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Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Lightweight Backpacking Meals

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How to Choose the Best Lightweight Backpacking Meal

Good backpacking meals are few and far between, but lightweight backpacking meals are even harder to find. As backpackers, we know the importance of having lightweight gear and meals, but it can be hard to find meals that taste good, fill you up, and weigh less than your average plate. Finding the best backpacking meals for your backpacking trips seems easy enough, but for those of you who go on extended backpacking trips, you’ll have to focus on the weight of each meal and not just the taste or look of them. Here are a few of the qualities you should look for when choosing the best meals for your next backpacking trip:

Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals

Package Size: The size of each package is important as you’ll be packing as much food, water, and clothing as possible into your backpack. The smaller the package the better, but not every compact meal makes a great meal. Package size is great to keep in mind, but there are a few other things to worry about, too!

Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals

Pieces: Inside some backpacking bundles, you’ll find an assortment of meals. Buying a bundle helps you save money, but you never want to get so many you can’t eat them before their expiration. Find a bundle that matches up with your specific backpacking needs!

How to Choose the Best Lightweight Backpacking Meal

Flavor: Flavor is probably the most important quality you look for every time you buy a backpacking meal. From Thai food to Mac and Cheese, you’ll have a ton of options to choose from when you start looking for meals.

Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals

Shelf Life: How long will the food actually last? We all like to be prepared when out in the backcountry, but sometimes we don’t get to every meal we bought. Look for the expiration or shelf life date to help you better prepare and avoid waste.

Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals

Weight: Weight is a key characteristic when backpacking for several days at a time. Too much weight will leave you bent over after your trek, so minimizing as many pounds as possible is your best bet.

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Add Water: Just add water! Many backpacking meals require you to add water, while others don’t. If you’ll have access to plenty of water during your trip, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if not, focus on getting meals that can be opened and ready to eat!

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We’ve done all the research to help you find the best tasting and lightweight backpacking meals out there. Keep trekkin’ on to see what backpacking meals made our backpacking meal buying guide! If you’re short on time, no worries! Start with our Top Pick and Budget Pick first, then come back when you have more time!

Greenbelly Backpacking Meals

Top Pick
Greenbelly Backpacking Meals take the cake! With no water added, these bars give you up to 3 times the food than a regular snack bar. You’ll find that you won’t need to eat for hours after you’ve had your first one, no matter how active or inactive you are! Each Greenbelly recipe was created by a trained French chef, so you know you’ll be getting a lot of flavor every time you take a bite. These bars were then tested by the manufacturer on a 6 month journey along the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, giving those hikers enough energy to hike 20 miles or more a day! Greenbelly has a commitment to gluten free and fresh ingredients, making their bars good for energy! You’ll receive these bars as soon as a week after they are made, giving you the freshest bar you’ll find on the shelves. The best part is that these individual bags come with a zipper seal to keep your bars fresh even if you come back to it later.
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Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy

Budget Pick
If you’ve been backpacking long enough, you’ve most likely heard of Mountain House backpacking meals. These meals are high quality but don’t leave your wallet looking underfed. The Biscuits and Gravy meal brings back all the memories of your morning breakfast, all in one package. Just add a little bit of water and you’ll be set to enjoy a great breakfast while backpacking in the wilderness. Each meal comes with two servings for you and a buddy, too! Never has a backpacking trip breakfast been so good. The best news is that Mountain House meals have an extremely long shelf life, with this particular meal being up to 30 years, so if you don’t get to all your meals you’ll be happy to know your money and food didn’t go to waste! With a great taste, easy preparation, and an even better price, you’ll be happy you bought at least one or two Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy meals for your next backpacking trip!
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Ova Easy Egg Crystals

Breakfast is easy with the Ova Easy Egg Crystals! If you’re looking for a traditional breakfast on the go with a crazy amount of servings, you’ll be happy you brought these egg crystals with you. Made with 100% real eggs and no preservatives, you’ll find the equivalent of a dozen eggs in every pack. With 6 packages in each bundle, you’ll have 6 dozen eggs to use for your upcoming backpacking trips. Unlike most backpacking food, you’ll find that you can separate out individual servings to avoid wasting an entire package. Just add water and follow the directions on the bag to cook your individual or group serving perfectly! Hikers and emergency preppers alike love these eggs as they taste just like real eggs without the pan and stove. The bottom line is: if you’re looking for a good tasting breakfast, you’ll find that Ova Easy Egg Crystals bring it all together with this traditional breakfast staple!
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Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai

