You could absolutely survive in the backcountry on a block of ramen noodles and a warm, sweaty cheese stick you found in the bottom of your pack. That would probably give you enough calories to get through the next day’s hike. But backpacking isn’t about survival, and to fully enjoy yourself on the trail you should look forward to dinner. Thankfully, backpacking food has come a long way in the last few years, with companies using organically grown and sustainably sourced ingredients to create recipes that hinge on actual whole foods. Leave the ramen at home and check out these backcountry culinary delights instead.
Good To-Go Thai Curry ($13)
We’ve never had a bad meal from Good To-Go, but this curry is transcendent. Jasmine rice lays down the foundation for the broccoli, cauliflower, and peas in a rich and salty coconut curry sauce. Add a can of chicken and you’d swear you’re at your favorite Thai joint.
Patagonia Provisions Black Bean Soup ($7) and Smoked Salmon ($14)
Patagonia has developed a variety of healthy, sustainably sourced meals and snacks that work at home or at the campsite. I’m partial to its organic black bean soup, which is rich and full of corn and packed with protein (16 grams per serving). Its wild-caught smoked salmon is a meal on its own (just add crackers) but I like to flake one of the filets over the soup. Bring your own hot sauce and an avocado if you want to get really fancy.
Heather’s Choice Smoked Salmon Chowder ($15)
Alaska-based Heather’s Choice uses six ounces of wild Alaskan salmon in each packet of chowder, along with potatoes, carrots, and celery. It takes a while to “cook” this soup (20 minutes) but your patience will be rewarded—the salmon, coconut milk, and touch of cayenne mix for a real treat.
Wild Zora Paleo Meals To Go Bedrock Beef Chili ($12)
Maybe it’s all those westerns we watched as kids, but we think chili is a backcountry staple, and Wild Zora’s Paleo is loaded with savory chunks of beef and sweet potato. Just pour 1.5 cups of hot water in the pouch and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Packit Gourmet Big’Un Burrito with Fajita Chicken ($9)
Packit Gourmet makes an insane variety of foods, from cold-water-prep lunches to sharable appetizers (trailside queso, anyone?). It has some inventive dinner options, but we like the Big’Un Burrito with Fajita Chicken because it’s laden with chicken, black beans, and rice and cooks in the bag. Bring your own tortillas and you’ve got a burrito to go. There’s even a sachet of Cholula hot sauce in the package.