Backpacker’s Pantry is one of the bigger and more widely available brands of adventure food. Their products work great for backpacking, car camping, or an emergency food stash. While this company previously offered only vegetarian options (nothing vegan), over the past few years they have expanded their offerings to include several great vegan meals. In addition, the ingredients appear to have become healthier over the years with a wide variety of other dietary preferences available, including gluten free and nut free. Here’s our review of the best vegan options available from Backpacker’s Pantry.
Reasons to Choose Backpacker’s Pantry
Widely available: Products are easy to find at outdoor stores such as REI and the company’s Amazon Store. REI offers free curbside pick-up, and we find their prices to be better than other stores. You can also order directly at the Backpacker’s Pantry website. You can filter for vegan products near the bottom of the company’s home page.
Variety: There is a wide variety of flavor profiles among the vegan offerings.
Labeling: The company now clearly labels Vegan products.
Well seasoned: We always carry extra salt, nutritional yeast, and hot sauce to perk up backpacking food. We do not need to do this with Backpacker’s Pantry. They are perfectly (if aggressively) seasoned as is.
Lower prices: Compared to other backpacking foods, Backpacker’s Pantry has some of the lowest prices with dinners for two ranging between $6 and $10.
Sustainability: According to their website, Backpacker’s Pantry uses 100% renewable energy and partners with a variety of environmentally conscious nonprofits.
Downsides to Backpacker’s Pantry Products
Sodium: In general, Backpacker’s Pantry products have more sodium than other brands. After a long day of hiking, we tend to crave salt, so this is no problem at all! The sodium content complaint must be common because the company addresses it directly on their website in the FAQ section.
Ingredient Limits: This company does not offer many certified organic options, and the only organic vegan option is a hot cereal dish.
Cooking Tweaks: For most of the dinner meals, I have found myself needing to adjust the amount of water, cooking time, or both. This is after taking into consideration adjusted directions for altitude. However, I have found this common of most backpacking foods in general. I have posted my preferred cooking adjustments for each flavor below.
Other Info of Note
Portions: All of the dinner entrees feed two individuals. This is no joke. If you only base your portions on calorie count (which is low at under 500 calories/serving for all the dinner options), you might be tempted to allocate an entire pouch for each person. However, I have found one pouch to be plenty for two hungry people, especially when paired with crackers, bread, or another side.
For a company that does not specialize in vegan products, Backpacker’s Pantry has a lot more vegan options than most adventure food companies. Here are a few of our personal favorites.
This hearty stew is packed with beans and chickpeas. A healthy dose of hemp hearts adds protein and makes it very filling. We were most impressed with the ample amount of veggies, including broccoli, in the stew. It’s well seasoned with a kick – no extra hot sauce needed (this is rare for us)! One pouch was plenty for two people. We served it with some Violife Mature Cheddar cheese slices and crackers on the side. Cooking tips: Up the water to 2 cups and up the cooking time to 25 minutes to be sure all the beans are fully rehydrated. If you have a campfire nearby, letting it rehydrate at the campfire helps keep everything hot.
The Pad Thai was one of the first vegan flavors offered by Backpacker’s Pantry several years ago. Backpacker’s Pantry has refined this meal over the years by adding stir-ins such as peanut butter, peanuts, lime, and sriracha. Be sure to read the directions on the pouch for the timing of these add-ins. This gluten free option is made with rice noodles, and is quite similar to the actual Thai dish it recreates. While the recipe calls for 2 ¼ cups of water, we found this to be too watery. Instead, 2 cups should give you plenty of liquid.
This combination of lentils, rice, potatoes, and veggies is great after a long hike or backpack. The grains were cooked but firm, so the texture was perfect and not mushy like some other adventure meals. This was one Backpacker’s Pantry meal where we found the water amounts and cooking times to be just right. The dish has a bold, curry flavor and some heat. So, if you don’t enjoy curry or have never tried it, you may want to proceed with caution on this one. The flavor profile isn’t for everyone and you don’t want to be out in the wilderness with something that you don’t want to eat.
Final Thoughts and Further Reading
Over the past several years, Backpacker’s Pantry has greatly expanded their vegan options. Overall, this is a solid company with good products to take with you on your next adventure. The best way to encourage larger companies to produce and distribute vegan options is to increase demand for those options. So, we are for supporting non-vegan companies that offer great vegan options like Backpacker’s Pantry. We hope they will add even more vegan options to their offerings soon!
How did we do on our review? Drop us a comment and let us know! And, if you liked this post, you should check these out: