What is This Supplier of "Gourmet" Camping & Trail Food?

I read an article about some innovative company that is providing campers/hikers with delicious food, and a wide variety thereof, that is ported around in aluminum bags and doesn’t require fire to cook (I think it uses some kind of chemical-reaction heat-tabs, similar to what US Army MREs use).

A quick google search failed to turn up anything conclusive.


Possibly Heater meals? Based on experience of dehydrated meals the quality of tastiness can vary HUGELY from one entree to the next so see if you can find some reviews for which are the “good” ones.

These are available through a variety of sources, and they “supposedly” have the endorsement of Homeland Security (I know, I know) as suitable for an emergency food supply.


The accessory “Portable Camping Cooking Bag” has the heating elements.

This is what I had read about, found in a link VOW provided. Thanks!

I don’t know if i’d call Mountain House “innovative” - they’ve been around for some time, and I specifically recall bringing a backpack-full of their food with me on a camping trip I took about ten years ago. I will, say, though, that it’s pretty good for freeze-dried food - it cooks up easily over a backpack-size propane stove, it tastes like what it’s supposed to taste like, and it’s filling.

I sometimes buy their freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches to pack in my lunch box at work and pretend i’m an astronaut while i’m eating them. :slight_smile:

Keep in mind that none of that tastes really great. They can be filling, and they are light and simple to prepare. But they’re no replacement for real food.

Those aren’t self-heating you know. You have to add boiling water.

See my note above about the variability in tastiness. And yeah, Mountain House has been around forever.

For “gourmet” backpacking food, go here. Really tasty stuff, as a matter of fact. Not cheap, but worth every penny.

Mountain House has been around for decades. They are the baseline standard of backpacking food.

Well, heck, as long as we’re plugging our favorite nothing-to-do-with-the-OP-cuz-you-still-need-to-boil-water dehydrated backpacking food for any lurking campers out there, the Other Shoe and I are fond of Backpacker’s Pantry. Pour boiling water into bag, find something else to do for twenty minutes, eat. We’ve resorted to them on non-camping occasions, too. ("What’s for dinner? Oh, shit … um … ")

The OP was pretty much answered with the first reply. HeaterMeals™ are the only company I know of that offer self-heating meals to civilians, and they aren’t meant for backpackers. Suckers are bulky and heavy. I have 4 of them in the file cabinet behind me as earthquake supplies.

There are several companies offering “civilian MREs” that include a one-use heating element with them. I’ve never tried the heaters so I don’t know how good they are. The downside to all the ones I’ve seen, though, is that in order to be relatively lightweight yet calorie filled, they add in a lot of sugary snacks with each meal. And what’s worse, I haven’t found one with a lot of variety in those snacks, the package I got was 12 MREs with 6 different entrees, but all with an oatmeal cookie, lemonade mix, shake mix, and m+m’s.

But yeah, the entrees themselves are definitely heavier than the Mountain House entrees per calorie.

The heaters are the same as the ones in MREs. They work pretty well, and if you get the beverage bag add-on, you can heat water for coffee at the same time you heat your meal. The best place to compare all the manufacturers is here.

I was thrown by the OP saying similar to, as the heating elements are the same ones used. Also the use of the word “delicious.”

Well, Mountain House was definitely the supplier I remember reading about, that much is certain. I guess my brain got a little excited and filled in the parts about “tasty” and “self-heating.”

Mountain House does sell self-heating pouches.

I have a couple of their 72 hour emergency kits stashed away as earthquake supplies and have eaten several of the meals while camping. I wouldn’t call them gourmet, but I thought they were plenty fine.

I’ve had mixed luck with MRE varieties. We used to take them on all-day hikes when car-camping and the heaters worked quite well (I have a fond memory of sitting down to hot spaghetti & meatballs atop Yosemite Falls, with a strawberry milkshake for dessert. And a nice cold beer that I carried along for good measure). Some resellers packed everything really nicely (in a transparent outer bag) with a wide variety of desserts and snacks. The last time, however, every single meal had that same oatmeal cookie and applesauce…not bad but really boring after the first day. Many of the opaque outer packages were mislabelled so you wouldn’t know if you were actually going to have “BBQ beef patty” until you opened it up and found a packet of “Chicken stew” or “Clam chowder” inside.

All that aside, for camping/backpacking food the quality is pretty good and the self-heating packages (add water and lean on a “rock or something” - that’s verbatim from the instructions, complete with a drawing showing a “rock or something”) work well. Overall they do leave you with a ton of packaging material - actual backpacking food makes the packaging materials as light as possible, generally one single zip-lock pouch that you can pour boiling water into and eat right from the bag.