BY STEVEN M KIDD
October 06, 2013
Steven M Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
173 lb (78.50 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
|Image Courtesy HawK VittleS|
Manufacturer: HawK VittleS
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://hawkvittles.com
MSRP: US $5.95 - $14.95
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: Single Serving sizes average 4.4 - 5.1 oz (125 - 145 g)
HawK VittleS are dehydrated meals for outdoor related activities. They are made by a retired professional chef named William Redhawk. The marketing tagline states that; "It Ain't Your Daddy's Trail Food".
The website is fairly simple with no frills and makes the following statement: "HawK VittleS are homemade GOURMET meals that are packed with carbohydrates and protein to fuel you up for all those activities you enjoy so much. Not only are HawK VittleS delicious, the portions are generous. When we say double serving, we mean it satisfies two people with big appetites. HawK VittleS are made with the freshest ingredients whenever possible. There are no artificial flavorings or preservatives used in their preparation. Nor do they contain a lot of sodium to enhance their flavor."
When reading the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the website he clarifies that he uses natural ingredients as often as possible and the meals are not loaded with sodium to enhance flavor. He doesn't use preservatives or artificial ingredients and offers completely vegetarian ingredients for those who prefer the option.
I've used dehydrated meals for several years as a way to lighten my pack weight on the trail. The main drawback I have with the major brands offered is their sodium content. After several days on the trail, sodium build up has often caused my wedding band to feel as if it's constricting blood flow.
A friend suggested HawK VittleS to me a little over a year ago. The meals are available in single and double portions, and marketed to feed exactly that; a single for one person and a double for two. I have a pretty healthy appetite after spending an entire day on the trail and typically eat the better part of a double portion when purchasing most major brands. I'm happy to report that I only need a single portion with these meals!
I find them tasty and full of flavor. I haven't tried a meal that I disliked to date. In the Breakfast category I have tried both the Breakfast Casserole and the Hashbrowns & Sausage. I've enjoyed both the Beef Stew and the Moroccan Stew. Finally from the Pasta & Casseroles selections I have had the Cowboy Pasta, Hot Italian Sausage & Pasta, Shrimp Capellini and the Southwest Lasagna.
I haven't attempted a vegetarian meal. TVP, or textured vegetarian protein, simply didn't sound extremely appetizing to me. The Moroccan Stew contains no meat. It has beef stock, but his vegetarian meals use only vegetable stock.
In my opinion every meal has been flavorful and tasty. I haven't needed to add the additional spices that I typically bring for the more commercial dehydrated meals I've used in the past. The Breakfast Casserole had a hint of sweetness that I enjoyed, but I didn't find it overpowering. My favorite meal was certainly the Hot Italian Sausage & Pasta. Perhaps this is because I really enjoy spicy foods. My wife jokes that I would add hot sauce to my sugar cereal! That stated I didn't find it necessary to add the packets of hot sauce I keep in my mess kit to any of the meals. Not that any were extremely spicy, but I simply enjoyed the balance of flavoring this retired chef puts into his creations. I've also used the meals for up to four days on the trail eating between two and three meals per day with no noticeable sodium build up.
To prepare these meals on the trail I typically boil water using a DIY (do-it-yourself) alcohol stove and a small pot. Currently I'm doing a test series on the Soto WindMaster OD1RX, so I've been using this small canister stove with a GSI Halulite Minimalist setup. I boil an entire pot of water in a few minutes and pour enough into the freezer style bag the meal comes in to cover it by an inch (2.5 cm). I then place the freezer bag into a DIY Reflectix container to keep the meal warm. I purchased a "Snuggie" the website offers for rehydrating meals, but I didn't care for his design. I prefer to use my own, which is made from the same reflective insulating material and may be purchased at any hardware store. The average meal takes between 15 - 20 minutes to rehydrate as noted on the packaging. On occasion when in a hurry or nearly ready to eat my own fist I've began eating a meal a few minutes early without major concern or crunchiness.
I mentioned that I boil an entire pot of water, so I then take the remaining water and pour in a Starbucks Via (or similar coffee) into the Halulite and enjoy a cup of java while I'm awaiting my meal to rehydrate. It makes it a pleasant wait for me!
The packaging also gives the nutritional information for each meal. I find this helpful if I'm looking for a higher calorie meal after a long day on the trail or even a little lower calorie version if I have time to stop for a hot lunch.
You can email Mr. Redhawk concerning items and specific requests and he does large orders for agendas like thru-hikes or drop shipments. I made an order and accidentally ordered two of the same item. I emailed him requesting but not expecting an order change and he was happy to accommodate my wishes and at no additional cost. He's what I consider a cottage vendor and the customer service shows.
I've been very happy with HawK VittleS. I really can't think of any concerns with any of his meals. Possibly they could be a little spicier, but this is coming from a guy that adds hot sauce to everything! As I enjoy a moderate amount of spice in my food, I really enjoyed the Hot Italian Sausage & Pasta!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
I learned about these meals from a friend and I enjoy them enough that I'd suggest them to anyone looking for a quality dehydrated meal.
Read more reviews of HawK VittleS gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd