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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Packit Gourmet Assorted Trail Meals > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

Packit Gourmet Assorted Trail Meals

Initial Report - June 19, 2009
Long Term Report - October 1, 2009

Thomas Vickers

41 years old
Male
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
redroach@pobox.com
Southeast Texas, Houston Area


Tester Background:
I grew up in the piney woods of southeast Texas. Camping was a quick trip into the mosquito-infested woods behind the house. My style has evolved and over the last 4 or 5 years, I have begun to take a lighter weight approach to hiking gear (I still use sleeping bags and tents, just lighter versions). While I have flirted with lightweight hiking, I feel that I am more of a mid-weight hiker now. My philosophy is one of comfort, while carrying the lightest load possible.


Initial Report
June 19, 2009

packit1.JPG (17140 bytes)

 

Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Packit Gourmet

Website: http://www.packitgourmet.com

Year Manufactured: 2009

MSRP: varied (see below)

Weight: varied (see below)

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)



Packaged weight:
varied (see below)
Packaged dimensions: varied (see below)
Servings: varied (see below)

 

Meal Servings MSRP Net weight Packaged weight Package dimensions
Zydeco Red Beans and Rice 2 $ 9.49 US 13.8 oz (393 g) 1 lb 0.55 oz (469 g) 6 x 10.5 in

(15 x 27 cm)

Austintcious Tortilla Soup 1 $ 4.99 US 2.7 oz (77 g) 3.80 oz (108 g) 6 x 9 in

(15 x 23 cm)

Bangers & Mash 1 $ 5.49 US 5.6 oz (157 g) 6.65 oz (189 g) 6 x 10.5 in

(15 x 27 cm)

Creamy Italian Polenta with Sausage 1 $ 3.99 US 3.5 oz (99 g) 3.75 oz (106 g) 5 x  8 in

(13 x 20 cm)

Diner Deluxe Scrambled Eggs 2 $ 7.49 US 6.1 oz (173 g) 8.70 oz (247 g) 6 x 10.5 in

(15 x 27 cm)

Nawlins YaYa Gumbo 2 $ 11.49 US 13.6 oz (386 g) 15.10 oz (438 g) 6 x 10.5 in

(15 x 27 cm)

Trailside Bean and Cheese Burrito 1 $ 3.99 US 3.8 oz (108 g) 4.30 oz (122 g) 6 x 9 in

(15 x 23 cm)

Pasta Salad Primavera 2 $ 7.49 US 12.7 oz (360 g) 13.40 oz (380 g) 6 x 10.5 in

(15 x 27 cm)

Market Pasta Puttanesca 1 $ 4.99 US 4.9 oz (138 g) 6.55 oz (185 g) 6 x 9 in

(15 x 23 cm)

Jump Start Fruit Smoothie 1 $ 3.49 US 3.80 oz (108 g) 3.9 oz (110 g) 6 x 9 in

(15 x 23 cm)

Initial tester expectations:
All I could think about after visiting the Packit Gourmet website was that I wanted to eat everything they offer on the site.  The site is easily navigated and filled with a ton of wonderful pictures.  My only real question was if a single serving meal would fill me up or if it would take one of their larger meals to fill my belly. 

Manufacturer's description:

Generous Two-Serving Meal Packs -All meal packs are designed to generously feed two hearty appetites - or, in some cases, three small appetites. High Quality Ingredients -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. 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

Tester's Description:
I have not opened any of the food packages yet, but from a casual examination I can tell that each of these meals comes with a lot of extra items to help with flavoring and seasoning. This just whets my appetite for these yummy looking meals. 

The meals themselves are sealed in plastic bags that can be stood up (wide bottoms) and can be sealed at the top with a plastic zipper system.  Each meal also contains a printed card/label that contains the meal description, servings, pots needed, amount of water needed, how it needs to be heated, and how hard it is to prep the meal. This printed card/label also contains prep, cooking, and serving instructions. On the back of the card/label is all of the nutritional information for each meal. Everything I need to know about this meal comes printed on this card and I am also hoping that it makes great fire starting material.

Overall, these meals appear to be packaged very well and all the information I could ever want about each meal is included in the packaging. Best of all, everything I need to cook this meal is apparently already in the packaging.  Now all I need to do is open one and see how it tastes.


Initial thoughts:
I am still in the wow phase with these meals. They sound great. They look great and I hope they taste great. The folks at Packit Gourmet offer a lot of options for most of their meals and as I try each one I will go into more details about each one. I will be preparing these meals in a variety of ways using a variety of stoves so I will be doing my best to see if there are limits on how easy they are to prepare. 

