Backcountry restaurant reviews

posted Mar 18, 2016, 5:40 PM by Paul Wagner
There seem to be more choices than ever these days for backcountry dinner--either freeze-dried, or dehydrated--and the spectrum of both companies and flavors is pretty darn amazing.  But not all of these are successful.  We thought it might be fun to review some of the dinners we've eaten through the years, keeping  in mind that while M is a professionally trained chef, and P is a wine expert, we don't really look for gourmet excellence on the trail.  We don't look for it because it isn't there.  You'll never eat food in the backcountry that can compare to well-made food at home.  What you might find is a decent meal that is both filling and flavorful. 

So here are a few of our favorites:-at least we'd order these again if given a chance--as well as some others that we've tried:  

The best ever was a Tanya's Taqueria Carnitas Burrito that we dehydrated ourselves.  Perfection.

Alpine-Aire Cheese Enchilada Ranchero was delicious.  Well seasoned, good flavors, and a substantial meal.  But we also tried their Mesquite Grilled BBQ Chicken, which was very sweet, very smoky, and very gloppy.  Not recommended.

Mary Janes Farm Curry in a Hurry;  we loved the eco pouch, we loved the food.  Perfectly seasoned, and even though it says it's really only a portion and a half, it was enough for the two of us, when we added our usually side dishes of dried fruit, Miso Soup, Gorp, etc.

Good old ramen soup is great if you can get past the fact that it takes up a lot of room.  But it works well for short trips.

Mountain House makes a ton of different dinners.  We like the Beef Stroganoff (it was the first dinner we shared on a backpacking trip, and happily it met with M's approval--or we might never have taken a second trip) the Lasagna, and the Chili Mac with Beef--although that last one really is a mess to clean up.  Not so successful were the Chicken and Rice, or the Teriyaki Chicken, which was VERY sweet.  M liked the dumplings and gravy.  The Beef Stew is not their best option.

Not de-hydrated, but still an option are the Tasty Bite Lentils...which  probably are best if you also include a cup of instant rice to the mix.  It weighs a bit more than some of the others. 

Hawk's Vittles Chicken Pilaf.  Undersalted (to be fair, the producer notes that they add no salt--but this was seriously undersalted.  And when you are hiking, you need salt, for obvious reasons) and a massive portion.  We cooked about 2/3 of the package, and barely finished it off.  We were not sold on the flavor of this one.