We Bring Along Backpacker Meals*

We don’t do wilderness backpacking anymore but we are never far from backpacker meals at home and when we travel.

Last May we drove to Casper, Wyoming, with plans to set our tent up at Nebraska’s Smith Falls State Park the first night and the Forest Service’s Toadstool Campground the next. Normally, we’re camping softies. After setting our tent up we choose to go to a nearby town and enjoy a restaurant meal. That didn’t work in Nebraska.

GoodTo-Go backpacker meal display

Try some tasty meals.

After arriving at Smith Falls Park, we set up camp and walked to the surprisingly tall waterfall. Gorgeous! Worth a visit. Then, it was dinner time and we were hungry. But no town or restaurant was within miles and we’d already spent too much time in the car that day. So, we pulled our GoodTo-Go backpacker meal bin out of the car.



Our small bin contains these things:

  • A few backpacker dehydrated meals that keep well. We also use Right On Trek.
  • A tiny backpacker stove and fuel bottle – and matches!
  • A bottle of water and a small pot.
  • Utensils and bowls.

Within minutes we had our Pocket Rocket stove beneath a pot of boiling water.  Soon our dehydrated meal was ready to eat. It hit the spot, cleanup was easy, and we had enough time before darkness for a birding walk.

Dehydrated Meals

Many types of dehydrated meals came on the market decades ago. They were OK and fine for hungry, backwoods backpackers but hardly delicious. That’s changed. Today several companies make meals that are easy to prepare with simple camp equipment and are nutritious and quite delicious.  Although marketed for backpackers they are perfect for keeping in the car in case there’s no cafe nearby. They’re also outstanding to keep in a basement emergency bin in case a storm knocks out power.

Camp Stoves

Various stoves and foods

Note the size difference in equipment

Like dehydrated meals, camp stoves have evolved from heavy cumbersome pump-up models of years ago to lightweight compact, and effective backpacking stoves. Ours is called a Pocked Rocket made by MSR. It takes up only a tiny space in our bin and boils water quickly. A fuel bottle lasts for several meals. No pumping is required. Remember matches if the stove lacks an igniter.

Other Things

During COVID-19 we ended up with many disposable knife/fork/spoon sets wrapped in paper napkins packed along with carryout meals. We put unused utensil kits in our meal bin along with a couple of bowls.

When we travel, even to visit friends or relatives knowing we will stay with them, we always stow our backpacker meal bin in the car. Usually, we don’t need it. We eat with friends or a cafe is close to the campground. However, like what happened at Smith Falls, having simple-to-cook meals and a micro stove makes the difference between enjoying a pleasant meal or going to bed hungry.

* Winding Pathways remarks are our own. We make non-paid, independent evaluations unless otherwise noted.