If you’ve lived out of your backpack for long periods of time, you’re surely familiar with the advantages of outdoor food: the ratio of weight to nutritional value is unbeatable. Plus, the food couldn’t be easier to prepare. All you need to do is pour hot water into the little pouch. I know what you’re thinking: Easy prep is well and good, but what about the taste?
Well, we tried some! In fact, we’ve been so dedicated to our little undertaking that we’ve turned down our usual lunchtime grub multiple times now in favour of outdoor food. And, of course, we took notes! So, keep reading if you’d like to find out more about outdoor food.
Hungry, hungry Alpine Trekkers
Our food testers consisted of people from our purchasing department (who should be familiar with the stuff they’re buying), some customer service reps (who can share their experience with you) as well as some folks from our content team (who can then describe their first-hand experiences) and a couple of volunteers from other departments. We all met for lunch on several occasions.
Each session was structured in the same way: various meals from a single manufacturer were prepared. What followed was something like a game of musical chairs: the bags circled around the table in search of somebody who hadn’t tried them yet. In between all the smacking of lips, we shared and discussed our first impressions. Plus, each tester was responsible for noting down their personal opinion.
The first thing we notice: the group of testers grew with each and every lunch break. Even though we had all lived off instant meals before on our various trips, the opportunity to try so many different ones in such a short period of time was something nobody wanted to miss out on. In fact, some of us even discovered some new faves! And because there were some meals that were not so kind to the palate, to put it lightly, we recommend trying out a few before heading out on a long trip.
Expedition food and packet meals – what we tested
The most important question: how’s the taste?
The point of our numerous feasts was to test that which no nutrition facts could ever tell us: whether or not the grub tastes good. Admittedly, we weren’t able to replicate the conditions of life in the great outdoors. After all, we’d all probably eat about anything after completing an elevation gain of 1,500m, right?
And thanks to Benedikt’s willingness to sacrifice himself, we were even able to test whether or not the grub was palatable without “cooking” it first. The result: If you’ve got strong teeth, you can eat it, but you definitely need a high tolerance for, well, crap food.
Preparation and convenience
- How useful were the packages when it came to preparing and eating the food?
- How much energy do the single packets provide?
- How easy are they to prepare, e.g., pouring in the right amount of water?
- How much does one meal or a (filling) portion cost?
Various manufacturers of outdoor food
First, we’d like to mention that the food for this test was supplied by the manufacturer at our request. But, don’t worry. We’ll remain open and honest throughout our review and refrain from using any advert slogans or catchphrases. Promise! However, we would like to thank our suppliers for their support and generosity. It’s greatly appreciated!
The following is what we had the pleasure of eating during our lunchbreaks:
- Farmers Outdoor
- Adventure Food
The individual tests will be posted little by little with the appropriate links here at Base Camp!
Outdoor food: just pricy packet soup?
One of the first things that come to mind when enjoying some packet food is whether or not the high prices are justified. The main argument put forward in this context was: Why buy expensive outdoor food when you can buy packet soups from a variety of different brands at any discount food store for next to nothing. Valid, wouldn’t you agree?
Well, yes and no. While there are several similarities between the two, there are big differences as well. For one, outdoor food has more calories per gram. Even though most supermarkets try to appeal to the diet-crazed masses with fat-free, low-calorie food and most of us bite, outdoor athletes actually need just the opposite. For example, if you were to compare the caloric content of instant noodles to that of trekking noodles, you’d find that the latter has about twice the amount of calories per gram.
And, if you were to have a closer look at the nutrition facts and ingredients, you’d notice yet another significant difference: Trekking food does not contain the excessive amount of (cheap) fats and sugars. In sum, these ready-made meals are better tailored to the needs of us Alpine Trekkers. But, you’ve probably figured as much, right? This also means that trekking meals are usually much easier to digest than the same amount of instant food from the supermarket.
In addition, the meals can be prepared with little effort and even without the food ever leaving the packet. The only time it ever leaves is when you eat it! This will save an enormous amount of weight and space in your backpack, since you won’t have to lug around extra pots or tableware.
All in all, though, it’s an unfair comparison, because we’re comparing two products designed to meet different demands. For shorter trips, you can definitely opt for a cheaper alternative or just take a couple of sandwiches along, but trekking food is the better choice for longer trips.
And don’t worry, we’ll let you know whether or not it tastes good in a later post.