Dehydrated Foods Review

Climbing Mount Rainier or any big mountain, whether on the fast track or a more scenic pace, requires carrying a pack. Big packs not only slow us down, they are hard on our bodies. In the past, backcountry meals were a heavy portion of our loads. Fortunately, thanks to a bunch of picky foodies and chefs-turned-backcountry-food-aficionados, it’s now possible to eat well and go light! This month, we’ve reviewed what we feel are the best backcountry meals on the market. We’ve highlighted our favorite meals based on taste, packability, and how light they are on our guts and the environment.

In the past, those of us with sensitive digestive systems used to concoct our own bland meal-in-a-bag dinners and avoid dehydrated or freeze dried meals like the plague - lest we blow up like balloons and send our partners or tent mates running for air in the middle of the night. The meals in this review are not only great tasting, but also healthy and allergy sensitive. Each of these meals uses as many organic and healthy ingredients as possible and have vegan and vegetarian options. We’re also pleased to find that nearly all of the companies listed below were founded and run by women.

Best All Around


Price: $15-$16

What We Love Best: These delicious meals come in large servings and provide plenty of nourishment after a big day. When reheating the Gastro Gnome Thai Green Chicken Curry (our favorite), the aroma is tantalizing and delicious - as if you’re waiting for a meal at a restaurant! Our testers appreciated the large amount of chicken in a serving and felt that it delivered an ample amount of protein. One serving contains 760 calories and feels substantial enough to share. The company uses organic ingredients when possible. Started in Bozeman, Montana, Gastro Gnome’s chef and creator was inspired by her travels in Thailand. Plus, the company is a 2% for Conservation Certified Brand.

What We Found Challenging: The serving size could be considered a pro, or a con, but our testers found that one serving is almost too big for a single person, yet feels a little skimpy when splitting two ways. The Curry is heavy on meat and light on veggies. The meals are also a bit bulky to pack.

Good to Go Meals

Price: $14.95

What we Love Best: Great flavor, light and packable. These meals are all gluten free and come in a variety of flavor options with great spice. All the ingredients are identifiable. Our testers especially love the Thai Curry variety. A single serving pouch contains 380 calories, and feels like plenty of food, if you include a pre-dinner snack.  

What We Found Challenging: These real ingredient meals take a while to rehydrate, especially at altitude. Our testers have found that they take about 20 minutes, or more, depending on your elevation.

Mary Jane's Farm Outpost

Price: aries

What We Love Best: Basic, organic and they go down easy. These simple, easy-on-the-gut meals are inexpensive and tasty. We love that they mostly are made with all organic ingredients. The company has a huge variety of flavors and options. We also love that these meals are available in bulk and in single serving options. They cook up fast and are gentle on the stomach. Many vegetarian options are available.

What We Found Challenging: The slight downside to these meals is that they don’t always seem to fill the belly. Some of our testers add a packet of peanut butter to the Curry to make it a bit more substantial. Also, the single serve packets are not resealable, so you have to fold down the top (sometimes we use a small paper clip) to rehydrate.

Farm To Summit

Price: $12.50-$14.50

What We Love Best: These meals are delicious! They taste like a real, home-cooked meal. Most of the calories come from real vegetables. Our testers were psyched! “My taste buds approved and I could not stop the inevitable food comma to come after licking the package clean. So satisfying and you won’t feel like you have to compromise your healthy eating standards on a backcountry pursuit. These ‘misfits’ that can always tag along in my backpack no matter where adventure brings me.”Besides being delicious, this small company is environmentally progressive. They use misfit produce from local farms that can’t be sold in grocery stores to fill out their meals. Plus, the packaging is compostable. We are big fans! The 7.5oz serving packs a punch with 660 calories.

What We Found Challenging: Because they are small, this company is hard to find in stores. Your best bet is to order online. Additionally, their meals are a bit on the pricier side.

LYO's Vegan Nettle Curry

Price: $11

What We Love Best: These plant-based, organic, vegan meals are created in collaboration with Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll, a respected climber who knows food and knows what it’s like to be on long trips in the backcountry. The flavors are unique and delicious - we especially like the nettle curry.

What We Found Challenging: You have to order the meals from the UK. They are the only company listed here that is not founded and run by women.

Patagonia Provisions

Price: varies

What We Love Best: These meals are simple. They have just a few ingredients that are all identifiable, organic, and tasty. The packaging is lightweight and packable. Though the flavor is mild, (we usually add salt!) These meals are always easy on the gut and leave our testers feeling satisfied. They are also reasonably priced, though the portions are small.

What We Found Challenging: In terms of flavor, our testers felt that these meals needed supplemental seasoning. For the breakfast grains, we usually add a little sweetener, some nuts or dried fruit, and sometimes powdered milk. For the dinners, we usually add salt and some spice. Also, the packaging isn’t resealable, so a paper clip or some other fastener is useful to keep the heat in when rehydrating. They also do not provide a lot of GF options.

Header photo courtesy of Catherine Coe

Disclaimer of Liability: Technical rock and ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Neither Broad Beta, LLC., nor any of its employees, shall be held liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information described and/or contained herein, and Broad Beta, LLC. assumes no responsibility for anyone's use of the information.
Any person using our gear in any manner is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques and good judgment. We strongly recommend that every climber seek instruction by a qualified professional.

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