At some point on the trail, food just becomes fuel, and you lose count of the number of bland tortillas you've eaten. The same goes for our old friend the bagel, and the metric ton of trail mix we've inhaled over the past few years. But why should you settle for the same old snacks that are clearly not doing you any favors in the "flavor town" department? Our solution: Treat yourself every now and then to a few tasty dehydrated camping meals.
We've been testing, tasting, and loving a wide variety of dehydrated options this year, and decided to share a few of our top picks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also have a few of our favorite pre-packaged backpack-stable snacks to throw some extra flavor and variety into your regular camping food rotation.
Dehydrated Breakfast Food
Backpacker's Pantry Granola With Blueberries, Almonds, & Milk
On some mornings you want that full spread of bacon and eggs, and on others, you want something a little lighter on your stomach. That's why we love Backpacker's Pantry's take on hot cereal, which is a healthy mix of granola along with organic blueberries, coconut, almonds, and a touch of brown sugar for sweetness. What's really impressive about this quick and easy meal is that it still provides lasting energy with a full 620 calories per serving, thanks in part to the dehydrated butter and whole milk included in every bag. It's also surprisingly tasty when eaten cold, which makes it a godsend out on the trail when boiling water isn't an option.
Dehydrated Lunch Food
Heather's Choice Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder
Heather's Choice is an Alaska-based backpacking food company that specializes in energy-packed meals made from hearty ingredients. Our favorite is the smoked salmon chowder, which is packed to the brim with wild-caught sockeye salmon, as well as potatoes, celery, and carrots. It's hearty enough for dinner but also makes for a decadent mid-day meal or snack. A single portion of this chowder provides a whopping 39 grams of protein and 490 calories, keeping you full for the adventurous day ahead. Bonus points to Heather's Choice for the handy measuring scale that comes on the side of every bag, so there's no confusion regarding the amount of water to use.
Dehydrated Dinner Food
Good To-Go Mushroom Risotto
Good To-Go has made a name for itself by bringing gourmet flavors into the dehydrated camping meal scene. Founded by professional chef, restaurant owner, and Iron Chef winner Jennifer Scism, Good To-Go's meal options read like the menu of a multicultural four-star restaurant and include everything from Cuban rice bowls to Korean-style Bibimbap. Our favorite right now is their Mushroom Risotto, which is a deliciously thick and creamy treat loaded with flavor-packed cremini mushrooms and basil pesto. Good To-Go's dehydrated camp meals typically require a little more wait time than your average meal in a bag (this one needs about 20 minutes), but it's certainly worth the wait!
Next-Level Dehydrated Snacks
Patagonia Provisions Venison Links
Since their introduction to the Hawaiian islands back in the late 1800s, axis deer populations have grown rapidly. So much so, that their numbers now seriously threaten the fragile ecosystem of native plants and animals on the islands. Lucky for us, the folks at Maui Nui Venison have made a business out of managing this invasive species through humane harvesting, and their efforts are now being supported by none other than Patagonia Provisions. The collaboration yielded these delicious smoked sausage links, which are lightly seasoned with juniper, black pepper, and mustard seeds to create a snack that tastes as good as it feels to eat. If you're looking to upgrade your standard hard meat and cheese snack options, this is by far our favorite alternative available.
Solely Organic Mango Halves
When we pick snacks for optimal energy output, calories are often the driving factor, along with convenience. We'd be lying if we said we didn't keep a bag of gummy worms within arms reach on a trail, which is why we're big fans of Solely dried fruits as a sweet-tooth alternative from time to time. Each serving packs about 130 calories of fast energy thanks to the mango's natural sugar, which means you're looking at just shy of 800 calories in every 8-ounce bag. They also pack a decent amount of potassium, so you'll be stocking up on electrolytes to help keep muscle cramps at bay.
If you've never had biltong before, you're missing out. We like to think of it as a high-quality beef jerky alternative. Biltong is made by airdrying seasoned beef steaks, then thinly slicing each slab down into snackable sizes. It's nitrate-free, sugar-free, and completely free of artificial ingredients as well, so it's about as healthy as it gets for shelf-stable meat. Biltong is a little more tender than jerky, and because it's cut from real steak slabs, each bite is a little different. Some are thick and soft, while others are thin and chewy, and a handful in every bag actually has a little fat left on the edges. Our current favorite is Kalahari's Rosemary Truffle variety, but you can't go wrong with any of them!
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