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.

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide to Hiking

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST FREEZE DRIED FOOD

PICTURE
PACKAGE
SERVINGS
CALORIES PER SERVING
SODIUM
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
PACKAGE
SERVINGS
CALORIES PER SERVING
SODIUM
PRICE
RATING
Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
2.5
260
800 mg
$
4.6
Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef
2.5
230
780 mg
$
4.6
rei1
MaryJanesFarm Organic Shepherds Meat Pie
1.5
250
780 mg
$$
4.6
Good To-Go Thai Curry
2.0
380
500 mg
$$
4.5
Paleo Meals To Go Canyon Chicken Chili
1.0
310
380 mg
$$
4.4
Paleo Meals To Go Summit Savory Chicken
1.0
300
140 - 730 mg
$$
4.1
Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai Veggie
2.0
460
480 mg
$
4.3
Harmony House Backpacking Kit
70.0
5-104
0-38 mg
$$$
4.3
Good To-Go Classic Marinara with Penne
2.0
460
360 mg
$$
4.2
Backpacker's Pantry Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
2.0
300
1,160 mg
$
4.1

 

FREEZE DRIED FOOD 101

 

4 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST FREEZE DRIED FOOD

 

1. 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.

 

2. 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.

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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.

 

best freeze dried food

Photo by Ian, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

FREEZE DRIED FOOD REVIEWS

 

1. BEST FREEZE DRIED FOOD WITH MEAT

MOUNTAIN HOUSE BEEF STROGANOFF WITH NOODLES

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

 

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2.5

CALORIES PER SERVING: 260

SODIUM: 800 milligrams

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 WITH BEEF

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2.5

CALORIES PER SERVING: 230

SODIUM: 780 milligrams

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 ORGANIC SHEPHERDS MEAT PIE

rei1

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 1.5

CALORIES PER SERVING: 250

SODIUM PER SERVING: 780 milligrams

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

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2

CALORIES PER SERVING: 380

SODIUM: 500 milligrams

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

 

 

 

PALEO MEALS TO GO CANYON CHICKEN CHILI

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 1

CALORIES PER SERVING: 310

SODIUM PER SERVING: 380 milligrams

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

CONS: Expensive, short shelf life

 

 

 

PALEO MEALS TO GO SUMMIT SAVORY CHICKEN

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 1

CALORIES PER SERVING: 300

SODIUM PER SERVING: 140 – 730 milligrams

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

 

 

 

2. BEST VEGETARIAN FREEZE DRIED FOOD

BACKPACKER’S PANTRY PAD THAI VEGGIE

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2

CALORIES PER SERVING: 460

SODIUM PER SERVING: 480 milligrams

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

 

 

 

HARMONY HOUSE BACKPACKING KIT

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 70

CALORIES PER SERVING: 5 – 104

SODIUM PER SERVING: 0 – 38 milligrams

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

 

 

 

GOOD TO-GO CLASSIC MARINARA WITH PENNE

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2

CALORIES PER SERVING: 460

SODIUM PER SERVING: 360 milligrams

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

 

 

 

BACKPACKER’S PANTRY LOUISIANA RED BEANS AND RICE

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking and Backpacking

SERVINGS: 2

CALORIES PER SERVING: 300

SODIUM PER SERVING: 1,160 milligrams

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

 

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