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It is important that people enjoying outdoor pursuits keep up their energy levels. The best way of doing this is by having something nutritious to eat. The problem that hikers, backpackers, trekkers, and campers face is that it is difficult for them to store fresh foods in their backpacks. Bot only do these take up space, they are also at risk of going off in warm weather or getting squashed into other items of the backpack. One of the best solutions to this problem is to take freeze dried foods with you when camping or hiking. Here are a selection of the best freeze dried backpacking food.
Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Foods (Fruits & Veggies)
This variety pack has three different flavor options; apple, mango, and pineapple. This is a pure product that only contains fruit and not additives or preservatives. This is a healthy and convenient snack for when you are on the go and it is a suitable option for those following vegan or paleo diets.
This pack of 24 bags of fruit crisps contains three flavors; Fuji apple, Asian pear, and strawberry and banana. Each bag has two portions of the fruit crisps, so they are great for sharing with a fellow hiker or as a larger serving for yourself. This vegan and nut-free snack is tasty and nutritious without including additives or preservatives.
This snack combines the flavors and nutritional properties of strawberries, chia seeds, and beets. Each pack is the equivalent to one serving of fruits and vegetables. This is an organic, sugar-free, non-GMO product that only contains natural ingredients. There are 12 sachets in this pack.
Backpackers can enjoy three fruity flavors when they buy this product; blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry. This adds a little variety to the snacks you take with you backpacking. They are made from ripe fruit so that they have the fullest flavor when freeze-dried. If you don’t want to eat these alone, they are great when added to cereals or yogurt.
The four flavors in this variety pack are cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry. The product is made using farm-to-table fruit and is freeze-dried at a low temperature to retain all the nutrients. This snack is 100 percent natural and consists of small chunks of the dried fruit.
This snack contains nothing but organic certified, American-grown grapes, so it is a perfect snack for vegans. There is no added sugar, additives, or preservatives in this product. It is a delicious, nutritious, and crunchy treat for you to enjoy and can give you the burst of energy you need.
This vegetable soup is a warming snack or light lunch that you can easily make by just adding hot water. Alternatively, the manufacturers say that you can eat the dried vegetables directly out of the bag as a crunchy snack. This gluten-free soup is packed with vitamins and minerals.
Great for camping, backpacking, hiking, and emergency preparedness, these freeze-dried raspberries are a tasty snack that have retained the flavor of fresh raspberries. You can eat them alone straight from the pack or add them to cereals. They have a shelf-life of over 25 years and do not contain trans fats, hydrogenated oils, MSG, or GMO.
This sampler pack contains 15 packs of raw food products. It is a good option if you prefer to combine your own ingredients over a campfire and not simply relying on sachets of pre-prepared food. Each zip pouch contains one cup of the raw product, so the pack has 38 cups of vegetables. To eat, you must soak or simmer them in water for 15 minutes.
For fans of savory flavors, this roasted corn is a wholesome snack. It is an organic and sugar-free snack that you can eat directly from the bag. You can also add it to your trail mix to combine the corn with other flavors and textures. Each serving has 100 calories and 4g of protein.
Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Foods (Meals)
This meal has pasta noodles coated in a marinara sauce with pieces of beef. It is a hearty meal and each pack contains two servings. Each serving contains 490 calories, 25g protein, and 29g of carbohydrates, of which 4g sugars. It is also a good source of calcium and iron. The beef is real meat as this product contains no meat fillers.
Each pack contains 14 pouches, so you have enough food for lunch and dinner for seven days. This is ideal for longer backpacking or hiking trips. Alternatively, you can store the pack in your cupboard at home and just take the meals you want for shorter trips. To prepare, you just need to add boiling water to each pouch and it will rehydrate in 12 minutes.
Each pack has six pouches of beef stroganoff with noodles. This is quick and easy to make as you just add hot water directly to the pouch and the meals are ready in under 10 minutes. You can eat directly out of the sturdy pouches, so there is nothing to clean-up after eating.
This is a hearty soup that is filling for either lunch or dinner. Each pack has five servings and you just need to add one serving to a cup and then top up with boiling water. This vegetarian option is made with quality ingredients and it has a shelf-life of 25 years.
This spicy pasta and beef meal is in a pouch containing two and a half portions measuring one cup or a large individual portion. Therefore, you can eat it as a snack or as a full meal. If you are eating the whole serving, you can simply add boiling water directly to the pouch and eat from this with no mess. Alternatively, pour a portion into a cup and fill with hot water for a snack.
These pouches contain diced cooked beef that rehydrates when you add water. If you are a meat-lover, you can eat these alone. Alternatively, combine them with noodles, rice, or vegetables to create a warming and nutritious meal.
Beef stew is a favorite when people need a filling or warming meal. This beef stew is ideal for colder weather or for giving yourself the protein you need to boost your energy. This is another meal that you can add water directly to the pouch and enjoy in under 10 minutes.
A healthy option, this dish combines rice and chicken with delicate spicing for extra flavor. Each pouch has three one-cup servings as a snack or you can add boiling water to the pouch for a full dinner. This product comes with a 30-year taste guarantee.
This product is chunks of freeze-dried, cooked chicken that you rehydrate with boiling water. You can eat the chunks of chicken as a snack or use the chicken as an ingredient to cook a meal over a stove. It works well with rice or vegetables.
