Packit Gourmet Trail Meals
Test Series by
Long Term Report:
October 1, 2009
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.
||6 ft 1
in (1.85 m)
of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP: Varies per meal
Weight: Varies per meal (see below)
Website (Photo and
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
|Diner 3-Egg Hen House Omelet
(Added Pork sausage crumbles $0.59 extra)
oz (93.6 g)
oz (147 g)
|Cranberry Orange Griddle Scones
(Added Raspberry Preserves $1.00 extra)
oz (340 g)
oz (430 g)
|Jump Start Fruit Fruit Smoothie
Eat a Peach flavor
oz (108 g)
oz (106 g)
|Creamy Italian Polenta
w/Pork sausage, garlic & cheese
oz (99.2 g)
oz (104.1 g)
|Savory Polenta Scrapple
w/Pork Sausage & Maple Syrup
oz (314 g)
oz (326.5 g)
|Mesquite Smoked Chicken Salad
w/Apples &Toasted Pecans
oz (187 g)
oz (190 g)
|Wild Carrot Salad
w/Zante Currents and Pineapple
oz (194 g)
oz (222 g)
|Cheddar Jack Cheese Spread
w/garlicky herbs & Veggies
oz (99.2 g)
|Zydeco Red Beans and Rice
w/Smoked Jalapeño Sausage & Cornbread
oz (393 g)
oz (457.3 g)
|All American Burger Wrap
w/Mustard, Mayo, ketchup & pickles
oz (109 g)
oz (130 g)
|Market Pasta Puttanesca
w/Organic Whole Wheat Pasta
oz (138 g)
oz (187 g)
|Bangers and Mash
w/Veggies & Rich Gravy
oz (156.7 g)
|Austintacious Tortilla Soup
w/Cheese & Tortilla bits
oz (76.5 g)
oz (112.3 g)
* Net Weight Listed is weight listed
**Actual weight includes food,
packaging, and tool kit if offered
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
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).
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
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."
- Wide variety of meals available - Something for everyone
- Just reading the ingredients makes my mouth water
- Multiple ordering options
- Well thought out instructions
- 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
October 1, 2009
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).
second trip out was a quick overnighter to Finch Lake, a
(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).
This was a nice change of pace. Super easy to make and a nice size
Preparation: I call this
- smoothie in a bag. Prep could not have been easier. Pour cold water
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.
Zydeco 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
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
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.
Diner 3-Egg Hen
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
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.
Cranberry 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
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
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
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.
Cheddar Jack Cheese
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Taste: Very flavorful, spicy
southwestern soup and the chips, cheese and sprinkle of lime just made
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
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.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Packit Gourmet for the
opportunity to test these meals.
Read more reviews of Packit Gourmet gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders