You don’t need a stove or running water to heat up a warm dinner, making convenience the forte of an Omeals meal. The Mountain Beef Stew Pouch we tried had an impressive ingredient list: beef, vegetables, spices, and sea salt. The heaters only need a small bit of water to activate, making these meals a huge plus when traveling in dry environments like Utah. And although their meals are advertised as one serving, take a closer look at the label: some of them have more calories than two-serving meals from other brands. When you find the calorie number on the back of your food pouch, take note that it denotes the number of calories in a single serving. Ambitious backcountry chefs can stock up on the staples—instant pasta and beans, egg powder, vegetable mix, and more—and save a good deal of cash in the process. *These numbers represent the averages of weight and calories per serving for the top five meals from each brand (when available). Perhaps their names and labeling create overly high expectations, or maybe mixing healthy ingredients with a short cook time stresses the flavors. If you need quick calories, other pouch meals such as Mountain House and AlpineAire cook in half the time. Due to its lower water content, freeze-dried food is lighter and has a longer shelf life than dehydrated food. Finally, Next Mile Meals are best within a year of purchase, and the included condiments have a short 180-day shelf life. And keep an eye out for Simple Sensations, Mountain House’s new selection of all-natural freeze-dried meals.See Mountain House Meals. Good To-Go represents a new generation of backpacking meals: food that we actually would consider eating at home. Cooking method: PouchAverage cook time: 10-12 minutesCalories per ounce: 110What we like: Incredibly nutrient dense.What we don’t: Steep price tag of $13 for a single serving. If you’re eating only pouch or pre-cooked meals, chances are you won’t need to pack a pot. Copyright © 2020 Mountain House. One serving of Paleo Meals To Go’s Beef Stew Pouch is packed with 320%, 45%, and 90%, respectively. Macaroni and cheese, couscous and canned chicken, a frozen burrito bought the morning of, Tasty Bites, even fresh vegetables: the sky is the limit. Perfect for camping trips, backpacking excursions and emergency food storage, our camping food meals can be whipped up in minutes to satiate hungry bellies. A full list of 17 simple backpacking meal recipes. The meals we feature in this article, though certainly the most convenient, aren’t the only way to bring dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients into the backcountry. Packit Gourmet isn’t a household name like Mountain House above, but the small online marketplace boasts an impressively diverse lineup including prepackaged meals, bulk dried ingredients, individually packaged sauces, and even separate Cook-in-Bags for DIY dehydrated food. It might be a matter of personal preference, but we found the dinners to be over-seasoned. These meals are heavier than most because they’re pre-cooked, but unlike Omeals, they still pack in an impressive amount of calories. Unlike Good To-Go above and Next Mile Meals and Heather’s Choice below, you won’t find all-natural or organic ingredients here, and those with special diets should look elsewhere. The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. Mountain House has been dishing up backcountry meals for over 50 years, but the competition has never been fiercer. These ketogenic entrées cut the carbs and pack in calorie- and nutrient-dense foods like meat, veggies, and cheese. Both processes result in dried food that needs to be soaked in water to regain its size, texture, and edibility, but with noticeably different characteristics. For some, food preparation (rather than simply pouring water into a pouch and waiting 10 minutes) can even be a fun way to relax at the end of the day. Beloved by backpackers for years, REI Co-op’s Half Dome boasts many of the features we love in a tent at a very reasonable price point. Others need to be simmered over a flame for a minute or two, but that is much less than the 5 to 10 minutes that other brands require. From the bottom of the ocean to the peak of Everest, we’ve fueled expeditions in every climate and situation. Unfortunately, the taste of AlpineAire meals just doesn’t measure up. With a simple Google search you can find tasty recipes like this Beef and Barley Stew. Some non-cook meals, others just need to add hot water. Impressively, many of the dinner options contain a whopping 40 grams of protein per serving and average out to 125 calories per ounce. And to complete your kit, we also recommend looking at Heather’s Choice’s breakfast options ($7) and her popular cookie-like Packaroons, which offer 170 calories of healthy fats and sugars in a 1-ounce package.See Heather's Choice Meals. When cooking for more than one, we recommend bringing a lightweight bowl or mug/bowl combo along. With names like Wild Quinoa Pilaf with Hemp Seeds, Honey Lime Chicken, and Southwestern Style Beef Nachos, you practically feel like you’re ordering from a restaurant. For more background information on choosing the right meal, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks. Now, this small and growing company is one of our favorite choices when it comes to taste, ingredients, and gluten-free options. If you’re looking for flavorful or all-natural ingredients, look elsewhere. What we don’t: Lots of preservatives and sodium. And take note: if you’re dehydrating food and planning to store it for months or years, make sure that it’s properly dehydrated and fully sealed. And the cherry on top: each meal comes in an impressively tiny package (kudos to Heather for conserving materials), which is great for small packs and spoons alike. If you’re less inclined to DIY, Outdoor Herbivore also offers a variety of breakfasts and entrées that feature a nice combination of all-natural ingredients and caloric density, available in both single and double servings. For example, Packit Gourmet meals average 558 calories per 4.88 ounce serving: divide 558 by 4.88 and you get 114, the calories per ounce. Paleo Meals To Go also come at a high price: $13 for one serving, to be exact. The dehydration process, on the other hand, exposes food to hot and dry air over several hours (smoking and sun-drying are also methods of dehydrating). Ultralight Backpacking Food Prep For Extreme Thru Hikes Cooking Methods & Cadence: On most trips I don’t stop for lunch; I eat just two meals and then I graze throughout the day. Patagonia—the legendary clothing company—is indeed making an appearance on our list of backcountry meals. For the weight of one Omeals package, you could bring five Mountain House meals, which would add up to over 1,300 calories. Most brands featured above offer a lineup of breakfasts too, ranging from savory options like the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet to sweet treats like Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Bananas, Almonds and Milk. That said, we don’t think the changes were necessarily all good. If you prefer dehydrated, pre-packaged meals, try Backpackers Pantry or Mountain House. Good To-Go pouches, for example, are fully gluten-free.