Is your jaw tired of gnawing on bags of trail mix? Can’t stomach another greasy meat stick or soggy PB&J? There’s a new breed of healthy backpacking meals light enough to stash in your pack but hearty enough to fill your stomach on your next backcountry treks, thru-hike or camping trip. Spork not included.
Hearty, Healthy Backpacking Meals You’ll Actually Look Forward to Eating
This isn’t a soupy pouch of over-salted broth. This Chicken Cashew Curry ($9.99) is a saucy standout full of hearty chunks of chicken, rice, nuts and lots of warming curry spices (though we’d be remiss not to admit to sprinkling on a little salt). With 720 calories and 38 grams protein, it’s enough sustenance for two to split for lunch—or a solo adventurer to enjoy as a super-satisfying, post-backpacking supper. Is it as good as takeout from your favorite Thai place? No. Is it damn close and does it hit the spot when you’re zapped from a long day of trekking? Absolutely.
[$9.99; trailtopia.com]Get it
2. PackIt Gourmet
Tearing into the dehydrated packet of Gourmet Diner Deluxe Eggs With Sausage ($9.59) had us feeling like Matt Damon in The Martian—dubious and filled with dread. But after soaking the powdered contents in cold water, then cooking in a skillet, we were overjoyed to find the ingredients take form (pork sausage! mushrooms! peppers!)—and on par with our regular Saturday morning scramble. With 460 calories and 24 grams protein, this hormone- and antibiotic-free breakfast packs enough energy to keep you revved till lunch. Speaking of which, nab the Texas State Fair Chili ($12.99). It’s studded with red beans, diced tomatoes and smoky peppers—plus a topping pack of shredded cheese, hot sauce and Fritos. This checks all our boxes as far as healthy backpacking meals are concerned.
[$9.59; packitgourmet.com]Get it
3. Patagonia Provisions
Vegans and vegetarians will delight in the Organic Mushroom + KAMUT Khorasan Wheat Savory Grains ($7), a nutty dish with lots of umami flavor. It packs enough nutrients (370 calories, 16 grams protein and 77 grams carbs) to eat as a light lunch, but famished adventurers should top with beans, or serve alongside chili or soup. If you’re camping for a couple days, tote along the 2-Day Camp Meal Kit for Two ($89); the box is jam-packed with nourishing foodstuffs, from breakfasts to dinners to snacks—like chipotle and lime seeds and cans of smoked mussels in olive oil.
[$7; patagoniaprovisions.com]Get it
4. Backpacker’s Pantry
Sure, nature is healing. But have you ever eaten hot oats on a brisk morning as the sun turned a bleak sky golden? Cinnamon Apple Oats ($5.49) is exactly the soul food you need to kick-start a day of exploring. The gluten-free cereal is full of energizing carbs (44 grams) and fiber (7 grams), plus satisfying texture to keep you sated for hours. It also boasts 19 grams protein—a surprising amount for an oatmeal-based breakfast—thanks to the addition of quinoa and hemp. Once you add hot water, the apples plump up and cinnamon comes to life.
[$5.49; backpackerspantry.com]Get it
5. Heather’s Choice
Paleo devotees, reach for the Grass-Fed Bison Chili ($15) for a belly-warming dinner that’s chock-full of lean, meaty goodness to the tune of 42 grams protein. Big cubes of sweet potato lend rich, hearty texture and lots of complex carbs (70 grams) to restore depleted glycogen levels. At 550 calories and 13 grams fiber, this entree will ensure you have lasting energy in your tank. Pro tip: If you’re camping or getting an early start, go for the Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast ($7), a filling buckwheat oatmeal with chia seeds, hemp seeds and coconut flakes.