This meal samples pack has a range of Legacy Premium’s best freeze-dried backpacking meals. Some of the meals include enchilada beans & rice, pasta alfredo, chicken a la king, and classic chili mix. The manufacturer claims that their meals are larger than the competitors, so this is a good pack to buy for those with a larger appetite.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions about Freeze Dried Foods
What is Freeze-Dried Food and How Is it Made?
Freeze-drying is a process used to give food products a longer shelf-life by removing most of the water from the food while retaining the nutrition and flavor. The process is completed in three stages. The first step is to freeze the food. Next, the food is put in a vacuum chamber with a low heat. This causes the ice crystals to evaporate and turn into water vapor. This stage is repeated using a slightly higher temperature and this is known as secondary drying. Finally, the food is nitrogen sealed. This prevents it from becoming contaminated with water or bacteria.
Is Freeze-Dried Fruit Healthy?
Yes, freeze-dried fruit is healthy. All that is removed from the fruit during the freeze-drying process is the water. It retains all the vitamins, minerals, and taste. Therefore, freeze-dried fruit still has the nutritional properties of a healthy food.
The Advantages of Freeze Drying
- Compared to other dehydration methods, freeze-drying food retains most of their flavor and nutritional value.
- Freeze-drying increases the shelf-life of the food by at least twice as much as other preservation methods.
- Freeze-dried food is lightweight, and this means it is ideal for campers, hikers, and backpackers who need to keep the weight they carry to a minimum.
The Disadvantages of Freeze-Drying
- It is a long and expensive process, and this is reflected in the price of freeze-dried products. Buying freeze-dried food is much more expensive than buying fresh food or foods preserved using other methods.
- The second issue with freeze-dried foods is that you need water to rehydrate them. For some freeze-dried snacks, this is not an important factor to consider. However, from a survivalist perspective, the need for water is a potential problem. Similarly, an ultralight backpacker who is visiting a remote area may not carry enough water with them for every meal and may find it difficult to find a water source for freeze-dried meals.
What is the Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Food and How Long Does It Last After Opening?
Freeze dried food has a longer shelf-life than fresh foods or foods preserved in other ways. As a rule, the shelf-life of freeze-dried food is twice as long as foods preserved using other methods. However, this can vary between products and it is important to check the packaging. Many freeze-dried products claim to have a shelf-life of over 25 years. Once you have opened the packet, most products need eating in a week as once the package is opened the food can collect moisture and bacteria. If you do not consume the food in that time, you should throw it away.
Do You Need Water to Prepare Freeze-Dried Foods?
There are some freeze-dried foods that you do not need water to prepare. For example, it is possible to eat many fruits and vegetable snacks directly from the packet. However, the meal products that contain a variety of ingredients do need water for preparation.
Why Should You Take Freeze-Dried Food on Your Hiking or Camping Trip?
There are several advantages to taking freeze-dried food on your hiking or camping trip. These include the following:
- It is lighter than canned or fresh foods
- It will not spoil other items in your backpack or luggage
- It will not go out of date while you are away on your trip
- The food pouches take up minimal space in your backpack
- They are nutritious as they have retained their nutritional value in the freeze-drying process
- They have almost as much flavor as fresh foods
Tips for Storing Freeze Dried Food
- Store the foods in a dry place away from anywhere with water. High shelves are better as this reduces the risk of water getting near the packages.
- Follow the packaging guidelines with regards to location and length of storage.
- It is fine to keep these foods at room temperature, such as in a store cupboard or pantry.
- Once opened, use a clip to seal the bag to prevent moisture and bacteria getting in and consume within a week.
- Use a rotation process. This involves putting the products that go out of date first at the front and items you have bought recently with a longer shelf-life at the back of the shelf.
Freeze Dried Food vs. Dehydrated Food
People often mistakenly believe that freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are the same thing. This is not the case as although they share some similarities, there are many differences between the two. The following are things to consider when comparing the two.
- Process- Although both dehydrating and freeze-drying are processes that remove water from food with the purpose of increasing shelf-life, they are completely different processes. Freeze-drying is a longer process that uses low temperatures, while dehydration is a quicker process that removes water at higher temperatures.
- Taste- Both dehydration and freeze-drying will retain most of the flavor and nutritional value of foods. Some foods even taste better as these processes can intensify some flavors.
- Rehydration- While you can eat some freeze-dried foods as snacks without rehydration, meals do need rehydrating. Most dehydrated foods will also need dehydrating. To rehydrate both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, you will need clean, fresh drinking water. The rehydration process works best when using boiling water.
- Cooking- Cooking of both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods is done by adding boiling water. In both cases, it takes approximately 10 minutes until the food is ready. There are some foods that take a little longer, so always follow the instructions.
- Cost- Dehydrated foods are cheaper than freeze-dried foods. This is because the freeze-drying process is long, expensive, and requires a lot of energy. The difficulties and cost of the process are reflected in the price.
- Ingredients- Dehydrated foods are usually dehydrated as a single ingredient and then sold as a single ingredient. To use them as part of a meal, you will need to combine them with other ingredients and add seasonings. Freeze-dried foods are sometimes freeze-dried as single ingredients and sometimes as a whole meal with a combination of ingredients and flavors. This means you do not need to season the food after rehydration.
Getting energy from food is important for everyone while they are participating in physical activities. The problem that many outdoor enthusiasts face is the weight and space of fresh or canned foods. Freeze-dried foods are the perfect solution to these problems as they are lightweight and do not take up a lot of space in a backpack. They also give hikers, campers, and backpackers the nutrition they need as part of a healthy diet. For these reasons, freeze-dried snacks and meals are a good choice for people who enjoy outdoor pursuits.