There are numerous reasons to dehydrate your own food for backpacking, and they vary from person to person, but here are some common ones:
- Cost. You’re able to purchase food that’s in season and on sale to make your meals. If you backpack and/or camp a lot, you quickly recoup the initial cost of the dehydrator and accessories from the number of cheap meals you can make going forward.
- Variety. There are only so many options commercially available. When you dehydrate or make your own meals the options are pretty much unlimited.
- Dietary restrictions and food allergies. Most commercially available food for backpacking do not take into consideration someone who might have special requirements like gluten free for celiac disease, or, peanut allergies. Most products are processed in a facility that also processes wheat or peanuts. Making it yourself ensures you have total control.
- Taste. Very rarely do you have a pre-packaged meal so good that it makes you say, “I’d eat that at home.” They’re usually too salty or have a taste that’s just not that great. When you make your own meals, it suits your taste preferences and particularities.
- Bulk, volume, and waste. You’re packing it in and packing it out, right? When you buy something prepackaged it’s typically in a container that’s significantly thicker and tougher than necessary for the trail because it needs to survive transport and sitting on a store shelf. In addition, it’s a portion size that someone else dictated so if you can’t finish it, you’re carrying it. A homemade meal can be stored in something as thin and light as a sandwich bag, and you’re able to control exactly how much food you want to bring so there’s minimal waste.
- Preparedness. Dehydrated food can last quite a while, and even longer in the freezer. Having a stockpile of backpacking meals ready to take on your next adventure can come in very handy in the event of an emergency.