Camping food reviews: Eat well, hike easy
A regularly updated post containing reviews of different camping meals.
For a general overview of the different types of meals out there, and the pros and cons of each, read this article.
Adventure Food Pasta Carbonara
Like most of the meals covered here, this is a dehydrated meal to which you add water. This makes it fairly lightweight, and works well with pasta, which keeps its texture much better as a dehydrated meal than as a boil-in-the-bag, where it inevitably goes mushy.
Indeed, the pasta stayed nice and ‘al dente’, which was pretty much the best thing about this meal – in all other respects it was a bit of a disappointment. Carbonara should be dense, creamy, rich, full of bacon, and generally the sort of satisfying comfort food that is absolutely ideal after a long hike. Of course, I didn’t expect the world’s best carbonara, but creamy/cheesy sauces and bacon normally work fairly well as a dehydrated food, so I had reasonably high expectations.
Sadly, Adventure Food decided to be far too clever with this meal and stuffed it with leek and bell pepper, ingredients that have no place in a carbonara. In the end, it tasted of almost nothing but leek and onion, and what little cheese sauce there was barely coated the pasta.
Fine as a way to get calories in, but very disappointing as a meal.
Expedition Foods Orzo Pasta Bolognese
Another dehydrated meal. This time orzo pasta (little piece of pasta shaped like grains of rize) with bolognese. Again, this sort of thing works brilliantly dehydrated – keeping texture nicely. A really nice meal, rich and filling, and (a minor, but nice given how starving I was at the end of the day…) easy to scoop massive forkfuls of at a time. Like the carbonara, it didn’t seem as if there was all that much sauce, but the chunks of beef were nice and even the pasta on its own was tasty, so the whole meal was enjoyable and didn’t require the same hunting and scraping around for bits of sauce and meat.
A quick note: I originally tested the Expedition Foods option, which is now out of stock. The link above will take you to the equally yummy Firepot offering.
Mountain House Freeze dried Italian Pepper Steak
One of several Mountain House meals I had on my recent hike of Section J of the PCT. A good meal with plenty of flavour, nice ‘meaty’ chunks of meat, and discernible vegetable pieces instead of a generic gloopy sauce. Like all of the Mountain House meals I tried, it rehydrated quickly (far more quickly than indicated on the instructions) meaning that it could be eaten while still piping hot, which is a real plus for me.
Mountain House Freeze Dried Lasagne
Clearly we were never going to get a properly layered block of lasagne, so I sort of expected this to be just another generic pasta and meat sauce meal. In a way it was, but I was genuinely impressed with Mountain House’s efforts to create something like authentic lasagne. The choice of thin, curved pasta (sorry, forgotten the name of that pasta shape) more or less mimicked sheets of pasta drenched in sauce, and the meat sauce definitely tasted of lasagne not just bolognese.
Most impressive, though, was the cheese – I was genuinely surprised when I first stirred the meal and removed my spark to see a string of elastic cheese being tugged up from the meal. Somehow, the small amount of cheese in the dish retains that kind of stringy, elastic, ‘stick-to-your-fork’ texture of real lasagne and it made all the difference in terms of authenticity and enjoyment.
No pic because I was too busy eating it…
Mountain House Scrambled Eggs With Bacon
Freeze dried eggs are a breakfast classic and, within reason, they work fairly well. They rehydrate quickly meaning they can be eaten hot, and retain a decent eggy flavour and a slightly dry, chunky texture that is no worse than many bad hotel scrambled eggs I’ve had. The key is to use enough water to rehydrate the eggs fully and avoid chunks that have chewy/crunchy middles, but then drain it thoroughly so you don’t end up with egg soup.
The bacon chunks are small, probably too small frankly, and add a bit of flavour but not much else.
Campfire Meals Scrambled Eggs with Sausage
A fairly similar breakfast meal to the Mountain House one above, although the larger chunks of slightly spicy, peppery sausage seemed to make it a more interesting and satisfying breakfast, and one of my favourites overall.