The Camping Guide – Food and Water

Without food and water you will die. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. So for any trip airsofting, be it just a skirmish day or a multiple day event, you’ll need plenty of both to get you through. But how much? And what’s the best sort of stuff to take?

The easier one to start with is water. As a guide, you’ll need 2 litres per day. If it’s a skirmish day, you’re probably looking at about 8 hours on site so a litre should be enough. A lot of sites will also have food and drink for sale for lunchtimes too; always remember to check this before you set off IF you’re going to rely solely on buying stuff on site, which makes things very easy and that concludes this article.

For those without access to on site supplies, read on.

At the very least then, for a one day skirmish, you’ll want a 1 litre water container of some description either on your kit, or in your kit bag in the safe zone. I’ve tried a few military water bottles (because a pink unicorn one isn’t cool enough), and quite a few I’ve discarded because they leak from the cap. As well as causing loss of water, it’s also quite irritating having your kit wet too.

The one that I’ve stuck with for a few years now, which goes everywhere with me, is the British issue 58 pattern water bottle, which comes with a very nice mug too, which i got as part of the BCB Crusader cook kit (see cooking article). For standard game days, I’ll add orange squash to it for extra energy. On longer games, and when out hiking, I take hydration tablets along too. These help keep the body much better hydrated off a smaller amount of water by adding electrolytes in. For longer games, hydration tablets are a must. 

If you’re looking at doing a 24hr or longer, obviously your water needs change. Yes you will need to make sure you have at least 2 litres per 24hrs, but you’ll also need a spare amount for washing and cooking, and if water isn’t available on site then you’ll have to carry it in your kit. This will obviously depend on what it is you’re cooking, but I’d suggest at least an extra litre per day for non drinking needs.

I’d like to just quickly cover hydration packs, for those who like all the gadgets. I do sometimes wear them at games but never full of water. I grew up doing A LOT of hiking, and I noticed that guys who had hydration packs, with the tube being constantly available, always seemed to run out of water much earlier on. Now, I know they’ve taken on board enough water for the day and it’d be in their system, but never had any towards the end to drink. I’ve always gone with water bottles instead, making measured stops to rest and consciously take on water, and be aware of how full the bottle is. Bit old fashioned and I know hydration packs are popular and “easier”, but just wanted to throw that in from personal experience.

Onto food and rations. The easiest option is simply to pick up a military ration pack. These provide all the calories you need, typically, for 24hrs and are easily available. Additionally, in the British Army packs, you get waterproof matches, purification tablets in case you run out of water, wipes and a couple of other useful bits as well as the food. Generally, meals are boil in the bag, which is easy enough, and there’s an assortment of dried options for in the field. The US kits come with flameless heaters too if your stove isn’t working, which I’ll cover next. Although not the cheapest option, they do ensure that you’re getting some good nutrition over the course of the event.

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US Army ration pack

Flameless heaters are a great way to reduce bulk. Most work by putting your bag of food into an outer bag that contains magnesium, iron and salt, to which you simply add water. It will raise the temperature to 100 degrees, and cook a bag of food in about 12 minutes. Not bad at all. You can buy them seperately if you’re not keen on the US ration packs (which contain salt upon salt, and some rather bizarre ingredients). Here’s a link to the BCB version. Remember it’s a one time use item.

If you don’t fancy the excitement and surprise of opening a random military ration pack to see what’s inside, you might just want to make up your own. Obviously, it won’t pack down as small but at least you can get what you want into it (I’m sure the British army ration pack is 50% tea and coffee, and I don’t drink either…). Cereal and protein bars and packs of nuts (or peanut butter) are great snacks to add in, and don’t suffer too badly if squashed flat. At least one hot meal should be a minimum. In the past, I’ve survived quite happily on tins of beans because I know it’s usually just one night and I’ll be feasting to recover once I get home on the Sunday afternoon. There’s a company called Wayfarer here in the UK that do calorie packed meals in bags for the outdoor and camping market, much the same as ration packs, and they’re worth adding in. Thanks Peter for the recommendation – he says go for the All Day Breakfast option.

Of course, you could just head to your local shop and pick up whatever you want to eat over the course of the weekend, although this will be bulkier than the ration packs option. Consider whether or not what you choose will be easy to cook using one pot, unless you want to take a larger kitchen. Rice, noodles and pasta are easy to pack, and you can add a couple of stock cubes into the water to give it some flavour. Try to get a good mix of protein and carbohydrates in your meals, but be wary of taking meat for example that needs to be kept chilled. Tinned meats are an option (don’t forget a tin opener) although foil packets of tuna and chorizo will pack better, and you could take some vegetables too to bulk out your meal and give you extra nutrients, but remember to take something to cut them with (try this bushcraft knife).

It’s a bit more difficult trying to strike a good balance on the nutrition front, but for a couple of days, I personally have no problem with getting by on the basics. Calories are important here, you want to pack as much as possible into as small a pack as possible. It’s a good idea too to get resealable plastic food bags and put your food into that, to make it more manageable over a few days (most food packets don’t reseal). Always take a few spare too for rubbish or just to hold stuff in.

Nuts and cereals are a great source of energy and cereal bars are ideal to pack for quick snacks and energy/morale boosts inbetween meals, and are typically 400-500 calories per 100g. Granola is a great breakfast food, at about 450 calories per 100g, although you’d probably need powdered milk to eat it. But that’s easily packed and just needs mixed with water. Oat cakes pack up small and are good for calories too.

Generally, I’d only cook on an evening once my camp is set up. It’s a little more difficult to do during a game, especially having to shut a stove down and pack up in a hurry. I have a utility pouch on my rig for snacks and a water bottle. And I will admit here to eating tins of cold beans during the day…

Don’t leave any rubbish at your site afterwards – always make sure to pack bags for rubbish.

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