The final frontier for ultralight?

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The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Ndevr » Fri 13 Aug, 2021 7:43 pm

After the past 20 years it seems we are now at the point where we are savings grams rather than kilograms etc...

However the biggest frontier doesn't seem to have evolved in terms of weight (compactness yes, but weight, not really).

This is bigger than shelter, sleep gear etc....

I'm talking food!

Why is it that, as was 30 years ago, we still need circa 800g a day?
Why has there been no signifcant advancement in this area?

Imagine if we could get all the nutrients and fulfilment from just 400g!
And I'm not necessarily talking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Everlasting Gobstoppers, but still decent meals.

Instead of carrying 5-6kg for a week, you only need 3kg..you could walk 2 weeks without resupply, no worries, perhaps a month.

I'm no scientist, but it just amazes me the lack of advancement.
And there would be a massive market for this, so the financial benefit for the 'inventor' and first to market would also be huge.

Thoughts?

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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 13 Aug, 2021 8:58 pm

Interesting question.

I suspect the reason why the envelope isnt being pushed with developing higher calorie long shelf life food is because it's not that profitable in comparison to perishable. Likely a greater market for and greater profits in perishable mega calorie foods like 'heart attack' burgers and jumbo deserts.

The impoverished countries for sure would have a great demand for it but again the profit motive means it's not a high priority for food manufacturers and their funded food scientists.

I don't think long distance or UL walkers are a big enough market to develop entirely new food types for.

Might be something worth mentioning to the 'gates foundation' or another cashed up grant giver that focuses on reducing poverty etc.

We already do have some fairly high calorie for weight foods that we can take on long distance walks. Nuts, dried fruit, all sorts of dehydrated foods etc etc.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Moondog55 » Fri 13 Aug, 2021 10:33 pm

I don't think it's actually possible to do anything about the caloric value of foodstuffs, it is what it is and set by the chemistry. if we need 16kJ of energy and a certain minimum value of assimable protein then all we can do is remove as much water as we can and then rehydrate.
Or we can drink cocaine tea.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby ChrisJHC » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 8:53 am

When I did the Larapinta a couple of years ago there was a story doing the rounds about a guy that tried to do the hike living on coconut oil only (862 calories per 100g).

Only lasted a couple of days and I’d hate to see what he looked like.

Maybe that’s taking things to extremes!

Note - I can’t vouch for the veracity of the story.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 9:14 am

Just use glucose (or dextrose) powder. Mix with water.
About as pure an energy source as you can get for consumption.
Of course, not much in the way of nutrition.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby north-north-west » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 9:21 am

Energy source is easy. Suitable nutrition levels are the problem, along with fibre and bulk to keep the bowels healthy.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby ribuck » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 10:04 am

Baeng72 wrote:Just use glucose ... About as pure an energy source as you can get for consumption.

Hardly! Glucose has an energy content of 4 kCal per gram. Fats are 8 kCal per gram.

Replace some of of your glucose with nuts and your food will be lighter, will contain more vitamins and minerals, and more dietary fibre (nuts are a good source of dietary fibre even though they aren't "fibrous" in texture).
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby north-north-west » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 11:46 am

Helps with the weight problem, but it's bulkier. Unless someone has managed to dehydrate nuts (and don't start with the dehy peanut butter; it's gross).
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 12:04 pm

Reminds me of the NASA inspired "Space Bars" I tried when I wore a younger mans boots.
Huge yuck factor but I used them as they were the cheapest concentrated food option with long life packaging available at the time. They were expensive and after a while the taste and texture became unbearable for me.
The real research has been into easily assimable gel packs for the lightweight racing mob, and they do work but they are not at all concentrated or lightweight and the same applies to lifeboat rations.
You can easily get down to half a kilo of mixed food per day if you don't mind losing a lot of weight
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 1:02 pm

Moondog55 wrote:Reminds me of the NASA inspired "Space Bars" I tried when I wore a younger mans boots.
Huge yuck factor but I used them as they were the cheapest concentrated food option with long life packaging available at the time.

