If you’re hitting the trails with an ultralight pack, ready-to-eat meals refuel you with little fuss. We tasted more than a dozen to find ones worth carrying.
Make sure you invest in these campsite cooking essentials, then hit the trails. This is as close to a four-star meal as you’ll get in the wilderness.
1. Backpacker’s Pantry Three Cheese Mac & Cheese
As we learned, rehydrated meat and vegetables can be dicey, so picky eaters should pack this classic. After about 15 minutes, the pasta emerged from the pouch coated in a tasty sauce.
2. Good To-Go Chicken Gumbo
After adding about 2 3⁄4 cups of boiling water to the bag, everything hydrated nicely, even the chicken, and it delivered a spicy kick. With 330 calories, it might not be enough for long trail days, but you can pronounce everything on the ingredient list.
3. Omeals Serves Turkey Chili With Beans
This was the only kit we tested that included a cooking source and utensils. Water (or snow) activates the heating pad and warms the meal packet in five minutes. Because it’s not freeze-dried, it looked and tasted like traditional chili.