5 Best Ways to Store Food While Orienteering: Essential Tips for Every Adventurer

June 28, 2024 7 min read

Orienteering is an exciting outdoor activity that combines physical endurance with navigational skills. When you're out in the wilderness, having the right food storage solutions can make a significant difference in your experience and safety.

Food items arranged in airtight containers, hung from tree branches, stored in bear-proof canisters, buried in a cold pit, and packed in waterproof bags

You need to ensure your food stays fresh, lightweight, and protected from the elements and wildlife. Employing effective storage methods is essential for maintaining energy and preserving the quality of your provisions throughout your journey.

1) Vacuum-Sealed Bags

Food items sealed in vacuum bags, labeled and organized in a backpack. A map and compass sit nearby, ready for orienteering

Vacuum-sealed bags are an excellent choice for storing food while orienteering. These bags remove air, which helps prevent spoilage and extends the shelf life of your food. This method keeps your food fresh and protected from external elements like moisture and pests.

Using vacuum-sealed bags reduces the overall weight and space your food occupies. This is especially useful when you need to pack light and efficiently. They are also durable, minimizing the risk of your food getting crushed or damaged.

Another advantage is the ease of identifying your food. Since vacuum-sealed bags are transparent, you can quickly see what's inside without opening each bag. This can save you time when you're on the move.

Vacuum-sealed bags are versatile. They work well for various types of food, including dried fruits, nuts, and prepared meals. You can even use them for liquids if you freeze them first. This versatility makes them a practical choice for diverse dietary needs.

Consider the environmental impact since vacuum-sealed bags are often single-use plastic. If environmental concerns are important to you, look for biodegradable or reusable options. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of vacuum sealing while reducing your ecological footprint.

2) Food-Grade Silicone Containers

Food-grade silicone containers arranged neatly with various types of food inside, placed in a backpack alongside a map and compass

Food-grade silicone containers offer a durable and flexible option for storing food while orienteering. They are lightweight, which makes them easy to carry in your backpack. You can find them in various sizes, allowing you to portion out your meals and snacks effectively.

These containers are known for their leak-proof seals, which prevent spills in your bag. They are also resistant to extreme temperatures, making them suitable for both hot and cold foods. This helps maintain the freshness and safety of your meals.

Another advantage of food-grade silicone is that it is non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals like BPA. This ensures that your food remains safe to eat. Additionally, silicone is easy to clean, whether by hand or in a dishwasher.

The flexibility of silicone containers means they can be squished into tight spaces in your pack without breaking. This can be particularly useful if space is at a premium. They also return to their original shape after being compressed, ensuring your food is protected.

Many silicone containers are also collapsible, saving even more space when they are empty. This feature makes them highly convenient for orienteering. You can pack multiple containers without adding significant bulk to your gear.

Using food-grade silicone containers can reduce the need for disposable plastic bags, making them an eco-friendly choice. By opting for reusable options, you contribute to less waste in the environment. These containers can handle repeated use, providing long-term value.

Overall, food-grade silicone containers provide a reliable and practical solution for storing food on orienteering trips. Their versatility, durability, and safety features make them a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

3) Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers

Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers offer an effective way to store food. These bags provide a durable, moisture-resistant barrier that keeps your food fresh. The oxygen absorbers help remove air from the bags, which helps prevent spoilage and extends the shelf life of your food.

Mylar bags come in various sizes, allowing you to store food in portions that suit your needs. You can seal these bags with a heat sealer to ensure that no air enters. This is essential in maintaining the integrity of the stored food.

Using Mylar bags is straightforward. Simply place your food inside, add the appropriate number of oxygen absorbers, and seal the bag. Be sure to label the bags with the contents and the date of storage for easy organization.

These bags are lightweight and easy to pack, making them ideal for transporting food during long orienteering trips. The metallic surface of Mylar bags also provides protection against light, which can degrade food quality over time.

They are suitable for storing a wide variety of foods such as grains, dried fruits, nuts, and even dehydrated meals. This versatility makes Mylar bags a popular choice among orienteers. Durable and reliable, they ensure that your food stays safe and edible for extended periods.

4) Dehydrated Meals

Various dehydrated meals stored in sealed bags, containers, and vacuum-sealed pouches. Some are labeled with expiration dates and stored in a dry, cool environment

Dehydrated meals are a great choice for orienteering. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and have a long shelf life. You can find various options, from simple snacks to full dinners.

These meals typically require minimal preparation. Most only need hot water and a bit of wait time. This makes them convenient when you are on the move.

Nutrition is key during orienteering, and dehydrated meals often offer a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Many brands also offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Storage is straightforward. Keep them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to eat. Pack them in your backpack without worrying about refrigeration.

Ensure you carry a reliable water supply for rehydrating these meals. Consider the weight and volume of water when planning. It's essential for both hydration and meal preparation.

