Why Backpacking Meals Need Better Packaging

Trail TalkLouise Barton
Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks

Photo by Marina Neal 


Editor’s note:
we’re beyond thrilled to share this guest article by Louise Barton, Co-Founder of Farm to Summit, an amazing backpacking food company based in Durango, Colorado. If you’re curious to learn more about how this cottage brand sources seconds to create delicious, mouthwatering meals, check out this startup story. If you want to taste Farm to Summit meals for yourself, a full selection is available on GGG. And … most importantly … If what Lousie shares in this article resonates with you, please help make this a reality by supporting Farm to Summit’s Kickstarter campaign going on now!!! 


Before any backpacking trip comes the planning — dialing in our sleep system, clothing, kitchen, everything, often to the ounce. After some practice, we get this down to a science.

But, what about food?

Food is one of the few items of gear that we can’t reuse. And, more often than not, we end up stuffing our bags with energy bars and dehydrated or freeze-dried meals wrapped in plastic.

Trip after trip, we “pack it out” only to add to the billions of tons of plastic waste sitting in landfills or polluting our oceans. Ouch. As a nature lover this does not sit well.

Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks

 Photo by Marina Neal 


So, what’s up with waste?

One issue is that big name companies are producing meals that are packaged to ensure a shelf-life spanning multiple years and, in some cases, multiple decades. Great for folks to stash in an emergency kit, but totally unnecessary for your 5-day excursion into the mountains.

The metal layer(s) tucked in this packaging is not recyclable by traditional means and so continues a cycle of creating waste while exploring nature.

Thankfully, a handful of small backpacking food companies are now offering alternatives. Compostable packaging is available through Off the Path and Firepot Foods, among others.

Farm to Summit, Fernweh, Pinnacle Foods, and Sasquatch Fuel have taken it a step further, going beyond compostable with their Omnidegradable® bags. 

Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks


Unlike compostable materials that offer no improvement over conventional plastics if they end up in a landfill, Omnidegradable® bags break down even in the absence of water, sunlight, or oxygen.

According to TekPak Solutions, the Canadian manufacturer of the bags, they’ve treated the plastic barrier with an organic film that reacts with microbes to create an enzyme that breaks down the long-chain molecules in plastic so that environmental microbes can completely consume the remains. The only requirement for this process to work is microbes, which are found even in anerobic environments like landfills. TekPak offers the laboratory testing to back each of their claims, which we think is pretty neat.

Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks

Photo by Makenzi Malvey 


Here at Farm to Summit, we’re now aiming to take sustainable packaging to the next level by creating our own custom bags using this Omnidegradable® technology.

Upgrading from TekPak’s stock bags is a BIG move for this small company, and will ultimately allow us to offer the most sustainable custom packaging of any backpacking food on the market!

Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks

 

We’re creating Omnidegradable® bags that are:

  • Hot water safe 
  • Short enough that you can eat your meal with a regular ol’ utensil without having to stick your entire hand in the bag (can we get a WooWoo?!?!)
  • Easy to open thanks to a tear notch
  • And, boast some serious style!!! 

Farm to Summit Omnidegradable Biodegradable packaging good backpacking meals food drinks


Check out our recently launched KICKSTARTER campaign for more details about this packaging and to support the mission of bringing sustainable and functional packaging to the world of backcountry eating! Happy Hiking!



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4 comments

Helga Hikes

Helga Hikes

Ironically as hikers most of us want to lessen our footprint on our favorite planet. This kind of accountability with a company such as Farm to Summit helps me feel like I am getting there. I also want Terracycle to offer more options for thru hikers.

Nabeel Al-Shamma

Nabeel Al-Shamma

This is very cool! I love the great fixes to packaging. The shorter packages is a good one, too

Jennifer D

Jennifer D

Have loved this backpacking food company since I first discovered them at the Durango Farmers Market. The food is amazing and it’s great to see their packaging going nature friendly as well!

Emily Miller

Emily Miller

Oh my goodness yes! This has always bothered me. So excited that I saw this in time for the Kickstarter! There will be soooooooooo many turmeric lattes are coming my way!

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