Climbing, hiking, mountaineering, camping and any other activities in the outdoors require us to carry food supplies for multiple days. Dried fruits, smoked meat and sausages, nuts are just a part of the daily diet but a consistent meal high in calories is required. We can not always afford the luxury of carrying canned food and honestly it doesn’t taste that good either.
Ever since I started my outdoor adventure, having good food on the go was always important. I like to eat a lot and eat good. Most of the times I am able to restock my supplies once in a few days and breakfast always consist of cheese, ham, pate, bread and sometimes peanut butter. If we spend the night in huts, I’ll have dinner there and enjoy local cuisine. The never ending problem was lunch. Food always weights a lot and having a light backpack makes the hike/climb more enjoyable. Therefore main priority is finding something high in calories for as little weight as possible. Cooking time it’s another factor but not as important. More important are the ingredients and of course, taste. Can’t eat something you don’t like.
Having said the above, dehydrated and freeze dried food has always been a part of my food ratio no matter what the activity was. It has the advantage of packing small and light with a high content of calories. It requires minimal effort to cook as the only thing needed is about 300-500ml of boiling water. This also means it allows me to survive a long time with a small gas canister and a small stove. The main downside is that the taste is not great and are not the healthiest either.
Over the years I’ve been trying different brands hoping to find something that resembles in look and taste with a home made meal with no luck. Some were pretty bad while other tasted good for a while until my stomach said “stop”. Summit to Eat is one of the cheapest and worst I had. The breakfast and desert are acceptable but main meals are about a 3 out of 10. The worst part is that I had to live on it for 10 days on my last expedition. The tomato sauce taste like eating rust powder mixed with water. Expedition Foods is among the best I had but only deserves a score of 7 and close to a 5-6 when you spend a few nights at 6000m+ and your appetite is gone.
After returning from my last adventure I started searching intensively and been recommended Firepot. Made in Dorset, UK from 100% natural ingredients this dehydrated food packs promise to be the real deal. I can’t believe they’ve been on the market for 3 years and I’ve never heard of them. So I decided to give it a try and ordered 4 different meals. To my surprise, I liked 3 of them and can definitely say it is the best I had so far and close to being a 9 out of 10. The price is on the high end but totally worth it. The food it’s tasty with no artificial additives and preservatives, no palm oil or added sugar. No soy lecithin, smoke extract, dextrose or other forms of sugars. The buyer has a choice of waterproof packaging or compostable bio ones.
As with any product, there are some negative parts as well. It takes 15-20 minutes for the food to properly re-hydrate. The price it’s a bit high at £6.95 for the regular packs ( 500-600cal) and £8.50 for the XL size ( 750-1050cal).
Overall it’s worth the extra money. But if I were to ask them for a quick improvement would be to add a full water level line inside the packaging. The pinch and pour suggested method is not the very best when using boiling water.
So far I have tried the following:
Beef stew with pearl barley – tasty and full of flavour
Chilli con carne and rice – Good but a bit bland. I would add some more spices and a bit of garlic for more flavour.
Porcini mushroom risotto – At first I liked a lot but eventually a very strong and acid flavour settled in my throat. It’s creamy and really can taste the mushrooms. Maybe a little too much flavour. I struggled to finish the meal and the acid taste lingered for quite a while. I won’t be buying this again.
Orzo pasta bolognese – My favourite by far. Good taste and flavour. The pasta cooked well and the meat is as good as it can be from a dehydrated meal. Wish it had a bit more tomato sauce but overall very nice.
It’s worth mentioning that they also do vegetarian and vegan meals. For a full range of sentiments visit their website. My quest of finding better meals will continue as I like to have more options when away for longer periods of time but for now Firepot will do just fine. I am very pleased with my new find and it’s a big improvement in quality from what I have eaten in the past.