Trail Food Taste-Off: Mouthwatering Meals
Prepackaged meals can be real hit-or-miss. After all, there’s not much worse than having to choke down a nasty pouch of unappetizing slop after a long day on trail. Actually, there is: having to pack out a heavy, uneaten pouch of unappetizing slop. That’s why it’s always good to taste-test your meal selections at home before committing to them on trail. To wrap up our Trail Food Taste-Off, we’re sharing five of our favorite prepackaged meals that taste great and are sure to satisfy. Each are lightweight and a breeze to prepare—and will likely have you scraping the pouches for every last bite!
“This satisfies my burger cravings!” – Sugar
Scoring a perfect 5/5 with our tasting crew, this tasty cheeseburger wrap leads our list. After all, hiker’s love big, tasty hamburgers. It’s one of the most sought-after meals they go for when getting off the trail. Now you can have your trail and burger, too. All it takes is adding a few ounces of hot water to the package of seasoned ground beef. Let it sit for a few minutes to rehydrate, then mix in your condiments of choice (ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish; all included) and the “Works!” packet of shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and sweet onions. Spread it into a BYO tortilla and dig in. These are so good you’ll want to pack extra! $8
SERVINGS: 1 CALORIES: 600 FATS: 43g CARBS: 9g PROTEIN: 41g
“As good as a restaurant entree.” – Bright
Pasta is usually a staple on backpacking menus. It’s lightweight and loaded with carbs. Packit Gourmet scored again with our panel with this rich, meaty pasta dish that will likely have you licking your bowl. Preparation is simple. While you’re boiling the pasta, add just a few ounces of water to the sauce, meat and veggie pouch. When the pasta is ready, squeeze in the pouch of rehydrated sauce, mix it up and serve. You can even top it off with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese (included). Want a veggie option? Go for Packit’s Market Pasta Puttanesca which is the same dish, just sans the beef. $7–$8
BEEF SERVINGS: 1 CALORIES: 830 FATS: 21g CARBS: 125g PROTEIN: 33g
VEG SERVINGS: 1 CALORIES: 730 FATS: 13g CARBS: 127g PROTEIN: 23g
We chose this southwestern dish of quick-cooking rice, large chunks of chicken, black beans, corn and roasted peppers for its nice, zesty flavor. The level of spice is pretty mild, so even sensitive palates can enjoy this one. If you like more heat in your fajitas, just add a packet of your favorite hot sauce. Preparation doesn’t get any easier: just boil water, mix and wait 10 minutes. When it’s ready, you can eat it right out of the pouch, serve it up in dishes, or spread it on a BYO tortilla (good for an extra serving of carbs) and enjoy fajita burritos. Take it a notch even higher and top it off with some freeze-dried shredded cheddar (sold separately). $9
SERVINGS: 2 CALORIES: 280 FATS: 11g CARBS: 25g PROTEIN: 20g (GF)
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“A nice, spicy kick!” – Chris
The tasters in our group who like their food with some extra zip went for this vegan mix of asian rice and veggies. The spice comes from gochujang sauce, which is a savory blend of Korean chilies, fermented red miso and sea salt. Preparation for this dish is easy but takes a little extra time: 20 minutes. Plan for that when you roll into camp and boil your water to get this dish steeping while you set up your tent and get cleaned up. When it’s ready, just serve up and dig in. This dish already offers a decent amount of nutrition, but if you want to add a protein boost, just add in some dehydrated beans or tofu. $12
SERVINGS: 2 CALORIES: 370 FATS: 8g CARBS: 66g PROTEIN: 9g (GF, V)
“Savory and sweet!” – Sugar
Rounding out our top-five selections is this flavorful dish of navy beans and ground beef slow-simmered with diced tomatoes, pineapple, blackstrap molasses, dark brown sugar and bacon. Mmmmm—bacon. This versatile dish is fill-you-up, stick-to-your-ribs tasty. It even got high points from the vegetarian on our crew! This is another dish that’s easy enough to prepare—just add boiling water—but takes a little extra time to steep: 20 minutes. Not that it needs it, but you can up the ante on this dish by topping it off with some crushed corn chips for a little added crunch. It’s also great wrapped in a BYO tortilla. $7–$12
SERVINGS: 1 CALORIES: 470 FATS: 6g CARBS: 80g PROTEIN: 26g
Do you have a favorite backcountry meal? Let us know in the comments below.
PCT: Oregon’s Trail Foods Taste-Off panel consists of a selection of seasoned Pacific Crest Trail section- and thru-hikers, each with years of on-trail experience. Selections and rankings are based on aggregated scoring of a variety of factors, including flavor, texture, ingredients and nutritional value. Nutritional info does not include any suggested add-ons such as tortillas, cheese, etc.
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