2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Gear Review: Packaged Dinners

Take the hassle out of menu planning with these fast meals.

by: The Backpacker Editors & Contributors

Cache Lake Mac 'n Cheese (Julia Vandenoever)
Cache Lake Mac 'n Cheese (Julia Vandenoever)

Meal Verdict Prep
Packit Gourmet Tuscan Beef Stew (left; $10; 7.5 oz) “The best meal I’ve ever had on the trail,” says one tester. “If I was served this at a restaurant, I would have complimented the chef.” Unlike so many camp stews, this one actually looks good—full of colorful vegetables like corn and carrots and tomatoes—and it’s served atop creamy polenta. With the protein punch of the beef, it’s also satisfyingly hearty after a long trail day. Serves 2, with bigger-than-average portions. Just boil a quart of water and make it in the pouch; ready in about 10 minutes.
Cache Lake Fryin’ Pan Breads
(left; $3.29; 4 oz.)
Testers were unanimous: Hot bread makes every meal better. “I ate five servings at a single sitting, and I don’t even like fry bread!” proclaims one staffer. They’re not greasy, and come in five flavors: Plain, Garlic, Onion, Dill, and Italian. We like Garlic best. Use a nonstick pan. Takes a minute to mix, five minutes to make. Thirty seconds to eat.
Packit Gourmet All-American Burger Wrap
($10; 7.6 oz.; )
Why wait until after the trip to get that burger you’re craving? “This actually tastes like it came off the grill,” says one tester. The meat is a little crumbly but not dry; wrap it in a tortilla (BYO) with ketchup, mayo, mustard, and relish (included in separate packets, so yes, you can have it your way). Testers also liked this company’s deli-style Roast Beef Wrap. The ground beef takes about 20 minutes to rehydrate (with hot or cold water). Use hot and insulate the pouch to have a warm burger.
Cache Lake Really Cheesy Mac ‘n Cheese ($5; 7 oz.) Put this classic back on the menu. Our kids voted this “almost as good as homemade,” and adults liked it, too. “It sets up well,” said one fan, “not soupy like so many brands.” And cheese actually tastes like… cheese. As easy as it sounds. Just needs hot water; add your own spices to taste.
Coleman Potato Leek Soup
(right; $5; 6 oz.)
The flavor isn’t strong, but it’s not bland, either. Testers liked the combination of mild leeks, creamy richness, and belly-warming heat. Have it as an appetizer, or pair it with Cache Lake Fry Bread for a light dinner. Almost instant. Make it in the pouch or in a pot, and just add boiling water.
Cache Lake Dried Peas
($3; 1 oz.)
Fresh-pea flavor on day six of a weeklong trek? That alone is worth packing an extra ounce or two. Add these crunchy veggies to almost any entrée, or enjoy them alone as a side dish. Eat them dry, or rehydrate alone or in pastas or soups.
Mary Jane’s Farm
Organic Buttery Herb Pasta
($8; 4.4 oz.)
Consider this a sophisticated mac ’n’ cheese, with more flavorful ingredients—sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, sage, rosemary, and thyme—than in standard-issue recipes. Testers loved that it’s “heavy on the butter,” which boosts tastes—and helps refuel on hard, cold hikes. Cooks in the pouch in 10 minutes. Cool option: You can also buy this pasta in bulk (3 pounds, $48) and measure your own servings.
Backpacker’s Pantry Shepherd’s Pie with Beef
(right; $10; 5.8 oz.)
“There’s a reason Shepherd’s Pie is standard fare in cold, rainy England,” notes one tester. “Very warm and filling!” Key ingredient: A red wine sauce, which sets this meal apart from other meat-and-potato stews. And testers liked the large portions for the low packaged weight. Prep Just add hot water.  
AlpineAire Chicken Gumbo
($7; 5.5 oz.)
“Spicy!” declares one tester. The Cajun flavor is authentic, and the okra-peppers-chicken-rice mélange is filling. “It’s plenty, with a dessert,” says another. Prep Add hot water to the pouch.  

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Nov 13, 2010

I guess it depends on how you cook them. On the meals that we got there were instructions on how to cook them in the pot and how to cook them in the bag (just adding hot water). We ordered only meals that could be cooked in the bag - all of their 'Cook-In Bag' meals are listed here:

Some you can 'cook' with just cool water!

Sep 15, 2010

The Packit Gourmet meals are tasty but require 10 - 15 minutes of cooking. We used more than twice the fuel we normally use. If you're packing Packit, take more fuel.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
Finally going Backpacking!
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: 92hatchattack

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions