Frequently Asked Camping Food Questions
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.
|BRAND||OVERVIEW||DRYING METHOD||PACKAGING||SERVING SIZE||SHELF LIFE|
|AlpineAire||Large selection of quick-prep entrees plus bulk ingredient pouches||Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredients||Laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber||10 oz., 250-350 calories||3 – 5 years|
|Backpacker’s Pantry||Selection of ethnic cuisine alongside classic entrees. “Performance products” with added natural vitamin supplement.||Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredients||Laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber||12-14 oz., 300-500 calories||3 – 5 years|
|Campfood||Value priced, simple taste profile — basic food for a basic price||Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredients||Laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene pouch||10 oz., 200-300 calories||3 – 5 years|
|Cache Lake||Gourmet pan breads, salads and soups in compact lightweight packaging||Dehydrated||Light-weight bag with zip closure. Does not hold boiling water.||15-18 oz.||1 – 2 years|
|Enertia Trail Food||Good taste, high calories in a compact package||Dehydrated||Clear vacuum packed stand-up with zip closure||16 oz. (soupy), 400 calories||1+ year|
|Mary Jane’s Farm||All organic, vegetarian meals with ethnic flair||Dehydrated||Burnable, stand-up non-aluminum pouch||8 oz., 250-300 calories||3 years|
|Mountain House||Variety of fully cooked, freeze-dried entrees||Freeze-dried||Laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure/ oxygen absorber||10 oz., 250-350 calories||7 years|
|Mountain House Pro-Pak||Vacuum packed classic freeze-dried entrees||Freeze-dried||Vacuum packed, laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene stand-up pouch with resealable zip closure||16 oz., 450-550 calories||7 years|
|Natural High||All natural, gourmet brand. No artificial ingredients||Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredients||10 oz., 250-400 calories||3+ years|
|Richmoor||Old-fashioned style and family-oriented products||Blend of freeze-dried/ dehydrated ingredients||Laminated polyester, foil and polyethylene pouch||10 oz., 250-400 calories||3+ 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.
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.
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!