Mine is much less scientific. It's more about what you can gain from ditching your stove on an overnighter. Look at it like this; we need to eat on the trail to survive. Not to get fat, or to pamper ourselves. To a lightweight hiker, these types of questions have answers only gained through trial and error. And no two participants will answer the same.
I just need calories delivered in a form I can ingest. Sure, there's a difference in what my mojo requires for a week-long hike than for a quick solo(warm) overnighter. For a week long hike, it's coffee and oatmeal in the mornings, GORP for lunch, and a freeze dried dinner at night. Unless companions cook differently. There's no sense in holding up a group while I make coffee if they only want a cereal-heavy GORP for breakfast. If they make Ramen for lunch, then I might as well join them. Call in conforming, or call it accommodating.
When alone, it's about my wants and needs only. And it's an ongoing experiment in what works. By looking through my collection of ziplocs in my pantry, I have deduced that I don't end up eating the oatmeal every day of the trip anyway. I invariably have 1-3 packages left each trip. I also never eat all of my snack foods. Sometimes a Mountain House meal will be leftover. But the GORP is always eaten and the coffee is always gone as well.
What could be gleaned from this very un-scientific analysis? I eat GORP and drink coffee. Hmmm. I can live without the coffee. Could a man live on GORP alone? Yes. It has been proven. By a guy with 2 thumbs. This guy!
I admit to stealing the idea from my good friend Scopa. He is fond of grazing GORP all day long. He usually eats a hot dinner, but why not steal the idea that struck me? By playing with the recipes, you can make it carb laden in the morning and at lunch and pack it with protein for dinner. It worked, but left me feeling like I was fasting a bit. So I needed a better idea for a no-cook dinner.....
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Why not? A sandwich(even a big one) will still weigh less than many cook systems. But let's get around to why I really wanted to pursue a stove-less menu in the first place. Time. I haven't enough of it. In my case, days off are split apart. Which leaves me little time to do what I want. So I can leave work at 3:00 P.M. on a Saturday and drive straight to a trailhead. But where? Where can I get my hike in. Trailheads require a bit of driving for me. Sometimes shuttling as well. But if I can use an additional 20-30 minutes per meal actually hiking, then my range of destinations opens up completely. Not to mention that I can save weight sometimes. It's not the most comforting of hiking trips, but it's more comforting than staying home and sleeping in. I still get outside.
There's other options as well. The GORP for lunch can be replaced with a MetRx Meal Replacement Bar. Fresh fruit for breakfast. Anything that a hiker would actually eat. We won't die of starvation in 24 hours. Just take a good look at what you need, and what you've just convinced yourself that you need. I think you'll find that you've been sold a bill of goods by the gear manufacturers. Keep in mind, this is for 3 season weather in the Mid-South. I'm not burning calories keeping my body temperature up. I'm not melting snow for drinking water. Just figuring out how efficiency gets me and keeps me in the woods. Please let me know your angle on this discussion. We need to share our ideas.