4 Backpacking Food Companies To Watch
Interest in high quality, lightweight backpacking food has exploded in the last few years. Each year new companies are started, many of which are tailored to specific diets such as keto or paleo. These brands are seeing incredible demand and are selling out of products quickly. We know because we have researched and contacted over 70 backcountry food companies in the last few months. Our goal is to find the best brands and bring them to you though our store.
Which brands stood out to us? Here is a list of four meal companies, organized in no particular order. Don't take this list to mean that these are the only brands that make great food. Far from it! These are simply brands that offer something unique or that we feel will make a splash on the backcountry food scene in 2019 because of growth, new products, and of course, taste and quality.
Let's get started - if you know of other amazing companies that should be added to this list, leave us a comment!
Next Mile Meals - San Francisco, California
Unless you have been living under a rock lately, you have noticed that the ketogenic diet is exploding in popularity. The keto diet is a strict regimen of low-carbohydrate, high-fat foods that forces the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. With the help of social media and word of mouth, demand for keto-friendly products has gone through the roof. However, because the diet is is so strict, there currently aren't many options for people looking to maintain their keto diet in the backcountry. Enter: Next Mile Meals.
When Next Mile Meals owner Jessie Greger decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017, figuring out food was her biggest logistical challenge. She asked herself “Can I eat keto and do the hike?” Designing and creating these tasty meals was her answer to that question. After a few weeks of eating these meals day after day, Jessie surprised herself when she realized, “These are better than what everyone else is eating, and people keep asking if I have any extras to share with them."
Next Mile Meals currently offers six dinner entrees, and they are currently developing breakfast options. When we reached out to Jessie in October of 2018, she noted that they have barely been able to keep products in stock during the summer due to high demand. Look for Next Mile Meals to continue growing and leading the way in keto backcountry nutrition in 2019!
Humble Foods - Bozeman, Montana
Humble Foods was started in 2017 by Jordan Reasoner, a health engineer and author. Jordan was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. After six years of declining health, he was severely malnourished and could hardly get out of bed. Jordan did years of of research and began to control his disease through a change of diet. Jordan's passion is helping people like himself naturally heal digestive diseases in order to live a healthy life.
We met Jordan in the fall of 2018 through a mutual friend. The three of us sat down at a local Bozeman coffee shop and discussed backcountry nutrition and Jordan's new company, Humble Foods. Humble Foods was borne out of Jordan's desire to have convenient, nutritious food available for people like himself. People who suffer from celiac disease have a difficult time finding food while traveling, and Humble Foods is working to fill that void. It just so happens that Humble Food's offerings are not just for those with digestive problems, but for anyone that wants a healthy meal in the backcountry. Jordan sent his food out many different backcountry hunters in 2017 and got an overwhelmingly positive response. People loved having food that they could eat day after day and still feel good!
Since Humble Foods has not officially launched (as of January 2019), we won't say anything more! Look for Humble Foods to make its mark in 2019 with a broad offering of meals that contain ingredients whose names you can pronounce.
05/20/20 Update - We have learned that Humble Foods was sold. We don't know who bought the company, nor do we know if they plan on bringing Humble Foods products to market.
Heather's Choice - Anchorage, Alaska
As we researched food brands for the Alpen Fuel store last fall, one company kept getting mentioned over and over. As we talked to snack companies, they kept asking us, 'have you looked at carrying Heather's Choice?'. In fact we had; Heather's Choice was one of the first companies we contacted, and with good reason.
Founder of Heather's Choice Heather Kelly was born and raised in Alaska by a mother known for her organic cooking. In 2011, Heather was invited on her first trip rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. She was anxious about how to get all of the healthy, delicious calories needed for such an adventure. With a small dehydrator, Heather dried over 50 pounds of food for her month long trip. She continued to experiment with recipes on many different backcountry trips, and shared samples with a few adventurous friends. Heather was encouraged to take the leap and start Heather's Choice in August of 2014. After executing a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Heather's Choice has experienced incredible growth each year.
In 2019, look for Heather's Choice to continue expanding their selection of paleo-oriented, calorie dense, dehydrated backpacking food products. They have already started by adding two meals - Chicken Mole with Rice and African Peanut Stew. In addition to meals, Heather's Choice makes outstanding buckwheat breakfasts and a world famous snack, the Packaroon. Packaroons come in eight flavors and are tasty little snacks made from shredded coconut that pack a nutritious punch. Heather's Choice had an amazing year in 2018, and we look for them to continue that trend in 2019!
Peak Refuel - American Fork, Utah
Peak Refuel launched in April 2018 after two years of extensive market research. Their research indicated that the backcountry market wanted meals with more and better protein, meals that were more filling, and of course meals that tasted better. They listened and launched a six meal lineup. Peak Refuel products are fully cooked and then preserved using a freeze drying process. Freeze drying results in meals that maintain all of their taste without comprising nutrition content. Peak Refuel meals use premium ingredients and require less water to rehydrate than many of their competitor's products.
Peak Refuel sent us all six of their meals last fall and we can honestly say that we really enjoyed all of them. Their meals are ideal for backcountry athletes like hunters who are burning large amounts of calories. For instance, their Beef Pasta Marinara contains a whopping 990 calories! With a successful launch under their belt, look for Peak Refuel to grow and climb to greater heights in 2019. Also, look for a snack lineup to come online in the future!
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