 
Final thoughts:
The company also included a package of Peach flavored Jump Start Fruit Smoothie mix as an extra added bonus for this test.  For me, this is just another in a long list of 'good things' that stand out about Packit Gourmet.  Their entire line of food seems to be targeted at giving the best taste and nutrition for the weight. It is apparent from what I have seen so far that they want their food to taste good and work well on the trail. I am hoping that this is the case with the meals I have to test.

Things I like:
1. Everything packaged together
2. Sound delicious
3. Good pictures on the website

Things I don't like:
1. I have not eaten any yet


Long Term Report
October 1, 2009

HPIM1060.JPG (2192244 bytes)



Locations: Southeast Texas, Sam Houston National Forest, W.G. Jones State Forest, and Padre Island National Sea Shore
Temperatures: 80 - 100 F (27 - 38 F)
Stoves used: Home-built alcohol, MSR Simmerlight
Pots used: 36 ounce (1 liter) and 56 ounce (1.7 liter)

Preparation:
One of the things that I liked was that all of the meals I tested were one pot meals.   Only a couple required anything extra and the instructions were clear that the bag was a good substitute for a second pot.  My experience was that this was a perfect way to keep the kitchen needs to a minimum and save on washing chores after a meal.   I used one of two pots on this test.  The one serving meals were perfect for my smaller pot and the two serving meals required a bit larger cooking vessel.  No matter what size pot was needed, it was definitely nice that only one of them was ever needed. 

The meals came equipped with a lot of extras such as hot sauce, gravy pouches, and other items that helped make great meals, but left me with a severely cluttered cook site afterwards. I do not feel that it created too much trash because the included items were of great benefit in making the meals a complete and savory dining experience.  I would rather create a little more trash to carry out and enjoy a first class meal than suffer through some tasteless dreck for the sake of less trash.

The one word of advice that want to share is that every meal can benefit from the free (but must be added to each meal separately) is the Tool Kit. This includes salt, pepper, moist towelet, and a paper 'prep' mat to prepare the meal on.  While it is a little extra to carry, it is nice little extra that comes in real handy. I never realized how much of a difference that a clean piece of paper to put ingredients on or cut sausage on makes while in the woods. 

In the end, I feel that these meals are easy. Most of them just require boiling water, the ingredients, and maybe some simmering to create a tasty and feeling meal.

Portions:
The one issue that I have with these meals is the portion size.  The one serving meals were great for breakfast or lunch, but seemed a bit skimpy for dinner.  Being able to add dehydrated meat to the pasta meals is one way I think I could stretch them into more filling portions, but did not try during this test.

The two portion meals were no where near two portions for me. I am not a huge portion hound, but when hungry on the trail, I need to eat. The two portion meals all worked to about 1.5 meals/portions for me. I could get one nice meal out of the package and then almost enough for a lunch or breakfast.  The only issue with this is that cooking a meal for dinner would leave me with leftovers and I am not thrilled about keeping prepared food in my camp overnight no matter where I hike. 

I am not sure if I have an answer for the portion question in my head, but it is something that makes wonder how I would prepare for a long trip using these meals.

Entree Notes:

Creamy Italian Polenta with Sausage
Stove used:
alcohol stove
My breakfast of choice on the trail has long been oatmeal. It sticks with me, is easy to cook, and is even easier to carry. On a long 9 mile ( km) hike along the LoneStar Trail, I stopped and cooked up the Creamy Italian Polenta with Sausage for breakfast.   It was pretty easy and all I had to do was heat water with my alcohol stove, bring the water to a boil, then mix in the polenta and sausage.  When it had cooked for a few minutes I pulled the polenta off the heat, added some parmesan cheese, and waited for things to cool off. 

The wait was more than worth it. I was starving after hiking for about two miles ( km) and the Polenta was tasty. It had a great texture and most importantly it filled me up. It was just enough for a hot breakfast or lunch, but not enough for a dinner. While I am not a grits fan, this polenta was pretty close to what I consider grits and I would eat it again. In fact, I am pretty sure that I have found something to alternate with my oatmeal while planning trail breakfasts.

My only complaint with this meal was that the accessory kit that I requested with it came with a moist wipe that was completely dried out when I opened it. Other than that, this was a fast, easy, and hot meal that combined great taste with an easy prep.

