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Packit Gourmet Trail Meals


Test Series by Bob Sanders

Initial Report: June 20,2009
Long Term Report: October 1, 2009


PERSONAL INFORMATION
Name: Bob Sanders BobBackpacking Background: I went on my first backpacking trip as a Boy Scout at the age of 16. Over the years I have hiked the Wonderland Trail in Washington and section hiked parts of the Florida Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail and 740 mi (1191 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail. I continue to backpack and hike year round in the Colorado mountains. I have evolved from a heavyweight backpacker to a lightweight backpacker and sometimes reach ultralight weights. My three day summer solo adventures (using a hammock) have me hovering around a 10 lb (4.5 kg) base weight.
Age: 51
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Email: sherpabob(at)mac(dot)com
Location: Longmont, Colorado USA


INITIAL REPORT

June 20, 2009

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PRODUCT INFORMATION
Packit PacketsManufacturer: Packit Gourmet

Year of Manufacture: 2009

Manufacturer's Website: http://www.packitgourmet.com/

MSRP: Varies per meal (see below)

Listed Weight: Varies per meal (see below)
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Website (Photo and description):
Generous Two-Serving Meal Packs (All meal packs are designed to generously feed two hearty appetites - or, in some cases, three small appetites.)
  • Vegetarian and Meat Options Available
  • Handpacked For A Great Home-Made Taste
  • Easy Step-By-Step Instructions
  • Recyclable Packaging
  • "Mix-In-Bag" / "Pack It Out" Pouch
  • Low Weight Consideration
  • Taste, texture and appearance are all carefully evaluated before an ingredient can be become a part of our menu
  • Organic and natural ingredients are used whenever possible


Breakfast Meals
MSRP
Servings
Net Weight-Listed*
Weight-Actual**
Diner 3-Egg Hen House Omelet
(Added Pork sausage crumbles $0.59 extra)
$5.08
1
3.3 oz (93.6 g)
5.1 oz (147 g)
Cranberry Orange Griddle Scones
(Added Raspberry Preserves $1.00 extra)
$5.99
2 (3 ea)
12 oz (340 g)
15.1 oz (430 g)
Jump Start Fruit Fruit Smoothie
Eat a Peach flavor
$3.49
1 (12 oz)
3.8 oz (108 g)
3.7 oz (106 g)
Creamy Italian Polenta
w/Pork sausage, garlic & cheese
$3.99 1 (9 oz) 3.5 oz (99.2 g)
3.6 oz (104.1 g)
Savory Polenta Scrapple
w/Pork Sausage & Maple Syrup
$8.49
2 (6 oz)
10.8 oz (314 g)
11.5 oz (326.5 g)

Lunch/Snacks
MSRP Servings Net Weight-Listed* Weight-Actual**
Mesquite Smoked Chicken Salad
w/Apples &Toasted Pecans
$8.49
2 (6 oz)
6.6 oz (187 g)
6.7 oz (190 g)
Wild Carrot Salad
w/Zante Currents and Pineapple
$5.49
2 (8 oz)
6.8 oz (194 g)
7.8 oz (222 g)
Cheddar Jack Cheese Spread
w/garlicky herbs & Veggies
$4.49
1 (3 oz)
3.5 oz (99.2 g)
4 oz (114)

Dinner Meals
MSRP Servings Net Weight-Listed* Weight-Actual**
Zydeco Red Beans and Rice
w/Smoked Jalapeño Sausage & Cornbread
$9.49
2 (12 oz)
13.8 oz (393 g)
16.1 oz (457.3 g)
All American Burger Wrap
w/Mustard, Mayo, ketchup & pickles
$5.49
1 (2 ea) 3.9 oz (109 g)
4.5 oz (130 g)
Market Pasta Puttanesca
w/Organic Whole Wheat Pasta
$4.99
1 (10 oz)
4.9 oz (138 g)
6.6 oz (187 g)
Bangers and Mash
w/Veggies & Rich Gravy
$5.49
1 (10 oz)
5.6 oz (156.7 g)
6.7 oz (189.7)
Austintacious Tortilla Soup
w/Cheese & Tortilla bits
$4.99
1 (12 oz)
2.7 oz (76.5 g)
3.9 oz (112.3 g)

* Net Weight Listed is weight listed on package
**Actual weight includes food, packaging, and tool kit if offered      

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

For this test the manufacturer allowed each tester to select their own meals. I think this is a wonderful idea because everyone's tastes and desires are quite varied. I tried to select a little from each category and meals that utilize different cooking methods. Some meal's cooking methods have multiple steps while others are as easy as just adding cold water.

The website offers a wide variety of meals including breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages, deserts and sides. I wanted to order one of each they looked so good. I guess after this test I will have my chance. The website is well organized and the additional photos of each meal actually prepared really help with deciding what to try. They also have an entire section on general grocery where you can purchase a huge variety of items for making your own meals.

There are also several options available for many of the selections. All of my selections offered a complimentary "Tool Kit" consisting of Salt Packets, Pepper Packets, Wysi Wipes or Moist Towelettes and 1 Waxed Paper “Prep Mat” which I added.

Some meal options included different flavors (like chicken salad comes in Mesquite or Cajun Ranch). Other options included vegetarian or meat versions and the ability to add extras like preserves or honey (like I did for the Cranberry Scones).

PACKAGING: The packaging for each meal consists of a heat-sealed, stand-up, plastic, zip close pouch. Inside the pouch is a paper label which includes the directions and nutritional information. Depending on the meal, there are also several more individual ingredients, zip close bags and the "Tool Kit" if included when ordered.

INSTRUCTIONS: The instructions are well thought out and easy to follow. Also included is a list of what cookware and utensils you will need, how much water, heating method (boil, fry, add water and none) and approx. time to prepare.

On the bottom underneath the nutrition panel is a "Hand Packed" date and a statement that simply says "Best if used within one year."

LIKES:
  • Wide variety of meals available - Something for everyone
  • Just reading the ingredients makes my mouth water
  • Multiple ordering options
  • Well thought out instructions
DISLIKES:
  • Some of the weights were much more than the listed net weight. Several by over 2 oz (56 g) The single serve "Tool Kit" only weighs 0.2 oz (6.2 g) by itself.
  • The Zydeco Red Beans and Rice is slightly over a 1 lb (453 g). It is for 2 people but that is heavier than I am used to for backpacking food.

LONG TERM REPORT

  October 1, 2009

Testing locations and conditions:

The first trip was a three day, two night backpacking trip on the Buchanan Pass/Pawnee Pass loop trail 24 mi (39 km). I headed out Friday morning and got back Sunday afternoon. Elevations were between 9,000 and 12,500 ft (2,743 and 3,810 m).

My second trip out was a quick overnighter to Finch Lake, a 4.5 m (7.2 km) hike each way. Elevations run between 6400 ft (1950 m) to 9900 ft (3017 m). Temperatures were between 75-85° F (24-29° C) during the day and at night it got down to about 46° F (8° C).

My third trip out was a weekend car camping trip with my son. We drove up to Lefthand Reservoir and stayed the weekend. Elevation is approx 10,000 ft (3048 m)
Temperatures were between 55-75° F (13-24° C) during the day and at night it got down to about 35° F (2° C).
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SmoothieJump Start Fruit Smoothie:
This was a nice change of pace. Super easy to make and a nice size portion.

Preparation: I call this - smoothie in a bag. Prep could not have been easier. Pour cold water and the smoothie mix into the larger outer bag. Seal it up and shake it vigorously. Shaking makes it kind of frothy.

Taste: Simple, flavorful and refreshing. It even had little pieces of peach floating around on top.
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Beasn & RiceZydeco Red Beans & Rice:
This meal was for 2 servings so I divided it in half, which was pretty easy. There are 3 packages inside the big pouch. One for the beans and rice mixture, one for the sausage (4 pieces) and one for the cornbread toastees (croûtons). Since it was just me on this trip I cooked half of the mixture on a Vargo Jet-Ti stove in a small pot. I brought along the "Tool Kit" which came in handy, especially the waxed paper prep mat. It created a nice clean area to place things on instead of directly on the ground. Half of the 2 serving meal made for a normal sized single serving.

Preparation: The prep was quite easy. Cut the sausage up in small pieces into the pot, add the rice and beans mixture and pour in the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes the mixture seem a bit runny so I let it simmer for another 5 minutes and it was perfect. Simple prep makes this an excellent backpacking meal.

Taste: The beans and rice mixture was a bit bland. Some salt and pepper and the Tabasco packet (included) really kicked it up. The cornbread toastees were very disappointing. I ate one before adding to the mixture and it was bland and tasted stale. They didn't add much to the meal so I left them off.
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Diner 3-Egg Hen House Omelet:
I have never been a big fan of powered eggs but I thought I would give this one a try. To my surprise this was much better than the other egg dishes I have had. I wasn't superb but it was OK. Portion wise it says it is a 3 egg omelet. To me it seemed more like a 2 egg omelet. I cooked this dish using a Vargo Jet-Ti in the lid of a pot that doubles as a small fry pan.

