Awesome Outdoor Films

When we can’t be out hiking, we enjoy watching nature-themed films. Here are four favorites we’ve seen in the past few weeks:

Chasing IceChasing Ice
James Balog’s photography captures the beauty of ice, but it’s his time lapse photos of glaciers that are truly eye-opening. His dedication amidst knee pain and equipment issues is inspiring.
goodeatsGood Eats: Whithering Bites
Alton Brown explains his simple, practical approach to food dehydration. Dehydrating your own food is a great way to make healthy backpacking food without any extra preservatives or sweeteners. As always, Alton includes some science, history, and a large helping of goofiness.
High Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir TrailHigh Sierra: A Journey on the John Muir Trail
Follow a group of high school students as they set out to hike the JMT. They aren’t so excited at first, but the splendor of the trail converts them. A fun watch with plenty of eye candy.
Rivers and TidesRivers and Tides
This documentary about Andy Goldsworthy is a meditation on the impermanence of nature and the beauty of natural forms. Goldsworthy is one of our favorite artists and his work has influenced Shutterbug’s photography.

Backpacking Food Galore!

Shutterbug adding to a food resupply box
Filling a long line of resupply boxes

On our Appalachian Trail thru hike, we’ll sometimes buy food at stores near the trail, and other times pick up a food box which we prepared prior to the hike. Organizing and creating food resupply boxes is time consuming, but we love the result: better tasting and more nutritious trail food. For vegetarians like us this is especially true, since vegetarian food is harder to find in tiny trail towns. Mailing food boxes also enables us to stay away from larger towns and remain in the wilderness. There’s nothing like the calm that extended time in the wild brings.

The first step in preparing food boxes is to create a meal plan. This has been an iterative process for us over the years. Incredibly, after hiking 2600 miles in 2012, we still love most of our backpacking food menu.  We made a few small changes for the Appalachian Trail and have updated our list of favorite backpacking foods accordingly. You can view the list at any time by clicking the “Food” tab above.

Gear Review: Ultralight Backpacking Kitchen


Here are our thoughts (and a demo video!) about the cooking gear we used while thru hiking the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

Aluminum can stove

Stove and windscreen/pot stand = Trail Designs Classic Caldera Ti-Tri cooking system 2.5 oz. This incredibly light stove is made from an aluminum can. It burns denatured alcohol, available at any hardware store, or HEET, a gas-line antifreeze commonly found at gas stations. We found these fuels at almost every town we visited on the PCT.

The thin titanium windscreen is custom-sized to hold our Evernew pot, forming a wide stable base. The windscreen also optimizes airflow, increasing the the stove’s fuel efficiency.

While hiking, we packed the stove in the pot for protection. We stored the windscreen wrapped around the fuel bottle, secured with a rubber band. The stove got slightly crunched one day from packing too much food around it in the pot, but it still worked fine. Overall the Caldera system preformed flawlessly during the entire trip.

Food Resupply Boxes

Fortunately we will not need to carry five months of food on our backs as we hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Instead we will resupply every few days at a town, post office, or small business which holds packages for hikers. This approach required a great deal of planning and preparation, which was by turns exciting and monotonous.

Chris tests out a powdered drink mix

On the advice of many previous thru hikers, we are striving for variety in our trail diet. Thus, while planning, we taste tested numerous meal options. Drawing on our knowledge of thru hike nutrition, and in conjunction with our food planning math spreadsheets, we created a massive grocery list. We have just updated our Food page with many details about our food choices. You can access the page by clicking the “Food” link at the top of our blog.

Although we were organized before heading to the grocery store, we still spent several hours in the bulk food section. Shopping for variety while purchasing a large quantity of food takes time. It was exhilarating to see our extensive planning turn into piles of food in a shopping cart. We were surprised to realize how much food we will eat over the next five months. That really hit home when we saw all the food in one place.