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Backcountry: What To Eat

Written by backcountry enthusiast and Rhythm team member Ella Gordon.



Deciding what to take with you to eat when camping in the backcountry can often be a big headache. You need it to be light, not take up much space, be quick, easy to prepare and give you the energy that you need to make it through your trip. Luckily there are companies out there that have made ready to go meals that offer all of that.


Dehydrated meals have been the standard in preprepared backcountry meals for a long time but a couple of companies have started freeze drying their food which leads to lighter weights, faster rehydration and better preservation of nutrients as dehydrating does degrade the nutrition profile of food.


Eating mostly dehydrated/freeze dried food is an awesome way to save big on weight while still having a high protein calorie dense meals. Some hikers and backcountry enthusiasts will purchase their own dehydrator to make dehydrated meals from scratch. If you are heading into the backcountry often this can be a great way to save on money, however dehydrating food can take several days and depending on the size of your dehydrator it can be a very lengthy process to make enough food for a trip. Not to mention the trial and error that comes with working out what foods do and don’t work well being dehydrated. Lucky for those of us that don’t have the time or the energy to go through the process of making our own meals from scratch there are several companies that make them.


At Rhythm we stock 2 different meal brands, Back Country Cuisine (Dehydrated) and Radix (Freeze dried). On a recent 3 week expedition I did in the Australian backcountry I took a combination of both to keep me going.

Backcountry Cuisine

I have eaten Backcountry Cuisine meals out on camping trips for a long time, they have been the standard for dehydrated food in Australia for years. They are very easy to prepare, just add boiling water to the packet and wait 10-15 minutes to hydrate (just remember to squeeze the corners of the packet as it’s hydrating so you don’t miss out on the flavour). They are extremely light, weighing on average around 90g for the Small size and 175g for Regular. As a smaller eater I’m a fan of the smalls but my partner eats the regulars. I eat a vegetarian diet so I have only been able to try a small selection of their range. The meals I have eaten contain around 366Cal which doesn’t always fill me up after a long day of hiking so I’ll often bring a packed of textured vegetable protein (TVP) to add in. TVP is great as it rehydrates at the same rate as the rest of the meal so it doesn’t require any extra work, I just sprinkle some in to the meal when I add the boiling water. Backcountry Cuisine have been very clever when making their packaging so you can lose even more weight on bringing a bowl by just eating straight out of the packet. The bottom of the packet folds out so it has a flat bottom that it can rest on comfortably and a tear line half way on the packet so you don’t have to get your hand dirty when reaching down into it. However I recommend bringing a spoon/fork with a long handle so you can leave the top of the packet on as it’s a ziplock, making an excellent garbage bin when your finished using it.


Radix

I have only just discovered Radix after a friend got me onto them this year and I instantly became a fan they have a great selection of plant based and meat meals. One of the big differentiating factors between Radix and most of the industry is they freeze dry their meals leading to better nutrition preservation. Radix, like Backcountry Cuisine, have also used packaging that you can pour your boiling water straight into and eat from, making it very quick and easy to use. Radix on average require roughly half as much water for the same sized meals, they rehydrate more consistently and in roughly a third of the time. The main reason as to why I fell in love with Radix is how calorie dense they are and clearly have it marked on the front of the packet. Their meals come in 400, 600 and even 800 calorie options I was pleasantly surprised when I found out they had plant based 800 Cal options. 


So how much weight are you going to be carrying on your back if you want to eat one of these meals? 

Well don’t stress these delicious meals only weigh 158g on average.


No matter what brand you go with using pre-made dehydrated meals for food in the backcountry really is the best option for lightweight calorie dense food that is quick and easy to prepare.

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