Jump Start Fruit Smoothie
Stove used:
none
This was something that I never thought I was going to be able to use or enjoy. It was peach flavored and I loathe peaches and during the Texas summer I had no idea where I would find the cold water that the instructions called for. Guess what? I fooled the hell out of myself on this one. After camping for three days on the beach I was hot, parched, and pretty much tired of drinking beer or water.  I broke out the Jump Start Fruit Smoothie, mixed it with melted ice water from an ice chest and let it sit for a few minutes. 

I cannot even begin to describe how refreshing it was. It was cool. It was fruity. It hit the spot on a scorching morning at Padre Island National Sea Shore.  For someone who really does not like peaches, I really liked this drink. My only issue is that the fruit chunks needed to soak and rehydrate a bit longer, but I was thirsty and in search of something cool to drink. I have to give this item a great deal of respect. It was so much better than I imagined and was a welcome relief from plain water.

Bangers & Mash
Stove used:
MSR Simmerlite
I love potatoes and was very hesitant about this meal. Instant potatoes are not big on my list of "good things" and this is basically a meal of instant potatoes.   This is also another meal where ordering the free "accessory kit" is a good idea. It gave me a clean area to prep the sausage on and that is important since this was a multi-step meal for me."

The first thing I had to do was heat 10 ounces of water on my alcohol stove. Once that came to a boil it was time to pour half the water on the  potato mixture which I had dumped in the plastic prep pouch.  I dumped the cut up sausage and dried vegetable pouch into the other half of my water and let it soak while I refilled the stove with fuel and got it burning again. 

While the sausage and vegetables boiled (Packit Gourmet recommends a simmer), I mixed the potatoes in the preparation pouch and waited. Once I got to the seven minute mark, I pulled the gravy (Sausage and vegetables) of the stove and poured the potatoes back into the pot. I mixed everything rather well, added the parmesan cheese and dried onions, and let it cool. YUMMY. Once again Packit Gourmet has packed a great tasting meal into my mouth. The only down side to this meal was that it was not quite enough for me when I was on the trail and starving at lunch time. I ate it and wanted more. Actually, I needed more. I had to eat some of my cheese to keep me from cooking another meal. This is not really a bad thing, but I would not consider this enough food for a dinner or a lunch if I am VERY hungry. Breakfast though is another thing. While I tried it for lunch, it would definitely make a very filling, hot, and tasty breakfast.

Trailside Bean and Cheese Burrito
Stove used: none
This meal made me smile when I read about it on the website. I have been using dehydrated black beans for a fast trail lunch for years.  Packit Gourmet takes this idea a step further with this entree.  While the instructions call for it to be spooned into a fresh tortilla, I prefer to eat it with a spoon or on bread of some sort.  Any way this meal is prepared it is nice to be able to add water to the bag in the morning and have lunch ready by the time I stopped around noon.  There were cook and eat instructions, but I went with the 'cold' bag option and had a great lunch.  This was a great new take on an old standard for me.

While the portion is small, eating it on bread more than fills me up which makes it a great lunch or even an addition to a dinner if I wanted something lighter to top off a big meal.

Zydeco Red Beans and Rice
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
This was one big meal and it took my big pot to cook it in. My only issue with it was that it was not quite the two people serving that it was supposed to be.  I cooked this up one evening and got to eating as soon as it was cool enough to poke in my mouth. This was a tasty meal that I will use again on the trail. It tasted too good to keep out of my food sack and it was nice and filling.  Best of all, there was just enough left for cold breakfast in the morning.

One thing I would do different is to soak the ingredients for about ten minutes before cooking. I think this would make sure that the sausage and beans were good and ready to cook. They were pretty well done after following the cooking instructions, but I am pretty sure a little more pre-soak time would make a great meal just a little better.

Diner Deluxe Scrambled Eggs
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
I am very wary of trail eggs. There has not been one example of a good dehydrated egg meal that has ever passed my lips.  Part of me wanted to divide this meal into two halves and see if half of the two person portion would be enough for a meal, but having to face two egg meals was something I could not do.

The good news is that I probably should have. I used an old pot lid/frying pan I had and cooked these eggs according to the directions and I was surprised. They were good. Not just a passable egg related meal, but a good textured, non lumpy, great tasting egg breakfast.  It was easy to mix the eggs in the pouch and smooth the lumps out and then cook the mixture on the frying pan.  I am probably sounding a bit crazed here, but this was a good meal.  More importantly, it was a great egg meal. 

