Top 5 Best Freeze-Dried Chili For Backpacking

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Freeze Dried Meals

Looking for that chili that will bring you close to home while you’re outdoors or you’re facing a food situation? Here are the top 5 best freeze-dried chili meals you can try out and satisfy your soul with a hearty meal.

ReadyWise Outdoor Freeze-Dried Chili Mac With Beef

Net Wt: 5.8oz (166g)

Servings: 2

Calories: 260 per serving

Price: $8.49

The ReadyWise Desert High Chili Mac has beans, elbow macaroni, seasoned ground beef, and a rich beef sauce. It comes in a gusseted zip-top pouch that makes it convenient for you to reconstitute.

No cooking is needed. Just add hot water, stir after one minute, and close. Takes about 10-20 minutes to rehydrate into a decent meal. The noodles, meat, and peppers all come together nicely when you let the freeze-dried chili sit for a while.

The flavor’s a bit bland, and you’ll need to season it with a bit more salt. Also, if you’re going to reconstitute this, have your water come to a full boil. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time trying to get it to reconstitute.

Backpacker’s Pantry Freeze Dried Wild West Chili & Beans

Net Wt: 5.2oz (148g)

Servings: 2

Calories: 270 per serving

Price: $8.95

backpacker's pantry freeze dried wild west chili & beans pack and bowl

If you’re looking for a vegetarian meal to bring with you while you’re in the great outdoors, this is for you. It’s got a surprising kick to it when you’re used to eating several granolas and trail mixes after a while.

Many say that Backpacker’s Pantry servings can satisfy two people, and this is no exception. It’s great for sharing or if you have a hearty appetite. It’s certainly suitable enough to sustain you in a crisis or if you’re in a temporary bind.

What’s great about this is that you can eat it straight out of the pouch. In addition, it’s made for easy eating, meaning you don’t have to worry about cleaning pots and pans.

It’s got a bit of heat to it, with a touch of liquid smoke. The kids like it, and it’s not in-your-face vegetarian in looks and flavor. It can sort of pass for a meaty meal, but probably when you’re too hungry to care.

Mountain House Adventure Meals Chili Mac With Beef

Net Wt: 3.8oz (108g)

Servings: 2

Calories: 230 per serving

Price: $9.49

This has got to be the most expensive of the freeze-dried chili brands. Unlike the other two, you stir this twice to get a good reconstituted consistency. The pack contains spicy sauce with freeze-dried macaroni, beef, and beans. And just like the previous two, you can easily prepare this in the pouch and do away with the dishes.

When you open the bag, you’ll get a lot of mac and beans with a few beef chunks in it. Yes, the beef is real, so if you’re vegetarian, you’re better off with the previous two brands. The macaroni’s a bit chewy after reconstituting, though. If you want it softer, you might want to let it sit for a few more minutes.


Peak Refuel

Net Wt: 5.92 oz (150g)

Servings: 2

Calories: 300 per serving

Price: $13.99

Peak Refuel Three Bean Chili Mac is another freeze-dried vegan chili popular in the outdoor market. It’s got enough flavor to satisfy a vegan foodie and filling enough to satisfy a tired, hungry backpacker.

The consistency is nice and thick, just the right texture for a chili mac. It’s so hearty and rich that it’s a great comfort food when you’re outdoors, especially when it’s cold out. Or just when you’re too tired from a long day, you just want to chill at home and can’t be bothered to cook. In ten minutes, you’ve got yourself a meal that can warm you down like a good, comforting blanket.

If you’re a heavy chili eater and love bold flavors, you might find that this needs a touch more seasoning. A bit of salt, a dash or two of hot sauce, and it’s all good to go.

mountain house adventure meals chili mac with beef

Alpine Air Mountain

Net Wt: 6 oz (170g)

Servings: 2

Calories: 540 total calories

Price: $13.99


Although Alpine Air Mountain Chili has good flavor, it’s the least favorite of all the freeze-dried chili brands.

It’s a vegan freeze-dried chili that comes in generous portions. It’s easy to prepare but needs rolling boil water to reconstitute nicely. The flavor’s good enough to fill tortillas jazzed up with lettuce, cheese, and hot sauce.

Some find the product a bit on the bland side, especially the chili. If you’re transitioning to being a vegan, this might put you off. Others were able to detect the vegetable protein. If you’re sensitive to salt, you might find this brand a touch on the salty side.

There you have it. 5 of the freeze-dried chili brands you can try in the market. They’re a bit on the pricey side, so if you want to save up, you can freeze-dry your chili instead.

How To Freeze Dry Chili

You can make your special chili recipe or one that your mom, aunt, or grandma made. It’s going to be something you’ll eat out of the bag, so go for the one you love the most.

You can pre-freeze it if you want, or just pop the trays of food in the freeze dryer. Also, there are separators you can use to help you portion the chili for packaging later.

  1. Turn on the machine and press “START > NON-LIQUID > NOT FROZEN”.
  2. For frozen chili, pre-cool the freeze dryer to 15-30 or until the chamber’s colder than your chili (-8°F (-22 °C).
  3. When the unit tells you to, close the drain valve to let the pressure build-up.
  4. Load the trays and close the chamber door press “CONTINUE”.
  5. Let the unit do its work.

Freeze-drying chili can take 36-40 hours, depending on how wet and meaty your chili is. Stored in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, it can last for 25 years or more.

What’s your favorite chili brand, and where do you love eating it? Please share your freeze-dried chili adventure (good and bad) in our comment section.

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