Best Hiking Meals In Australia For 2024

Deciding what to eat on the trail is arguably the most time-consuming part of packing for a multi-day hike. There is a delicate balance between picking hiking food with high nutrition and keeping your pack weight as low as possible – which is why freeze-dried and dehydrated hiking meals are so incredibly popular.

During our many multi-day hikes in Tasmania and New Zealand, we have tried just about every freeze-dried and dehydrated hiking meal available to us – even making some of our own for the Western Arthurs Traverse.

But sadly, we don’t get a whole lot of choice in Australia and New Zealand and there’s no denying that pre-made hiking meals are expensive! So to avoid you having to go through the same trial and error that we did, we’ve created this list of the best hiking meals in Australia to save you time and money.

In this post, we’ll explain all you need to know about the various types of pre-made hiking meals and what to look out for when comparing brands. Plus, you’ll find handy buying advice and detailed explanations on why we rate certain brands higher than others.

Eating a Campers Pantry Freeze Dried Hiking Meal on Shotover Saddle in New Zealand

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase of a product we recommend through one of our links, we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you! This helps to support our blog and enables us to continue providing you with helpful tips and exciting adventures, so thank you 🙂

Essential Things To Know About Choosing The Best Hiking Meals For Your Adventures

What Are The Main Types Of Hiking Meals?

There are three types of hiking meals that you can buy off the shelf that require nothing more than boiling water or heating up. These three options are freeze-dried, dehydrated and wet meals.

  • Freeze-dried Hiking Meals – The process of freeze-drying food involves subjecting the food to below-freezing temperatures before gradually warming the food once again. This results in the water content of the food being transformed from a liquid to a gas state.
  • Dehydrated Hiking Meals – This process exposes the food to dry, hot air for a prolonged period, ultimately drying out the food and removing the water content.
  • Wet Hiking Meals – These meals have been pasteurised in their packets to prolong life and remove the need for refrigeration, an example of this is Ben’s Original rice packets.

The most popular meals for hiking are freeze-dried and dehydrated meals. This is predominantly due to their extremely low weight compared to the heavy wet meals.

Freeze-Dried Hiking Meals Vs Dehydrated Hiking Meals

Sitting on the Shotover Saddle in New Zealand cooking our hiking meals

Like us, I’m sure many of you had no idea there is a difference between dehydrated meals and freeze-dried meals. However, there are several differences between these two methods and a clear benefit to freeze-dried meals.

  • Freeze dried hiking meals generally require less time to rehydrate compared to dehydrated meals, resulting in reduced gas consumption
  • Freeze dried hiking meals retain up to 97% of nutrient values, far surpassing dehydrated meals that only retain 60-75%
  • While dehydrated hiking meals are often slightly more compact, freeze-dried meals are lighter in weight as they eliminate up to 98% of moisture content compared to the 90-95% average for dehydrated meals

With that said, while there are distinct differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried meals, they are still similar enough that we wouldn’t exclusively recommend freeze-dried meals over dehydrated ones.

Should I Buy Wet Hiking Meals?

Wet meals are our least recommended type of hiking meals due to their bulky size and heavy weight. They generally weigh at least triple the amount of freeze-dried and dehydrated meals. However, there are some benefits and situations that call for wet meals that we’ll list below.

  • Wet hiking meals only require a tiny bit of water to avoid sticking to the pot, meaning they’re a great option when you know you’ll have limited water sources
  • You can find options at your local supermarket such as the Coco Earth range that are a third of the price of freeze-dried and dehydrated meals
  • If you don’t have access to cooking equipment, you can choose wet-packed meals such as the Edgell Nourish bowls that are designed to be eaten cold

While there are benefits and scenarios where wet hiking meals are beneficial, if you’re planning a hike longer than one night, then the extra weight and bulk will become an issue. But for those wanting a nutritious and low-bulk option for overnighters with limited water, our top suggestion is Go Native.

Check The Ingredients List

Campers Pantry packaging ingredients list
Campers Pantry Ingredients List
Radix Basil Pesto ingredients list and nutritional information
Radix Ingredients List

To ensure you’re getting the best nutrients possible – without a whole load of processed crap – make sure to check the ingredients list before buying any pre-made hiking meals.

From our experience, the tastiest meals were the ones with the most organic and locally sourced ingredients. Plus, these were the meals that kept us full the longest and didn’t make us feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating.

