Top 5 Pre-Made Meals for Ultralight Backpackers

Hiker in the mountains next to his tent pouring water into pre-made meals

In this post, we'll take a look at:

When it comes to selecting pre-made meals for your ultralight backpacking adventures, our guide has you covered.

We provide the insights you need to make the best decision based on factors like weight, nutrition, convenience, and taste. Let’s get started.

Top Ultralight Backpacker Pre-Made Meal Picks

  1. Most Ultralight: Mountain House (~4.33oz/123g)
  2. Best Overall: Backpacker’s Pantry (~5oz/142g)
  3. High in Protein: Peak Refuel (~7.05oz/200g)
  4. Self Heating Option: Omeals(~8oz/227g)
  5. Budget Option: Good-To-Go (~6.56oz/186g)

1. Most Ultralight
Mountain House

Pre-Made Meals: Mountain House Adventure Meals

Key Specs

Weight: On average: 4.33 ounces (123 grams)
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Wide selection


❌ Instructions can lead to a watery meal

Mountain House freeze-dried meals are a handy and tasty option for camping, emergencies, or when you just want an easy meal. We were pleasantly surprised by how good they taste, their texture, and how simple they are to prepare.

Just a tip: the instructions may make your meal too watery, so use less water for a creamy, satisfying dish.

Although they can be a bit more expensive, the hearty meal you get is worth it because most of their products offer a good amount of protein.

2. Best Overall
Backpacker’s Pantry

Pre-Made Meals: Backpacker's Pantry

Key Specs

Weight: On average: 5 ounces (142 grams)
Price: $$$


✅ High protein options


❌ Expensive

❌ Instructions can lead to a watery meal

Backpacker’s Pantry meals provide a good choice for a change in outdoor eating. We appreciate their vegetarian aspect and high protein content.

While the flavor might not be as intense as some other brands like Mountain House, these meals are convenient and easy to prepare, making them ideal for backpacking.

One tip is to use less water at first to prevent a watery outcome and extend the wait time by a couple of minutes for the best results. Overall, it’s a solid pick for those who want variety and excellent nutrition in their lightweight, yet generously portioned, outdoor meals.

3. High in Protein
Peak Refuel

Pre-Made Meals: Peak Refuel

Key Specs

Weight: On average: 7.05 ounces (200 grams)
Price: $$$


✅ High protein options


❌ Expensive

Peak Refuel provides a tasty and top-notch choice with real meat and double the protein of many others, making it a strong option. These meals are made with premium freeze-dried ingredients, keeping their natural texture and flavor.

They’re also quick and simple to prepare, ready in 10 minutes or less. Although the portion size might be a bit smaller than you’d expect, the great taste, calorie content, and quality make it a worthwhile buy.

Additionally, they offer excellent breakfast choices that many people enjoy.

4. Self Heating Option

Pre-Made Meals: Omeals

Key Specs

Weight: On average: 8 ounces (227 grams)
Price: $$


✅ No stove option

✅ Easiest to prepare


❌ Relatively expensive

❌ Not the lightest option

Omeals provides a convenient solution for warm meals in the outdoors with their self-heating camping food. Without the need for fuel or a stove, you can enjoy a flavorful dish within minutes.

These compact and portable meal packs are suitable for camping, hiking, and emergency food supplies. The high-quality ingredients ensure great taste and nutritional value.

We noticed that while the self-heating process works well, adding a touch of salt can enhance the heat. However, keep in mind that the weight can be a bit heavy due to the included heating element. Despite this, Omeals offers a satisfying option to diversify your outdoor meals.

5. Budget Option

Pre-Made Meals: Good-To-Go

Key Specs

Weight: On average: 6.56 ounces (186 grams)
Price: $


✅ Affordable

✅ Healthier option


❌ Flavours might not suit everybody

Good-to-Go meals shine because they use healthier ingredients and have less salt than the usual choices. It’s a bit of a two-sided deal because some sodium can help with hydration, especially on tough hikes – just remember that.

What makes them even more appealing is that they’re handcrafted and dehydrated in the USA. If you’re looking for tasty, nutritious, and easy-to-make meals for your outdoor trips, giving Good-to-Go a shot is a great idea.

But if you’re planning on intense and longer activities, you might want to bring along some foods or supplements with extra electrolytes for added energy.

How to Choose Pre-Made Meals for Backpacking

Choosing the ideal pre-made backpacking meal can elevate your outdoor adventures. These ready-to-eat options are convenient and low-maintenance, making them a favorite among backpackers.

The selection of tasty, nutritious meals has expanded over time, including gluten-free and vegan choices. When picking a meal, aim for around 500 calories for a balanced choice.

It’s crucial to examine the ingredients, opting for meals with high-quality components and shorter lists. Keep in mind that labels like “non-GMO” or “organic” don’t necessarily mean healthier.

After your hike, consider a meal within 30 to 45 minutes, with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein for effective muscle refueling and repair. Making smart choices in your pre-made backpacking meals ensures you have the energy and sustenance for successful outdoor experiences.

For an extra burst of freshness, ensure you get enough electrolytes – visit our post to discover foods rich in them.

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