Three reasons why Scouts should make their own dehydrated backpacking meals


FOLKS WHO EAT store-bought, freeze-dried meals don’t talk much about their camp dinners. But after learning how to dehydrate food, they can’t say enough about how much they enjoy their meals on the trail.

Scouts can make delicious backpacking food with a food dehydrator and, in the process, gain valuable food-preparedness skills that will be useful throughout their lives … all while having fun in the kitchen.

Why dehydrate food?

1. Lighten the Load
With a food dehydrator, Scouts can make healthy dried-fruit snacks and delicious homemade trail meals that are light to carry and well-preserved. A dehydrator removes up to 95% of the water from food. Five Gala apples weigh less than two ounces when dried.

2. Make Healthy and Hearty Meals
Most of the commercially available freeze-dried meals contain artificial additives, partially hydrogenated oil and excessive sodium. And one thing they’re usually light on is vegetables. Make your own dehydrated meals and take charge of what ingredients go into them and how large the portions should be. It’s also an even greater advantage for those Scouts or Scouters with food allergies or those who are vegetarian.

3. Save Money
A home-dried backpacking meal costs about $2 compared to about $7 and greater for freeze-dried meals. In addition to saving money on backpacking food, families can dry meat and vegetables to use in soups and stews at home. Dry your garden surplus or purchase vegetables in bulk when they are on sale. Foods can be stored safely for at least a year in jars with tight fitting lids or in vacuum-sealed bags.

Read more about making your own dehydrated backpacking meals:

Tips and tricks to consider when investing in a food dehydrator

Basic ingredients for make-at-home dehydrated backpacking meals

How to make dehydrated fruit snacks for hiking or backpacking treks 

How to create a dehydrated meal plan for your next backpacking trek 

Three easy recipes for making your own dehydrated backpacking meals 

Backpacking Chef Glenn McAllister is the author of the book, Recipes for Adventure: The Ultimate Guide to Dehydrating Food for the Trail and the companion workbook, The Backpacking Chef Menu Planning & Food Drying Workbook. Visit his website and sign up for a free monthly newsletter, Trail Bytes.


  1. Great article! Boys Life had a couple articles on dehydrating in the early 50s — 1951 or 53, I believe. Would you reprint them as part of this series?

  2. In the 70s Boys Life also ran an article on making a dehydrator. Very similar to the reflector oven but had a door and used a light bulb. I remember making one and drying apples on it.

  3. taught the troop how to dehydrate their own food a few years ago
    Have had a 50 mile backpacking trip on the Florida Trail and a
    60 mile canoe trip on the swaunee river and nobody
    Complained about the food other things went wrong but
    Not the food its a great skill for the young men to learn

  4. Great article, I recently tried this with my son for a backpacking trip and the results of the black bean chili was wonderful.

  5. The only thing to watch out for in dehydrated fruit is sugar content. This is more important if there are diabetics in the group. By dehydrating fruit you are concentrating the sugar, at least according to my dietician.

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