Luckily, it’s easy to discover whether your hiking meal is going to be filled with good nutrients or not by checking the ingredients list on the packet. If you find the list full of words you don’t know or lots of acids and thickeners, then you know that it’s going to be far more processed than other options.

You’ll also find Australian-made labels on the packaging of brands that primarily use locally sourced products. We highly recommend supporting these brands because they provide transparency about the origin of the products – and you’ll be supporting local businesses!

Calories To Weight And Serving Ratio

Cooking hiking meals on the deck of a hut

When you’re out hiking, there’s a delicate balance between carrying enough food to replenish your depleted energy and carrying excessive weight that will quickly drain that energy.

This is why dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are the best hiking food you can purchase. They provide a high calorie-to-weight ratio and won’t weigh you down. However, not all are created equal.

To determine which meals are the best, pay attention to the calories per serving. This will give you a clear idea of whether you’re maximising every bite. However, it’s important to consider the dried weight when comparing, as some meals are simply larger than others.

Here is a general guide to the calorie range you’ll find in hiking meals and their respective weights.

  • 400 kcal range – generally suited to smaller eaters and usually comes with a net weight between 80 – 100 g
  • 600 kcal range – better suited for medium to large eaters and has a net weight of roughly 120 – 140 g
  • 800 kcal range – best for intense expeditions where loads of energy need to be replenished, these generally have a net weight of roughly 165 – 190 g

While it is important to choose the right calorie range for yourself, we believe that instead of solely comparing calories between brands, you should also consider comparing the ingredients used to ensure that you’re consuming the healthiest option available.

For example, we found that the 400 kcal meals from Campers Pantry kept us just as full as the 600 kcal meals from Back Country Cuisine. All we can put this down to is the fact that Campers Pantry has a far more natural ingredient list.

Where Do I Buy Pre-Made Hiking Meals?

Radix and Campers Pantry Freeze Dried Hiking Food

For the best value for money, we highly recommend buying hiking meals in bulk either from an online store such as Wildfire Sports or directly from the supplier. However, this does require you to pre-plan and be slightly more organised – though the silver lining is that they have a very long shelf-life.

In addition to online stores, you’ll generally find a range of hiking meal brands at your local outdoor shops such as Macpac and Anaconda. This is convenient for those last-minute adventures, but the stock is often limited to mainstream brands and the most popular meal options – which often don’t include the higher-calorie meals.

The last place you can sometimes find hiking meals – mainly in popular hiking destinations – is from major supermarkets. However, Back Country Cuisine generally has the monopoly on this market and in our opinion, there are far better options out there such as Campers Pantry or Radix Nutrition.

Preparation, Method And Cooking Time

The preparation and method of cooking freeze-dried, dehydrated and wet hiking meals are all very straightforward. But there are some differences which again put freeze-dried hiking meals at the top of the list.

How To Cook Freeze-Dried Hiking Meals

Cooking a freeze dried hiking meal on Gillespie Pass in New Zealand

All freeze-dried hiking meals are stored in a heatproof packet and most have adopted the pouch packaging which allows you to add boiling water straight to the packet, stir and reseal. Once you’ve waited for the allotted time recommended in the instructions, you can tear away the top of the packet to make a bowl.

This means your clean-up is almost non-existent as you’ll only need a spoon or a fork. However, you’ll want to keep a sealable bag with you to put your rubbish in.

Pro Tip: We have found that with almost every freeze-dried meal we’ve prepared, we could have done with at least 100 m less water than suggested. We recommend starting with a little less and adding more if necessary.

How To Cook Dehydrated Hiking Meals

Cooking a dehydrated hiking meal while camping in Tasmania

Dehydrated meals require more cooking time compared to freeze-dried meals and will need to be added to your hiking stove along with the suggested amount of water – which is also generally more than freeze-dried meals. 

To avoid the meal sticking to your pot, you’ll need to continuously stir the dehydrated meal on low heat. Once the water has been absorbed, your meal will be ready to eat.

How To Cook Wet Hiking Meals

Wet hiking meals only need to be reheated, which can be done on your hiking stove. They don’t necessarily require any water, however, we have found that adding a tiny bit to the bottom of the cooking pot prevents the meal from sticking.

Wet hiking meals generally take a shorter amount of time to cook compared to dehydrated meals, but you will still need to continuously stir to avoid the meal burning.