Hey I used to love those space bars :D

I wonder what happened to them..
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:23 pm

north-north-west wrote:Energy source is easy. Suitable nutrition levels are the problem, along with fibre and bulk to keep the bowels healthy.

Well, if you're going ultralight for a few days, who cares? It's about getting that energy in without weight.
My comment was sarcastic, just in case it wasn't clear.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:29 pm

ribuck wrote:
Baeng72 wrote:Just use glucose ... About as pure an energy source as you can get for consumption.

Hardly! Glucose has an energy content of 4 kCal per gram. Fats are 8 kCal per gram.

Replace some of of your glucose with nuts and your food will be lighter, will contain more vitamins and minerals, and more dietary fibre (nuts are a good source of dietary fibre even though they aren't "fibrous" in texture).

First, your body has to convert fat to glucose, so it's not a pure energy source, that takes energy. It's not 8kCal per gram when you've done the conversion.
Second, the glucose powder is dry weight, whereas the fat/lipids/oils in nuts are not.
Third, we're talking ultralight, they don't care about nutrition, saw a recent study where a guy after walking 3 months was in much worse shape then when he started.
Fourth, I was being sarcastic/silly, I shouldn't jump in on thread comments...
Last edited by Baeng72 on Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:30 pm

Slightly off topic. Has anybody tried Peanut-butter Cliff bars?
Hard work to eat, and I love peanut butter.

I guess that's an attempt to reduce food weight/increase caloric bang for buck.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby north-north-west » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 2:53 pm

Clif bars are gross. Think dog biscuit flavoured cardboard.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby ribuck » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 3:10 pm

north-north-west wrote:dehy peanut butter; it's gross

Powdered peanut butter is not a lightweight food. Before they turn it into powder, they remove the oil. So the "dehydrated" peanut butter actually has less energy per weight than regular peanut butter.

Pure olive oil is 3700 kJ per 100g, and about the densest energy food you can buy. But it's messy. Pine nuts are 3000 kJ/100g, and much more convenient. Muesli can approach 2000 kJ/100g. Sachets of tuna, dried fruit, etc vary greatly but are more like 1000 kJ/100g. Those consistent nutrition labels are useful reading!
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby crollsurf » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 3:41 pm

Here is an Aussie spreadsheet C Miles has done with a lot of foods you can get here.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17rt18FqkEphBhPlashdFEHOli4Yd6HFz_AmY2Ow-UaI/edit#gid=638890923
Just beware, for dry food, the Energy col represents Kj/100g once reconstituted. You need to look further across for the Energy per dry serve col.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 4:41 pm

Actually we have had this foodstuff for almost forever, at least 5000 years at a rough guestimate, perhaps as long as 30ka. It's called Pemmican
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Warin » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 6:56 pm

ChrisJHC wrote:When I did the Larapinta a couple of years ago there was a story doing the rounds about a guy that tried to do the hike living on coconut oil only (862 calories per 100g).


Some friends of mine came across a Japanese man riding a motorcycle across the Simpson Desert. His 'food' consisted of vitamin pills. Naturally he was feed real food by my friends.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby CasualNerd » Sat 14 Aug, 2021 7:01 pm

I found after going ketogenic it was very easy to go multiple days without eating, because you don't get the same fatigue. Some walks I just ate some snacks because I felt like I should, and ended up carrying all my food home, but I was never game to try a multi day walk without carrying food at all. I don't think anyone can get scurvy in a week but there is a lot of comfort in eating which isn't to be discounted.

