Dehydrated/freeze-dried camping food is great for hiking, backpacking, or camping meals because you don’t have to keep it cold to avoid spoiling.
While coolers/refrigerators can work well in some situations, ice or electricity isn’t always available making dehydrated/freeze dried food very attractive. While removing the water helps preserve camping food it also has another benefit…
Camping, backpacking, or hiking food that’s freeze-dried or dehydrated can reduce weight by sixty to ninety percent. If you’re carrying a backpack or other hiking gear with a few days worth of camping food and supplies this can make a BIG difference.
As with any prepackaged food you’ll probably find most camping food portion/serving sizes extremely optimistic or after a long day of hiking…laughable. I’m not sure who dreamed up the system but keep it in mind when you’re buying it because otherwise you’ll probably be going hungry, or if you’re carrying a pack all day you might even be undernourished.
Something else to keep in mind is the design of the container itself. The containers with corners can make it difficult for the boiling water to mix with the camping food leaving dry spots. Also tall narrow containers make it almost impossible to reach inside with a spoon without getting as messy as a two year-old, as you work your way down to the bottom. (A quick fix is to trim off the top as you eat.) And if you’re a light eater or use them afterwards for trash some of the containers have a “ziplock” type of closure which can come in handy, if they’re not trimmed to ribbons. 😉
Some camping foods can now be heated with a heating pouch by adding water to a chemical heating source. The advantage is there’s no flame. The drawback is they weigh more than the pouch by itself and there’s more trash to dispose of properly. So it may be better to just bring a small stove if you’re backpacking.
Camping food offers tradeoffs. While it isn’t usually gourmet that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. After all a gourmet meal would make for a lot of extra weight and inconvenience. Not my idea of a fun trip. The reason people buy it is because it’s light, convenient, and it can provide a quick hot meal. As for taste…
There are some great Camping Recipe books if you’d like more information on convenient and tasty camping food. Also you may want to take a look at a related article on camping stove performance, ease-of-use & what to avoid.