The Best Backpacking Food of 2023: A Comprehensive Review

Are you tired of eating the same old dehydrated backpacking meals on your outdoor adventures? Look no further! We have tested and reviewed the best backpacking food brands of 2023 to bring you a list...

Are you tired of eating the same old dehydrated backpacking meals on your outdoor adventures? Look no further! We have tested and reviewed the best backpacking food brands of 2023 to bring you a list of delicious and nutritious options that will make your taste buds dance.

The Ultimate Backpacking Food Guide

Backpacking foods are essential for long trips into the backcountry. They are lightweight and shelf-stable, making them perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. However, finding tasty and easy-to-digest options can be a challenge. That's where our team of five experienced backpackers comes in. We tested and rated various backpacking meals based on preparation, taste, nutritional value, and post-meal feel.

Image of dehydrated meals Image: A sampling of the dehydrated meals consumed during our Backpacking Gear Test. Photo by Ashley Thess

How We Tested the Best Backpacking Food

During our Outdoor Life Backpacking Gear Test, our team of five testers ate backpacking food for eight consecutive meals over four days. We assessed the meals based on various criteria, including taste, nutritional value, preparation ease, and how they made us feel.

Image of testers examining tasting notes Image: Testers examining tasting notes. Photo by Ashley Thess

The meals on our list are made using real ingredients and are free from frightening fillers or unpronounceable additives. We focused on lightweight, tasty options that provide the necessary nutrients for your outdoor adventures.

Our Top Picks for the Best Backpacking Food

After rigorous testing, we have compiled a list of the best backpacking food options for 2023. Here are our top recommendations:

Best Tasting: Stowaway Gourmet

  • Price: $16.95-$19.95
  • Shelf Life: 5 years
  • Net Weight: 3.4-5.2 ounces
  • Protein: 12-43 grams
  • Calories: 435-704

Stowaway Gourmet offers gourmet backpacking meals that taste like fine dining at a five-star restaurant. With unique protein choices like venison, wild boar, and bison, Stowaway Gourmet sets itself apart from the competition. The meals are decadent, filling, and nutritious, making them perfect for special occasions or to impress fellow backpackers.

Image of Stowaway Gourmet meal Image: Diana Helmuth enjoying Stowaway Gourmet’s La Pasta Nostra. Photo by Diana Helmuth

Best Tasting Runner-Up: Pinnacle Foods

  • Price: $16
  • Shelf Life: 1 year (Omnidegradable bags) or 5 years (retort bag)
  • Net Weight: 3.5-5.1 ounces
  • Protein: 25-53 grams
  • Calories: 550-850

Pinnacle Foods offers flavorful options reminiscent of your favorite frozen meals from Trader Joe's. From Italian Sausage and Zesty Tomato Sauce with Farfalle Pasta to Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits and Herbed Sausage Gravy, Pinnacle Foods delivers delicious and satisfying meals. The wide and shallow packaging allows for easy access with a regular-length spork, making meal preparation a breeze.

Image of Pinnacle Foods meals Image: Easy-to-eat low-profile bags from Pinnacle Foods. Photo by Ashley Thess

Best Value: Packit Gourmet

  • Average Entree Price: $14
  • Shelf Life: 18 months
  • Net Weight: 3.2-7.4 ounces
  • Protein: 23-50 grams
  • Calories: 370-800

Packit Gourmet offers homemade-style meals that will make you feel like mom packed a delicious meal for your trail adventures. The creativity and attention to detail in these meals are amazing. From Mango Curry Chicken Salad to All-American Burger Works, Packit Gourmet delivers flavors and ingredients that you actually crave on the trail. These meals are perfect for those seeking a comforting and fulfilling backpacking food experience.

Image of Packit Gourmet meals Image: The beloved Packit Gourmet burger and chicken salad. Photo by Ashley Thess

Best Vegan: Fernweh Food Co

  • Average Price: $14.54
  • Shelf Life: 1 year
  • Net Weight: 4.5 ounces
  • Protein: 11-25 grams
  • Calories: 520-630

Fernweh Food Co offers gluten-free and plant-based meals that are perfect for vegans and vegetarians. While the flavors can be hit or miss, Fernweh Food Co provides unique and creative options for those looking to explore different taste profiles. The compostable packaging makes Fernweh Food Co a sustainable choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Image of Fernweh Food Co meal Image: Diana Helmuth and Jac Mitchell enjoying Fernweh Food Co meals. Photo by Ashley Thess

Best Accessible: Backpacker’s Pantry

  • Average Entree Price: $10
  • Shelf Life: 3-10 years
  • Net Weight: 2.3-6.7 ounces
  • Protein: 13-41 grams
  • Calories: 300-820

Backpacker's Pantry offers affordable, high-calorie meals that are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. With a wide range of flavors and options, Backpacker's Pantry meals can be found at retail stores like REI. While taste can be hit or miss, the high-calorie content ensures that you stay energized during your outdoor adventures.