Quick Tips For The Best Hiking Meals

  • Avoid pasta-based backcountry meals – the Italian in me is dying just to hear me say this, but we have tried many different pasta-based freeze-dried meals – plus our own dehydrated concoctions – only to find that the past rarely rehydrates well
  • Check the ingredient list for natural ingredients – remember, the fewer ingredients and artificial additives, the better
  • Choose pouch style meals where possible – these are generally easier to prepare, cook and clean
  • Choose a high calorie-to-weight ratio – more calories will ensure you get as many nutrients as possible from your meal
  • Buy in bulk – save money by buying your meals in bulk online and shop around to find the best deals and best selection in flavours
  • Start with less water – we’ve almost always found the recommended amount of water to rehydrate your freeze-dried hiking meal is too much, add 100ml less than recommended to start with

The Best Hiking Meals In Australia

When it comes to recommending food, it can be challenging as everyone has unique preferences. That’s why we haven’t created a list of our favourite meals but instead, curated a list of our favourite brands based on taste, nutrition, value and ingredients. We’ve also highlighted any drawbacks, allowing you to make an informed decision that best suits your palate.

Campers Pantry

Boiling water in our tent to cook our Campers Pantry Freeze Dried Hiking Meal

Campers Pantry is a small Australian owned and operated business that’s based in Tasmania. Their mission is to provide adventurers with top-quality, lightweight and nutritious freeze-dried hiking meals made from locally sourced ingredients – and they do a darn good job!

Of all the hiking meals we’ve tasted, Campers Pantry takes the cake for the most delicious taste. Needless to say, they’re our go-to freeze-dried meal when we’re heading out on a hiking adventure.

The only downside to Campers Pantry is that they don’t have larger options available for their dinners. 400 g is the only size they stock and for us, that’s too small to be sufficiently full after a big day hiking.

Furthermore, they recently made a change to their packaging, foregoing the much-loved pouch-style. While this has proven to be a little cumbersome on the trail and leaves you with extra rubbish to carry, the switch has resulted in a reduction of plastic usage – making them the most sustainable option.

Pro Tip: For the ultimate dessert option on the trail, check out their freeze-dried single-malt whisky ice cream – it is seriously out of this world!

Price: from $16 for dinners
Type: Freeze-dried
Cooking method: Roll-top packet
Average Cook Time: 10 minutes
Calorie Range: 400 kcal

Campers Pantry Indian Pilaf Hiking Meal


  • Only natural ingredients
  • Great flavour
  • As sustainable as possible
  • Locally owned, operated and produced


  • New style of packaging isn’t as user-friendly as original pouch style
  • Don’t have a larger serving size, 400g may be too small for big eaters
  • Slightly more expensive than the competitors

Our Favourite Flavours

Use our code _TRACKSLESSTRAVELLED to get 10% off all Campers Pantry meals!

Radix Nutrition

Cooking a Radix Backcountry Meal while camping in New Zealand

Radix Nutrition is a company based in New Zealand that specialises in natural goodness. They use only plant based and gluten free ingredients for their freeze-dried hiking meals and have a strong emphasis on sustainability. Their focus goes beyond just the main food groups and dives deeply into the micronutrients that many of us don’t have time to understand. 

Their well-balanced meals are designed for various diets – including KETO and low FODMAP – and come in a range of sizes to suit different levels of exertion. One of the things we love most about Radix is their successful experimentation with innovative recipes, giving us options other than the typical curry or stew!

With that said, if we were being highly critical, we would rate the taste of Campers Pantry’s meals above Radix – though they come in at a close second.

Price: from $12 for dinners
Type: Freeze-dried
Cooking method: Pouch
Average Cook Time: 5 minutes
Calorie Range: 400, 600, 800 kcal

Radix Basil Pesto Hiking Meal for backcountry camping


  • Pouch style packaging eliminates extra cleaning
  • Wide range of meals available
  • Good range of options for many dietary requirements


  • We’ve found the 400 kcal size a little small and underfilling when compared with others of the same size
  • Some of the options are a little bland
  • Only gluten free and vegetarian options may be a turn off for some

Our Favourite Flavours

Strive Food

Another Tassie favourite of ours is Strive Food. Their philosophy is to create a natural and tasty meal to replenish lost nutrients after a big day on the trails. They have an on-board qualified nutritionist who does a fantastic job at making delicious meals for long lasting energy.

Strive Food makes dehydrated meals rather than freeze-dried meals and requires a little extra preparation and cook time. However, if that doesn’t bother you then you’ll love the wide range of options and the transparency in what you’re buying – as you can see the ingredients through the packet!

Much like Campers Pantry, you will find only a short list of natural ingredients in the Strive Food meals, making these not only a delicious dish but a real meal that will leave you feeling good.

