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Best Freeze Dried Camping Meals

Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai

Who Makes the Best Freeze Dried Beef Stroganoff Camping Food?

The Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai is a non-GMO, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free backcountry meal that is high in protein to replenish the calories you exert throughout the day. Its made of premium freeze dried meats and produce to provide nutritious enjoyment for backpackers, hikers, and hunters alike.

This freeze dried meal contains two servings, each with 460 total calories. Rice noodles are seasoned with a spicy, sweet, garlic sauce and supplemented with textured soy protein, vegetables, and roasted peanuts. Preparation on this one requires a little more effort, but the returns are certainly worth the work.

Mountain House Chicken Fried Rice

Mountain House freeze dried meal comes with mushrooms, peas, carrots, chicken, and scrambled eggs. The food is made with no preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, and certified gluten-free by GFCO. Y

You can enjoy the food anytime, anywhere as the sealed packing locks in nutrients and freshness for longer time with a shelf life of 30 years. You need not refrigerate the food, so making it ideal for backpackers.

  • The meal is easy to make because of illustrated instructions.
  • You can recycle the bags for easy disposal.
  • The meal is made in the pouch itself, thereby reducing clean up time.
  • The meal contains no artificial additives.
  • The shelf life is of 30 years.


  • The bags do not reseal properly and this affects the rehydration process, leading to bad taste in the food.
  • Expensive.

Why should you buy this product?The easy to cook meal has natural ingredients.

Our Critics Overall Ranking From Favorite To Least:


  • Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles: Pure comfort food, tasted like childhood
  • Mountain House Spicy Southwest-style Skillet: I liked that this one didnt have eggs because I find rehydrated eggs to be a texture I just cant abide. Good level of spice!
  • Mountain House Lasagna with Meat: Hello Chef Boyardee-esque lasagna, my old friend.
  • Backpackers Pantry Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff: The fancier stroganoff. Not my favorite, but not bad.
  • OMEALS Vegetarian Chili: I never make chili. Maybe now I never have to? Bonus points for the heating element.
  • Mountain House Chicken and Mashed Potatoes: This also reminded me of the copious amounts of instant mashed potatoes I voluntarily ate as a child. My mother is probably horrified at this.
  • Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai: I didnt mind the lime, but all this did was make me really want real pad thai.
  • Backpackers Pantry Three Sisters Stew: While I appreciated the healthful-feeling vegan option, there was nothing about this that I liked.
  • Great backstory, bad use of smoke flavor.
  • Megan:

  • Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles: This one was really the best of the bunch creamy and blandly satisfying in the way unimaginative beef stroganoff should be.
  • Mountain House Chicken and Mashed Potatoes: I didnt hate it! Caveat: I also dont mind a powdered mashed potato situation, so your mileage may vary.
  • Mountain House Lasagna with Meat: Totally solid that boring spaghetti-and-meatball taste beloved by kids .
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    Cooking And Preparation Time

    The time it takes to rehydrate your meals can range widely depending on the brand and specific meal. Some trail treats like Heathers Choice Packaroons and Patagonia Provisions Wild Pink Salmon are ready to snack on immediately, no cooking needed, so they work great for eating while on the go. For other meals, you fill it with hot water and waitfrom several minutes to 20 minutes. Some meals like the Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai Veggie may take a little prep work .

    Summary Of Dehydrated And Freeze Dried Backpacking Food

    The 15 Best Freeze

    Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.


    Type of food: Freeze dried, meat and veganMeals available: Breakfasts, mains and desserts

    Summit To Eat is a UK-based company offering freeze dried meals to adventurers, campers and expeditioners alike. Their meals are designed to be lightweight and high calorie, yet amazingly they are made with very clean ingredients that youd find in your cupboards at home.

    I really like the clearly labelled pie chart on the packets showing a breakdown of the nutritional information. This is especially useful for endurance events or adventures when getting the right balance of nutrition is key.

    Though I dont eat meat, I do occasionally eat fish. And fishy freeze dried backpacking meals are offered fairly infrequently. So I really enjoyed the salmon option which felt like a special treat.

    Dietary info: Gluten free, vegetarianCooking time: Less than 10 minsTasting notes: OMG! Soooo good. And no hot water needed just cold. After 10 minutes the chocolatey powder actually turned into a well-set mousse. The chocolate flavours were great, but the crunchy granola really topped off this filling and highly satisfying dessert. A real treat at the end of a tough day.

    Type of food: Freeze dried, meat and veganMeals available: Breakfasts, mains and desserts

    Type of food: Freeze dried and dehydratedMeals available: Breakfasts, mains and desserts

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    Wild Zora Backpacking Meals

    WildZora makes paleo freeze-dried meals. That means they meals contain no grains, no dairy, and no artificial ingredients. They are definitely a healthy option but, without grains, a bit lacking in calories.

    *Based on averages of 3 popular dinners
    • Calories per pouch: 395

    The Verdict?

    You need a lot of calories when backpacking. Either be prepared to eat more than one package of Wild Zora meals or bring along your own grains to eat with their meals.


    The ingredients list on Wild Zora backpacking meals is refreshingly simple. Youll see only ingredients like grass-fed beef and freeze-dried vegetables. The quality of the food seems pretty high, and the flavor reflects this.

    Since the meals are meat-based, they are loaded with protein. There is an okay amount of fat and low levels of sodium.

    The main issue with Wild Zora meals backpacking is that they have very few calories. A typical backpacker will need around 3,500 calories per day. Of those calories, about 600-700 will be for dinner. That means youd need to eat two Wild Zora meals to get enough calories.

    Considering that Wild Zora meals cost about $14 per pouch, that expense is going to add up quickly!

    If you arent on the paleo or AIP diet, you could bring your own instant rice, pasta, tortillas, or other carbs to eat with the meal. Or, if you dont eat grains, get some freeze dried sweet potato hash to go with meals. Id get sick of eating sweet potatoes every day though!

    Get Wild Zora meals here on REI

    Comparison Of Top Backpacking Meal Brands

    *Based on averages of three popular dinners


    TIP: When you buy 8 or more backpacking meals on REI, youll get 10% off. Check out REIs backpacking food here.

    Best Overall: ALPINEAIRE

    Their meals are affordable, have a good caloric density, lots of protein, and arent overloaded with sodium. Its a good middle ground of everything you could want. I just wish they have more flavors to choose from.


    Best Tasting: Peak Refuel

    These backpacking meals taste delicious without having to add too many artificial ingredients. They also happen to be loaded with protein about 40g per pouch and have a high calorie density of around 130/oz.


    Best for Foodies: RightOnTrek

    This is a newer backpacking food company which has a cool free meal planner tool. Their meals are prepared fresh by a real chef then dehydrated. The brand uses eco-friendly packaging and the meals are healthy and affordable.

    **Use code MomGoesCamping50 to get 50% off your entire first order. And use code MomGoesCamping10 to get 10% of each next order**

    Best for Health: Wild Zora

    Wild Zora backpacking meals have recognizable ingredients, lots of protein, and minimal sodium. They are made for the paleo diet though, which means they lack carbs and calories.


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    Three Bean Chili Mac By Peak Refuel

    This vegan choice doesnt offer the most overall calories , but it does provide a promising 30 grams of protein, 20 grams of fiber, 30 percent of daily potassium needs, and 127 calories per ounce. Its a good idea to look for products that have at least 100 calories per ounce. But if you can get over 120, thats a higher standard that would be preferable, especially for lightweight backpackers, Carberry says. The chili is also loaded with beans, which contain lots of magnesium, a mineral that can help fight inflammation in the body after a long day of trekking.