Preparation: The directions don't say use a non-stick frypan but I would highly recommend it. Preparation was easy enough. Pour water into the egg mixture bag, squish around to mix and eliminate lumps. Heat up half of the oil in a small packet (supplied) and pour on the egg mixture. Once it starts to solidify you sprinkle the vegi-cheese packet on top. Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip.  Since I did not use a non-stick pan getting the omelet to release so I could flip it was a nightmare. I just ended up scraping pieces off the bottom and stirring them around until cooked. Visually it did not resemble an omelet but more a pile of bits. Also included was a package of "Toastees" that you are supposed to put in the frypan with the remaining oil and toast up a bit. I ate one before tossing in the pan and just decide to forgo that step.

Taste: The omelet was tasty. Certainly not diner fare but edible. The "Toastees" however were not so good. They were very hard and very bland, basically dried bread squares.
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SconesCranberry Orange Griddle Scones:
This dish also had multiple steps for preparation but was quite good and worth the extra effort. For me the scones will be a welcome addition to car camping but not for backpacking. I cooked these on a Coleman gas stove in a non-stick fry pan. The direction say the package will prepare 6 scones. I managed 5 but mine were rather large. My son and I ate 2 each and the last one we saved for later. Very generous portions.

Preparation: First I poured the flour mixture into the larger main pouch and added 5.2 oz (150 ml) of water. I also added the small dried cranberry pouch to the mixture, although the directions did not mention this. I squeezed it around in the pouch until it was well mixed. While I was doing that I heated up the frypan and added one of the small packets of olive oil and sprinkled half of the small packet of cornmeal on top. I then just squeezed out blobs of the mixture on to the hot oil, put the lid on and let them cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Before flipping I drizzled the second packet of olive oil over the top and sprinkled the remaining cornmeal. I flipped them and let cook another 5 minutes. The scones came out nice and brown.

Taste: Quite good! The cranberries really stood out in flavor but to be honest I could not taste the orange at all. The raspberry preserves were an excellent addition to the scones. A little butter and I was a happy camper.
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Creamy Italian Polenta:
I decided to eat this for breakfast. Because of its ease of preparation I used a simple alcohol stove and and a small titanium pot. This dish fits in really well with my style of easy backpacking cooking. Heat some water, pour over the concoction, let sit and eat.

Preparation: Could not be easier. I used the Cook-In-Bag method. I simply boiled some water, added the Polenta mix to the larger outer bag, poured in the hot water, sealed it shut, slipped the bag inside an insulated coozy and waited 10 minutes. I then just ate the polenta right out of the bag with a long handled spoon. The best part was no dirty dishes to deal with.

Taste: Very good and filling. The sausage bits, Parmesan cheesy and garlic really made this a flavorful meal.


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ScrappleSavory Polenta Scrapple:
This was not super easy to prepare but it was very tasty and satisfying. After reading the package directions I decided to use this one for a car camping trip because of the extra prep and cooking needed. I cooked it on a Coleman gas stove in a non-stick fry pan. I cooked the whole batch which I shared with my son. It made 6 large patties. Three each was a hearty serving.

Preparation: First you need to boil 18 oz (532 ml) of water. After it warmed up I removed 1 oz (30 ml) which I poured into the granulated maple syrup pouch and let it set. Next after the water reached a boil I put the Polenta into the larger boil bag and poured the remaining water into that and let it sit for 5 minutes. I then spooned large globs onto the heated oil in the frypan and fried them up golden brown.

Taste: There is a nice balance between the savory taste of the polenta and the sweet taste of the maple syrup. There is also a nice little spice that comes through from the sausage bits.
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spreads on crackersCheddar Jack Cheese spread:
This was by far the biggest surprise. It was a dried cheese (could have been freeze dried) with spices. It took a while to rehydrate but was surprisingly good. I ate this for lunch with some crackers.

Preparation: The  preparation was  simple. Add water and a mayonnaise packet, stir it up and let sit for 10 minutes.  At 10 minutes it was still a bit crunchy but another 5 minutes cured that.

Taste: The taste was very good with just a bit of spice, very cheesy.
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Mesquite Smoked Chicken Salad:
This came as a 2 person serving and I decided to make the entire thing and save what I didn't eat for dinner. I ate this and the cheese spread for lunch. I had about a third left over that I ate as an appetizer before dinner.

Preparation: The prep was simple. Great for backpacking. Add water, a pack of ranch dressing, two packets of mayonnaise, stir it up and let it sit for 5 minutes. It was very filling.

Taste: The taste was very good with a definite smoky flavor. Other than a few crunchy bits of chicken that didn't rehydrate enough it was satisfying.
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All-American Burger Wrap:
Made one good sized serving that I used to fill 2 tortillas I brought along. I ate this for lunch while I stopped midday. The directions say you can use hot or cold water. I opted to fire up my little alcohol stove and heat up some water. I had a cup of tea to go with it.

Preparation: Just add water and mix up right in the cook-in-bag meals. It's super easy and there are no dishes to clean. The burger took the full 15 minutes to get soft. Comes with ketchup, mustard, sweat relish and mayo packets that I just squeezed over the top of the burger laid down the center of the tortilla. The directions recommend mixing them with the burger but this was easier. For me two medium sized burritos was a satisfying lunch.

Taste: They did taste like a spicy, crumbly, burger, burrito thing. The condiments actually made it feel more like a burger. Next time I will bring some cheese and let it melt on top of the hot burger.
_________________________

Wild Carrot Salad:
For me it's tough to find enough veggies to take on the trail. This turned out to be a keeper. Makes two nice sized portions that my son and I had for lunch, with sandwiches while we were car camping. This would also make an excellent backpacking salad. It would also be pretty easy to separate into 2 single servings.

Preparation: Once again, it was very easy. Empty the salad mix and currants into the outer Cook-in-Bag, add water, add mayonnaise , squish around and let it sit for 10 minutes. I needed an additional 5 minutes for the carrots to fully rehydrate.

Taste: Carrots, pineapple and currants in a creamy sauce. It was yummy! Some of the carrots still had a bit of crunch to them but I kind of liked it.

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Bangers and Mash:Bangers and Mash
I cooked this one up using my Vargo Jet-Ti after arriving late to camp. It made just enough to fill a small plastic bowl. I guess I was hungry as I was hoping for more. The sausage, vegi and gravy part was plenty, I think more potatoes would have been a better balance.

Preparation: Preparation was a little more complicated for this dish. I boiled the recommended amount of water and poured half of it over the dried potatoes in the Cook-In-Bag and set it aside. I cut up the sausage, added it to the remaining water and poured in the dried veggies and broth packet. I simmered the gravy concoction for 7 minutes. When I checked the potatoes they were dry so I added more water.
I put the potatoes on one side of the bowl and the gravy on the other side. That way I got some potatoes and gravy with each spoonful.

Taste: This dish also comes with dried crispy onions and a packet of Parmesan cheese. I tasted the bangers and mash and decided to forgo the onions and Parmesan. There was already lots of flavor going on in the bowl. I did taste the onions and they weren't crispy at all and I did not care for the taste.

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Market Pasta Puttanesca:
I cooked this one for dinner after stopping for the night. I used my Vargo Jet-Ti mostly because of the length of time it took to cook and my alcohol stove does not simmer. It is full on or off. Cooking time took a lot longer that indicated. Could have been the altitude. Serving size was about the same as the Bangers and mash and one again I wished there was more.

Preparation: Prep is pretty straight forward. Add some water to the sauce packet, set aside, boil the pasta for 9 minutes (it took 14 minutes), add the sauce and vegi packet and cover and let sit for 5 minutes. It was a little runny so I let it sit another 10 minutes and the consistency was better.


Taste: This had a nice tomato sauce with lots of veggies. The Parmesan packet was a nice addition to sprinkle on top.

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Austintacious Tortilla Soup:
This was my favorite dish. This one I cooked using the optional Cook-in-Bag method by simply boiling water with my alcohol stove. I decided to have it for lunch because the day was overcast and a bit chilly. Soup just sounded good and warming.

Preparation: I really like these types of dishes where all I have to do is boil water, pour it in and let it sit. I brought my insulated coozy that I slid the Cook-in-Bag inside while it rehydrated. It really helped hold in the heat. I let it sit for an additional 5 minutes and the beans were perfect.


Taste: Very flavorful, spicy southwestern soup and the chips, cheese and sprinkle of lime just made it marvelous.

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SUMMARY: Overall these meals are good. They have lots of flavor, plenty of variety and are pretty easy to prepare, especially if you use the Cook-In-Bag method. It saves on clean up too. The breakfast and lunch varieties were about right for me in terms of volume. The dinner meals left me wanting just a bit more. Of all the meals I tested the Omelet is the only one I would not consider purchasing again. I would actually like to try some of their other meals.

The weights listed in some cases
were way off. Not by mere grams but ounces. Also because of the way they are packaged there seems to be an excess amount of trash after each meal.

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I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Packit Gourmet for the opportunity to test these meals.



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