A decent meal can make or break wild camping trips, add an extra element to day hikes, and cause convenience and at times; inconvenience, in equal measure – but nothing is better than enjoying warm food at the top of a hill or mountain. Of course there is tinned food, and soggy sandwiches that have always been an option; but backpacking food has become a bone of contention in recent times with such a wide choice of options and extreme variance in the cost imposed. Dehydrated food is light and often holds plenty of calories but can leave a lot to be desired if it ends up with the consistency of luke warm, soggy cardboard. Wet food pouches can be heavier in fats or contain less protein and carbohydrates, and are sometimes filled with preservatives – but does Forestia change that?
The most important considerations that are often made when choosing what to take in terms of food on wild camping and backpacking trips are; calorific content, pack weight, and enjoyment. After a challenging hike, it is essential that your body is refueled and there is definitely an emotional attachment to an evening meal when out and about. After a long, hard day on the hill a good meal will often raise satisfaction levels. These two things are even more important in adverse weather conditions. A lack of food and comfort will make for a terrible night’s sleep.
In terms of weight, a decent ‘wet’ meal will never be as light as dehydrated or freeze dried options. But with that said, what must be considered when looking at ‘wet’ options is the ratio of weight vs. calories and then also – what actually makes up these calories. When looking at nutritional information, the most relevant values in backpacking foods are the carbohydrate and protein values followed followed by fats. This is because carbohydrates are digested more quickly than fats and consequently, can be used as fuel alot sooner. While protein helps to repair muscles. Eating a meal higher in fats would be counter intuitive. Although the body can use fat for energy, fat takes a much longer time and more energy to break down into useable fuel. Forestia compare well with other products here.
Forestia Chicken Madras with Long Grain & Wild Rice 350g, 469 calories.
- Carbohydrates: 50.8g (14.5%)
- Protein: 28.7g (8.2%)
- Fats: 18.6g (5.3%)
Wayfarer Chicken Tikka & Rice 300g, 417 calories.
- Carbohydrates: 47.1g (15.7%)
- Protein: 21.6g (7.2%)
- Fats: 18.9g (6.3%)
Look What We Found Chicken Tikka 250g, 338 calories.
- Carbohydrates: 11g (4.4%)
- Protein: 25g (10%)
- Fats: 21g (8.4%)
Forestia match Wayfarer in terms of combined percentage of carbohyrates and protein, but with less fat content and overall; the serving size of the Forestia meal gives a good amount of useable nutrients. Looking closer into the carbohydrate content, Forestia’s carbohydrates are only made up of 28% sugars, while Look what we Found is 75% sugars. The larger amounts of carbohydrates and protein would lead to good muscle repair and more useable energy to regulate body temperature throughout the night, without having to rely on the fat content as quickly. In terms of fat content, Forestia’s option has a much better value with only 26% being saturated fats against over 70% for both Wayfarer and Look What We Found. The lower amount of fat found in Forestia meals is a big advantage over higher fat meals such as Look What we Found’s option, which in theory – would lead to much less readily available resource to maintain body temperature whilst sleeping.
Of course, the enjoyment of food when on multi-day trips, and even overnighters; is hugely significant. Whether undercooked, tough, gristly, or stodgy – if you haven’t enjoyed your meal, then camping doesn’t feel quite as complete an experience. Forestia definitely push the envelope here. As one who predominantly uses backpacking foods, I have tried most brands currently available within the UK. Many people don’t enjoy them, and in alot of instances I can understand why. “It’s not proper food though, is it?” Well, sometimes; no. Or at least in the end, it either doesn’t taste like it is or doesn’t have the consistency and texture that it should.
With a ridiculous range of gourmet sounding meals, it would be a big disappointment if Forestia were to fall down when it came down to it. With no reservation – these meals certainly did not. The Fusili All’uovo with Chicken Bolognese and Grana Padano was only a verse of Italian music away from being sat in an Italian restaurant. Significantly more meat and pasta than cheaper options with a genuine taste, and without any greasy or stodgy-ness. Now, there is a difference between naming the meals the way they might be put across in a more familiar setting and the taste accompanying. Quite often, dehydrated meals can taste overly salty for example – despite an exotic sounding menu. But following up with the Chicken Madras with Long Grain and Wild Rice from Forestia, I’m confident in saying that these are the best tasting backpacking meals that I have used.
If you’re a fussy bugger that only likes what you like, Forestia’s menu might not have that much appealing choice. But for vegetarians and vegans, there are plenty of options; from Soya Meat Curry to Veggie Meatballs with Pasta. Along with healthier recipies, vegetarian and vegan options; Forestia meals are also free from trans fat, GMO, preservatives, artificial flavourings and artificial colourings. All of the packaging is recycleable and is in fact made largely from recycled materials. All round, a socially considerate company with good environmental credentials.