PEAK CAMP-N-TRAIL FOOD
TEST SERIES BY TIM TESSIER
January 19, 2008
REPORT ADDED MAY 15, 2008
Greensboro North Carolina
200 lb (90.70
Background: I hiked as a child with my father and started hiking with my now 16
year old son 8 years ago. We now routinely take 20 mile (32 km) weekend hikes (2 nights) approximately
once a month year round. Additionally, we take one, 5 - 7 day extended trip
each summer. Most of our hiking is done in North Carolina,
southern Virginia, Tennessee,
Kentucky, and West Virginia. We go regardless of weather
so we have experience in all types of conditions. We do not tend to travel very
light, my typical pack weight is 25 lb (11.3 kg)
exclusive of food.
PRODUCT INFORMATION &
Trinidad Benham Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.campntrail.com
MSRP: US$2.99 - $3.99
Listed Weight: 4 oz (113 g)
Measured Weight: Varies by product, see below
I received a package of six individual packaged meals. These meals are the
dehydrated, prepackaged type that provides the user with a lightweight, mess
free, easy to prepare meal at the end of a long day of hiking. The selection
provided includes 3 entre's, 1 soup, 1 chili, and 1 pack
of backcountry beans. Each of these meals are listed
as vegetarian meals, though several are "chicken" something.
For reference, as I list the items below I will list the Item Price (IP) and
Measured Weight (MW), and a brief description of the contents and nutrition
Sweet Chicken Teriyaki with Rice and Vegetables - IP - $3.99, MW - 4.4 oz (125
Description from website: "This unique blend of ginger honey teriyaki
seasoning, rice, vegetable medley and Wheatex makes a
satisfying meal to enjoy next to the campfire."
Features long grain rice, soy sauce (dehydrated), chicken substitute,
dehydrated vegetables including broccoli, peas, celery, carrots, tomatoes,
onion, and garlic.
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/3 cup (38 g)(dry),
3 servings per package, 130 calories per serving, 28 g carbohydrates.
Savory Chicken with Brown Rice - IP - $3.99, MW - 4.1 oz (116 g)
Description from website: "We mix a seasoned, hearty brown rice with
vegetables and Wheatex to create a healthy, hearty
meal to have while enjoying your favorite outdoor activity."
Features long grain brown rice, spices, chicken substitute, dehydrated
vegetables including broccoli, peas, celery, carrots, tomatoes, onion, and
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/3 cup (38 g) (dry), 3 servings per
package, 130 calories per serving, 28 g carbohydrates
Vegetarian Chicken and Rice Casserole - IP - $3.99, MW - 4.2 oz (119 g)
Description from website: "A wonderful medley of white rice, vegetables,
and Wheatex to create a delicious vegetarian meal
while out on the trail."
Features long grain pre-cooked rice, onion, parsley, mushroom, garlic, spices,
textured wheat protein, and other vegetables including broccoli, peas, celery,
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/3 cup (38 g) (dry), 3 servings per
package, 130 calories per serving, 28 g carbohydrates
Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup - IP - $2.99, MW - 4.1
oz (116 g)
Description from website: "Just like mom use to make, except especially
for vegetarians. We have substituted flavored soy products in place of the
chicken in this hearty soup."
Features egg noodles, chicken seasoning, dried onion, spices, dehydrated
vegetables including onion, mushrooms, garlic, parsley
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/2 cup (36 g) (dry), 3 servings per
package, 130 calories per serving, 21 g carbohydrates
Campfire Chili - IP - $2.99, MW - 4.2 oz (119 g)
Description from website: "So meaty and hearty, you'll never believe it's
We have replaced beef with a flavored soy product to make this the perfect
meal. All the meaty, hearty taste of chili without the
Features pinto beans, seasoning, dehydrated onion, garlic, salt, sugar
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/3 cup (57 g) (dry), 2 servings per
package, 210 calories per serving, 36 g carbohydrates
Back Country Beans - IP - $2.99, MW - 4.4 oz (125 g)
Description from website: "This versatile product is one of our most
popular items in the Camp 'n Trail line. Because these beans come unseasoned
you can add your own to give it a personal touch. These refried beans are great
for backpacking, camping, college dorms, or to use for a quick and easy Mexican
dish or nacho dip."
