Review: Summit to Eat backpacking food

Recommended Price: £5.50 Main Meals and Scrambled Egg Breakfast, £4.50 Desserts and Oat Breakfast
Weight: (Dry Pouch) Main meals 112g-136g, Breakfasts 80g-91g, Desserts 86g-97g
Calories: Main Meals 499-603, Breakfasts 449-469, Desserts 300-447

Tasty and nutritious meals are such an important part of any multi-day backpack: fuel to keep your body functiong well; something to look forward to at the start and ends of the day; as well as a much needed morale boost particularly if the weather is poor. Having used a variety of brands over the years we took a selection of main meals and hot breakfasts from relative newcomer to the UK, Summit to Eat, on a recent multi-day trek in Iceland.

These meals are the freeze-dried, just add boiling water to the pouch, stir, wait and serve type. This is excellent for cutting down on utensils needed and pot washing but does mean you may end up having to carry the empty packaging for the rest of your trip. The waiting time is 8 minutes, the same for all the Summit to Eat meals, and this proved completely adequate with no unrehydrated bits or pockets of powder in the final meal. I like this arrangement as you can fill the pouch (these ones have easy to use fill level markers on the inside and are designed to reseal which is handy in bad or very cold weather) and then boil another lot of water for a hot drink or soup starter while you wait.

There are eight main meal flavours in the Summit to Eat range including 2 vegetarian options and a salmon-based one and between two of us we tested them all. All the flavours were good, easily identified as the stated dish, and with a bigger mix of vegetables in all of them (except unsurprisingly the macaroni cheese) than I’ve seen in other dried camping food. The spicy flavours probably worked the best, with our personal favourites being the Vegetable Chipolte Chilli and Chicken Tikka with Rice, although the traditional flavours of the Pasta Bolognaise and Beef and Potato Stew were also excellent. The only main meal which didn’t work so well was the Salmon and Broccoli Pasta as the sauce was too soupy so I’d recommend a little less water for that one.

There are two breakfast options – Morning Oats with Raspberry, which despite being very sweet was delicious and something to really look forward to on a morning, and also Scrambled Egg with Cheese. This savoury breakfast left a little to be desired, rehydrating into slightly monotonous lumps of egg (which really does taste and feel like proper scrambled egg) and a soupy cheese sauce – adding less water didn’t seem to improve it very much. However it did taste OK and many people will crave (and need) a saltier option particularly on strenuous trips. It also packs a serious 30.8grams of protein and 469 calories (compared to 9.6 grams of protein and 449 calories for the Morning Oats) – not bad for a 90g pouch. It was noticeable that both these breakfast options kept us fuller for longer than our usual homemade camp food, particularly the egg one.

The amount of calories per meal is one of the advantages of this range, being routinely higher (average 545kcal per main meal) than many other brands at this pouch weight, which usually sit around the 300 – 350kcal mark, the exceptions being the ranges marketed for more extreme expeditions. The main meal pouches vary in weight from 112g to 136g and the breakfasts are 80g (eggs) and 91g (oats). Each pouch is marked very clearly on the front with the nutritional breakdown so you can see just how much fat, sugar, carbs and protein are in each meal and also to identify allergens and the gluten-free meals. We also tried a Chocolate Mousse with Cherry and Granola cold water dessert. This was completely delicious and just about enough for two if you can bear to share, the only downside was that this required a lot of stirring to disolve all the powder into the cold water, but the taste and fluffy mousse texture was reason alone to kill your hiking partner. There are also two hot puddings in the range.

In the UK these meals usually retail for £5.50 for the main meals and scrambled egg breakfast and £4.50 for the oat breakfast and desserts. This puts them in the cheaper to mid range of this type of camping meal. Even at this reasonable price they remain an expensive option compared to preparing and cooking your own food. However for low weight, ease of preparation (over half our meals on this review trip were prepared in steady or pouring rain conditions – the pouches proving to be useful handwarmers while you waited for the food), speed and therefore less fuel used, taste, variety, and calories provided these are a great option to consider. Eating these for breakfasts and main meals supplemented by trailmix and a few snacks for lunch we felt full and had plenty of energy for the long mountain days and they helped make mealtimes a highlight on our Iceland trek. I’d definitely choose to take them again on a similar trip.

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