into the other half of my water and let it
      soak while I refilled the stove with fuel and got it burning again. 

      While the sausage and vegetables boiled (Packit Gourmet recommends a
      simmer), I mixed the potatoes in the preparation pouch and waited. Once I
      got to the seven minute mark, I pulled the gravy (Sausage and vegetables) of
      the stove and poured the potatoes back into the pot. I mixed everything
      rather well, added the parmesan cheese and dried onions, and let it cool.
      YUMMY. Once again Packit Gourmet has packed a great tasting meal into my
      mouth. The only down side to this meal was that it was not quite enough for
      me when I was on the trail and starving at lunch time. I ate it and wanted
      more. Actually, I needed more. I had to eat some of my cheese to keep me
      from cooking another meal. This is not really a bad thing, but I would not
      consider this enough food for a dinner or a lunch if I am VERY hungry.
      Breakfast though is another thing. While I tried it for lunch, it would
      definitely make a very filling, hot, and tasty breakfast.

      Trailside Bean and Cheese Burrito
      Stove used: none
      This meal made me smile when I read about it on the website. I have been
      using dehydrated black beans for a fast trail lunch for years. Packit
      Gourmet takes this idea a step further with this entree. While the
      instructions call for it to be spooned into a fresh tortilla, I prefer to
      eat it with a spoon or on bread of some sort. Any way this meal is prepared
      it is nice to be able to add water to the bag in the morning and have lunch
      ready by the time I stopped around noon. There were cook and eat
      instructions, but I went with the 'cold' bag option and had a great lunch.
      This was a great new take on an old standard for me.

      While the portion is small, eating it on bread more than fills me up which
      makes it a great lunch or even an addition to a dinner if I wanted something
      lighter to top off a big meal.

      Zydeco Red Beans and Rice
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      This was one big meal and it took my big pot to cook it in. My only issue
      with it was that it was not quite the two people serving that it was
      supposed to be. I cooked this up one evening and got to eating as soon as
      it was cool enough to poke in my mouth. This was a tasty meal that I will
      use again on the trail. It tasted too good to keep out of my food sack and
      it was nice and filling. Best of all, there was just enough left for cold
      breakfast in the morning.

      One thing I would do different is to soak the ingredients for about ten
      minutes before cooking. I think this would make sure that the sausage and
      beans were good and ready to cook. They were pretty well done after
      following the cooking instructions, but I am pretty sure a little more
      pre-soak time would make a great meal just a little better.

      Diner Deluxe Scrambled Eggs
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      I am very wary of trail eggs. There has not been one example of a good
      dehydrated egg meal that has ever passed my lips. Part of me wanted to
      divide this meal into two halves and see if half of the two person portion
      would be enough for a meal, but having to face two egg meals was something I
      could not do.

      The good news is that I probably should have. I used an old pot lid/frying
      pan I had and cooked these eggs according to the directions and I was
      surprised. They were good. Not just a passable egg related meal, but a good
      textured, non lumpy, great tasting egg breakfast. It was easy to mix the
      eggs in the pouch and smooth the lumps out and then cook the mixture on the
      frying pan. I am probably sounding a bit crazed here, but this was a good
      meal. More importantly, it was a great egg meal.

      I do think that after mixing the eggs mixture and water that it needs to
      soak for a few minutes. The vegetables were still a bit crunchy when I
      started eating and few extra minutes soaking would have made them even
      better. As far as the portion size went, this was another 1.5 serving meal
      for me. I got one nice meal and just enough for a smaller meal out of this
      package instead of two full meals. Despite that, I will be adding this to
      my pack for trail breakfasts in the future.

      Market Pasta Puttanesca
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      This was a tasty meal. I am not a huge pasta fan, but for a nice warm meal
      it was a big step above ramen noodles or any other instant noodles meals.
      The addition of the sauce and dry vegetables was a touch that really makes
      this a treat. I am very used to plain cheesy pasta dishes on the trail, but
      this dish was just different enough to make me want to try it again.

      The serving size was just on the verge of being enough for a dinner and a
      bit too much for lunch. Adding dehydrated tuna or turkey to it would
      probably make it just the perfect portions size for a trail dinner. As with
      most of the Packit Gourmet meals, the veggies are what make this meal a
      notch better. The added texture and flavors just adds enough zip to make it
      better than I expected.

      Austintcious Tortilla Soup
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      I am not a soup person during the summer. It is just too hot on most
      evenings to enjoy a soup and during lunch time it is just too blazing hot to
      think about it. I finally broke down and gave this meal a try on an evening
      in the Sam Houston National Forest. I cooked up the soup in my small pot,
      poured some into my cup and sat back and watched the sun set.

      Give me a cold afternoon and this would have been the perfect lunch or a
      great appetizer on a cold night before dinner. I just wanted to do a little
      dance after adding the lime juice/flavor packet to the soup. This meal was
      a perfect example of how Packit Gourmet handles their meals. They take
      something comfortable and easy to prepare and add just enough zing to make
      it a step above any other trail meals that I have used. While I would not
      claim that this was a meal by itself, at least at dinner time, it would make
      a great breakfast or lunch on a cold day. A great vista to enjoy while
      sipping would just be an added extra.