Contains dehydrated pinto beans
Nutrition Information - Serving size, 1/3 cup (38 g) (dry), 2 servings per
package, 150 calories per serving, 22 g carbohydrates
of typical package
Back of same package
The dishes are dehydrated food products. These products are designed for the
user to stir in boiling water, wait the specified amount of time, stir again,
and eat directly from the pouch, or from a plate or bowl. If these dishes do
perform as advertised they offer a number of advantages for the backpacker
inherent in this type of meal. The greatest advantage is that after a long day
of hiking the user can heat and eat, lick off the spork, and the dishes and cleanup are complete. The
second is that there is no need to carry more than one pan (to heat water).
This combined with the light weight of the food packages can save considerable
pack weight. Third, the sealed packages and dehydrated food minimize the scent
released to attract woodland critters to your campsite. In my field report I
will detail whether these particular products live up to this promise.
In examining the ingredient list of these products I see that they are all
vegetarian. I find, however, that each product's ingredient list includes a
number of preservatives and other ingredients with long, complicated, chemical
names. This does not particularly bother me personally, as many times I find
that "natural" ingredients don't necessarily translate into improved
taste or texture.
Each item comes packaged in a
four-color plastic pouch. The packages are approximately 6" (15.2 cm) X
7" (17.8 cm) (W X H). They vary in thickness from 3"
(7.6 cm). The plastic packages seem smaller and lighter than similar products
from other manufacturers that come in foil packages.
Each package is sealed at the top and has a notch approximately 3/4" (1.9
cm) from the top to facilitate easy opening. Beneath the notch is an
interlocking seal that allows you to reseal the bag. The general use is to open
the top, add the prescribed amount of boiling water, stir thoroughly, reseal,
and let it cook for a few minutes per the individual instructions.
The packages are attractive and well marked. The nutrition information,
ingredients, and directions are printed on the back in black type on a white
background. The directions appear to be a sufficiently bold and large enough
font to be easily readable in any light conditions.
One thing lacking on the packages is ANY description of the contents other than
the name. Above, I reprinted the information on the website describing each
product. I did this because there is no information printed on the package
other than the name of the product. There is a one paragraph generic blurb
about Peak Foods printed on each package, however
there is NO descriptive information on the product. Personally, since I don't
have access to the internet while standing in a store, to help decide between
three vegetarian chicken dishes, I would rather have information on that
particular product than a generic blurb about Peak Foods.
This would have been particularly irritating with the beans as I may well have
gotten in to camp only to notice then that these particular beans are just
that: beans. They don't appear to have any seasoning at all, though the website
does give a couple of seemingly good ideas for spicing them up. This is not
meant as a criticism of the food, rather a comment on why it is important to
have a description on each package.
Reading the Instructions
The instructions are all
relatively straight-forward. Simply add boiling water, stir, wait a certain
amount of time, stir again, and serve.
There is no mention of oxygen absorbers in the bag, though these are common in
this type of product. I will report whether this is a problem or not. I will
also report on how closely the cooking times on the packages approximate the
necessary cooking time.
normally hike with my son Greg we will be testing whether a serving for two (
as stated on the nutrition label) is truly a serving for two, or if a serving
for 3 is even enough for two guys who have been hiking all day. Additionally, I
will be reporting on the taste (subjective I know), texture, ease of cooking,
accuracy of instructions, and any other relevant data on these products.
We will be testing at altitudes that are typically in the 3,000 - 6,000 ft.
(914 m - 1829 m) range, in a wide variety of temperatures. We will be using the
entre's as our primary meal and some of the others
(beans, soup) as side dishes or late-night snacks. In all cases we will follow
the printed package directions as closely as possible.
anxious to try these products, and I wish to extend my thanks to Peak
Camp-n-Trail and to Backpackgeartest for the
opportunity to do so.
Please check back in mid-March for my review of these products. Bon Appetit!
Field Report - May 15, 2008
have used the products on a variety of back-country adventures. I will be
grading each meal on a scale of 5 (Oh Baby, I love this stuff!) - 1 (If I throw
this out on the ground will it kill the animals?) The areas that will be graded
are Taste, Texture, Ease of cooking, accuracy of instructions, and I will
provide a comment on each.
One follow up note, I commented on the lack of any mention of oxygen absorbers.
There are none that I can find in any of the products.
SWEET CHICKEN TERIYAKI WITH RICE AND VEGETABLES - I enjoyed this meal in the
Cumberland Gap National Recreation Area in Kentucky. This was on a cool evening after
about 10 miles (16.1 km).
Taste - 4 - Savory, tasty, enjoyable
Texture - 3 - The rice was a bit crunchy.
