If you ask around, most hikers will let you know that there is nothing great about dehydrated camping food. In fact, it's rarely even used to go camping– most people opt for other options. When we decided to only eat it for three whole days, our friends laughed and said we would cave.

The food we ate came from Backpacker's Pantry, a company based in Boulder, CO that makes gourmet, organic, and nutritious camping food. They use all-natural or organic foods whenever possible, and none of them contain MSG. The company makes a wide range of yummy options, including vegan, dairy-free, meat, and gluten-free options for all meals.

Day 1

Breakfast: We started the day with the Cinnamon Apple Oats & Quinoa. It tasted like an improved version of your classic packaged oatmeal, with just enough sweetness and the added nuttiness of the quinoa. If you're an oatmeal lover, this is def the move. The quinoa-oat combo was full of protein and fiber to get us through until lunch.

chocolate, cream, milk, butter
Sarah Yanofsky

Lunch: When we were finally hungry for lunch, we decided that Pad Thai was the way to go. It had a good spice mix and a peanut sauce packet. We even had a friend try it, and she ended up eating a third of the bag. This wasn't a problem as the two servings are pretty generous (especially when you're not climbing a mountain). 

Dinner: Dinner was Three Sisters Stew– a hearty, high protein combo of corn, beans, and freeze-dried squash, mixed in with rice and quinoa. The meals are so filling and rich in protein that there were even leftovers. This is ideal for both backpackers and college students on a budget. 

Day 2

Breakfast: We had their Granola with Milk and Bananas. Since it's made for backpackers, the granola is very caloric, which meant we didn't need to eat very much to be full.

Lunch: We had the Mex Chili Lime rice and bean bowl. This thing was delicious and spice-packed, and the rice cooked perfectly. To pair with our Mexican theme, we tried the Green Chile Salsa. It goes great with blue corn tortilla chips (if you happen to have the space in your backpack, or in our case, dorm room).  

Dinner: Since breakfast for dinner is always a good idea, we made the buttermilk pancakes. The pancakes do require a stove to cook, so we hit up the dorm kitchen. The mix is based off of the recipe Michele Leifer, their VP of Sales & Marketing, makes for her family. They were so yummy that we ended up having a pancake party for our dorm floor.

Day 3

By Day 3, we honestly were not tired of this diet. Avoiding the regular cafeteria food was nice for a change, and seeing as how these meals were so protein-filled, I was motivated to work out more. I also stayed more full throughout the day.   

Breakfast: We tried the Mango Sticky Rice. Although it's normally served as a dessert in Thailand, Americans really love eating dessert for breakfast, so we went for it. It had just the right balance of mango and coconut with a nutty flavor from the black sesame seeds.

#SpoonTip: When you're not camping, substitute the water for soy or coconut milk for added richness.

Mandy Ennis

Lunch: For lunch we had the Kathmandu Curry, Lentils, and Rice, which came in the same snack-sized bowl as the Mex Chili Lime bowl. We also tried the Three Cheese Mac n' Cheese– way better than the Kraft Easy Mac that you usually make in a dorm microwave.

#SpoonTip: Bring it to the dining hall and add bacon bits or broccoli (if you're not in the woods). 

Mandy Ennis

Dinner: For our last meal, we had the Chicken Picatta– probably our favorite dinner of them all. It was great to end on such a high note with an Italian meal that tasted home-cooked. Ditch Olive Garden and order Backpacker's Pantry for less. 

Overall Experience

After 3 days of eating this food, we both agreed that backpacking sounds much more enjoyable now that we know we can have this cuisine available at 14,000 feet. We found that the meals kept us fuller and more energized with their high calorie and protein content. Not only did the meals taste good, but they were super easy to make in the dorm room. All of the directions are "just add hot water," which makes it a great alternative to dining hall food.

Backpacker's Pantry has found a truly magical way to transform unappealing, freeze-dried food into easy-to-make, nutritious, and tasty meals. Perfect for backpackers and dorm students alike, dorm-recipe hacks are now a thing of the past. When the dining hall isn't cutting it, I think you know what we'll be eating.