Dehydrated meals can include pasta, rice dishes, soups, and stews. Choose meals that suit your tastes and dietary needs. Look for options with simple ingredients and few additives.

5) Collapsible Food Containers

Colorful collapsible food containers neatly stacked in a backpack, surrounded by a compass, map, and outdoor gear. Forest and mountains in the background

Collapsible food containers are a practical choice for orienteering due to their space-saving design. They often fold down to a fraction of their full size, freeing up valuable space in your pack. This allows you to carry other essential items without feeling weighed down.

These containers are typically made from durable silicone, ensuring they withstand rough handling. They are also lightweight, making them easy to carry. You won't have to worry about them adding unnecessary weight to your load.

Additionally, collapsible food containers are usually airtight. This is beneficial for keeping your food fresh and protected from the elements. Airtight seals also help prevent leaks, so you don't have to deal with unwanted spills in your pack.

Many of these containers come in various sizes. This flexibility allows you to store different types of food, whether it's a small snack or a more substantial meal. You can choose based on your specific needs for the day.

Cleaning these containers is generally straightforward since most are dishwasher-safe. This feature makes them convenient to use repeatedly. You can ensure they are sanitary and ready for your next adventure with minimal effort.

Food Safety Basics

Fresh food sealed in airtight containers, dry goods in resealable bags, and perishables kept in a cooler with ice packs. All stored securely in a backpack while hiking in the wilderness

When orienteering, it's crucial to keep your food safe to avoid health risks. This involves distinguishing between perishable and non-perishable foods and ensuring proper packaging.

Understanding Perishable vs Non-Perishable Foods

Perishable foods include items like fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy. These foods need refrigeration to stay safe for consumption. Without proper storage, they can quickly grow harmful bacteria, leading to food poisoning.

Non-perishable foods such as canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and grains don't require refrigeration and have a longer shelf life. They are ideal for orienteering as they are less likely to spoil and easier to store.

Importance of Proper Packaging

Choosing the right packaging can make a significant difference. For perishable foods, use insulated coolers and ice packs to maintain a safe temperature. Ensure items are in airtight containers to prevent contamination.

For non-perishables, opt for vacuum-sealed bags or heavy-duty zip-lock bags. They protect food from moisture and pests. Keep food in a dry, cool place and check packaging for any signs of damage before use.

Storage Techniques for Different Foods

Fresh fruits and vegetables arranged in airtight containers, dry goods in sealed bags, and canned food stacked neatly on shelves in a pantry

When orienteering, it's crucial to store your food properly to maintain its quality and safety. Different types of food require specific methods to keep them fresh and edible during outdoor adventures.

Storing Dry Foods

Dry foods like nuts, grains, and dried fruits are staples in orienteering. Use airtight containers or resealable plastic bags to keep these foods dry and free from pests. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers are excellent for long-term storage.

Place dry foods in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them near any strong-smelling items, as they can absorb odors.

Containers:

  1. Airtight plastic containers
  2. Mason jars
  3. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers

These containers will keep your food dry and help preserve their nutritional value.

Handling Fresh Produce

Fresh produce requires careful handling to prevent spoilage. Use breathable bags like mesh or cloth to store fruits and vegetables. This allows for proper air circulation, reducing mold and rot risk.

For increased freshness:

  1. Wrap leafy greens in a damp cloth and keep them in ventilated produce bags.
  2. Store root vegetables like carrots and beets in a cool, dark place with just enough moisture to prevent drying out.
  3. Separate ethylene-producing fruits like apples from sensitive produce to avoid premature ripening.

Maintain cleanliness by washing produce thoroughly before use, but avoid washing it before storage as excess moisture can induce spoilage.

Environmental Considerations

Food stored in airtight containers, hung in trees to deter animals. Cooler bags used for perishables. Dry goods packed in waterproof bags. All stored items labeled and organized in a secure, shaded area

When storing food while orienteering, you must account for the environment to maintain the safety and quality of your supplies. Key issues include handling temperature variations and minimizing interactions with wildlife.

Dealing with Temperature Extremes

Temperature extremes can affect the longevity and safety of your stored food. In hot climates, perishable items might spoil quickly. Use insulated containers or cooling packs to keep items cool. In cold environments, food can freeze, impacting texture and usability. Wrap items in thermal blankets to prevent them from freezing.

It is important to pack foods that are shelf-stable and temperature-resistant whenever possible. Dried fruits, nuts, and vacuum-sealed products are excellent choices. Avoid items like fresh dairy, which are highly susceptible to temperature changes.

Preventing Wildlife Encounters

Wildlife can pose a risk to your food supply, and improper storage can attract animals. Use bear-proof containers if in bear country and always hang food bags away from your sleeping area. Odor-proof bags can help reduce the scent that attracts animals.

Dispose of food waste properly and never leave scraps. Clean up any spilled food immediately. Carry a small, portable trash bag and pack out all waste to minimize your environmental impact and avoid drawing wildlife closer to your campsite.