Camping Food FAQs

Frequently Asked Camping Food Questions

Q: How do the leading camping food brands compare?

Q: What’s the difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated food?

Q: What are the best backpacking food products?  Which should I choose?

Q: What’s the shelf life of the entrees?

A: How do the leading camping food brands compare?

Each of the manufacturers we represent provide food ideal for your weekend backpacking trip or much longer expeditions.  The table below highlights some differences that may lead you to one brand over another.  Our customers often choose products from multiple manufacturers when outfitting their trips.

BRANDOVERVIEWDRYING METHODPACKAGINGSERVING SIZESHELF LIFE
      
AlpineAireLarge selection of quick-prep entrees plus bulk ingredient pouchesBlend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredientsLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber10 oz., 250-350 calories3 – 5 years
      
Backpacker’s PantrySelection of ethnic cuisine alongside classic entrees.  “Performance products” with added natural vitamin supplement.Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredientsLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber12-14 oz., 300-500 calories3 – 5 years
      
CampfoodValue priced, simple taste profile — basic food for a basic priceBlend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredientsLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene pouch10 oz., 200-300 calories3 – 5 years
      
Cache LakeGourmet pan breads, salads and soups in compact lightweight packagingDehydratedLight-weight bag with zip closure.  Does not hold boiling water.15-18 oz.1 – 2 years
      
Enertia Trail FoodGood taste, high calories in a compact packageDehydratedClear vacuum packed stand-up with zip closure16 oz. (soupy), 400 calories1+ year
      
Mary Jane’s FarmAll organic, vegetarian meals with ethnic flairDehydratedBurnable, stand-up non-aluminum pouch8 oz., 250-300 calories3 years
      
Mountain HouseVariety of fully cooked, freeze-dried entreesFreeze-driedLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber10 oz., 250-350 calories7 years
      
Mountain House Pro-PakVacuum packed classic freeze-dried entreesFreeze-driedVacuum packed, laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure16 oz., 450-550 calories7 years
      
Natural HighAll natural, gourmet brand.  No artificial ingredientsBlend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredientsLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber10 oz., 250-400 calories3+ years
      
RichmoorOld-fashioned style and family-oriented productsBlend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredientsLaminated polyester, foil and polyethylene pouch10 oz., 250-400 calories3+ years

A: What’s the difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated food?

Freeze-drying: Food is rapidly frozen then placed in a strong vacuum.  98 percent of moisture in the food is removed as vapor through sublimation.  Freeze-drying uses low heat and causes little damage to the tissue, taste or aroma.  Products easily reconstitute and more closely resemble the taste and texture of the pre-dried food.  The process is time consuming and requires large, expensive machinery.

Dehydration: Heat is applied to a food, removing the moisture through evaporation.  This is the preferred drying method for some foods, including onions, peppers and tomatoes.  Dehydration is a lower cost method and results in a more compact product.

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A: What are the best backpacking food products?  Which should I choose?

There is no one best choice for backpacking food brands.  We find that customers have favorites from each of the leading brands.  We encourage visitors to write reviews for products they’ve tested in the field.  You can find a list of the “5 Star” selections on this page.

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A: What’s the shelf life of the entrees?

Each product is “best by” date coded — generally 3 or more years from date of manufacture.  See brand variations in the above table.  Although we hold an inventory, our sales volume and inventory rotation procedures ensure you have the freshest possible product. Expected shelf life is set by the manufacture and is based on the ingredients, drying method and packaging.  Entrees including shrimp, nuts or dairy products have a shorter shelf life.  Vegetables, fruits, meat, grains and beans can last significantly beyond the typical three years.

Oxygen, moisture, light and heat are food’s enemies.  Good packaging controls the first three factors.  Storing your packaged food in a cool pantry will further extend it’s life.  In the freezer, packaged dried food can last decades! 

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