Cold rehydration a.k.a. Going stoveless

From time to time, we get questions about cold rehydration of backpacking food. The reason for this is that someone wants to reduce weight and leave the stove and fuel behind. There is only so much you can eat of bars and trail mix before you get rather grumpy,  so cold rehydration offers another option.

Cold rehydration of backpacking food is possible but requires a bit of planning since it takes considerably longer than using boiling water to rehydrate. Depending on the type of meal, water temperature, and the ambient temperature, it will take 15 minutes to an hour to rehydrate your food.

Rehydration times depend on the temperature conditions and the type of ingredients (Dehydrated or Freeze Dried - See our Blog post: Why Freeze Dried Ingredients). The timing also depends on your hunger level and whether you don't mind some crunchy or chewy pieces of food…..sometimes you just can't wait!

So how do I do this?

Simply add the same amount of cold water as directed on the package, mix and securely zip the bag closed. Some people do this while they are hiking and carefully stow the bag in their pack so the meal is ready when they stop hiking. Or you may want to start your cold rehydration before setting up camp or while packing up in the morning. In any case, plan on a lot of wait time before your meal is ready.

Here are some guidelines for cold rehydration:

  • Freeze Dried meals rehydrate faster and more complete than dehydrated meals (see Why Freeze Dried Ingredients blog post).

  • Meals like Oatmeal and Ramen rehydrate the fastest in about 10 to 20 minutes depending on what fruits and vegetables there may be in your meals.

  • Dinner Entrees typically take the longest to rehydrate and have the most varied list of ingredients. Most dinner entrees will rehydrate in 40 to 60 minutes.

  • Desserts: some desserts already use cold water, but others like the Fruit Crisp desserts will rehydrate in about 20 minutes.

  • Some ingredients just don't rehydrate well in cold water or take way too long, this includes Kidney beans. So that Chili Mac that you might be craving is probably not a good candidate for cold rehydration.

  • Keep in mind that while cold rehydration is doable, there are some risks of bacterial growth in the food if you leave it sit too long. You wouldn't eat cooked food at home that was left out overnight because it could go bad (grow bacteria that can make you sick). Use some common sense and be cautious when doing cold rehydration.

Some pros and cons of going stoveless:

  • Keeping it simple: No need to set up a stove, cook pot, measure fuel and cook your food. Just eat your bars, trail mix, dried fruit, etc. Alternatively, you can cold soak/rehydrate your backpacking food, this can take 15 min to 60 minutes.

  • Traveling:  You don't have to worry about procuring fuel if traveling by plane or during resupply stops if you are on a long hike. You also eliminate the need to dispose of empty canisters.

  • Weight Savings:  You do eliminate the weight of the stove, cook pot, and fuel but your weight savings may not be that much if you don't use easily rehydrated Freeze Dried food. If you carry more bars, trail mix, dried fruit and jerky the weight savings may be a wash.

  • Environmentally Friendly: No stove = No Hydrocarbons, so yes its more environmentally friendly though the impact is extremely small.

  • Keeping warm: Cold food will not have a big impact on your body temperature as its more about the nutrition (fuel) that your body needs to keep itself warm. Although, there is the physiological effect of having a hot meal or simply using your bag of food as a hand warmer on those cold mornings or evenings.

  • My morning coffee!:  Personally I love a hot cup of coffee in the morning and hot tea in the evening but there are some great instant options, Starbuck Via coffee and Cusa Tea, that work just fine in cold water.  There are lots of Ice coffee and Ice Tea lovers out there!

Going stoveless is not something that you do in every situation. It's just another option that an experienced hiker can use depending on your situation. It can somewhat simplify your trip and has the potential to save some weight.

Want to try cold rehydration for yourself? Use the code coldsoak for 12% off your order of any Trailtopia Meals!

In defense of dessert! 5 reasons why dessert matter.

Everyone loves desserts, but often times our post-dinner delights are disregarded as unhealthy and superfluous. Blasphemy! As the defenders of delicious desserts… here are 5 reasons why desserts matter!

High in calories

On long and short trips alike, consuming enough calories to counterbalance the energy you are expending can be difficult. Fortunately, traditional desserts are high in calories, proteins, and fats. Each of these are things that hardworking backpackers, paddlers, climbers, and general enthusiasts need for sustained outdoor adventures. Sure you could douse your food in olive oil or eat sticks of butter, but Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake has a slightly better ring to it!  Additionally, you won’t wake up feeling ravenous, and you’ll find yourself more energized for the day ahead.

Keep you warm

Being cold sucks, and there are few things more frustrating than being cold and attempting to fall asleep. While there are plenty of potential tips for keeping yourself warm on a chilly night, one of the best tricks is to eat something that your body can rapidly break down and utilize: dessert! Eating simple sugars before going to bed (or in the middle of the night) helps kickstart your internal furnace, giving your body the fuel it needs to help keep you toasty all night. 

Something to look forward to 

When the going gets tough, the tough start to think about food! After busting your butt all day, often times the only thing keeping you upright is your incredible desire to eat. While food fantasizing isn’t limited to desserts, the thought of dinner + dessert is far more incentivizing than dinner on its own. Sure staying in the moment and enjoying the journey is a crucial part of any trip, but on the other hand… dessert! One’s emotional wellbeing is as important as one’s physical wellbeing, and desserts can play a big role in supporting one’s overall happiness.

