Updated on

Hiking takes a lot of energy. After a long day on the trail, you need to pause and refuel. Trail mix is perfect for a quick pick-me-up, but you need a meal to replace the energy you’ve lost. The best freeze dried food options on the market will help you recover and continue your hike.

Freeze dried food is shelf-stable and easy to carry in a backpack. Whether you’re going to be on the trail for a few days or a week, it can be an important supplement to your food supply.

Just because you’re exhausted from hiking doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste. This guide will help you find the best freeze dried food for your hike and your palate.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out the Best Backpacking Stoves

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

Quick Answer - The Best Freeze Dried Food For Hiking

  1. Mountain House Beef Stroganoff
  2. Mountain House Chili Mac
  3. MaryJanesFarm Shepherds Pie
  4. Good To-Go Thai Curry
  5. Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai Veggie
  6. Good To-Go Classic Marinara Penne
  7. Harmony House Backpacking Kit
  8. Backpacker’s Pantry Red Beans and Rice
  9. Paleo Meals Summit Savory Chicken
  10. Paleo Meals Canyon Chicken Chili

 

Comparison Table - Best Freeze Dried Food for Hiking

PictureNameServingsCalories per ServingSodiumPriceRating
Mountain House Beef Stroganoff2.5260800 mg$4.6
Mountain House Chili Mac2.5230780 mg$4.6
MaryJanesFarm Shepherds Pie1.5250780 mg$$4.6
Good To-Go Thai Curry2.0380500 mg$$4.5
Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai Veggie2.0460480 mg$4.3
Good To-Go Classic Marinara Penne2.0460360 mg$$4.2
Harmony House Backpacking Kit70.05-1040-38 mg$$$4.3
Backpacker’s Pantry Red Beans and Rice2.03001,160 mg$4.1
Paleo Meals Summit Savory Chicken1.0300140 - 730 mg$$4.1
Paleo Meals Canyon Chicken Chili1.0310380 mg$$4.4
PictureNameServingsCalories per ServingSodiumPriceRating

MULTI-DAY HIKING PACKING LIST

Don't forget important gear at home!


Print out this free hiking packing list to prepare for your next adventure.


* You will get weekly emails with practical hiking advice that complement the information contained in the packing list. You can always opt out of these emails.

 

Reviews - The Best Hiking Freeze Dried Food

Mountain House Beef Stroganoff

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 260
  • Servings: 2.5
  • Sodium: 800 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, noodles have nice texture and consistency, packaging is easy to pack out

CONS: High in sodium, beef takes a while to rehydrate, single serving size is too small

Mountain House Chili Mac

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 230
  • Servings: 2.5
  • Sodium: 780 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, well-seasoned, packaging is easy to pack out

CONS: High in sodium, watery, noodles take a while to cook, single serving size is too small

MaryJanesFarm Shepherds Pie

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 250
  • Servings: 1.5
  • Sodium: 780 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, well-seasoned, very thick consistency, packaging is easy to pack out

CONS: Expensive, high in sodium, slight aftertaste

Good To-Go Thai Curry

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 380
  • Servings: 2.0
  • Sodium: 500 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, rice has a nice texture, well-seasoned, lower in sodium, lots of vegetables, gluten-free

CONS: Expensive, single serving size is too small, takes a long time to cook

Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai Veggie

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 460
  • Servings: 2.0
  • Sodium: 480 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Inexpensive, high in protein, gluten-free, vegan

CONS: Single serving size is too small, a little bland, watery, noodles don’t always cook through

Good To-Go Classic Marinara Penne

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 460
  • Servings: 2.0
  • Sodium: 360 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, noodles have nice texture and consistency, lower in sodium, vegan, gluten-free

CONS: Expensive, single serving size is too small, takes a long time to cook, noodles do not always rehydrate properly

Harmony House Backpacking Kit

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 5-104
  • Servings: 70.0
  • Sodium: 0-38 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Kit includes lots of servings, recipes are included, lots of options for variety, low in sodium, gluten-free, vegan, cooks quickly

