Meet Dave Nelson

Meet Dave Nelson, world traveler.

A man wearing a green plaid long sleeve shirt, khaki pants, a backpack, sunglasses and a hat

On April 13th Dave began a 2200-mile trek on the Appalachian Trail. His journey began in the Springer Mountains of Georgia and will end in Maine. He’ll be walking for five to six months, carrying everything he needs in his backpack.

Dave is 36 years old and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He loves nature, animals, cooking and exploring. In fact, he loves exploring so much that he’s been to Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Hikers are obsessive about ounces. Everything Dave’s pack has to work hard and have a purpose, including food. Water is heavy, and unless you’re going to drink it – there’s no reason to carry it in food.

Dave used his freeze dryer to prep his meals, then tested all of his recipes for taste and rehydration instructions. He’s taken meals out on 30-40 mile long weekend hikes with friends and made sure everyone loved them. Then, he freeze dried everything he needed for this trip and pre-shipped boxes of freeze-dried food to stopping stations along the trail.

a mylar bag of freeze dried chiliboxes

Freeze-drying his own food for the hike gives Dave the advantage of making food that he likes but that is also healthy. Plus, he wanted to avoid all the salt and additives in store-bought freeze dried food to have the best chance to complete the entire trail before winter conditions set in. He also has some food allergies so he can’t eat anything with high potassium and he’s lactose intolerant, so his freeze dryer was perfect for customizing his meals.

To heat all of his meals, Dave fashioned a food warming oven out of a windshield sunshade. Dave adds hot water to his meals right in his Harvest Right mylar bags, then puts the bags in this makeshift oven and sets up his camp. By the time he’s done setting up, his food is perfectly warmed and ready to eat.

We’re excited to follow Dave on his hike via check-in emails, so check back each week to keep up with his progress.

And, if you’re curious, here’s Dave’s Appalachian Trail packing list:

Granite Gear Blaze 60 backpack
Zpack sleeping quilt
Thermarest Prolite pad
Salomon 3D xa trail shoes
2 pair Darn Tough socks
2 pair Exefficio 9-inch sport mesh underwear
Black Diamond Corklite trekking poles
Black Diamond Spot headlamp
Evernew .9 liter titanium cookpot
Trail Designs titanium Caldera cone screen
Sea2summit titanium spoon
Sierra Design rain jacket
Sierra Design rain chaps
Marmot rain gloves
Wool gloves
2 sport poly t shirts
Prana Zion convertible pants
Zpack food bag
Zpack stuff pillow
Patagonia thermal wt. Hooded top
Patagonia r1 bottoms
Mountain Hardware ghost whisper down jacket
Mountain Hardware ghost whisper lite wind jacket
Sawyer water filter
Muscle roller
Juice box portable charger
Samsung s7 phone
Ball cap
AWOL Appalachian trail book


Awww … Dave stole my idea! I recently purchased a Harvest Right and plan to start freeze drying my meals for the PCT next season (2018). I’m incredibly eager to follow him. I hope he reads this or that someone from HR has more info from/about him. I’m curious to know what percentage of his meals are freeze-dried, as well as how he packed it all and plans to reheat? In the pack, like Mountain House, or … some alternate plan? I know he’s just six days in. Looking forward to following along. Have a great hike!

I am doing the same! A few of us ladies, leave our husbands and children behind for 5 days and backpack the Lake Superior Trail (Zion is still my favorite backpacking!). Each year getting closer to the Canadian boarder. We leave in 4 weeks and I will be bringing some cheesecake bites made from my homemade strawberry blueberry cheesecake; along with other food items from my gardens on our 2.5 acre plot. I have always been displeased with the backpacking food selections, and am excited to make and take my own food this fall.
So awesome Dave that you have done the same! Bummer you broke your foot. Try again next year! Backpacking is in the heart and I’m sure you will. From one backpacker to another; happy freeze drying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *