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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals > Test Report by Brett Haydin

CACHE LAKE FOODS EGG MEALS
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 02, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 22, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 36
LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 195 lb (88.50 kg)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Cache Lakes Foods
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.cachelake.com
Servings per container: 2

Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals
Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals


Scrambled Eggs with Sausage Flavored Bits
MSRP: US$ 3.65
Listed Net Weight: 3.0 oz (88 g) Note: contents only
Average Measured Weight: 3.4 oz (96 g) Note: contents and packaging
Calories per serving: 265

Western Omelet
MSRP: US$ 3.55
Listed Net Weight: 2.3 oz (64 g) Note: contents only
Average Measured Weight: 2.45 oz (69 g) Note: contents and packaging
Calories per serving: 150

Tex Mex Egg Scramble
MSRP: US$ N/A
Listed Net Weight: 3.4 oz (96 g) Note: contents only
Average Measured Weight: 3.4 oz (96 g) Note: contents and packaging
Calories per serving: 265

Scrambled Eggs
MSRP: US$ 3.48
Listed Net Weight: 2.0 oz (57 g) Note: contents only
Average Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g) Note: contents and packaging
Calories per serving: 148

Product Description
The Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals are a powdered egg mix that come prepackaged in a two-serving size. I received four flavors: Scrambled Eggs with Sausage Flavored bits, Western Omelet, Tex Mex Scramble and (plain) Scrambled Eggs. Each package has a label that contains "Quick & Easy Cooking Directions," Nutrition Facts and an ingredients list. Also included below the ingredients is a category "Contains" that lists soy, wheat or dairy for the various products. This is great information for me to know since several of my friends have food allergies or intolerance to some of these foods.

The ingredients are what I would normally expect. The base of the product is egg, "a homogenized and pasteurized blend of whole egg, non-fat milk, vegetable oil and salt." The additional ingredients for the flavored packages are listed as well. The Western Omelet has only two others (onion and peppers) but the Tex Mex and Sausage flavors have many more ingredients.

The packages are 5.0 x 5.5 in (12.7 x 14.0 cm) and about 0.75 in (1.9 cm) thick. They are each heat sealed and have a plastic tab attached to the top so they can be hung on a peg. It is important to note that I took an average of the measured weights since most of the packages varied in weight. Most packages were within 0.1 oz (2.8 g) of each other; however the Scrambled Eggs with Sausage Flavored Bits varied by 0.4 oz (11.3 g) from heaviest to lightest.

The website is easy to navigate, so finding MSRP was a simple process overall. However, I could not find the Tex Mex Egg Scramble. I found a similar product named Tex Mex Omelet, but the listed weight was different so I did not include the listed price.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Cache Lake Foods Egg meals are smartly packaged. I was a little concerned that they might be bulky or not have a lot of information on the individual packets. However these are both tightly packed and have all the information I need on trail, and then some.

I am a little bothered by the inconsistencies I have found. Namely that the Scrambled Eggs with Sausage Flavored Bits vary so much. While they all weigh more than the listed net weight, the Tex Mex Egg Scramble each weighed exactly as the listed net weight. I suppose I shouldn't complain about the extra portion sizes, right?! To be fair, I would not normally weigh this product as part of my purchasing pattern. I typically purchase the prepackaged food, pack it and go.

I had the occasion to test out one package of the Western Omelet while car camping in Moab, Utah with my daughter. I did find that using a whisk made mixing the mixture a lot more efficient. This is good to know for the backcountry, since I would not normally carry this item in my cook kit, unless I needed it. I typically carry some type of oil, normally olive oil, so that requirement will not be an additional burden.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The cooking instructions are very simple and straight forward. First I add the listed amount of water which varies from product to product. Then I'll mix it up, or as the packing states "stir briskly." Next I put 1 tbsp of oil or butter into a frying pan and heat until it sizzles. Turn down the heat and add the egg mixture. It should take about 1-2 minutes to cook.

SUMMARY

I am looking forward to testing out the Egg Meals. I love scrambled eggs and omelets in general and I think this will be a welcome change from granola and powdered milk or oatmeal. I appreciate that the cook time is short and that the packaging and weight is compact and light.

I plan to utilize the meals primarily for breakfast, but if they are tasty, I may enjoy them for a dinner or two as well! Please check back in several months to see how I enjoyed the meals.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the testing period I consumed all but two of the packages sent to me on one car camping trip and four backpacking trips (a fifth was canceled due to the early arrival of our son). The car camping trip lasted three days in Moab, Utah with my daughter and a friend as well as my sister and her two boys. We camped in national forest land in the arid desert climate roughly 15 mi (24 km) northwest of Moab. The terrain was mostly slick rock and sandy soils with warm temperatures between 60 and 80 F (16 and 27 C). There was quite a bit of rain, with some thunderstorms, all of which were limited to the late afternoons and evenings.

My first backpacking trip was a three day trek in the San Isabel National Forest along the Browns Pass and Kroenke Lake Trails. Temperatures were mild with daytime highs of 80 F (27 C) and overnight lows at about 40 F (4 C) and some afternoon showers. The terrain was quite varied with soft forest trails to soggy meadows and even some rock scrambling on Mt Yale! All told, I put on a little over 20 mi (32 km) with elevations from 10,000 - 14,196 ft (3,048 - 4327 m).

Another trip was a backpacking trip with my sister along the Horn Fork Trail to Mt Harvard in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. We hiked about 14 mi (22.5 km) over alpine forest, tundra and steep talus slopes, not to mention snow! Of course, hiking to an elevation of 14,420 ft (4,395 m) is bound to have a mix of terrain. Temperatures were very pleasant: 40 - 75 F (4 - 24 C) but the weather brought hail and rain on our final retreat to the car.

I also took an overnight trip on Mt Shavano in the San Isabel forest. I hiked a short 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to a great campsite I had previously scouted. The following day was an early hike to the summit of Mt Shavano and Tabuache Peak, both over 14,000 ft (4267 m). The terrain was both alpine forest and tundra with some loose talus, but a mostly solid trail. Temperatures were excellent with a high of 85 F (29 C) and an overnight low near 40 F (4 C).

My final trip was a short backpacking trip up to Upper Pomeroy Lake in the San Isabel National Forest. The mileage was only 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to the lake, nestled at 12,000 ft (3,660 m). Much of the hike was along a jeep trail and double track trail through alpine forest leading to the lake. I once again had spectacular weather, with a high of about 80 F (27 C) and a low of around 55 F (13 C).

COOKING IN THE FIELD

As you can see I had ample opportunity to enjoy the Cache Lake Foods Egg Meals. I found the cooking process to be very straight forward, even in the wee hours of the morning. My cook kit generally consists of a medium sized pot with a lid that also serves as a frying pan. I carry along a small assortment of kitchen tools based on the meals I am planning, but in this case I brought along my backpacking-sized whisk (read=small) and a small bottle of olive oil. I used an MSR Pocket Rocket with fuel canisters for all of my meals.

Using a small whisk, I could mix the eggs easily enough, although several mornings I gave up trying to eliminate every clump still visible. I found that using my 1 qt (0.95 L) pot was adequate to mix the contents, but I disliked having to clean two pots when I was waking up early for a summit hike. As a compromise, I opted to try cooking with just my frying pan by mixing the ingredients and then cooking the eggs over the stove that way. While it was very difficult to keep everything in the pan, it worked. To be honest, the meals always turned out fantastic! It was a lot more enjoyable to just make it in the extra pot, however.

Using my stove, I found I could generally make the meals in about 2 minutes, once the pan was hot. The consistency was always great and as long as I added enough water I found it hard to mess it up. The portion size is perfect. My trip over Browns Pass was a solo hike and while I could eat the entire meal, I was definitely full. Between my hiking partners, eating one package for two was the perfect size, especially with a bagel and a cup of coffee. Because the portions are meant for two I had no problem sharing.
mixed up
All mixed up and ready to go
cooked
Cooked and ready to serve!

TASTE

Of the various meals, I think I enjoyed the Western Omelet the most. My various hiking partners all enjoyed the tastes as well. One friend commented that it was the best way to wake up in the backcountry! One of the most enjoyable aspects to these meals was being able to have a nice warm meal in the morning. I generally eat granola cereal or hot oatmeal but these egg meals are an excellent change of pace and worth the extra effort in the morning.

Here are a few of my observations regarding the tastes of the specific meals.

Tex Mex Egg Scramble
This package is a very colorful blend of peppers, onions and spices that has a nice mild kick to it. After the first meal I had plain, I brought along some tortillas and monterey jack cheese to make breakfast-style burritos. For some reason, these packages were more generously portioned than the others. I found the taste to be mildly spicy and that the additional ingredients made for a nice texture.

Western Omelet
This was my hands-down favorite since it combined the texture of the scramble without the mild spices. In the morning I find that I prefer foods that aren't spicy. I found that eating this one plain was very satisfying, although I generally ate a bagel along with this. While the calorie count isn't very high with this meal, I did not find the meals lacking at all. My energy level and stamina seemed unaffected.

Scrambled Eggs with Sausage Bits
This meal is another great breakfast meal by itself. The bits of sausage add a nice complimentary saltiness to the flavor that I found appealing. The eggs taste light, but the added bacon makes this a satisfying meal as well.

Scrambled Eggs
By themselves, the scrambled eggs are a bit plain, especially after being treated to the other complimentary tastes. We were told this was an add-on item that others had requested to use with other recipes. I chose to try and get creative, especially after experimenting with the burritos. I added the eggs to sautéed potato cubes and some spices from home and it made one hefty meal! The calorie count on these was also a bit lower, and I could see how counting on this package alone could leave me without the energy I need from a good breakfast.

CONTINUED USE

I have two more packages of the plain eggs left which I am sure won't last long. I do plan to order some more for next summer as they were great morning meals.

I really enjoyed both the flavor and texture of the various packages. They were easy to cook and it was great to have a hot meal in the morning!

I would like to thank Cache Lake Foods and the monitors at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this very tasty test series!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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