I can guess the coconut oil guy was probably doing some keto variation.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Mark F » Sun 15 Aug, 2021 2:49 pm

Given that it is relatively easy to get food down to 600-650 grams per day, if you get your gear down to the low 4kg level a 2 week sub 15kg pack is possible with an average carried weight of 8-9kg. If you are doing trips of two weeks or more then the quality and nutritional variety of food becomes far more important than shaving a few grams.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 15 Aug, 2021 7:32 pm

Its always going to come down to, what can your body do with what its given. There is now info out there that some of the ultra-light low-cal foods that were used by troops in various conflicts may have also contributed to their long term health difficulties. The reality is that we don't quite know what doing a lot of "work" while operation on the bodies reserves does long term, or may lead to in the genetic linage. The evidence so far suggests that we need to know more before we make judgments, but the effects may not be great. On the one hand you have straight up chemistry, but we don't all have the same biology. There is still a lot we don't really have a good handle on. When you have case studies that are based on two or three guys in the 1800s, that isn't good science, and the ethics on running the trial are.... not good. What your body needs at any given point can really change. What happens when your physical challenge becomes a mental one? I'm certain the work is being done to get food lighter, and that info is happening within the public sphere, because its an absolute goldmine for commercial space travel, militaries, and even just remote industrial work. So it will become known, so far, we just have not cracked it in a way that makes any trade offs worth it.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby walk2wineries » Sun 15 Aug, 2021 11:50 pm

a lot of the dehydrated stuff is great for the Overland but less useful if one must carry water. WRT survival/third world/malnutritian, plumpy nut has been developed for that - peanut paste with a bit of extra oil, some sugar, powdered milk and added vitamins. Not available commercially which is perhaps a pity - could subsidise Unicef who use it.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Ndevr » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 12:59 pm

Thanks for all your insights, perhaps a little ways off any profound evolution in this area specific to long bushwalks, or I need to compromise by taking some powdered snacks, though I'd rather carry 'proper' food and the extra weight and enjoy the experience.

I averaged 800g food per day (probably 750g excluding packaging) on a 10 day walk earlier this year, and lost 8kg in body weight (9%), almost 1% per day.
I still felt reasonably strong at the end, and probably had a few kgs I needed to lose anyway...

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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 2:27 pm

You may find that a lot of weight loss when walking is dehydration.
Unfortunately that also goes on again quickly!
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Moondog55 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 2:37 pm

I don't think it matters much for a week to ten days but after that it is important to get both enough calories/killerjoules and sufficient protein and micronutrients/fibre in the diet or you do start running yourself down.
I no longer do much hot weather walking so my diet and the amount of food I think I need reflects that.
If you lost 1% of your body weight per day on a 3 month walk you would be quite sick at the finish, if in fact you did finish.
This is why rest days and treats/extra calories at resupply are so vital
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby wayno » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 5:23 pm

fat isnt converted to glucose, its broken down to acetyl co A as an energy source...
you'll struggle to function on fat alone as an energy source, you'd struggle to burn energy fast enough to keep you going esp uphill. its a slow process.
and your brain and some of your organs must have glucose for energy, if you're not eating sugar or carbs it will use protein, again a slow process and you will struggle to burn it fast enough to give you enough energy while you're on the go.
a chap was living off the land for a month walking through the Ureweras.... the mainstay of what he was eating ended up being venison and he had plenty of that but he struggled and felt low in energy.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Moondog55 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 5:43 pm

Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 8:08 pm

wayno wrote:fat isnt converted to glucose, its broken down to acetyl co A as an energy source...

I stand corrected.
and your brain and some of your organs must have glucose for energy,

Exactly, which is why I jokingly suggested just using glucose powder.
I was thinking only glucose crosses the blood/brain barrier and thus only energy source for spinal cord/brain.
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Re: The final frontier for ultralight?

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 17 Aug, 2021 11:22 am

Ndevr wrote:you could walk 2 weeks without resupply, no worries, perhaps a month.


I already carry 3 weeks' worth of good quality food for the (unfortunately way too rare) long trips that I've done. Well, two weeks' of good quality food, and one week's worth of emergency rations, which are still better quality than what some people carry.

But I still agree with your point. It would be nice to be able to carry enough for longer, of course.

But for me personally, good quality and enjoyable food is more important than going to extremes to make it lighter and taste boring. Good food makes a great bushwalk even better.
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