Image of Backpacker's Pantry meal Image: The author and Jac enjoying a variety of Backpacker's Pantry meals. Photo by Jac Mitchell

Best Gluten-Free: Good to Go

  • Price: $8.60 (single serving) $15.50 (double serving)
  • Shelf Life: 4-5 years
  • Net Weight: 4.9-6.7 ounces
  • Protein: 13-16 grams per serving
  • Calories: 350-540 per serving

Good to Go offers preservative-free and gluten-free meals that are kind to your digestive system. While some meals can be bland, Good to Go focuses on providing lower sodium options that are easier to digest. With vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian options available, Good to Go ensures that everyone can enjoy their backpacking meals.

Image of Good to Go meal Image: Laura Lancaster enjoying Good to Go Pho. Photo by Ashley Thess

Best Granola: Alpen Fuel

  • Price: $9
  • Shelf Life: 18 months
  • Net Weight: 4.4-5.6 ounces
  • Protein: 16-24 grams
  • Calories: 720-770

Alpen Fuel offers calorie-dense granola breakfasts that provide a sweet and filling start to your day. While some flavors can be overly sweet, Alpen Fuel delivers high-quality granola with nutritional value. These meals are perfect for those craving a hearty and energizing breakfast.

Image of Alpen Fuel meal Image: Diana Helmuth preparing her breakfast using Alpen Fuel granola. Photo by Diana Helmuth

Highest Calorie: Peak Refuel

  • Price: $14
  • Shelf Life: 5 years
  • Net Weight: 4.59-6.77 ounces
  • Protein: 13-53 grams
  • Calories: 530-1,100

Peak Refuel offers calorie- and protein-dense meals that will refuel you after a long day of hiking. These meals are designed for two people but can easily be devoured by one hungry adventurer. While rehydration times can be longer than stated, Peak Refuel provides comfort food options that will keep you satisfied on your outdoor escapades.

Image of Peak Refuel meal Image: Jac Mitchell enjoying a Peak Refuel meal. Photo by Jac Mitchell

Best Add-On: Meat Shredz Premium Dried Pulled Pork

  • Price: $6.99
  • Shelf Life: 1 year
  • Net Weight: 2.2 ounces
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Calories: 160

Meat Shredz Premium Dried Pulled Pork is the perfect protein add-on for your backpacking meals. These lightweight packets of dried pulled pork enhance the flavor and nutritional value of any dish. Add it to mac and cheese, burritos, or even scrambled eggs for a protein boost. While the pork can be quite dry on its own, it becomes a delightful addition when paired with other ingredients.

Image of Meat Shredz dried pulled pork Image: Diana Helmuth enjoying Meat Shredz Premium Dried Pulled Pork. Photo by Diana Helmuth

Best Instant Ramen Upgrade: Immi

  • Price: $39 for a pack of six
  • Shelf Life: 9 months
  • Net Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Protein: 21 grams
  • Calories: 300

Immi offers instant ramen with a twist. With higher protein content and lower sodium levels, Immi's ramen surpasses the traditional instant ramen options. The noodles cook quickly and provide a satisfying meal during cold outdoor lunch breaks. Customize your ramen with toppings like peanut butter or Meat Shredz Sriracha Pulled Pork for a more substantial and flavorful experience.

Image of Immi instant ramen Image: Jac Mitchell enjoying Immi instant ramen. Photo by Jac Mitchell

Things to Consider Before Buying Backpacking Food

Before making a purchase, consider the following factors:


Backpacking meals often contain high levels of sodium to preserve the food and replenish electrolytes. While sodium is essential for active individuals, excessive consumption can lead to discomfort. Be mindful of your sodium intake, especially if you are on a more relaxed trip or have dietary restrictions. Look for meals with lower sodium options if needed.


Each backpacking meal requires different preparation methods. Some meals may take longer to rehydrate or require more water than others. Consider the cooking time and water requirements when planning your meals on the trail. Stir the meals thoroughly during preparation to ensure even rehydration and optimal taste.


Choosing the right backpacking food can make or break your outdoor adventure. With our comprehensive review of the best backpacking food brands of 2023, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals on your next trip. Remember to consider your dietary needs, taste preferences, and preparation requirements when selecting your meals. Happy backpacking!

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