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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > AlpineAire Assorted Meals 2007 > Test Report by Anthony Smith

ALPINE AIRE FOODS ASSORTED MEALS
TEST SERIES BY ANTHONY "TJ" SMITH
FINAL REPORT
August 24, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Anthony "TJ" Smith
EMAIL: asmith@iaffl4131.org
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Pensacola, Florida, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lbs (79.40 kg)

I have been camping for a little over 5 years now, mostly car camping. I have recently begun backpacking, and I am constantly adding new gear to my “collection” in an effort to get my gear list tailored more towards backpacking. Most of my backpacking trips are short duration, not more than one or two nights. My current pack weight is around 15-20 lb (7-9 kg) without food and water, depending on if I'm solo camping or taking my son along. I am a dedicated hammock camper and have tailored my personal gear to that aspect of camping.


INITIAL REPORT
May 10, 2007

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Alpine Air Meals

Manufacturer: Alpine Aire Foods
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.tyry.com

MSRP: (All in US $)
Bandito Scramble - $5.23
Chicken Dijon - $6.75
Mountain Chili - $8.99
Pepper Steak w/ Rice - $6.75
Chocolate Mudslide Pie - $4.50

Product Weights
Product Listed Weight Measured Weight
Bandito Scramble 3.5 ounces (99 grams) 4.4 ounces (122 grams)
Chicken Dijon 7.25 ounces (206 grams) 8.4 ounces (236 grams)
Mountain Chili 6 ounces (170 grams) 6.75 ounces (194 grams)
Pepper Steak w/ Rice 6 ounces (172 grams) 7 ounces (200 grams)
Chocolate Mudslide Pie 5.75 ounces (162 grams) 7 ounces (200 grams)

Nutrition Information
ProductCaloriesFatSodiumCarbsFiberProtein
Bandito Scramble22011 g620 mg19 g2 g11 g
Chicken Dijon4049 g828 mg57 g7 g24 g
Mountain Chili3003 g1280 mg48 g13 g23 g
Pepper Steak w/ Rice3217 g1241 mg78 g4 g16 g
Chocolate Mudslide Pie39117 g219 mg97 g1 g9 g

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I received in my package from Alpine Aire five different products from their line: Bandito Scramble, a breakfast item; Pepper Steak w/ Rice; Mountain Chili; Chicken Dijon; and Chocolate Mudslide Pie, a dessert item.

All five items are packaged in foil pouches which double as containers for preparation of each meal. The front of the packaging lists the product, whether it is "cook" or "no cook" (the Bandito Scramble is the only one of the five that requires cooking), and on the Bandito Scramble and Pepper Steak with Rice a very brief description of the meal. The back of the package lists the nutrition facts, instructions for preparation, the ingredients, and a "Best By" date. The packages do seem a bit large to me given the amount of product contained in them (almost twice as large as would appear necessary in my opinion.) However, this may be due to needing additional space for adding the water for preparation.

Alpine Aire also offers a description of their products on the back of the package, covering four areas. For Shelf Life - "We nitrogen flush our products, which helps promote a three to five year shelf-life from the date of purchase - provided they are stored in a cool, dry environment." Advantages - "Easy to prepare - Simply add boiling water to this pouch (most recipes), stir, seal, then eat (refer to specific directions below.) No added Artificial Flavors, Preservatives, Colors, or MSG." Versatility - "Lunch or Dinner. Backpacking. Marine. Camping. Fishing. Expeditions. RV Traveling. Emergencies. Compact Storage." Convenience - "Our pouches are designed for preparation and consumption directly in the bag when on the trail. We suggest taking a long-handled spoon on your trip for preparing and consuming our product."

The only one of the five requiring any preparation beyond adding water (hot or cold as specified) is the Bandito Scramble. This product requires adding water to the mix in the pouch, letting it sit for 10 minutes (I'm assuming to rehydrate), then preparing as I would fresh eggs.

Each of these products is listed as containing two servings, but given the listed nutritional information and my energy needs while hiking/backpacking, will they provide enough nutrition or will I require the entire package (two servings) each meal?

This concludes my Initial Report.


FINAL REPORT
August 24, 2007

I have had a variety of reactions to the Alpine Aire Foods meals consumed during the testing period. Most of these reactions actually became favorable by the conclusion of each meal.

The Bandito Scramble was used on an overnight hike June 2-3, 2007 in the Blackwater River State Forest, located in Munson, Florida, less than 100 ft (30.5 m) above sea level. This trail is relatively flat land, and was not an overly strenuous hike so I didn't have my appetite increased as I do on longer or more exhaustive trips. The Bandito Scramble was made by allowing the contents of the package to soak in water for 10 minutes, after which I cooked in a shallow pan as I would regular scrambled eggs. After soaking and prior to cooking, I thought the product seemed to have a bit more onion in it than I normally would like. However, after cooking as I would scrambled eggs (in the pan with frequent stirring) I found this meal surprisingly appetizing. Preparation and cooking was simple, although clean-up was a bit more difficult as I do not have a non-stick pan. The texture was pleasing, a bit more coarse (for lack of a better term) than fresh eggs, but I did not find it unappealing.

The Mountain Chili was consumed on the same trip as the Bandito Scramble, being eaten for dinner on the night of June 2, 2007. This was after hiking for approximately 5 mi (8 km) with a lightweight load, so I was not overly exerted and had not developed more of an appetite than I normally have. The chili was very easy to prepare, I simply added boiling water to the package, sealed, and let sit. Within 10 minutes, the meal was ready to eat (I did not time this, as I was setting up camp while it "cooked"). The chili didn't have a bad taste, a bit mild compared to my preferences. I did feel that I could have used a bit less water as it was more "soupy" than I like my chili. I ended up crushing some crackers into the chili to thicken more to my liking.

The last meal I consumed on this same trip was the Chocolate Mudslide Pie. This was dessert about an hour after the Mountain Chili. This product did not require heating the water. I simply added cool water to the package, stirred, let sit for a short period of time, added a topping package included in the main package, and ate. I was pleasantly surprised with how this product tasted. It had a very good chocolate taste and a different texture than I'm used to with hiking food (very smooth, no lumps, not too dry nor too wet.) I did have a bit of a problem stirring inside the package, but I could remedy that problem with a long-handled spoon instead of my spork.

The Pepper Steak with Rice was eaten on a backpacking trip in the Eglin Reservation, located north of Fort Walton Beach, Florida on August 4-5, 2007. Again, this was a very flat trail located within 100 ft (30.5 m) of sea level. This meal was consumed for dinner after hiking approximately 8 mi (13 km) during the day. This meal was very easy for me to prepare; I just boiled water and added it to the package, sealed, and let sit. This allowed me to "cook" while I set up camp for the night. I thought the flavor of this meal was good, not to overpowering with seasonings but not too bland either. I did have a problem with "crunchy rice" while eating this meal. I don't know if this was due to my not "cooking" long enough, but I experienced this problem with the Chicken Dijon as well.

For lunch the following day I had the last meal of this test, the Chicken Dijon. Again, I simply added boiling water to the package and let it sit while I relaxed. As stated above, I had a problem with "crunchy rice" in this meal. This was my least favorite of the meals tested due to the taste. While I couldn't place anything specifically about the taste, I found a general unpleasantness to the taste.

I found all of these meals very easy to prepare, and easy to carry with while backpacking. With the exception of the Chicken Dijon, I found all to be relatively pleasant tasting, and other than "crunchy rice" I found them all to have a pleasant texture. The variety of foods was a nice feature in my opinion also. One drawback I found was the excessive packaging on each meal. I found that the amount of space needed after the water was added to the package was considerably less than what was actually provided. This led to me having to reach into the package to consume the product. I alleviated this through using a multi-tool to remove the excess packaging before eating the meal. All these meals provided ample food for one person (I was unable to eat any of them entirely by myself) but I did not feel they would adequately feed two people with the amount left over from eating until I was full.

Pros
1. Ease of preparation
2. Variety of flavor choices
3. Quantity of food (for 1 person)

Cons
1. Excessive packaging
2. "Crunchy Rice"
3. Quantity of food (for 2 people)

My thanks to BackpackGearTest and TyRy, Inc for allowing me to test these items.



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