RightOnTrek — Fresh Tasting, Sustainable Backpacking Meals

Matthew 'Twain' Kok
Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


When you think about conventional, freeze-dried, add-hot-water-to-a-pouch backcountry meals, what’s missing? What would you change? RightOnTrek Meals continually asks this question.

By challenging convention, focusing on flavor, and prioritizing sustainability, RightOnTrek is creating new culinary experiences for backpackers, adventurers and travelers.

The small brand has already been a finalist for an outdoor innovation award — and won a Backpacker Magazine mac ‘n’ cheese shout out.

RightOnTrek offers meals that cater to vegan, gluten free, keto diets, and more. Selections like Banana Bread Oatmeal, Chicken Coconut Curry and Savory Mountain Grits taste as wonderful as they look.


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


As a company to look out for, I spoke with CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer Eric Boxer and National Sales Manager Andrew Sullivan about their vision, how they work, and what sets them apart.

The Food Isn’t Good, It’s Great

If you speak to a chef about what makes their food delicious, nine times out of ten, they’ll first mention the fresh ingredients. RightOnTrek incorporates everything from fresh vegetables to organic ingredients into their backcountry meals. Additionally, their meals aren’t pre-cooked, so when you cook it in the mountains or the deep woods, you’re cooking it yourself for the first time.

Actually, on that topic, it’s worth asking: why do most backpacking meals have such a long shelf-life? Maybe some folks like to buy in bulk and store them for a long time, maybe there’s an overlap between backcountry enthusiasts and doomsday preppers. But don’t most of us just pop into the shop and pick one up on our way out of town, or order a few meals from GGG at the start of each season?

RightOnTrek meals won’t spoil before you get to use them, as most of their offerings are verified for approximately 30 months. They do, however, prioritize taste and the customer’s experience over ensuring that it can sit around indefinitely.


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


They’re striving to make it so that eating in the backcountry is not some alien thing removed from your wilderness experience, but something that actually enriches it.

Their hearty portion sizes, their accommodation for dietary requirements, and their flavor all encourage people to eat and enjoy communal meals in the backcountry — moving us forward by moving us back to what has defined the age-old, communal experience of nourishing ourselves in nature. 


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear

Sustainability and Stewardship

People become conservationists when they’re able to form a personal connection with nature. It is much easier to form that connection when you can enjoy, rather than suffer through, your food. This is just one factor of RightOnTrek Meals’ practice of stewardship.

Also, by offering quality vegetarian and vegan options like their General Tsoy’s Mountain Rice or their Vegan Shepherd’s Stew, they enable customers to lessen their individual impact by reducing meat consumption.


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


Think back to those conventional, freeze-dried backpacking pouches again. What about the packaging? Over the past couple decades, outdoor culture has begun to prioritize convenience. Everyone wants to be able to pour water into the bag then eat out of the bag, so we don’t have to clean our pots. For people who love nature, in the context of stewardship, isn’t this priority a little hypocritical? To connect with nature, we need to eat out of these aluminum and plastic-lined pouches?

RightOnTrek Meals has worked hard to source 100% bio-based packaging, so they can get ahead of that problem. It’s formed of three different layers, originally derived from tree pulp.

It’s still heavy-duty enough to ensure you can transport your food safely into the backcountry, and it’s waterproof in case of rain or other mishaps. If you happen to be cooking over fire or a wood-burning stove (where it is legal and responsible to do so in the backcountry), you can actually burn their packaging once you’re done with it. With no plastic, it burns clean without releasing dioxins.

Cleaning your pot might be a worthwhile trade to make for a lighter conscience regarding your climate impact.

The Human Side

RightOnTrek was founded by a group of friends and backpacking buddies from Silicon Valley. In 2017, they completed the 211-mile John Muir Trail in the High Sierra. During that epic adventure, they developed a shared dream: to open up similar adventures to people who don’t have the knowledge, experience, or equipment for a multi-day backpacking vacation. 

Within the group, everyone had all the capital and skills to turn that dream into reality. Six months later, in October 2018, the first version of RightOnTrek went live.


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


Eric Boxer, CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer of RightOnTrek Meals, was part of that JMT thru-hike. He is an explorer by nature, and the outdoor adventures that have already changed his life inform the work he’s doing now.

So, too, does his engineering background in sustainable building design and energy policy. He’s able to use an analytical mindset to consider the bigger picture and make a truly meaningful impact with his products, rather than just greenwashing.

In a past side-project, he also launched a line of sustainably-sourced energy bars, which brought him more awareness of how the farming industry and its systems influence our environment.

Eric loves adventuring through high-alpine environments, such as the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado, and he also enjoys exploring the technical side of food development. As the “Chief Recipator,” he’s the one ultimately creating these recipes, though development and tasting is a group effort.


Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear


Andrew Sullivan, the National Sales Manager, has touched just about every aspect of the outdoor industry. He’s been a thru-hiker, a guide, and worked in retail as a buyer, vendor and consultant.

Andrew commented that most backpacking meals, even if they’re convenient and taste good, somehow end up being a gloopy soup. RightOnTrek Meals aims to create food that is much closer to what we eat at home. Those of us with dietary restrictions don’t get short-changed either — a lot of people don’t even realize their General Tsoy’s is vegan.

Looking toward the future, Eric wants to continue to innovate the packaging. He believes they can make it even lighter and more sustainable. He also wants to continue the work they’re doing to source ingredients responsibly and sustainably. As the business grows, they’ll have more buying power to do just that — along with staying true to their mission of encouraging people to get outside and fostering their customers’ personal connection with nature.



Right on trek backpacking meals GGG Garage Grown Gear
RightOnTrek Backpacking Meals



Matthew Kok is an essayist, a poet, a traveler, and absolutely in love with the world outside. They are currently operating out of Manapouri, a little town in AotearoaSouth Island, New Zealand. You can find them curled up with Stormy the housecat or cooking up big, elaborate breakfasts late in the morning. You can also find them on Instagram at @matt.kok

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