The Best Freeze-Dried Meals for Camping & Backpacking
|Best Freeze-Dried Meal: Good To-Go Thai Curry||380||111.8|
|Best Freeze-Dried Breakfast: Mountain House Breakfast Skillet||700||148|
|Honorable Mention: Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy||620||125.5|
|Honorable Mention: Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles||650||135.4|
|Honorable Mention: Good To-Go Granola||580||120.8|
Over the years, we’ve taste tested 30+ of the best freeze-dried meals for camping and backpacking from top brands like Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry. In total we’ve recruited nine campers and backpackers to sample them and share their thoughts.
We’ve reviewed here our top five picks based on all our taste tests. Our favorite freeze-dried meal is Good To-Go Thai Curry, and our favorite freeze-dried breakfast is Mountain House Breakfast Skillet.
Beyond freeze-dried foods, we’ve also tried some of the best dried and dehydrated foods for camping and backpacking such as energy bars, beef jerky, and instant refried beans. Read on for all our field-tested recommendations.
Best Freeze-Dried Meal: Good To-Go Thai Curry
When we taste tested 11 freeze-dried backpacking meals from Good To-Go, the Thai Curry was everyone’s clear favorite.
One taste tester went so far as to say that this meal would be good enough for dinner at home — high praise for a dehydrated meal.
As another reviewer put it, “If you busted this meal out a few days into a multi-day trip, your friends would be mad jealous.” We couldn’t agree more.
Full review: The Best Good To-Go Meals
Product Specs – Single Serving
- Score: 5/5
- Calories: 380
- Net weight: 3.4 oz
- Cal/oz: 111.8
- Diet-friendliness: Gluten-free, pescatarian
Best Freeze-Dried Breakfast: Mountain House Breakfast Skillet
In my experience, Mountain House is the most popular freeze-dried meal brand among campers and backpackers. So we tried 10 of their meals to find the tastiest.
We liked the Breakfast Skillet the best. It’s made with hash browns and scrambled eggs, mixed with pork sausage patty, peppers and onions.
Nothing we sampled competed with the Breakfast Skillet for how close to the “real deal” it tasted.
Unlike some other Mountain House meals, the amount of water required and preparation time were ideal both for camping and backpacking. For the price, and with 700 calories per package, it’s also a great value.
Full review: The Best Mountain House Meals
- Score: 4.5/5
- Calories per Serving: 350
- Servings: 2
- Net weight: 4.73 oz
- Cal/oz: 148
Honorable Mention: Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy
Nobody expected to love the Biscuits and Gravy as much as they did.
“Seriously? How are you going to package biscuits and gravy?” commented one taste tester.
But after our initial sampling, our judgmental campers wouldn’t stop raving about it. Ultimately, they acknowledged that they would eat it for breakfast any morning, at camp or even at home.
We think this dehydrated meal is best for camping — rather than challenging hiking days — because testers felt a little sluggish afterward.
One tester made a point of noting that the Biscuits and Gravy goes really, really great with hot sauce.
- Score: 4.5/5
- Calories per Serving: 310
- Servings: 2
- Net weight: 4.94 oz
- Cal/oz: 125.5
Honorable Mention: Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
This meal ranked highly for all participants, but was especially adored by the backpackers in the group.
If you ask me, beef stroganoff will always be a classic backpacking meal. It’s a warm, hardy, stick-to-your-insides kind of meal. That is something you’ll really appreciate when the temperature hits single digits.
The meal is made of beef, noodles, mushrooms, milk, and onions. It’s seasoned with even more beef and lots of garlic. Noodles mean high carbs and beef means high protein, and we backpackers like those things.
The net weight of the entire bag is only 4.8 ounces, making it both easy to pack and light to carry. With 2.5 servings in the entire bag, you get more beef for your buck, as well as ooey, gooey, goodness.
- Score: 4/5
- Calories per Serving: 260
- Servings: 2.5
- Net weight: 4.8 oz
- Cal/oz: 135.4
Honorable Mention: Good To-Go Granola
The Granola was the second best dehydrated breakfast we taste tested. Our reviewers were all impressed by how flavorful it was.
It didn’t have the crunch that you would expect from granola (though admittedly, that would be hard to do with a dehydrated meal), but it captured the flavor really well.
One reviewer put it best: “I’d totally steal this from my unsuspecting camp partner and eat it before they wake up.”
We think said unsuspecting camp partner would be pretty bummed, since this is a delicious backcountry breakfast.
