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We all enjoy planning and prepping for a backcountry trip, especially when it comes to the meals. But unless you cook, dehydrate, and package your own custom menu at home, buying freeze-dried meals ready to eat (MRE) is the surest way to get the nutrition you need and the taste you crave out on the trail. Here are a few things to look for when counting ounces on wilderness cuisine.


Mountain House


A backcountry hunter can burn more than twice as many calories per day than during their normal routine. The weight of most freeze-dried meals is essentially the same—very light—so what matters is how much energy a recipe packs. If your trip includes a lot of vertical ascent, opt for at least one good high-calorie heat-and-eat meal per day. The general range of MRE dinners is from about 200 to 450 calories per serving.


Wise Company


We need sodium in our diet, but salt levels in freeze-dried meals can be excessive because, in addition to adding flavor, salt serves as a preservative. If you are sensitive to high sodium levels, be sure to carefully compare nutrition labels.

Cost and Servings

Backpacker’s Pantry


MREs are expensive, but cost is partly a function of the number of servings, which usually ranges from 1 to 2.5 per bag. If you are a big eater, look for meals that offer 1.5 servings per bag, and keep in mind that many brands are sold in bulk. If you have a lot of backcountry travel on your calendar, buying in volume can save money.