With mild trepidation, I packed my Alpine Aire Foods Pineapple Orange Chicken meal for a weekend adventure. I had been wanting to try the meal, but when I picked it up a friend of mine warned me that he did not care for the flavor. When questioned, he explained that it had been very bland.
I grabbed the food anyway, figuring that a bland flavor was better than an offensive one. I was being a bit lazy because I didn't want to bother with planning a different meal and purchasing/packaging all the ingredients. I was taking it on an overnight backpacking & alpine climbing trip with Derek. My pack was already up to 35 pounds, and I needed something lightweight but full of calories. This meal would do the trick. Also, I specifically wanted this brand over others because it has fewer artificial ingredients and less sodium.
Derek and I spent Friday afternoon hiking into the Lone Peak Wilderness Area to camp at the base of the Pfeifferhorn. On our way to our campsite, a winter storm rolled in, pelting us with snow and 30 mile per hour wind gusts. By the time we were finally huddled in our tent to make dinner, we were shivering, wet, and in major need of some food.
Derek fired up our MSR Reactor Stove to boil water for the dehydrated meal. We each had a packet which claims to serve two. Based on our usual calorie needs for this kind of trip, we estimated that I would eat 1/2 to 1/3 of my packet and Derek would eat my leftovers plus all of his own.
Our stove is the smallest version, and it could only boil enough for one meal pack at time, so we prepared mine first and Derek’s second. After pouring hot water into my packet, I carefully put the resealed pack upright inside my sleeping bag with me to keep it warm. It also helped heat me up!
It was a few minutes before the food was ready to eat. My first bite was (as warned) exceptionally bland. I hadn't stirred the food thoroughly (the instructions do say to stir) and soon discovered a couple pieces of food still dehydrated. Realizing my error, I thoroughly stirred my food and told Derek to do the same when he opened his packet.
It was a big challenging to stir without getting your hand messy as the food packets are rather tall. I would say that a long spoon would help or maybe carefully mushing the packet would work better.
After stirring, the flavor was greatly improved. I think the only flavor it lacked was any sort of saltiness, which is actually a good thing for a backpacking trip. Too much salt makes me exceptionally thirsty and that is not good when water has to be melted from snow.
The textures of the pineapple, meat, rice, and peas all felt like fresh food. None of it was mushy or chewy. It also looked like real, natural food – round green peas, yellow chunks of pineapple, cut cubes of white chicken, and grains of rice.
In the end, Derek ate his one packet (two serving sizes) of food, and I ate about 1/2 of mine. The packets were resealable, making it easy to pack out my leftovers.
I would definitely take this meal into the field again, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a lightweight, real food option for backpacking. Just be sure to stir it thoroughly before diving in.