It's been, like, 20 years since I've purchased a commercial backpacking meal, preferring to create my own. But this past weekend my son and I went on a two-night backpacking trip in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness (Oregon, USA) and agreed that each would contribute a dinner and breakfast.
Three of those meals were delicious.
But since I had little time for preparation, I decided to take a flyer on a store-bought meal and selected the Beef Stew from the House of Mountain.
I confess that I had hopes that companies like Mountain House had made great strides in palatability in the 20 years since I last bought a commercial backpacking meal.
Alas, I was wrong. This dish tasted of chemicals, it was not very foodlike at all. The carrots tasted as awful as they always had, the beef was weird, the sauce . . . oh, the sauce! It had that creepy glisten typically found only with microwave meals, and never with real food.
Admittedly, it had the advantage of being much much lighter than the supermarket meals, but since I hike these days with no carbohydrates, I get plenty of energy from tins of sardines, nuts, jerky, summer sausages, tuna in oil in foil packets, etc., and I needed only one pound of food per day on an eight-day solo hike I took a couple weeks ago. Food weight is not a problem for me.
Which is a good thing because if I had to face meals like that Mountain House Beef Stew every night I'd probably take up archery or roller-skating.
* It was a short trip so we didn't concern ourselves with shaving ounces. For the two breakfasts we had: real eggs scrambled with rehydrated mushrooms and onions, cheese, olive oil, and bacon; and the other was corned beef hash sauted with Red Boat Fish Sauce [Google it] cheese, and corn tortillas with a side of salsa. The other dinner was instant potatoes, a wild onion found along trail, and fried low-sodium Spam. All three were quite tasty, though much more carby than I normally eat.