You want to pack some food that doesn’t suck. You can’t live on energy bars, granola or Pop-Tarts only. We tested some ready-to-eat dehydrated meals that only require adding boiling hot water to fill you up at the end of your long day riding. These freeze-dried backpacking foods are lightweight and easy to prepare with your JetBoil! Sure, they come with fancy names but don’t expect some of them to taste like home cooking. They can be a bit expensive too but after twisting the throttle through the woods or navigating rocks or sand all day in the desert, you are happy to have a hot and filling meal before bedtime under the stars. If you have room, we recommend small packets of hot sauce, crushed red pepper, dried parmesan cheese, soy sauce and salt & pepper and if all else fails, Lawry's Seasoning Salt just in case. Ha!
We also want you to be prepared how long these meals take to make at higher altitude. Some are 40 minutes + at 10,000 feet so you will want to boil the water, prepare meal and THEN set up your tent to give them time to cook. Be aware of the fuel you will need and you might want to wrap them in a sweater or fleece so they are not cold once they are finally cooked since they can take a loooong time!
There are your classics like Mountain House and Alpine Aire. There are some new ones like Backpacker’s Pantry, Good To Go, WildZora. And the favorite of hunters with double protein Peak 2. Outdoor Herbivors (veg, vegan), Trailtopia, Nomad Nutition. And for you pack-heavy folks with Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags and room to spare, Tasty Bites are pretty delicious India flavors but weigh more since they are ready-to-eat style instead of freeze-dried.
Since most folks are familiar with Chili Mac with Beef, Beef Stroganoff, with noodles, and Breakfast Skillets we tried Good To-Go Pad Thai and Mexican Quinoa Bowl and Peak 2’s Homestyle Chicken & Rice on our trip. Here’s our thoughts...our favorite of the three was the Homestyle Chicken and Rice. Tasty but smells odd and looks like space nuggets before the boiling water is added. The Mexican Quinoa Bowl is a bit sweet with the squash but add some hot sauce and all good. The Pad Thai noodles never fully cooked and to be honest, Eric won't be packing this, as the shrimp flavor was odd, anytime soon! Ha! And maybe as our REI salesman said, still might be best to eat the breakfast flavors for dinner. They are usually the best of all of these type of meals.
Look for our next Blog post (Part 2) featuring keeping the menu interesting, nourishing and within budget carrying lightweight portable foods and supplementing with gas station fill ups along the way. Find out if any tastier!