Getting out in nature is one of the most refreshing/resetting things. Our lives are so full of distractions, appointments, technology, and basically any and everything that pulls you away from focusing on yourself and your relationships. That’s why its so important to make time to go explore! Go where there is no WiFi or 4g, turn off your phone, and enjoy the present moment. For my 9-5, I work a desk job where I’m staring at a computer all day diving deep into CAD (3D modeling) and dealing with fast and urgent deadlines. Then once I get home I cook dinner, hang out for a little bit, then get back to the computer to chip away at blog work. All in all, I spend way too much time in front of a computer and attached to the internet. I’m pretty sure that what I just described isn’t too far off from your day either. So we’re probably in agreement that when it comes to the weekend its time to unwind and enjoy life! Its magical, precious time!
One of the thing that can be worry-some when prepping for a camping/backpacking trip is planning what to eat. You feel anxious that you can’t predict what you might want to eat when you are done hiking, climbing, or whatever for the day. Which got me wondering if there were any vegan backpacking meals that only involved just adding water. If they ended up being tasty that would be icing on the cake! I set off to REI to check their selection. Surprisingly I was able to find 3 vegan backpacking meals on the shelf. More than I thought and yet disappointing at the same time. I wish I could have found a vegan breakfast in store but there were a few I could have ordered online. Below is a review of the backpacking foods I have tried and some that I think might intrigue you. (PS. If you’re looking for some more backpacking meals check out Part 2 of this review and this post).
GUIDE TO VEGAN BACKPACKING MEALS
Backpacker’s Pantry was founded in 1951 to supply girl scouts and has been operated out of Bolder CO ever since! Their products are made in their Colorado facility and none of them contain MSG and most are all-natural or organic. On top of that, Backpacker’s Pantry has the most vegan backpacking meal options with 2 breakfasts , 7 dinners, and 2 sides. The even have a “Vegan Ready for Anything” kit on their website! Their Chana Masala meal was one of the 2016 Backpacker Magazine Gear of the Year Winner – definitely check out that dish! I wasn’t lucky enough to find the Chana Masala, but I was able to find Pad Thai (their best selling meal for 9 years)! I was a little unsure of how I would feel about this meal when I was hot and sweaty on a hike, but I was pleasantly surprised when we got around to cooking it! Like most backpacking meals all you have to do is add water, and the provided Peanut Butter and Co. Packet, then let it set for 15-20 minutes. Once the meal is done rehydrating, stir it up and top with peanuts. This meal was really good and pretty filling! I always love peanut butter when I’m on the trail so combining it with a substantial meal was amazing. I was full but not stuffed, which is good when you’ve still got another 4 miles to hike! Check out my review of other Backpacker’s Pantry meals here!
The Alpine Aire brand has 2 dinners and 1 breakfast that are vegan. The two dinner options are the Veggie Burrito Bowl or Sante Fe Black Beans & Rice and the breakfast meal is a tasty sounding Apple Almond Crisp. The meal I was able to sample was the veggie burrito bowl. It was probably my favorite meal out of the 3 I tried. This could just be because I like to keep things simple when I’m really working hard.
The Alpine Aire meals only involve adding water. They have easy measure lines on the bag that let you know how much to add so no measuring is required. After adding the water, you only need to wait 10-12 minutes, which is less time than most. Then stir the contents of the bag. After hiking 8 miles or climbing all morning, my husband and I were both pretty satisfied after splitting the veggie burrito bowl bag. The food re-hydrated really well, was seasoned well, and was not overly salty. We’ve already eaten this one a few times since testing it out back in February. If you were feeling fancy or you’re glamping (fancy camping) you could pack a few tortillas and have tacos!
Made In Nature
The Made in Nature meals are not like the Backpacker’s Pantry or Alpine Aire meals because it is not a “just add water meal”. I didn’t catch this before we went camping – I wish I would have. To cook these meals you empty the contents into a pot and heat until warm. This left me with a very dirty mess kit, and when you don’t have the proper means to scrape the pan, this is a big downer.
I only ended up trying the Morrocon Bazaar meal because I didn’t want to cook another one in my camp stove after the first meal (I’ll probably just eat it at home later). The smell of the Morrocon Bazaar was very strong and pleasant. It almost smelled like a dessert or breakfast. However, when I sat down to eat it, I found that the actual flavor was not nearly as intense as the smell. It was a little bland, the texture was a tad mushy, and the slightly sweet aspect of it was just something I wasn’t craving after a hot day out climbing. I think the biggest reason I didn’t like this one as much was the fact that it dirtied up my mess kit something fierce! All in all I am intrigued by their 4 other vegan options and maybe I’ll try them during car camping when I can clean the pot easier.
Other Vegan Brands
In addition to the 3 brands that I tried, I would really like to try a few other vegan backpacking food brands. Good-to-Go is based out of a little home in Maine. I didn’t have time to order this before my trips but this company takes the time to build their meals the right way, using good ingredients. They are a little bit pricey, but I have a feeling they will be down right delicious! Then there is Harmony Valley. They have only vegan and kosher meals which include burgers, sausage, and HUMMUS! I need to get my hand on this! Hummus after a hard day on the trail would be sooooo good!!
I hope this guide to vegan backpacking meals helps you plan your meals for your next adventure!! Who doesn’t like a meal with a view and no crowds?! Where are you headed next?? Let me know in the comments below!
MORE BACKPACKING MEALS
If you are looking for something a little more homemade, check out my recipe for Backpacking BBQ TVP (textured vegetable protein)!