    Whats Most Important To You In A Backpacking Meal

    Peak Refuel Backpacking Meals Review | My Favorite Freeze Dried Meals

    DIET – More and more folks are going vegan and gluten-free, and luckily the freeze-dried food industry is adapting to cater to that crowd. Its not always super obvious which meals are friendly to which diets, so to make it easy, weve marked all the meals with V or GF on the list below.

    PRICE – Freeze dried meals are not cheap and there are plenty of inexpensive alternatives . If youre spending months on the trail thru-hiking, meals like these will probably be too expensive to be sustainable. But we still bring a couple on long trips to have as a treat and to save ourselves from having to do dishes.

    Pro tip: When you buy 8 or more backpacking meals from REI, you save 10%. We usually stock up for the hiking season. You can also save money by purchasing bulk meal kits. Best value freeze-dried meals : Backpackers Pantry& Mountain House

    Freeze-Dried meals from Backpackers Pantry typically cost about a penny per calorie

    CALORIES/OZ. Many backpackers choose freeze-dried meals because they’re lightweight. The process of freeze-drying a meal removes 80% of it’s water weight, while retaining a high level of calorically-dense nutrition. Most meal pouches range between 500-900 calories and weigh around 5-7 ounces. This puts them in the 100-130 calorie-per-ounce ratio. We always shoot for most of the food in our bag to be above 100 calories per ounce.

    Food for the Soles Garlic & Green Bean Cashew Stir Fry is delicious and has a whopping 143 calories per ounce

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    Ingredients And Dietary Restrictions

    All-Natural OptionsMuch to the delight of the health-conscious, there are a growing number of all-natural backcountry meal options. In fact, the majority of brands hereincluding Good To-Go, Patagonia Provisions, Outdoor Herbivore, Heather’s Choice, Next Mile Meals, and Nomad Nutritionpride themselves on using only natural ingredients. Others, such as AlpineAire, have many all-natural options and strive to use only real food ingredients whenever possible.

    SodiumThe American Heart Association recommends that adults limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, and ideally not exceeding 1,500 mg. However, most healthy and active individuals who spend much of the day sweating in the hot sun will needand thus cravehigh-sodium foods to replenish what is lost. With an average of 400 to 800 mg of sodium per serving , its no secret that most backcountry meals are high in sodium. If youre looking to keep your sodium intake down, pay special attention to the nutritional facts . Additionally, meals from Outdoor Herbivore, Good To-Go, and Nomad Nutrition tend to be lower in sodium than most.

    Mountain House Breakfast Skillet

    A full breakfast to set you up for a hard day in the hills and on the trails


    Its amazing how much hearty breakfast food is jammed into this freeze-dried packet of savory goodness. There are tasty pork sausages, zesty hash browns, flavorful vegetables and scrambled eggs, a protein-packed combination that will give you the energy to start your day out on the trails. Whats more, there are no artificial flavors or colors, and its a certified gluten-free meal. Its easy to prepare and eat right in the bowl-like pouch, and it will be ready in just 10 minutes after adding 300ml of boiling water. I cooked up this skillet in a pinch to get warmed up one morning on a winter camping trip, and it did the trick. There are 510 total calories per package with 46g of carbohydrates, 28g of protein, 24g of fat and 1580mg of sodium.

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    Calories And Serving Size

    Were not here to provide an equation for calories burned based on mileage, elevation gain, pack weight, altitude, body weight, and metabolism, or give our opinion on whether or not a backpacking trip is a prime time to start a diet. Well leave that to the experts and to your own personal discretion. But we will say if you want to stay strong and energetic during outdoor activities, youll generally need to eat more than you would on a normal day at home. Its quite simple: for every calorie out, you want to put at least one in. With that in mind, calories are your friends in the backcountry and the numbering on nutritional labels deserves your attention.

    How To Make Backpacking Fried Rice

    Best freeze

    In a separate container, store the instant rice. If this is the only meal that includes eggs, you will also need to store the OvaEasy in a separate container as well, but more often than not, we just bring the whole bag as we are using eggs for other meals too like our Breakfast Scramble.

