172: The Next Level of Essentials

Show Notes: Episode 172

Today on the First 40 Miles, Once you’ve got survival in the woods figured out, maybe you’re ready to take it to the next level.  We’ve got the top 5 secondary survival essentials to round out your outdoor experience.  Then, we’ll review a stove and pot combo that will help you cook up your latest trail cuisine experiment.  And if you’re not feeling like any culinary experimentation, we’ll share a food hack that’s under a buck and requires no dishwashing.


  • Beyond survival
  • Survival as a goal is pretty bleak…
  • “I want to live, not merely survive”

Top 5 C’s of Secondary Survival Essentials


  • Staying connected is one of the big challenges on the trail—especially if you’re hiking as a group.
  • Radios and other communication technology helps
  • Pre-communication goes a long way to prevent awkward guessing about where everyone is on the trail—especially if you end up spreading out.


  • We include so many conveniences in our outside time that maybe we don’t even realize it.
  • Fire at the flick of a Bic?
  • Boiling water in 90 seconds without building a fire?
  • Popping up a tent without using a single knot?
  • Knives that lock open and lock closed for safety?
  • We have so many conveniences, that maybe we don’t even remember that these really aren’t necessities—
  • 200 years ago, many of our modern conveniences didn’t exist—which means, no, convenience is not a necessity, it’s a luxury.


  • Cleanliness has a different definition from everyone on the trail.
  • It’s a challenge to keep “clean enough” but it’s also fun to be all Grizzly Adams and not care.
  • Being clean (especially when preparing food) helps prevent disease, bacterial overgrowth, etc.
  • But for a short backpacking trip, cleanliness in general drops to the second tier.


  • There’s a good reason why comfort is second tier…
  • Comfort is not a necessity. Anyone who has hiked with a headache, a crick in their neck, a stomachache, or has just been on the edge of too cold…


  • Food is a survival essential. Cuisine is a luxury.
  • Top Ramen is food, Coconut Curry Cashews sprinkled on top of rehydrated Pad Thai is Cuisine.

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Olicamp Kinetic Ultra Titanium Stove (and XTS Pot)


  • Titanium for the main body of the stove
  • Aluminum base
  • Brass inside fuel combustion area


  • Fuel: Isobutane canister
  • Isobutane: a gaseous hydrocarbon isomeric with butane.
  • Boil Time: 3 min 30 seconds
  • Output: 9,620 BTU
  • Manual ignition (different from piezo ignition…)


  • Weight: 1.7 oz. (48g)
  • Size: 2.5″ x 2.6″


  • Isobutane burns clean, so you shouldn’t have trouble with clogged stove
  • Comes with a Lexan case, which you can leave home
  • Bring matches or a lighter to light stove


  • Stove: $50
  • Pot: $30
  • Combo: $70


  • Fold out pot stand for larger pots
  • Compare to other stoves we’ve used
  • Very little heat loss when used with the Olicamp XTS Pot—has the coil on bottom, but doesn’t “lock on” to stove
  • Love the wide base to put your pot or mug on
  • Responsive stove with good simmer control
  • Incredibly lightweight and collapsible—you can unscrew the base of the stove—this gives you even more storage options

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Mashed Potatoes in a Bag

  • The simplest go-to dinner we’ve found is a bag of Idahoan Mashed Potatoes. They’re a buck a bag, they have about 450 calories (which is supposed to serve 4 people, but I can eat whole bag for dinner on the trail), they have about half a dozen different flavors to choose from, they can be reheated in the bag with just 2 cups of hot or cold water, they have minimal packaging, and they’re just about one of the best no-brainer dinners.
  • Simply open the bag and carefully pour 2 cups of boiling water inside, stir with a long handled spoon, making sure to reach to the bottom of the bag, and prop the bag up next to a tree or between rocks.
  • You’ll most likely end up with some dry mashed potatoes at the bottom of the bag. We usually try to stir those in with the rehydrated potatoes as we eat down the bag.

Trail Wisdom

“Nature…being the source of all beauty, is beauty’s permanent repository.”

–Charles Brightbill