Ease of cooking - 5 - Simply measure a cup of boiling water and pour it in
Accuracy of instructions - 4 - I wonder if the rice would have been done if it
had cooked a little longer
Overall - 4 - This is a tasty entre'. It was not enough for two as I was by
myself and polished it all off along with a bagel. It was quite tasty and
SAVORY CHICKEN WITH BROWN RICE - I enjoyed this meal in the Great Smoky Mountains National
Park on a 50F (10C) evening. This was after 8.5
miles (13.7 km).
Taste - 4 - Also quite tasty. Probably my favorite of the
Texture - 3 - As brown rice tends to be, this was also quite crunchy.
Ease of cooking - 5 - Measure, pour, and watch the time.
Accuracy of instructions - 4 - Again, I wonder if the time is correct due to
Overall - 4 - This is a tasty entre'. Again, I polished the whole thing off by
myself. There is no way it would have also satisfied my son.
VEGETARIAN CHICKEN AND RICE CASSEROLE - I ate this meal as lunch on a day hike
in Hanging Rock
State Park in North Carolina. This was on a warm sunny
day, next to a pleasant stream.
Taste - 3 - This was fairly bland but not objectionable in any way.
Texture - 3 - Again the rice was a little crunchy.
Ease of cooking - 5 - Again, there is nothing to it.
Accuracy of instructions - 3 - This meal could definitely have done with a
little more time cooking.
Overall - 3 - This meal just did not do it for me. The portion was smallish and
the taste was fairly bland. I was not impressed by it at all.
HOMESTYLE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP - I ate this meal for lunch on a foggy, rainy day
in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. Hot chicken soup on a cold rainy
day... should be a natural.
Taste - 1 - I managed to choke down about 5 bites of this. There is no polite
way to say it, this was awful.
Texture - 2 - This was not soup at all, it was noodles that got slimy when
mixed with boiling water.
Ease of cooking - 4 - I have to wonder if I did something wrong but I followed
the instructions carefully.
Accuracy of instructions - 3 - Again, I have to wonder if there is some mistake
in the directions
Overall - 2 - I settled down inside a shelter on a cold rainy day and thought,
"this will be great, chicken soup on a cold rainy day". Instead, I
had a pouchful of slimy noodles with a flavor that
was just awful. It was the most disappointing of all the meals I had. I choked
down about half of it, went outside, dug a hole, and buried it!
CAMPFIRE CHILI - I fixed this for dinner the night after I had the chicken soup
for lunch. I fixed it carefully and tasted it with great trepidation after the
soup for lunch.
Taste - 5 - This was absolutely delicious. I believe it to be the best tasting
pouch meal I have ever had in any brand. The chili was just spicy enough with a
very satisfying beefy, spicy, chili flavor.
Texture - 5 - The meal cooked thoroughly with only a little crunchiness in the
beans, and that mostly due to inadequate stirring on my part.
Ease of cooking - 4 - Again, heat it up and eat it up.
Accuracy of Instructions - 5 - I cooked it the full 15 minutes that the package
recommended and the meal was great.
Overall - 5 - While not enough for two this was a great meal for one. I
thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it.
BACKCOUNTRY BEANS - I fixed these beans in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area in
western North Carolina.
It was a cold night after a 12 mile (19.3 km) day.
Taste - 3 - The beans were okay but quite bland by themselves. I then added
grated cheddar cheese and they got better, then I added Tabasco sauce and they became pretty good.
Texture - 4 - They cooked up thoroughly and did not suffer from the crunchiness
that some of the other dishes did.
Ease of cooking - 4 - The beans themselves were easy to fix, per the directions
on the package.
Accuracy of instructions - 3 - I graded down the instructions because these are
bland beans when eaten by themselves. Had I not seen
on the website that these were "just beans" and read their
suggestions about adding cheese, etc. I might not have
had anything to add to them. I feel the bag should offer some suggestions along
Overall - 3 - The beans were good as a base layer. For my taste I found it necessary
to doll them up with cheese and Tabasco.
That done, however, they made a tasty dinner with some
The Peak products seem quite well
made and healthy and are adequate meals for one. Somewhat in their defense, the
packages don't state that they "Feed 2". However, if you look at the
nutrition information it says that each package contains two servings. I would
rather the company just be honest and state the total number of calories etc.
in a package as they clearly feed only one hungry hiker.
Some of the meals (the chili) are quite tasty. Others (the "soup")
are dreadful. Most are somewhat bland but not objectionable in any way. The
product could be improved by better information on the packages, especially
since they have a number of varieties that sound quite similar (chicken and
rice, chicken and brown rice, chicken and rice casserole etc.).
I would like to thank Peak Camp-n-Trail Foods and Backpackgeartest.org for the
opportunity to test these products.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org
Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All