RightOnTrek Backpacking Meals — Seriously Delicious!

Matthew Kok
Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


I had been waiting for the perfect time to eat my RightOnTrek Meals. I was solo traveling with three big meals: Hearty Beef Bolognese, Backcountry Chili, and the award-winning Bechamel Style Mac and Cheese. I knew they promised big flavors and hearty portions.

I hopped into an old, turquoise, Toyota Paseo that my grandma had once owned and drove 14.5 hours from Sioux Center, Iowa to Chama, New Mexico, to see my friends at Tumble On Outfitters, a cottage brand run by CDT thru-hikers.

On this particular trip we hiked around Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keefe’s old southwestern painting grounds. The day after that desert adventure, we sat down to have some Bolognese for dinner.


Okay, That Was Quick

I noticed two things during the cooking process. First, these recipes do well at setting you up for success. In terms of ease, the process treads a line between simple cooking and quality. All you need to do is add water, but the multi-step cooking process does open the door for personalization in a new, exciting way. We’ll talk about that more later.

Second, the backpacking meal was ready fast. Once the water was boiled, it felt like 5 minutes until we were eating, although it was probably more like 10.


Wow, Good Backcountry Spaghetti

Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


It’s a sign of our lowered expectations when it comes to backcountry meals, the way Tumbles and I dug in and said, “Wow, it’s actually spaghetti bolognese, and that’s huge.”

It’s almost relieving to know that this is possible in dehydrated meals. Most such meals I’ve had in my backpacking career have ended as some form of soup. RightOnTrek Meals piqued my interest with my first tasting. I was impressed.


A Note on Portion Size

Now, Tumbles and I were splitting a two-person portion of the Bolognese. We had been pretty inactive that day, working behind a sewing machine and computer, respectively, but we also hadn’t eaten much, so we were pretty hungry. We were still a little hungry after the Bolognese, to the point where we were ready to start cooking again right away.

Knowing ourselves and our voracious appetite for calories while thru-hiking, we concluded that one of us, alone, would have almost been able to finish the two-person portion on trail. However, it would not have quite been enough to split, especially if we were in the midst of hiker hunger.

We’re both around six feet tall and good eaters, and I do think for smaller hikers or hikers with less intense appetites, a two-person meal would easily satisfy two people. For us, we would need to include some accoutrements, maybe makeshift garlic bread.


A Note on Packaging

Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


RightonTrek has eliminated plastic from their packaging by using a bio-based material derived from tree pulp. That means it is a renewable resource separated from the petrochemical industry and is not part of the human food supply market like the corn and sugarcane based materials.

The backpacking meals also come in packages portioned for groups of two or four, versus single portions, which further cuts material waste.

The packaging felt sturdy enough, and didn’t tear even with all my shoving into various bags, so I could lay the durability worry to rest.

One of the things with RightOnTrek backpacking meals is that you don’t just cook them in their packaging, because their packaging is not made of plastic, nor aluminum-lined. 

I mentioned at one point to Tumbles, talking about how good the food is, “you just have to wash your pot.”

“No, you don’t…?” he replied. He was referencing how rarely we used to actually wash out pots, thru-hiking. The reality is, we ate plenty of meals on trail, like Kraft mac and cheese or Knorr sides, that you have to cook in your pot, and it’s not that big of a deal. You either drink some food-water at the end, wipe it out somehow, or just cook last night’s meal into tonight’s meal. It’s not actually much of a downside.


On To The Bechamel Mac and Cheese

Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear Mac and Cheese


Feeling hungry, and ambitious, we fired up the stove again. I had high expectations. Finally, I could dig in to the award-winning mac and cheese I’d been staring at for weeks.

When Tumbles and I hiked the CDT in 2021, he pretty much only ate mac and cheese for dinner, all the way from Wyoming to the northern terminus. His resupplies were just four boxes of mac and cheese. He tried to be healthy in other ways, but mac and cheese was his dinner from the Great Divide Basin and up.

I told him that as my hiking buddy, this and other stories about him would come up throughout my writing career, but they’d all be flattering. “I don’t know how that could possibly be true,” he said.

Once again, cooking up the RightOnTrek Bechamel Mac and Cheese was easy. The directions were clear, and it was all done quickly. It would’ve been done even more quickly if we hadn’t stopped for a brief photoshoot with the sunset and my grandma’s old car.


Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


There was plenty of cheese sauce, and it was bright and full-bodied. We knew immediately, upon adding the cheese powder, that they weren’t messing around. If the preparation had stopped there, we would have been in for a fantastic meal. It didn’t, though. We added the spice packet and its dried herbs.

My notes from that moment say: “Those herbs? Nuh-uh. So good.” Tumbles mentioned that any herb and spice addition would be good, but these are good. The final verdict? It’s clear why this mac and cheese has won awards. It deserves every accolade.


Doing the Backcountry Chili Just Right

Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


We didn’t break into the RightOnTrek Backcountry Chili for another two days, as we were waiting for our friend Janis Joplin to come back from a film shoot in Oaxaca. We decided to do this one with all the fixin’s and make a real meal of it.

For the third time, the actual preparation process for these RightOnTrek Meals was remarkably easy. It’s indicative of really clever meal construction on the manufacturing side.

Finishing with a bang, our spread included: Hawaiian rolls, homemade guacamole, chips with a hint of lime, and store-bought pulled pork. Frankly, we outdid ourselves.


Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review GGG Garage Grown Gear


All the add-ons certainly made for a hearty, delicious meal. Even so, I have to shine some light on the chili itself. It had a fantastic flavor profile and composition before we added anything, and it would certainly have made a great standalone meal.

A local named Jeff stopped by, and we ended up feeding four people with the Backcountry Chili as our main attraction. We finished our meal, stomachs full, smiles wide.



Right On Trek Backpacking Meals Good Dehydrated Food Review 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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1 comment



Great reviews. I will have to try this brand – thanks!

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