CONS: Meals must be assembled, meals must be cooked in a pot or bag, ingredients require soaking before cooking, needs additional spices

Backpacker’s Pantry Red Beans and Rice

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 300
  • Servings: 2.0
  • Sodium: 1,160 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, inexpensive, gluten-free, vegan

CONS: Very high in sodium, single serving size is too small, a little bland, takes a long time to cook, texture is slightly off, beans don’t always cook through, watery

Paleo Meals Summit Savory Chicken

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 300
  • Servings: 1.0
  • Sodium: 140 - 730 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, has nice texture and consistency, separate salt packet for control over the level of sodium in the meal, high in protein, paleo, gluten-free, very filling

CONS: Expensive, not flavorful enough, short shelf life

Paleo Meals Canyon Chicken Chili

Specs
  • Calories per Serving: 310
  • Servings: 1.0
  • Sodium: 380 mg

BEST FOR: HIKING AND BACKPACKING

PROS: Tastes good, has nice texture and consistency, high in protein, low in sodium, paleo, gluten-free

CONS: Expensive, short shelf life

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST FREEZE DRIED FOODS

TASTE

If you don’t like your food, you’re not going to eat it. The bar sometimes seems lower when you’ve just covered a lot of miles, but taste is still important!

The freeze dried food made today is much better than what was on the market 20-30 years ago. That said, some products still have weird texture and aftertaste issues.

You don’t want to be disappointed when you’re desperate to get some calories into your body. Try your freeze dried meals out before you get on the trail. Sampling it will give you the opportunity to make sure you find it tasty.

Testing your meals lets you troubleshoot the cooking process. It will also give you time to figure out how to make it fit your palate. Sometimes, the best way to make a freeze dried meal great is to add a little spice.

You can’t make the best freeze dried food without hot water. Find the right stove for your trip with our guide to the best backpacking stoves.

 

CALORIES

Your caloric intake is crucial when you’re hiking. According to Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person can burn 438 calories per hour hiking. Backpackers burn approximately 511 calories per hour on the trail.

What do these numbers mean? If you’re hiking or backpacking for five hours or more, you will burn an enormous amount of calories.

Choose a freeze dried meal with enough calories to replace what you’ve lost exercising. You may even need to eat more than one serving of your freeze dried food. You don’t want to stuff yourself, but you want to select a meal that will leave you feeling satisfied.

 

SODIUM

Like soup and other preserved foods, many freeze dried meals are high in sodium. Sodium, aka salt, adds flavor to food. It also helps to keep it fresh.

However, too much sodium in your diet is unhealthy. It can raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

With freeze dried food, it can be easy to exceed this number – especially if you eat all 2.5 servings in a bag.

Be conscious of how much sodium you’re eating in each serving. Strike a balance by alternating high-sodium freeze dried foods with lower sodium ones. Also, consider supplementing your freeze dried food with lower sodium foods throughout the day.

What if you’re on a low-sodium diet? Are there still freeze dried options available? Yes! Companies like Harmony House Foods sell basic items that you can use to create your own freeze dried meals. There’s little to no sodium included, so you have the freedom to add as much or as little as you would like to your meal.

 

PROTEIN

Protein helps your muscle fibers repair themselves, which can help you recover from exercise.

Recovery time is vital when you’re on the trail. On a long backpacking journey, you need to be able to get up and hike day after day. Look for freeze dried foods that are high in protein and can give you the edge you need to continue.

In need of more energy while hiking or backpacking? Check out our article about making coffee while camping.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Backpacking Stoves

About The Author

Day Hiking Expert

Nikki is a writer, adventurer, and day hiker based in Washington, DC. As a nature-loving city dweller, she is often on the lookout for secret grassy spots and hidden parks in and around the District. Her favorites include Rock Creek Park and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Always up for a challenge, Nikki completed her first 50K in April 2016.

93 Shares
Tweet5
Pin60
Share28
Email
Flip