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Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Backpacking Dinners (Gear Guide)

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Pre-packaged, dehydrated and freeze-dried backpacking dinners is perhaps an excellent choice so that you can contemplate for those who don’t have the time, talent, or provides to make your personal.

I personal and use some meal preparation gear (e.g., a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer) and take pleasure in making my very own backpacking meals with elements that I supply myself. Nevertheless, I additionally recognize having the choice to seize a couple of pre-packaged backpacking meals once I’m brief on time.

My favourite pre-packaged meal is the GOOD TO-GO Herbed Mushroom Risotto, which I reviewed right here just lately.

This gear information options a number of dozen choices for dehydrated and freeze-dried backpacking dinners from many various manufacturers. Quite a few sortable knowledge tables are included on this gear information to offer a plethora of vitamin knowledge and metrics for comparability functions.

Freeze-dried and dehydrated backpacking dinners included on this gear information met the next standards:

  1. They are often “cooked” by pouring boiled water into the meals pouch and ready a set period of time (outlined by the producer) for the meals to rehydrate. Meals that require cooking on a range (e.g., simmering), or switch to a different container for consuming, usually are not included. As well as, this gear information doesn’t embrace so-called self-heating meals (e.g., OMeals), that are neither dehydrated nor freeze-dried.
  2. All meals on this gear information are usually thought-about to be night entrees. Snacks, desserts, appetizers, and breakfast meals will not be included.
  3. They’re obtainable in both 1- or 2-serving sizes (in a couple of instances, producers have specified 1.5 or 2.5 servings). When a number of serving measurement choices can be found, the bigger serving measurement is included, since that extra intently represents the quantity of meals for a hearty meal for one individual. Smaller individuals, older individuals, or youth might discover a number of the meals to offer an excessive amount of meals for a single serving meal.
  4. The meals manufacturers are actively distributed via specialty outside retailers, so there’s a excessive probability that you simply’ll truly discover them if you’ll want to make a last-minute run to select up meals for a visit!

I settled on a number of 5 manufacturers that cowl a various array of each dehydrated and freeze-dried elements. Some meals are natural, some are vegetarian, some are vegan, and some are gluten-free. The meat dishes embrace beef, hen, turkey, and seafood as components.

It’s value noting that cooking occasions differ wildly however are typically comparable inside every model and meals sort:

  • Mountain Home: Eight-9 minutes
  • AlpineAire: 10-12 minutes
  • Mary Jane’s Farm: 10-12 minutes
  • GOOD TO-GO: 10-12 minutes (15-20 minutes for some)
  • Backpacker’s Pantry: 15-20 minutes

Many manufacturers supply meals with a potato flake base. These meals are able to eat in about Four-5 minutes.

Cooking occasions rely upon the volumetric amount of components which are freeze-dried vs. dehydrated and the dimensions of the ingredient items and granules (e.g., potato flakes require much less time to rehydrate than noodles).

Most meals include a mix of each forms of dried meals. Freeze dried elements often require much less cooking time than dehydrated components.

The longer a meal takes to prepare dinner, the upper the chance that you simply gained’t have piping scorching meals by the point the meal is rehydrated and able to eat. Cooking occasions are estimates solely. Cooking occasions can be even longer at greater altitude (as a result of water boils at a decrease temperature), or in chilly temperatures the place warmth loss out of the bag is quicker. You’ll be able to mitigate a few of these results by inserting the package deal right into a bag cozy of some type whereas it’s cooking.

Dehydrated and freeze-dried backpacking dinners.

Once I began backpacking, solely Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain Home dehydrated and freeze-dried backpacking dinners have been value contemplating. Again then, through the 1980s, they have been solely marginally value contemplating. Texture and style left quite a bit to be desired. Advances in meals drying know-how and ingredient processing, together with a number of extra massive manufacturers getting into the market, makes freeze-dried and dehydrated backpacking meals rather more palatable! A few of them are downright gourmand.

The next desk offers a abstract of the packaged meals included on this gear information.

(Utilizing the Desk: This desk is sortable, searchable, and consists of a number of pages of knowledge. Scroll proper to see all knowledge columns on small screens. Attempt a seek for “Mountain House” if you wish to filter for a specific model!)

Costs characterize present sale costs at REI as of the time of publication.

All meals on this gear information have been categorized based mostly on the most important meals forms of curiosity to those that aspire to comply with a specific weight-reduction plan technique, together with:

  • Meals with meat (these embrace beef, hen, and turkey)
  • Vegetarian meals (might include dairy merchandise)
  • Vegan meals (no meat or dairy)
  • Gluten-free meals

These varieties are famous within the desk under.

(Utilizing the Desk: This desk is sortable, searchable, and consists of a number of pages of knowledge. Scroll proper to see all knowledge columns on small screens. Attempt looking for “chicken” or “vegan” as examples of learn how to filter the entries for numerous search phrases.)


Energy = gasoline. Usually, most hikers will eat 400-800 Energy throughout their night meal, which helps replenish glycogen shops, restore muscle mass, and present metabolic gasoline till morning.


Most backpackers who’re college students of their very own vitamin will try and dial in a specific macronutrient ratio, outlined as carbohydrates:fat:protein. One widespread ratio is 50:35:15, which merely signifies that 50% of your energy are coming from carbohydrates, 35% of your energy are coming from fat, and 15% of your energy are coming from protein.

