Pretty much anything tastes good after trudging the trails—which is why backpackers made do with powdered eggs for so many years. In comparison, the new dehydrated offerings from Colorado companies seem downright gourmet. But which ones deserve space in your pack? A hungry panel of 5280 staffers convened to find out.

The Favorite

Backpacker’s Pantry Outdoorsman Cincinnati Style Chili with Beef, $10
Overall Score: 3.75 out of 5
Flavor: 4 out of 5
Texture: 3.5 out of 5

Backpacker’s Pantry has adapted its original Cincinnati Chili meal into single-serving goodness (most of the Boulder company’s products feed two). Made with onion, clove, and cinnamon, the five-way chili resembles a chunky Greek tomato sauce—albeit one that longs for a spicier kick.

“It had a surprisingly nuanced flavor and would be freakin’ hearty after a long day of trekking.”
–Sarah Boyum, Associate Photo Editor

The Morning Fuel

Wild Zora Palisade Pineapple Mango, $11
Overall Score: 2.75 out of 5
Flavor: 3 out of 5
Texture: 2.5 out of 5

Wild Zora prepares special-diet packs, such as this paleo meal, in its Loveland headquarters. While the grain-free, flax-centric meal looks more like sludge than porridge, most of our panel would be happy to have its thick mix of walnuts, dried pineapple, and flaked coconut fuel their outdoor adventures.

“Pretty nutritious. I bet this packs a good energy punch if you eat a lot.”
–Megan Skolak, Production Manager

The Filler-Upper

TrailFork Unwrapped Burrito, $12
Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5
Flavor: 3.5 out of 5
Texture: 3.5 out of 5

A few panelists felt this mix of refried pinto beans, bell peppers, and cheddar cheese could use more salt, but most liked how the hint of lime (metaphorically) held the meal together in lieu of a tortilla. Bonus: Boulder-born TrailFork packs its meals into compostable pouches, meaning they sustain both you and the environment.

“Reminded me of a Chipotle burrito bowl. I would eat this all the time, maybe at home.”
–Spencer Campbell, Senior Editor

The Most Divisive

Mountain Standard Pancake Sampler, $20 (four servings)
Overall Score: 2.75 out of 5
Flavor: 2.5 out of 5
Texture: 3 out of 5
Our experts were split on the hotcakes—which come in two flavors, blueberry and carrot cake; we tried the latter—from this Boulder company. Some believed they were as good as normal pancakes. Others thought they had a metallic, soapy aftertaste. Another con: You’ll need to pack a skillet to cook them, along with syrup to combat dryness.

“I might make these if I’m car camping, but no way am I lugging a pan up a mountain.”
–Callie Sumlin, Associate Food Editor