Product Specs – Single Serving
- Score: 4/5
- Calories: 580
- Net weight: 4.8 oz
- Cal/oz: 120.8
- Diet-friendliness: Gluten-free, vegetarian
Here are the best freeze-dried meals:
- Good To-Go Thai Curry
- Mountain House Breakfast Skillet
- Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy
- Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
- Good To-Go Granola
Note: We also taste tested Backpacker’s Pantry meals. Our testers didn’t like them as much as Mountain House and Good To-Go meals. But if you’re interested in our recommendations, check out our guide to the best Backpacker’s Pantry meals.
The Best Dried & Dehydrated Foods for Camping & Backpacking
Even though freeze-dried meals are some of the top camping and backpacking foods out there, other dried and dehydrated foods also make excellent options.
We’ve taste tested everything from beef jerky to powdered hummus mixes. Here are some more of our favorite dried foods and powdered drink mixes.
Best Beef Jerky: People’s Choice Beef Jerky Old Fashioned Original
When we taste tested 10 top beef jerky brands, our testers agreed that People’s Choice had the best taste and texture of the bunch.
It was dry without being the least bit tough or chewy, with a deliciously deep beef flavor. One taster said it “tastes like a well-done steak, in a good way.”
One of our testers regularly makes homemade beef jerky, and said the People’s Choice tasted remarkably like authentic fresh-from-the-oven jerky.
With an ingredient list of only beef, water, and seasoning, it was also the brand with the cleanest label. It was the only jerky in our test with zero sugars, and it had the highest amount of protein (16g!) per ounce.
Full review: The Best Beef Jerky Brands
Best Instant Refried Beans: Santa Fe Instant Southwestern Style Refried Beans
We bought 4 of the most popular instant refried bean brands available and recruited 4 taste testers to blindly taste and score each of them.
Santa Fe Instant Southwestern Style Refried Beans earned the highest average score for taste. If you want the tastiest brand it’s the one we recommend.
Full review: The Best Instant Refried Beans
Best Energy Bar: Kind Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate
I’m a bit of an energy and nutrition bar addict. That’s why I bought 78 bars from top brands like Clif and Kind and spent days tasting and ranking them.
After all that, the Kind bars stood out as the ones that were tastiest and would be most enjoyable to eat after lots of miles on the trail.
The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate flavor was our favorite, but there are plenty of other delicious ones.
Full review: The Best Energy Bars
Best Powdered Milk: Carnation NonFat Dry Milk
After subjecting five people, including myself, to a blind taste test of eight popular powdered milk brands, our results were clear — Carnation NonFat Dry Milk is the best tasting powdered milk out there.
Carnation was the clear winner in terms of taste and aftertaste, receiving more 5-star ratings than any other brand. If you’re looking for the best powdered milk brand, this is it.
Full review: The Best Powdered Milk Brands
Best Powdered Peanut Butter: PBfit Original Peanut Butter Powder
I recruited a five-person panel (including myself) to blindly taste test seven of the best powdered peanut butter brands available.
Two brands — PBfit and Betty Lou’s — tied for first with average scores of 3.9 out of 5 stars for taste.
To break the tie we took into account the retail price of each. At the time of publishing PBfit was the better value so we crowned it our winner.
Testers didn’t have anything bad to say about this brand. The lowest score it received was a 3 out of 5 from two testers (me being one of them) who described it as “sweet.”
Full review: The Best Powdered Peanut Butter Brands
Best Powdered Hummus Mix: Casbah Hummus Mix
I enlisted eight people for a blind taste test of three of the best powdered hummus mixes. After all the scores were tallied, Casbah Hummus Mix was the clear winner with an average score of four out of five stars for taste.
If you’re looking for the tastiest brand, it’s the one to get. Coincidentally, it’s also the cheapest and easiest to prep. The other two brands we tested call for water and olive oil while Casbah just calls for water.
Full review: The Best Powdered Hummus Mixes
Best Instant Coffee: Alpine Start Original Blend
Alpine Start bills itself as “Instant Coffee That Actually Tastes Good.” In our blind taste test, most of our reviewers agreed.
One review went so far as to say that it “actually tastes like real coffee.”
Alpine Start was also the brand that had the highest points in our caffeine test, an admittedly subjective test based on how caffeinated the author felt after drinking one cup in the morning.
Full review: The Best Instant Coffee Brands for Camping
Best Electrolyte Powder: Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix
In our blind taste test, Vitalyte Electrolyte Replacement Powder won the day. It got rave reviews for its refreshing flavor and lack of artificial taste.
One tester described it as “very mild, but super tasty and refreshing.” Another said it “tastes like electrolytes, no weird flavors or fake sugar.”
It dissolved very easily, with just a few shakes of a Nalgene, and it never separated out or settled to the bottom of our water bottles.
Full review: The Best Electrolyte Powders & Mixes