Gear Review: RightOnTrek Adventure Meals
Overview: Eating on the trail, for me, is one of the greatest luxuries and at the same time one of the greatest headaches about backcountry travel. Finding meals that are satisfying, simple to prepare, and provide the nutritional benefits needed while burning a lot of calories hiking is always a challenge. That being the case, I am always willing to try new options, and a friend recommended I give a look to some of the recipes from a company called RightOnTrek, out of Kalispell, Montana.
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 millions of people who don’t have the knowledge, experience, or equipment for a multi-day backpacking vacation.
RightOnTrek not only creates and sells backcountry meals, they also provide a number of online tools for trip and meal planning, and they even offer gear for rent – all with the goal of making wilderness adventures more attainable.
"The trail is our therapy, our gym, our corner bar, our kitchen table, our movie theater and our school…" – Anastasia Voronkova, founding product manager, RightOnTrek.
It's a cool mission, and I was able to test out a few of their dinners (which retail for $8-$10 in the one-person serving size) on some recent backcountry trips. Here are my thoughts.
What I like:
Taste: The RightOnTrek meals I tried were all tasty. I honestly don't hate most of the backcountry meal options available on the market, but at the same time I view them primarily as fuel, not necessarily for the culinary pleasure they provide. The RightOnTrek selections upped the game in this department with a wide variety of interesting meal choices, wholesome ingredients, and good flavor.
My favorites were the General Tsoys Mountain Rice, the Cauliflower Forest Chicken Risotto, and the High Country Pad Thai.
They also offer 1-day meal kits which are a pretty slick way to take care of an entire day of planning all while enjoying some pretty darn delicious meals, snacks, and drinks.
Ingredients: Compared with many backcountry meals, the RightOnTrek ingredients seem more fresh and natural. Yes, it's still dehydrated food, but it's real food, and feels more like something you would prepare in your own kitchen versus on the trail. Plus they balance a good mix of fat, protein, and carbs to replenish your body.
And, these aren't the typical sodium bombs you normally associate with backpacking meals. For example, the General Tsoys Mountain Rice only has 740 mg of sodium while providing 590 Calories, 21 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein, 82 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of dietary fiber. For comparison, Mountain House Beef Stroganoff has 1,570mg of sodium with 560 calories, 23 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein, 63 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of dietary fiber.
Ability to Customize: In addition to the meal planner tool and the 1-day meal kits, RightOnTrek also provides the ability to customize each meal with add-ons. For example, you can add a peanut butter topping packet, crushed red peppers, or sriracha sauce to your High Country Pad Thai meal for a very small additional charge. They also offer meals for vegetarian, vegan, Keto, no-gluten, and non-dairy needs.
What I don't like:
Clean up: Remember that whole "It feels more like a meal you would prepare in your kitchen versus on the trail" comment? Well that goes for the dishes part too. RightOnTrek prides itself on "ditching freeze dried food bags," meaning you prepare these meals in your cookware, not in the pouch. I would say the results, taste wise, are better, but it left me with a few dishes to clean up after each use, which isn't usually my favorite thing to deal with after a trail breakfast or lunch. Is it a big deal? No, not really, but it's one extra step that I would typically prefer to avoid.
Perfect For: With a wide variety of interesting meal choices, wholesome ingredients that won't spike your sodium levels into the next galaxy, and some really cool options for add-ons and planning, RightOnTrek is a great choice for backcountry travelers that want good-tasting, healthy, satisfying food with a simple-to-plan-and-order process.
Stars: 4 out of 5
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