For all the vegetarian and vegan backpackers out there, Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai gives you a package full of flavor and protein without any meat! You can expect to find only Non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients in this particular recipe, meaning you only get the best of the very best, even while in the backcountry. One percent of all Backpacker Pantry sales go towards nonprofit organizations to help save the environment, meaning your purchase makes an impact! With 20 grams of protein and only 460 calories, you’ll be able to power through your day in the forest or on the trail with no problem. But what about the flavor? Inside the package, you’ll find rice noodles, vegetables, a soy protein, peanut butter and roasted peanuts. Add your boiling water to the other ingredients after removing your peanut butter and peanuts. Once it has cooked, pour the peanut butter inside and add your peanuts to finish! Voila! Pad Thai in a backpack is as simple and easy as picking up Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai!
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Mountain House Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is a true backpacking recipe! Mountain House Beef Stroganoff gives you everything you’d expect from this traditional recipe without all the pots, pans, and stoves. With a 25 year shelf life, you’ll also love these backpacking meals as the Pro-Pak packages are made for those who climb to extreme altitudes. These individual packets are designed with a vacuum seal to prevent your meals from expanding (or exploding) at higher elevations! With this bundle, you’ll receive two beef stroganoff meals with two servings in each package. Weighing in at a little over 10 oz, you won’t even notice they’re there until it’s time to eat again. Just add water and you’ll have two meals for two backpackers. It’s as easy as packing them up, boiling some water, and letting them cook, and enjoying your meal. With Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, no matter how high or low you backpack you’ll be able to enjoy a good meal with good friends.
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Peak Refuel Backpacking Food

The Asian cuisine in the backpacking food industry can be a risky choice, but Peak Refuel’s Backpacking Food gives you all the reasons to try their Chicken Teriyaki Rice! You’ll find 2 servings in every meal, making each pouch the perfect lightweight backpacking food for short trips down the trail. You’ll find proteins and vegetables in the Chicken Teriyaki Rice pouch, giving you the best taste and nutrients. This recipe has non-GMO ingredients and 100%r meat products inspected by the USDA for quality you can taste. Just add boiling water to start cooking and within 10 minutes your meal will be ready! Whether it’s for lunch o dinner, you’ll find 40 grams of protein in each pouch to keep you fueled and ready for the next challenge or miles to come. If you’re looking for a quick, tasty meal on the trail, turn to Peak Refuel to find the flavor and protein you need!
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Backpacker's Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo

When the pasta cravings strike, grab Backpacker’s Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo to save the day! Another fan favorite, this classic pasta dish turns into backpacking food with a little freeze drying. Just add 2 cups of water to every Fettuccini pouch to have enough food for you and your hiking buddy. With 18 grams of protein in each serving, you’ll feel the energy run through your veins as you backpack through the trail. Backpacker’s Pantry does a great job of making your meals easy and flavorful. This recipe is made with all natural chicken and egg noodle pasta. You’ll also find roasted red peppers and a creamy alfredo sauce to give your meal its flavor and exquisite Italian taste. If you crave Italian food during long backpacking getaways, pick up traditional Italian dishes like Fettuccini Alfredo can help keep your taste buds happy without breaking the budget. Don’t let your taste buds suffer. As they say, “When in Rome,” go with Backpacker’s Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo!
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Cliffside Backpacking Meal

Paleo and gluten-free backpackers will love Cliffside Backpacking Meals. Every meal fits Paleo diet restrictions and offers you only the best ingredients in every recipe. You won’t find any gluten, grain, milk, or added sugars here! With ingredients like coconut, flaxseed, blueberries, and strawberries, you’ll know you’re getting the best taste you can get in an easy prep meal. Not only does it taste great, every serving provides you with 11 grams of protein, giving you the energy you need for your day on the trail. All you need to do is add a little hot water to cook and you’ll be ready to eat within a few minutes. No mess, no prep, no inconvenience included! As of 2018, the shelf life of the Cliffside Coconut Berry recipe has been extended to two years for all of your backpacking trips to come. If you’re trying to stay on track with your diet or find a healthier backpacking meal, try out the Cliffside Coconut Berry meal on your next adventure!
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Good To Go Mushroom Risotto

If you’re looking for great backpacking food ideas for vegans or gluten-free eaters, Good To Go Mushroom Risotto is another popular choice! This recipe includes your classic idea of risotto with sauteed mushrooms and basil pesto sauce. Even though this package has a shelf life of 4 years, you’ll find that the recipe itself is low in sodium and is made without any preservatives. Good To Go Mushroom Risotto is the true definition of quick and healthy that you’ll be hard pressed to find in other dehydrated foods. All Good to Go foods are made in the USA and dehydrated to prolong the shelf life of your backpacking meals. The dehydration process used gives your food a better way to retain their nutritional value and flavor. You’ll notice on the back of every package that every ingredient is easy to pronounce telling you exactly what you’re eating without looking it up. Good To Go takes pride in this as their dehydrated foods give a more transparent look into what you’re eating, even in the wild!
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Wise Food Company Chili Mac

There’s never a good backpacking trip without chili! Wise Food Company’s Chili Mac brings two of your all-time favorite meals together in one. In this bundle, you’ll find 6 individual pouches of Chili Mac, with two servings in each! Each pouch has a shelf life of 7 years, giving you plenty of time to eat your way through several packages on several backpacking trips. 18 grams of protein are in every package, giving you and your hiking buddy 9 grams of protein each time you sit down to eat! You can cook this meal inside the pouch itself by just adding water. This Chili Mac is known to be full of flavor and light on your wallet, making it an easy purchase for last minute trips or backpacking on a budget. Easy to pack and lightweight, Wise Food Company’s Chili Mac is the perfect backpacking meal if you’re looking for no mess or cleanup! For fans of mac and cheese and chili, you’ll love this backpacking meal for the next time you camp or hit the trail.
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