There is nothing like strapping on a pair of hiking boots and heading out into nature. Whether it is a day on the trail or an extended trip, s getting out on foot revitalizes both the body and the spirit. To keep body and soul in top shape during a hike, you need to eat, and eat well. Freeze dried food is a great option for backpacking, hiking, and camping. It offers variety and nutrition while being extremely compact and lightweight. When every ounce you carry counts, lightweight is a critical quality for anything on your pack list, and few items are more essential than food. There must be enough of it to sustain you without weighing you down.
What Does Freeze Dried Mean?
Freeze drying is a way to preserve food. The process begins by flash-freezing a food item. The moisture is then drawn out through ice evaporation in a vacuum chamber. When the food is rehydrated with hot water, it regains nearly all of its original color and freshness. The vacuum process removes about 97% of the water, giving it the shelf stability of canned food without the bulk. The process differs significantly from dehydration, an ancient method of preserving food that also removes moisture. Dehydrated food, while popular with hikers and campers, generally does not reconstitute close to its original state. In fact, it is often eaten in its dried state, rather than cooked, as most freeze dried products are.
Freeze Dried Vs MREs
Meals, Ready to Eat, or MREs, are another backpacking option. They differ from freeze dried foods in that MREs are usually packaged as complete meals with a heat source built right into the packaging. They do not require water to prepare, but can be more cumbersome to pack. Also, your options with MREs are limited to what is offered.
Where to Buy
With freeze dried foods you may create meals of your own design, using the food choices that appeal most and that are the healthiest for you. A wide selection of foods can also be found online to accommodate any and all nutritional requirements such as gluten sensitivity or allergies. Also, boredom is much less of an issue. You do not have to eat the same or same-tasting food every meal. Options include:
Relative Weights of Fresh Vs Freeze Dried
Of course, nutrition and taste are important qualities in a backpacking menu, but the name of the game is portability. Many a hiker may be tempted to sacrifice taste and texture for a lighter pack. They may not be aware, however, of their choices regarding a variety of nutrition-dense and flavorful freeze dried foods. Here is a partial list of what certain fruits weigh fresh relative to what their freeze dried weight is:
- Apples 10:1
- Bananas 5:1
- Blueberries/Raspberries 8:1
- Cherries 5:1
- Tomatoes 20:1
Eat Well on the Trail
There are times when an energy bar may do the trick, but it is good to know that options exist for good eats in the outdoors without slowing you down with excess weight. An MRE may be a good choice when cooking with water is not convenient. Freeze dried foods may offer the best variety while being easy to pack and carry.