Some backpackers attempt to improve the caloric density (e.g., expressed as Energy per ounce) of their meals by growing the share of fats of their weight loss plan (which has a caloric density of 9 Energy/gram vs. proteins and carbohydrates, which have a caloric density of Four Energy/gram). A typical high-fat backpacking weight-reduction plan might have a macronutrient ratio that appears one thing like 35:50:15.

Proponents of ketogenic and different low-carb diets for athletic exercise depend upon diets the place lower than 10% of their complete caloric consumption is from carbohydrates, the place power is derived primarily from fats metabolism as an alternative of glycogen shops within the liver and muscle mass.

For many (non-fat tailored eaters), a excessive load (100-150 g) of carbohydrates through the night meal helps replenish glycogen shops consumed over the course of a number of hours of climbing.

Protein (at the least 20 g per meal) helps with muscle restore.

Saturated Fat and Ldl cholesterol

Within the uncooked knowledge desk on the finish of this gear information, saturated fat and ldl cholesterol numbers are reported as an FYI for these with continual illnesses that require monitoring the dietary consumption of those vitamins. Neither one possible has any significant impression on short-term backpacking efficiency.


A eating regimen void of sodium is dangerous for backpacking. Excessive ranges of bodily exertion, particularly throughout heat temperatures, leads to perspiration and sodium loss that may result in circumstances reminiscent of hyponatremia. One food plan that may be notably problematic is one which rigidly adheres to plant-based entire meals with no processed meals or components. The extraordinarily low sodium in any such food plan is dangerous for backpackers, who might expel as much as a number of grams per day of salt by means of perspiration.

Conversely, some individuals monitor sodium consumption as a part of continual illness administration.

Fortuitously, for backpacking, we will afford to absorb somewhat additional salt right here and there since we’re partaking in an exercise that expels fairly a bit extra of it than if we have been sitting at our desk again on the workplace.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber will increase stool softness, quantity, and regularity (reduces constipation). Excessive fiber diets (particularly widespread amongst those that eat plant-based diets) are nice for backpacking, however when mixed with vigorous train, might improve your required rest room paper provide dramatically.


The sugar content material of those meals is offered within the uncooked knowledge desk on the finish of this gear information primarily for these concerned about evaluating the potential glycemic and insulinemic impacts of meals.

Macronutrient Specs (Per Package deal)

This desk is sortable, searchable, and consists of a number of pages of knowledge. Scroll proper to see all knowledge columns on small screens.

Macronutrient Density

(Utilizing the Desk: This desk is sortable, searchable, and consists of a number of pages of knowledge. Scroll proper to see all knowledge columns on small screens.)

(Utilizing the Desk: This desk is sortable, searchable, and consists of a number of pages of knowledge. Scroll proper to see all knowledge columns. Attempt a seek for “vegan” or “pad thai” to see how the search-and-filter perform works!)

Ultralight Efficiency: Greatest Calorie-to-Weight Ratio Meals

The meals on this gear information have a mean caloric density of 107 Cal/oz, with a variety of 72-135 Cal/oz.

The next meals have caloric densities exceeding 130 Energy per ounce:

Making an attempt to Lose Weight? Lowest Calorie-to-Weight Ratio Meals

Low-cal meals could also be of curiosity to those that try to reduce weight.

The meals that had the bottom caloric density have been:

Low Internet-Carb Choices

In case you are trying to reduce your carbohydrate consumption, search for meals which have a low internet carbohydrate density (complete carbs minus dietary fiber, per weight unit).

The typical internet carb density for all meals on this gear information is 15.2 internet carb (g)/oz (internet carb density of 54%).

Excessive Internet-Carb Choices

For many who don’t eat a ketogenic or different fat-adapted weight-reduction plan and want a really excessive carb meal after a very lengthy day of climbing, think about these excessive net-carb density choices:

  • AlpineAire Meals Honey Lime Hen (27.5 internet carb (g)/oz, i.e., internet carb content material by weight = 97%).
  • AlpineAire Meals Pepper Beef with Rice (23.three internet carb (g)/oz, i.e., internet carb content material by weight = 82%).
  • GOOD TO-GO Pad Thai (20.6 internet carb (g)/oz, i.e., internet carb content material by weight = 73%).
  • Backpacker’s Pantry Beef Pho ( internet carb (g)/oz, i.e., internet carb content material by weight = 71%).

Greatest Worth: Energy per Greenback

The meals on this gear information have a mean value of $1.30 per 100 Energy, and vary from $zero.62/100 Cal to $three.20/100 Cal. Costs characterize present backpacking dinner sale costs at REI as of the time of publication. Some gadgets are on sale throughout REI’s Anniversary Sale, others stay listed at their MSRP.

Common value by model:

  • AlpineAire – $zero.99/100 Cal
  • Backpacker’s Pantry – $1.15/100 Cal
  • GOOD TO-GO – $1.36/100 Cal
  • Mountain Home – $1.68/100 Cal
  • Mary Jane’s Farm – $2.10/100 Cal

The next meals provide the most energy per greenback spent:

I’d wish to say thanks to Stephanie Jordan for performing the info analysis for this assessment!

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