Great for a snack the next day

Didn’t finish all your dessert from the night before? Hello breakfast! Admit it, fruit cobblers, pies, and puddings are all dream breakfasts (oatmeal + cobbler is FANTASTIC), and each is significantly better when they were already made the night before. Equally delicious and zero waiting. Nice! Feeling a bit low energy during the day? Stash some dessert away for a mid-day pick me up!

Excellent way to make friends

While having dessert for breakfast is an excellent choice, sharing extra dessert is an amazing way to make new friends. Some might turn down a bit of leftover ramen or rice and beans, but it's hard to imagine a hungry hiker saying no to a bit of extra dessert!

Apple Crisp | Triple Berry CrispPeach Blueberry CrispRocky Road PuddingStrawberry ChesecakeRaspberry CheesecakeGluten Free Desserts

Why Freeze Dried Ingredients?

Ingredient Sourcing

Trailtopia takes ingredient sourcing very seriously and a lot of effort goes into selecting the right ingredients to make our products. We use a combination of Freeze Dried and Air Dried (Dehydrated) ingredients for the right balance of flavor, rehydration time, quality and cost.

Most of the Fruits,Vegetables and Meats that we use in our products are Freeze Dried.



So Why Freeze Dried?

Freeze Dried ingredients hold their nutrition, color, shape and texture better than Air Dried (Dehydrated) ingredients. Freeze Dried ingredients rehydrate much faster (in 10 minutes of less with hot water) than Air Dried ingredients which can take 20 minutes or longer, and some Air Dried ingredients must be simmered for 20 - 30 minutes to fully rehydrate. Freeze Dried ingredients are lightweight, 70 - 90 percent lighter than the original weight.



How are Freeze Dried ingredients made?

Simply put, freeze-drying is the removal of water from a frozen product using a process called sublimation. Sublimation occurs when a frozen liquid transforms directly to a gaseous state without passing back through the liquid phase. The process of freeze-drying consists of three phases: prefreezing, primary drying, and secondary drying.

Freeze dried food must first be prefrozen at very low temperatures for all the components in the food to be completely frozen.

Primary Drying:
The frozen food is placed in a vacuum chamber that regulates temperature and pressure to remove most of the water through sublimation.

Secondary Drying:
After primary drying, all ice has sublimated but some liquid is still present in the product. Continued drying is necessary to remove the remaining water.



7 creative uses for an empty Trailtopia food pouch!

Once you’ve finished a delicious Trailtopia meal, you are left with an empty pouch. While you could view this pouch as useless trash that’s lacking in further utility, that would be a waste of your own creativity! One way or another you are going to be carrying this pouch with you, so you might as well repurpose it. Need some suggestions for giving your food pouch a second life? Here are a couple fun/creative/questionably useful suggestions!


1. A dry bag: When resealed, an empty meal pouch turns into a relatively functional dry bag. Its about as ultralight as it gets (less than 1oz), it’s resealing capabilities are surprisingly strong (just don’t jump up and down on it), and can be ideal for storing things like tinder (that you might not want to store in a thin/more expensive/less “poke proof” dry bag).

2. A mug: Need an extra container for a little late night coco or early morning coffee? Pouches are designed to hold high temps, and the sides provide handles that won’t be flaming hot. Sure it might not make the most pristine and instagramable shot, but it’ll do in a pinch!

3. Pillow: Lower your expectations for this one, but an inflated pouch can create a serviceable pillow. Seal the pouch with as much air as possible, and then wrap a shirt or fleece around it. While this seems like an obvious statement, anything going into your tent (that once contained food) should be as clean as a whistle before getting anywhere near your sleeping area. In bear country? You should probably just pass on this one…

4. Stashing berries: When there are blueberries/raspberries/strawberries/serviceberries/cloudberries/etc.. around, suddenly you will find yourself in need of an unexpected additional container! Bust out an empty pouch and forage away. Want to make a trail jam? Seal the pouch, and smush the pouch between your hands. JAM!  

5. Trash bag: Maybe this one is too obvious to mention, but empty pouches also double as wonderful and resealable trash bags. Keep one/two for your general trash, and then keep one handy while you hike so that you can pick up the “microtrash” that you find along the trail. Dinner pouch for the big stuff, breakfast/oatmeal pouch for the little stuff. 

6. Hot water bottle: Chilly night? Cold feet? Fill up an empty pouch with hot water and tuck in under your puffy of in your sleeping bag. Attempt with caution. While our pouches do reseal nicely, they aren’t invincible, and could create an unhappy and wet camper if rolled upon or stepped on. 

7. Mini washing machine: Got some small clothing items that need a wash? Put them in the pouch, fill it up with water and biodegradable soap if you are so inclined (making sure to follow proper LNT protocols), and shake it like a polaroid picture. 

All of these additional uses (other than using it as a trash bag) are best accomplished once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the pouch and removed all traces of food. While we wouldn’t object to a little pesto pasta in our hot coco, your makeshift pillow could turn into bear bait awfully quickly if some Jambalaya is still wafting about. Long story short, an empty meal pouch is essentially an ultralight and waterproof container. Get creative!

Add your ideas and uses to the comment section below!