      Pasta Salad Primavera
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      This meal kind of confused me. It comes as a large two serving pouch, but
      the instructions claim that it can be used as a side dish. This seemed a bit
      strange to me, but I went ahead and made it as a dinner dish. I followed the
      cook ahead directions at lunch time and let it soak/prep all afternoon in
      the preparation pouch. When I got to camp that night I set up camp and did
      not have to cook at all. I ate most of this meal and was happy that on a hot
      evening I was not squatting over a roaring stove to cook a meal.

      The sun dried tomatoes made this an extra tasty dish and I agree with the
      packaging that suggested tuna or salmon could be added. Dehydrated tuna
      would have added some extra to this meal and might have allowed me to
      stretch it into two full servings rather than the 1.5 it made for me. This
      meal really was a relief since I could prep it earlier in the day and have a
      full sized meal ready when I set up camp.

      Nawlins YaYa Gumbo
      Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
      I saved this meal for last because I had very high expectations for it. As
      far as flavor and satisfaction go, no Packit Gourmet meal had let me down
      yet and being a huge gumbo fan, I was hoping that this meal would live up to
      my self induced hype. The good news is that I was not disappointed. The
      gumbo came the closest to being a true 2 serving meal, but I managed to eat
      about 75% of it in one sitting. It was that good. I also think that if I had
      been forced to share it with someone, I would not have been anywhere near as
      stuffed or as happy as I was.

      The prep was a bit more intensive than on the other meals and I had to pay
      attention while cooking this meal because of it being multi-step. Preparing
      the flour and making the 'roux' was interesting, but the amount of work paid
      off in the end. I made a BIG pot of gumbo and ate till I was stuffed. It was
      far closer to gumbo than I had really expected and I even got a laugh out of
      the instructions telling me to watch out for the bay leaf. This meal was a
      satisfying way to finish off this test.

      Final thoughts:
      These meals are good. They have great flavors, taste, and textures. It is
      one thing for a trail meal to be filling and nutritious, but something
      completely different to be filling, nutritious, and full of flavor. The
      only way to describe my first Packit Gourmet food experience is
      'fulfilling." I was never really left with the feeling that something was
      missing flavor or ingredient wise and while the prep could be more
      complicated than I liked it was worth the effort.

      These meals do generate a bit more small 'trash items' than I am used to,
      but it was easy to pick up the clutter and stuff it in the prep bag for
      packing out. This trash comes from the extras, but they are well worth the
      effort to make these meals just a step better than I had expected. I am
      looking forward to using the meals again despite the issues that I had with
      portion size. They are just too good to leave behind and they will make a
      great addition to my food bag in the future.
    • redbike64
      (replying to my own post) I was able to open the files directly into Word from a different (Vista, not XP) PC using Firefox instead of MS IE. I can now see
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 1, 2009
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        (replying to my own post) I was able to open the files directly into Word from a different (Vista, not XP) PC using Firefox instead of MS IE. I can now see that some folks can have no problem while others are completely stymied. I don't know what the key vairable is (unless the source files have been switched).

        The Deep Jungle hammock sounds interesting, based on the sketchy description. Double-walled to easily accommodate under-insulation?



        --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, "redbike64" <redbike64@...> wrote:
        > FWIW when I click either folder in files I get a prompt to download a winzip file which, upon downloading and unzipping does not reveal a .docx file. It instead spatters an even dozen .xml files, none of which opens in Word 2007.
        > Recommend reposting the actual Word file, or a pdf, rather than zipping. The original can't be large.
        > Cheers,
        > Rick
      • Brian Tannehill
        I believe you can just rename it as a .doc and it will open. Ive done that before and its worked. Brian
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 1, 2009
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          I believe you can just rename it as a .doc and it will open. Ive done
          that before and its worked.


          On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 8:15 PM, gdm320 <gdm320@...> wrote:
          > The .docx files in the download section to serve as reference for the two Hennessy Hammock test calls are a real, real, real pain to try convert and open for those of us living in the pre-Word 2007 stone age.
          > Would it be possible to obtain the same file from HH saved in a more generic format?
          > Greg M
        • Hollis Easter
          Only if your version of Word is recent enough that it understands XML file formats. Otherwise it ll harf on the input.* * technical term Hollis
          Message 4 of 9 , Oct 1, 2009
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            Only if your version of Word is recent enough that it understands XML
            file formats. Otherwise it'll harf on the input.*

            * technical term


            On Thu, Oct 01, 2009 at 10:40:26PM -0600, Brian Tannehill wrote:
            > I believe you can just rename it as a .doc and it will open. Ive done
            > that before and its worked.
            > Brian
            > On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 8:15 PM, gdm320 <gdm320@...> wrote:
            > > The .docx files in the download section to serve as reference for the
            > two Hennessy Hammock test calls are a real, real, real pain to try convert
            > and open for those of us living in the pre-Word 2007 stone age.
            > >
            > > Would it be possible to obtain the same file from HH saved in a more
            > generic format?
            > >
            > > Greg M
            > >
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