Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lightweight Meal Replacement Option

One aspect of my backpacking experience that I’d like to change is the food I carry both in quantity, weight, quality, and effectiveness. Much like many backpackers, I have a tendency to dehydrate what I can and carry lightweight food options. Unfortunately, these meals are often too bulky, a pain to cook, or otherwise lose their appeal.

Other than not eating, dehydrating, taking less food, or bringing less cooking components, there are two simple ways a lightweight backpacker can lower their pack weight when it comes to meals. The first is to skip bringing meals that require cooking. After all, ounces and even pounds can be saved by leaving a stove and fuel behind. Personally, I like a hot meal at least once a day, so I'm not ready to leave my stove at home all too often. When I do, it is often in favor of a fire to cook food anyway. The second method to lighten packweight is to skip a formal lunch and instead eat calorie dense (high energy) snacks throughout the day which is more common as snacks such as nuts can provide more punch than a more formal meal.

One vendor that specializes in replacing meals at minimum weight is Meal Pack ( Meal Pack offers a variety of bar-like food items which weigh in at +/- 3 oz. Unlike other snack bars, these bars serve as a nutrition replacement for an entire meal and in the neighborhood of 450+ calories per bar. That’s roughly 150 calories per ounce…which isn’t too bad considering it is more or less an entire meal packed with vitamins and amino acids for about $1.29 per bar. Just think - a packable “meal” around 3 oz for 450 calories at a mere $1.29. Not too shabby. It also cuts down on bulk and the nuisance of trying to grab little things like M&Ms or peanuts. I eat mine over a period of time and not all at once as I really don't want all that energy all at once. I think the only down side is variety in taste as often it is nice to eat many different things for the same snacking period to keep your tastebuds happy.

I first heard of Meal Pack while reading the gear list for Triple-Crown lightweight backpacking adventurer and author Francis Tapon ( Well, if it is good enough for him, I figure it is probably good enough for others out there who have a need for dense calories in a tasty lightweight package.


thrush said...

Cool, will check it out! Thanks!

Philip Werner said...

They taste like sawdust imho. You're better off with a big hershey bar.

Jolly Green Giant said...

The taste of stuff like this is a consideration, but personally I don't find most backpacking snack foods to be terribly appealling and I don't find these to be any more or less in taste than anything else. So, if the intent is to get energy and do it in a reasonably healthy and lightweight way, then this is a good option for me.

Francis Tapon said...

Thanks for mentioning my site.

I'm a year late to this article, but I'll just add:

1) It's important to try one bar before you buy them in bulk.

2) Even Hershey bars taste like sawdust (or something else you don't like) after you've eaten enough of them. The key is to have a variety of bars/energy sources.

3) To make anything taste better, make sure you're hungry! When you're starving, everything tastes great!

Francis Tapon