So often, backpacking food is cold, tastes like cardboard, and/or is just all around mediocre. Or, we pack really good food but the space it takes up is outrageous. Say no more to old school backpacking food, say hello to Enertia Trail Foods.
I must admit that I was skeptical about trying a ‘just add water meal in a bag’. One thing I love to do is cook, thus I have always pre-prepared meals before a trip and brought the food in small zippy bags. For short weekend trips this serves me well, but longer trips I inevitably revert to Ramen noodles. This method almost always presents the problem of just too much bulk, especially living in the Rockies where black bears roam and bear cans are required.
Alas, I was given a sample of the Southwest Chili by Enertia so I figured I would bite the bullet and give the bag-o-meal a try. On a recent camping trip to Rock Mountain National Park, the chili made its debut. We had hiked a majority of the day and were settling in to camp as night fell quickly with the autumn chill starting to set in. I decided it was chili night. Easily enough boiled 12oz of water for the meal plus a little extra for tea. Gold star number one: only one pot to make dinner and warm beverage, and zero cleanup. I emptied the water right into the bag with the black beans, red pinto, corn, and the seasoning pouch. The neat thing about this camping food brand is that the packaging becomes your bowl. It even has marks for the specific quantity of water needed right on the side: gold star number two.
After waiting the recommended 10 minutes, it was time to see what the Southwest Chili is made of… WOW! The winner of the annual chili cook-off I participate in would sure have some competition if I brought this Chili next month. It was unbelievable how full of flavor and good texture the meal was. The beans and corn were suitably soft, but not mush. The chili was also just the right portion for my over-sized appetite, and even pretty darn good for you. Loaded with 9 grams of protein, a moderate 260 calories, low in fat, and high in salt, it’s just about perfect for your nutritional needs while backpacking.
I would definitely use Enertia Trail Foods products again. However, I do have a picky side that would love to see a few improvements. Personally, I try to eat only things I can pronounce. I’m sure a lot of what is on the ingredient list comes from preservatives, but they are things I have never heard of and words I cannot say. More or less, I’d like to see a far shorter list of ingredients: beans & spices. Also, there seems to be a lot of unneeded air in the packaging. This creates the same problem as pre-preparing my own meals, it just takes up too much precious room. Perhaps vacuum sealing the bags would be a more space conscious option. Otherwise, opening the bag pre-trip to let all the air out, then using the zip-lock seal is the most immediate fix.
At $4.99 per bag, Enertia Foods products are totally worth it. In 2008, Enertia Trail Foods partnered with outdoor powerhouse Coleman Co Inc, so now many of these delicious meals can be found online and in stores like Cabelas with either the brand name Coleman or Enertia.