Price: from $13 for dinners
Type: Dehydrated
Cooking method: Stove top
Average Cook Time: Varies depending on each meal (between 5 – 15 minutes)
Calorie Range: 400 kcal (800 kcal for double size)

Mexican Chilli Beef Strive hiking Meal


  • Only natural ingredients
  • Great flavour
  • Visual packaging so you can see exactly what you’re buying
  • On board nutritionist
  • Good range for dietary requirements


  • No freeze dried options
  • Requires a pot to cook meals
  • Generally requires more water to re-hydrate than the competitors on this list

Our Favourite Flavours

Other Hiking Meals In Australia

Feed The Hike

Feed The Hike is a relatively new brand that originated out of Western Australia in 2020. We haven’t personally tried their meals, but the reviews we’ve read through have nothing but good things to say about these dehydrated meals.

Just like our favourite options above, you’ll only find real ingredients in the hiking meals from Feed The Hike. They also offer a scale on their website to let you know how filling each meal will be – which is lucky as you can’t find any nutritional information online.

The only downside to Feed The Hike is that you’ll only find them online outside of Western Australia and they are slightly more expensive than their competitors.

Price: from $17.50 for dinners
Type: Dehydrated
Cooking method: Stove top
Average Cook Time: Unknown
Calorie Range: Unknown

Feed The Hike Risotto hiking meal


  • All natural ingredients
  • Reviews boast about their delicious taste
  • They offer discounted meal bundles so you can try a range of recipes


  • Expensive
  • Can only be purchased online
  • Requires extra water and preparation time
  • No nutritional information found online

Back Country Cuisine

Backcountry Hiking Meal siting next to Jetboil as we prepare to cook our hiking meals

Back Country Cuisine is the most well-known brand in Australia and New Zealand, originating from Invercargill in New Zealand’s South Island back in 1998. They have a huge range of meal options that come in small, regular and family sizes.

From our experience, Back Country Cuisine’s meals taste good enough, however, the ingredients list extends forever with unknown items such as acids and thickeners and mostly you can just taste the excessive amount of salt.

But we do like the fact that you can buy a family sized meal that would feed between two to four people to reduce waste.

Price: from $13 for dinners
Type: Freeze-dried
Cooking method: Pouch
Average Cook Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Calorie Range: 400, 800 kcal

Backcountry Cuisine Beef Teriyaki Freeze Dried Hiking Meal


  • Easy to find as they’re stocked in most outdoor stores and some supermarkets
  • Large family size option to reduce waste
  • Lots of variety


  • Not all natural ingredients
  • Very salty

Outdoor Gourmet Company

Preparing our hiking meal for dinner on the Tongariro Circuit in New Zealand

The Outdoor Gourmet Company is a ‘more gourmet’ option from Back Country Cuisine. These are created as a double size for couples to share and offers a wider range of recipes to choose from.

However, in our experience, the meals were anything but gourmet. We sampled the butter chicken and it was basically freeze dried rice with sweet chilli sauce – there was not even a hint of butter chicken flavouring!

Honestly, the only time I felt uncomfortable after a pre-made hiking meal was when we ate the Outdoor Gourmet Company meals. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend choosing this option.

Price: $19 for dinners – serves 2
Type: Freeze-dried
Cooking method: Pouch
Average Cook Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Calorie Range: 400 kcal

Outdoor Gourmet Butter Chicken hiking meal in a sea to summit bowl


  • Meals serve two to save on waste and money
  • Additional options to the Back Country Cuisine meals


  • Lots of unnatural ingredients
  • The flavour tasted nothing like what it was meant to
  • These meals made us feel bloated and uncomfortable afterwards

Final Thoughts

Cooking our hiking food in front of an Ice Cave at Brewster Glacier

When it comes to outdoor adventures, having a reliable source of food is crucial. Freeze-dried and dehydrated hiking meals are convenient, lightweight and long-lasting – making them a staple for hikers and campers alike. And in Australia, where the diverse terrain offers endless opportunities for exploration, the demand for high-quality hiking meals is only increasing.

We hope to see more brands like Camper Pantry, Radix Nutrition and Strive Food pop up in Australia and New Zealand. They’ve increased the standard for healthy, natural and tasty hiking meals that are only going to get better.

When you’re choosing your meals for hiking, don’t forget to check the ingredients list and determine what size meal will suit you best. If you have any questions about hiking meals, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment below or reach out via Instagram.

Happy Adventuring 🙂