    At camp, the first step is to cook the eggs. In the bottom of a pot , mix the appropriate amount of egg crystals with water until the mixture is smooth. Then turn the heat on low to scramble. Add a little cooking oil if youre worried about them sticking. Once the eggs are done, transfer them out of the pot into a bowl or cup.

    The next step is to rehydrate the veggies. Pour the veggies and spices into the pot, add the vegetable bouillon cube, soy sauce packets , and water. Let this all simmer for a few minutes, until the veggies are rehydrated and the bouillon cube is fully dissolved.

    Then pour in the rice, turn off the heat, and cover. The rice is usually ready in about 5 minutes. All thats left to do it stir everything up, mix the eggs back in and enjoy. If you brought a little extra soy sauce, this is a perfect time to drizzle a little on top.

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    Cooking Method: Pouch Pot And Pre

    One way weve categorized the meals in this article is by cooking method: pouch, pot, or pre-cooked meal. In 2021, many backcountry travelers opt for pouch meals like Good To-Go due to their ease of preparation and cleanup. You simply add boiling water to the pouch and let it sit for the specified amount of time, and no bowl or pot is required . Notably, the lack of cleanup also reduces impact on fragile wilderness environments. On the other hand, pot meals require that you pour the dried contents into a pot, add water, and most often heat the meal over a flame. Sometimes instructions will require that you simmer the meal for up to 10 minutes . Of course, when the meal is finished, you have to clean the pot and pack it away for your next day on the trail.

    Whats Your Favorite Freeze Dried Food

    Now, that you saw all of our options and our verdict, you can say you are ready to decide for yourself. A very important aspect that you have to consider before purchasing freeze dried food is its final purpose. Where would you eat it? With whom? Do you prefer its taste or its energetic value? Are you going to feed it to your child? And many more.

    Moreover, dont forget to go for a product that youll find fairly tasty. Again, I find it essential to take food that you really like on a hike or camping trip. You do not want to starve yourself because the freeze dried food you just bought is disgusting . So, just follow your taste and preferences, besides the energetic and nutritive value.

    Finally, please share with us what is the best freeze dried food for you and what are its benefits. Also, we aspect any further questions about the previous products in the comments section and any other mentions. Thank you for reading and keep close for more helpful articles!

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    Mountain House Ice Cream Sandwich

    A sweet treat to reward yourself with at the end of a hard days hike


    Theres nothing more satisfying after a long day carrying a big pack than to settle down with a tasty meal, enjoy a quiet moment at a campfire and break out an ice cream sandwich. Sure, its not a real ice cream sandwich, but this Mountain House delicacy is the next best thing. Its essentially a slab of freeze-dried vanilla ice cream two chocolatey cookie wafers but no drip and no mess. Its a mere 150 calories with 23g of carbohydrates, 2g of protein, 5g of fat and 105mg of sodium. Served dry, its a crunchy, messy mouthful after one bite if you eat it dry, but its still a sweet, lip-smacking snack. You can add hot water, but then it becomes a bit of a gooey treat that requires a spoon.

    Mountain House Biscuits And Gravy

    The Best Freeze-Dried Meals for Backpacking, Camping, and Hiking (Part 2)

    The Biscuits and Gravy meal consists of buttermilk biscuits along with gravy and sausage patties. One pouch provides two one-cup servings.

    The freeze dried food also contains milk, soy, and wheat. The calories per serving is 310 grams.


    • Process of making it is easy as you have to add hot water and wait for ten minutes.
    • The biscuits are crisp despite being boiled in water for ten minutes, which results in good taste to satisfy your hunger.
    • Minimal clean up time due to meal being cooked in the pouch itself.


    • The packaging is not reusable or recyclable.
    • Low calorie per serving

    Why should you buy this product?This is a good non-vegetarian breakfast that contains sausage patties and helps to fill your stomach with minimal effort and good taste.

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