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Mary Beth Skylis: The Best Backpacking Meals on the Market

by Mary Beth Skylis

A lot of mainstream backpacking food tells the same story. There are lots of rice and pasta options. But those types of meals can get old after a while. And backpacking nutrition can become even trickier if you have dietary restrictions. So, what kind of options are out there for people who want some unconventional meals? If you can identify with the notional backpacking struggle, this collection is for you.

Outdoor Herbivore

Why they’re great: Outdoor Herbivore has a really unique take on backpacking food. Ranging from vegan Blackened Quinoa to CinnaMonkey Chomps, these meals are packed full of nutrition without compromising flavor. Plus, they have gluten free options, which is super unique in the world of donuts and honey buns.

  • Favorite Meal: Open Sky Yasai

340 Calories, 29% Fiber (DV), 26% Sodium (DV)

It’s not very common for you to find killer Japanese backpacking food. And Outdoor Herbivore does it really well. The hint of ginger in this meal is on-pointe. I’m a big fan.

Ingredients: Cabbage, Sesame Seed, Broccoli, Carrot, Pease, Quinoa Crisps, Cive, Crystalized Ginger, Peanut Powder, Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Mustard, Sea Salt, Olive Oil

  • Honorable Mention: CinnaMonkey Chomps

862 Calories, 72% Total Fat (DV), 38% Total Carb (DV)

I really enjoyed the CinnaMonkey Chomps. Dried bananas are a go-to while I’m in the backcountry. But this is a really new, unique take on snacking. The plantain chips are caked in cinnamon, which makes for a tasty treat. It’s a snack I haven’t seen before.

Ingredients: Baked Plantain, Coconut Oil, Cane Sugra, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Coconut

Packit Gourmet

Why they’re great: Packit Gourmet does a really great job of offering options for everyone. They have great meals with meat, they have vegan options, and they have bulk options so you can make your own meals if you feel inspired.

  • Favorite Meal: Market Pasta Puttanesca

730 Calories, 42% Total Carbs (DV), 53% Sodium (DV)

This meal is not only incredibly tasty, it’s also calorically packed. This is a really good quality to have in your backpacking food because you’re burning tons of calories while you’re climbing mountains.

Ingredients: Pasta, Tomato Powder, Sea Salt, Seasoning, Evaporated Cane Juice, Carrots, Bell Pepper, White Onion, Whole Basil Leaf, Basil Seasoning,

Salt, I-glutamic Acid, Spices, Parslet, Silicon Dioxide, Garlic, White Onions, Green Pepper, Zucchini, Spinach, Allspice, Mushroom, Black Peppercorns, Celery

  • Honorable Mention: Banana Puddin’

520 Calories, 40% Sodium (DV), 31% Total Carb (DV)

The Banana Puddin’ was a nice surprise. It’s really easy to make, and the flavors are perfect. It’s not something I would have thought about carrying while I’m backpacking before now, but I think it’s worth the weight.

Ingredients: Custard, Whole Milk Powder, Bananas, Vanilla, Vanilla Toastees, Eggs, Butter, Water, Modified Food Starch, Coconut Toasted

Good To Go

Why they’re great: Good to Go offers a lot of the same types of meals as companies like Mountain House. They’re packed full of flavor. And they have backpacking food down to a science. Though not quite as versatile as Outdoor Herbivore and Packit Gourmet, they’re certainly veterans in the world of backpacking food for a reason.

  • Favorite Meal: Thai Curry

770 Calories, 50% Dietary Fiber (DV), 44% Sodium (DV)

The Thai Curry has a nice balance of broccoli, peas, green beans and cauliflower. Good to Go nails the Thai experience with the expert curry proportions.

Ingredients: Green Beans, Jasmine Rice, Onion, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pease, Coconut Milk Powder, Fish Sauce, Garlic, Grape Seed Oil, Lemongrass, Dark Brown Sugar, Tamarind Concentrate, Ginger, Turmeric Powder, Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon, Dried Thai Chilies, Cardamom, Yellow Mustard Seeds, Black Peppercorns, Fennel Seeds, Cloves, Kaffir Lime Leaf Powder, Bay Leaf

  • Honorable Mention: Herbed Mushroom Risotto

820 Calories, 47% Total Carb (DV), 29% Dietary Fiber (DV)

With caramelized onions and mushroom slices, you almost forget that you’re in the backcountry when you cook this meal. Plus the creaminess is a cherry on top.

Ingredients: Arborio Rice, Cremini Mushrooms, Onions, White Wine, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Sweet Rice Flour, Walnuts, Basil, Kosher Salt, Thyme, Black Pepper

Made in Nature

Why they’re great: Made in Nature is the expert of snacks. All of their products are organic and non gmo certified. They bring nutrition to the next level without compromising flavor. Everything they offer is densely packed with super nutrients, which will help you put down tons of miles while you’re hiking.

  • Favorite Snack: Nacho Garden Kale Chips

286 Calories, 190% Vitamin K (DV), 12% Sodium (DV)

These Kale chips are really rich in flavor, but light. I ate the whole box in a sitting because they’re too good not to. There’s a nice hint of cheese, garlic, and cayenne pepper that makes these chips unbeatable.

Ingredients: Organic Kale, Organic Bell Peppers, Organic Cashews, Organic Onion, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Chickpea Miso, Organic Lemon Juice, Organic Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Turmeric, Organic Cayenne Pepper. Contains Tree Nuts.

  • Honorable Mention: Tart Cherry Fig Supersnacks

1900 Calories, 18% Saturated Fat (DV), 16% Dietary Fiber (DV)

The Tart Cherry Fig snacks are wonderful little bite-sized snacks. The cherry compliments the fig really well. Plus, they’re covered in coconut, which makes for the perfect accent.

Ingredients: Organic Figs, Organic Cashews, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut, Organic Walnuts, Organic Dried Tart Cherries, Organic Gluten-Free Oats, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cacao Nibs, Organic Maple Syrup, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt. May Contain An Occasional Pit.

It can be really tough to find quality backpacking food that serves your body while you’re in the backcountry. But, luckily, nutrient-conscious companies are starting to make their way to the fore-front of the backpacking market. Outdoor Herbivore, Packit Gourmet, Good to Go, and Made in Nature are certainly no exception to that trend.

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