cancel
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Announcements
Membership now as great as the outdoors!
Already a member? Take a look at the Co-op Members section of the community.
Ready to join? Explore all of the benefits here.

Instant Backpacking Meals, Ranked Worst to Best

On my recent backpacking trip we brought along a few too many of those freeze dried backpacking meals. These are the instant meals we ate ranked by how palatable they were.  (A five star backpacking meal would be fresh caught trout cooked with butter and dried onions, wilted dandelion leaf salad with wild berries and dark chocolate for desert). 

#5 * Backpackers Pantry Kathmandu Curry:  Perhaps we did not let this soak long enough since it was far too soupy.  In any case, two of us were not able to choke it all down.  

#4 ** Heather's Choice Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder:  Nice and fishy, but the package it came in was too small to add enough water to make it into soup.  Since the weather was cold, I wanted soup! This was more like salmon mashed potatoes.  The dried veggies did not rehydrate and were too chewy.

#3 *** Peak 2 Butternut Dal Bhat: Tastes really good, but the reconstituted chick peas have a strange styrofoam-like texture that is a little hard to adjust to. 

#2 *** Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy: Very convincing pork sausage gravy, but the biscuits are like weird little cubical crackers.

And the winner is..

#1 **** Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai:  Comes with little packets of peanuts, lime powder and Siracha powder.  Since rice noodles are normally prepared by soaking in hot water, this meal has an almost normal texture.

Which instant meals do you especially like or dislike?  

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
Labels (1)
36 Replies

@Nursemike3 Second the vegetarian/vegan options.  My kids are both vegetarians so when I hike with them choices are more limted. 

I'm laughing at your description of food marketed to preppers.  One reason I had all those backpacking meals in the first place is that I have an emergency kit to be ready for earthquakes and other natural disasters.  Even thought the packages say they'll last for years, I figured I should still eat and replace them now and then. 


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@Nursemike3, wow! I'm more impressed with your detailed memory recall....kudos!

I'm seconding someones shout out about MH granola, had it for the first time 2 weeks ago and was really imp;ressed, tasty and filling (to a degree)

C0616_Moment.jpgC0617_Moment.jpgC0618_Moment.jpgC0619_Moment.jpg

REI Member Since 1979 YouTube.com/philreedshikes

My favorite brand is "Good To-Go,' especially their Thai Curry. They do make a few meals, however, that I am not fond of.  Most of the time I prepare my own "Freezer Bag" meals from mostly simple ingredients. The only problem is that some recipes call for less than common ingredients that I cannot find around my small town. When I do find them, they are usually in larger quantities that I would never use before they spoil. I have found that food choices greatly expand when I am car camping and do not care about weight compared to backpacking when weight is a concern.

aka "Boonerelli"


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Very subjective topic.  But here I go for my take, listed good, not bad & ugly.

GOOD:   Packit Gourmet: Ramen Rescue (with BYO chicken), Texas State Fair Chili; Peak Refuel: Biscuits & Gravy, Breakfast Skillet (in a tortilla), Homestyle Chicken & Rice, Breakfast Granola (but I stopped buying these because I assemble my own homemade version of this); Good-To-Go: Mexican Quinoa; AlpineAire: Tuscan Grilled Chicken Alfredo

NOT BADPeak Refuel: Chicken Pesto Pasta, Beef Pasta Marinara, Chicken Teriyaki Rice; Trailtopia: Black Bean Burrito; Mountain House: Beef Stroganoff, Chili Mac, Biscuits & Gravy, Chicken & Dumplings

UGLYMountain House: Anything MH that has "scrambled eggs"; Backpacker's Pantry:  Vegetable Lasagna, Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Mix; Trailtopia:  Jambalaya Dinner

My husband and I love the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet in a tortilla. It's one of our favorites, but we use it sparingly because we don't like to carry heavy tortillas. We haven't tried any other 'scrambled egg' meals other than the breakfast skillet, though. Maybe it tastes so good because everything tastes good on the trail when you're hangry?

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I've discovered that when placed head-to-head, I much prefer the Peak Refuel over Mt. House.  PR has figured out how to do the breakfast eggs.  

Thanks for the tip. I'll check out Peak Refuel.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
0 Likes

The reconstituted breakfast comes out more like breakfast burrito filling than like a plate of eggs anyway, so it makes a lot of sense to just make it into a breakfast burrito. 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Mountain House chili mac n beef forever.

I love Stowaway Gourmet. I'm so impressed by the quality of their food. I did a thru hike in April and had two of their meals during the four days. I would have gladly eaten their meals every day of the trip. Start with the Lamb Bourguinon or the Bison Beer Black Bean Chili.

https://www.stowawaygourmet.com/collections/all

I also really love Pinnacle. Their Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits with Herbed Sausage Gravy is one of the best backpacking breakfasts I've ever had. I will say, though, one consistent note with Pinnacle is to add a couple ounces less water than the package calls for and let it soak/rehydrate for a few extra minutes. A small detail, and worth noting for some really fantastic food.

https://pinnaclefoods.co/product-category/freeze-dried-meal/

Unfortunately, REI doesn't carry either of these companies.

 

https://lnt.org/
https://mountainstoseatrail.org/
https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html