Among all the stuff we take backpacking, food might spark the fiercest opinions. Most people split into one of two camps—cooking with fresh ingredients or boil-in-a-bag—and then subsets splinter off from there: We know plenty of hikers who are fiercely loyal to one food brand, or even one dish.
So when this bright, deeply flavorful pho wowed every tester who tried it, we took notice. This isn’t the first dehydrated pho to hit the market, but it’s by far the tastiest (and the most nutritious): A rich broth livened by star anise, cloves, ginger, and mild jalapeños warmed our bones as the sun set over the skyline of Wyoming’s Wind River Range, while the hint of fish sauce and burst of lime hit us with flavors that we simply do not usually encounter in the backcountry. After all those samey-samey chilis and pastas, this pho is a gamechanger.
Even though, yes, this is indeed soup, the meal packs in calories—390 for a single serving—comparable to heavier fare. Substantial chunks of chicken provide 27 grams of protein, while the rice noodles chip in 54 grams of carbs; 8 grams of fat round out the good stuff. (It also comes in single- and double-serving packages.) This is a relatively high-sodium dish, but we never felt yucky even after downing the double-serving size all by our lonesome. If there’s one argument this pho might start, it’s about not sharing it with your friends.