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Fuel Your Hike With These Ready-To-Go Meals

Backpacking food has come a long way in recent years. Meals today are creative and delicious. We took prepared meals out on trail this fall to give them a try. Here are some of our favorites.

Backpacking food has come a long way in recent years. Meals today are creative and delicious. We took prepared meals out on trail this fall to give them a try. Here are some of our favorites.

A person sitting on a blanket on the beach, heating up water in a camp stove.
Photo courtesy of Fefnweh Food Co.

Bushka’s Kitchen

Bushka’s Kitchen serves up quick-cooking, freeze-dried meals with some ingredients that might surprise you, including wild boar, bison and chia. They also offer the option of creating your own freeze-dried meals.

Hearty harvest: This hearty meal is filling and cooks in a flash. We tried it as a savory breakfast. It would also work nicely as a filling for tortillas if you were serving two hungry hikers. The boar was delicious and rehydrated well. 3-minute hot-water soak.

Sweet potato mash: This simple mash has just 5 ingredients. It can be used as a side or combined with other ingredients. We added kale to it and it made a great combo. 3-minute hot-water soak.

Fernweh Food Co.

Fernweh offers handy options when you buy their food. Meal can be ordered in a compostable bag or a reusable cotton bag. You can also order in bulk, so you can easily adjust the size of meals to fit your exact needs. 

Sweet potato breakfast bowl: This meal is fantastic — it has a great mix of ingredients including chia seeds, strawberries and dates, and is filling (it was enough for 3 people) and healthy. The pecans are an inspired inclusion. 5-7 minute hot-water soak.

Mushroom pot pie: This mushroom pot pie is classic comfort food, rich and warming. We were impressed with how well the biscuits rehydrated. There was a pleasant kick of moderate spice and the serving was generous. 20-minute hot-water soak.

Food for the Sole

Food for the Sole’s meals are gluten free and vegan, and they offer both cold-soak and hot-soak meals. We were particularly fond of their slaws.

Zesty miso broccoli slaw: We often crave salad on trail, but it’s usually not convenient. This slaw, however, proves that you can enjoy a lightweight, fresh-tasting salad on a hike. The little olive oil packet is an excellent touch. 20-minute cold-water soak.

Triple peanut slaw: This delicious slaw was surprisingly filling, despite its salad-like nature. The texture was great and the peanut butter was a nice, comforting touch. For those who like spice, this would be a good one for a dash of your favorite hot sauce. 20-minute cold-water soak.

Good To-Go

Good To-Go prides itself on using easy-to-pronounce ingredients you could find in your own kitchen. All of their offerings are gluten free and several are vegetarian
or vegan.

Chicken pho: This chicken pho is definitely good cold-weather food. The separate lime seasoning packet was key to the flavors. We also appreciated that the design of the bag made eating very easy. 10-minute hot-water soak.

Cuban rice bowl: This meal has a strong spice kick, for those who like that. The rice and beans go deliciously with the plantains and garlic crema sauce. 12-minute hot-water soak.

Heather’s Choice

Heather’s Choice makes a variety of meals that work well for folks with food allergies or sensitivities. All of their offerings are gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.

Salmon chowder: Salmon chowder feels extremely decadent when eaten in the backcountry. This chowder features delicious salmon and many veggies, which are a nice touch. The milk is coconut, which works well with the overall chowder flavor. 20-minute hot-water soak.

African peanut stew: We loved the flavors in this, as well as the combination of rice and sweet potatoes, which were filling and good hiking fuel. 20-minute hot-water soak.

Nomad Nutrition

Nomad Nutrition creates interesting, delicious meals that will stave off on-trail food boredom. All of their meals are gluten free and they offer vegan and paleo options.

Caribbean curry: This meal comes in a nice compact package. We think this meal is ideal for those who have a slightly smaller appetite or who want to use this as part of a larger meal. We appreciated that it didn’t leave us overstuffed. The quinoa was a particularly good addition. 8-12 minute hot-water soak.

Ukrainian borscht: Borscht makes a cozy and delicious meal — and it’s unlike anything else we’ve tried. The spice level was ideal and it was very warming on a chilly day. Add a bit of extra water if you’d like to sip a bit of broth, too. 8-12 minute hot-water soak.

Outdoor Herbivore 

Outdoor Herbivore makes vegan and vegetarian meals, and most of their ingredients are organic and come from the United States. They offer hot- and cold-soak meals in addition to bulk ingredients.

Lazy lentil salad: This lentil salad includes a variety of flavors and textures, including sunflower seeds, cranberries, onions and apples. It’s really filling and has a great flavor. 5-minute cold-water soak.

Switchback burrito stuffer: This filling mix can be eaten two ways. Add more water to make a soup, or add less water to make a stuffing for tortillas. The tortillas make this feel like a real meal, and the spice level is perfect. 10-minute hot-water soak.

Packit Gourmet

Packit Gourmet offers a variety of options for meals, some of which are cooked in bags and some of which use a skillet. They also offer sides to spruce up your own meals.

Polenta with pork sausage: If you struggle with sweet breakfast on the trail like we do, give this a try. It’s a hot, savory breakfast — ideal for fueling a day of hiking. We added a bit of fresh green onion, which was an excellent choice. 10-minute hot-water soak.

Turkey salad and tortilla: Turkey salad is a brilliant idea for the trail and this meal is well executed. The salad is intended to be eaten on a tortilla, but could also be eaten on its own. We loved the smoky smell and flavor. 10-minute cold-water soak.


Trailtopia creates meals to cover all day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. They also offer side packs, such as hemp seeds or sausage crumbles, that you can add to any meal.

Triple berry crisp: This berry crisp is ideal for sharing — we used it to feed three people. There’s an excellent ratio of berry filling to crunchy topping. Like most backpacking desserts, you’ll want to be careful to mix fully. 10-15 minute hot-water soak.

Chili mac with beef: This classic comfort food is a satisfying trail meal. The spice level is great and the mix of bean, meat and noodles is tasty and filling. If you want to make it next level, bring a bit of cheddar cheese to slice on top. 8-minute hot-water soak.