I do think that after mixing the eggs mixture and water that it needs to soak for a few minutes. The vegetables were still a bit crunchy when I started eating and few extra minutes soaking would have made them even better. As far as the portion size went, this was another 1.5 serving meal for me. I got one nice meal and just enough for a smaller meal out of this package instead of two full meals.  Despite that, I will be adding this to my pack for trail breakfasts in the future.


Market Pasta Puttanesca
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
This was a tasty meal. I am not a huge pasta fan, but for a nice warm meal it was a big step above ramen noodles or any other instant noodles meals.  The addition of the sauce and dry vegetables was a touch that really makes this a treat.  I am very used to plain cheesy pasta dishes on the trail, but this dish was just different enough to make me want to try it again.

The serving size was just on the verge of being enough for a dinner and a bit too much for lunch.  Adding dehydrated tuna or turkey to it would probably make it just the perfect portions size for a trail dinner.  As with most of the Packit Gourmet meals, the veggies are what make this meal a notch better. The added texture and flavors just adds enough zip to make it better than I expected.


Austintacious Tortilla Soup
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
I am not a soup person during the summer. It is just too hot on most evenings to enjoy a soup and during lunch time it is just too blazing hot to think about it. I finally broke down and gave this meal a try on an evening in the Sam Houston National Forest. I cooked up the soup in my small pot, poured some into my cup and sat back and watched the sun set.

Give me a cold afternoon and this would have been the perfect lunch or a great appetizer on a cold night before dinner. I just wanted to do a little dance after adding the lime juice/flavor packet to the soup.  This meal was a perfect example of how Packit Gourmet handles their meals. They take something comfortable and easy to prepare and add just enough zing to make it a step above any other trail meals that I have used. While I would not claim that this was a meal by itself, at least at dinner time, it would make a great breakfast or lunch on a cold day.  A great vista to enjoy while sipping would just be an added extra.

Pasta Salad Primavera
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
This meal kind of confused me. It comes as a large two serving pouch, but the instructions claim that it can be used as a side dish. This seemed a bit strange to me, but I went ahead and made it as a dinner dish. I followed the cook ahead directions at lunch time and let it soak/prep all afternoon in the preparation pouch. When I got to camp that night I set up camp and did not have to cook at all. I ate most of this meal and was happy that on a hot evening I was not squatting over a roaring stove to cook a meal. 

The sun dried tomatoes made this an extra tasty dish and I agree with the packaging that suggested tuna or salmon could be added. Dehydrated tuna would have added some extra to this meal and might have allowed me to stretch it into two full servings rather than the 1.5 it made for me. This meal really was a relief since I could prep it earlier in the day and have a full sized meal ready when I set up camp.

Nawlins YaYa Gumbo
Stove used: MSR Simmerlite
I saved this meal for last because I had very high expectations for it. As far as flavor and satisfaction go, no Packit Gourmet meal had let me down yet and being a huge gumbo fan, I was hoping that this meal would live up to my self induced hype. The good news is that I was not disappointed. The gumbo came the closest to being a true 2 serving meal, but I managed to eat about 75% of it in one sitting. It was that good. I also think that if I had been forced to share it with someone, I would not have been anywhere near as stuffed or as happy as I was.

The prep was a bit more intensive than on the other meals and I had to pay attention while cooking this meal because of it being multi-step. Preparing the flour and making the 'roux' was interesting, but the amount of work paid off in the end. I made a BIG pot of gumbo and ate till I was stuffed. It was far closer to gumbo than I had really expected and I even got a laugh out of the instructions telling me to watch out for the bay leaf.   This meal was a satisfying way to finish off this test.

Final thoughts:
These meals are good. They have great flavors, taste, and textures.  It is one thing for a trail meal to be filling and nutritious, but something completely different to be filling, nutritious, and full of flavor.  The only way to describe my first Packit Gourmet food experience is 'fulfilling."  I was never really left with the feeling that something was missing flavor or ingredient wise and while the prep could be more complicated than I liked it was worth the effort.

These meals do generate a bit more small 'trash items' than I am used to, but it was easy to pick up the clutter and stuff it in the prep bag for packing out. This trash comes from the extras, but they are well worth the effort to make these meals just a step better than I had expected.  I am looking forward to using the meals again despite the issues that I had with portion size.  They are just too good to leave behind and they will make a great addition to my food bag in the future.



Read more reviews of Packit Gourmet gear
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