I am that hiker that does a full resupply at a gas station. My method usually begins by pursuing the candy aisle to decide on snacks, breakfasts and occasionally lunches. My shopping basket has a tendency to make kids’ eyes bulge and mouths water in jealousy.
I have hiked thousands of miles this way, but this year I decided that one of my projects is to increase the health of my backcountry meals. In that spirit, I jumped at the chance to test and review Food for the Sole.
I am not usually a fan of packaged backpacking meals, but was pleasantly surprised with Food for the Sole. Here’s why...
What I look for in my backpacking food?
How yummy is it? Number one – and the most important by far – is that it has to be delicious. I have learned this the hard way; if you pack food that you do not LOVE (especially if you are on a long trip) you may end up not wanting to eat it and then it does not matter how healthy it is or how many calories it has.
How easy it is to make? When I am backpacking, I am focusing on hiking, making miles, hanging out with friends and the views. I don’t like to devote much time and energy to making food. Food serves to refuel me and lift my spirits on the trail, not as a further energy drain.
How many calories/nutrients it has? Mostly, calories matter to me. I don’t want to be hungry all the time! I also need fast energy to burn and need to be careful about my weight on long trips.
- How light it is? Light food that is delicious and has lots of calories is my dream food. Gotta keep that pack light, which can be hard when I need to eat lots of food.
Introducing Food for the Sole ...
I was introduced to Food for the Sole just before my recent trip to Zion National Park and decided to try it out as part of my quest for healthier backpacking meals.
Who do you want to make your backpacking meals? A mom or a backpacker? Tough question! Food for the Sole is a mom and son duo that ties two together and got started when Julie made food for her son Henry’s John Muir Trail resupplies.
Their meals are dehydrated instead of freeze dried, which retains far more of the texture, nutrients and flavors of the food and makes it taste fresh along with being healthier.
These all-vegetarian meals cook and rehydrate in the bag and take about 30 minutes. If you are going stove-less or want only a couple of meals that you only need to rehydrate, try some of their salads! For those with further dietary restrictions, many of their meals are vegan and/or gluten free.
Camping with Food for the Sole
With Zion’s beautiful rock formations in the background, I started trying some meals out with a group of friends including a past chef, a climber, a caver, a ski patroller, a marathoner, two avid car campers/hikers and me, a long distance hiker. Here were some of our thoughts:
“I definitely added too much water, but it’s so good I think I may drink the broth that’s left at the end!” (About Peanut Super Slaw)
“The flavors are so much more complex than normal backpacking meals.” (About Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Kale and Quinoa)
“It tastes so fresh!”
“These sample packets are too small!" (the actual meals are twice the size of the samples)
“I would eat this.”
Things to note about the Food for the Sole
Allergies: Food for the Sole uses nuts in most of the meals to add protein in a vegetarian friendly way. This, however, makes Food for the Sole inaccessible to those with Peanut or tree nut allergies. It would be great to see a new flavor in the future that accommodates these dietary needs!
Measuring Water: The packaging suggests adding water that is equal to the food or half of the food depending on the meal. Currently, there are no fill lines or specific water measurements, both which could make for a faster and more accurate rehydration process.
Sweet Tooth’s Beware: I still had to have some candy afterwards for desert to get my sweet fix at each meal.
The Verdict: These meals will add a little bit of zing to what can easily become a mundane backcountry diet as well as increase your protein and nutrient intake. Unlike many other pre-packaged backpacking meals they taste good and feel fresh.
Going back to the 4 metrics I use to evaluate food: 1) They are tasty meals that I will actually eat in the backcountry.
2) Though they take 30 minutes to rehydrate all you need to do is add water to the bag, so they are easy to make. (You could rehydrate while hiking).
3) They are full of yummy nutrients, though I would look for larger size options or double up especially for longer hikes.
4) They are light!
Our Top Flavor Picks:
- Coconut Rice and Cuban Black Bean
- Peanut Super Slaw
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Kale and Quinoa
- Miso Hungry Broccoli Slaw