As of 2021, Joan and I managed to plan out a life where we get out regularly. Work serves to fund outdoor activities. And we base life on how often we can get out while still paying the bills and socking away money from when we don’t have to work anymore. Overall, we feel fortunate to have the life we lead.
In an alternate world, I developed my IT career with more than just a way to fund my weekends but as a large part of my life. The money would be better, of course. But my time bank funds would end up as a noticeably thinner margin.
I would not get in ~90 bag nights with Joan and may instead, if I am lucky, get in a week’s trip a year and a weekend or two here and there throughout the seasons.
Time, not money, would be the asset I did not have in abundance.
I would not want to go to the grocery store, Costco, or Trader Joes to put together a week’s worth of food and organize it. Nor would I have a wealth of time it would entail.
A service where I could order meals individually, or even a whole day at a time, would make this alternate Paul happy. I know because I used to guide clients like this and some of my friends fit into this mold.
This service now exists. And it is called RightOnTrek.
Initially, I had some skepticism about reviewing the meals. While I certainly love my food, I’ve always found that I can get the variety of food I need that’s tasty, just from off-the-shelf food. I usually don’t purchase ready-made backpacking meals. But I also have a lot of food pre-purchased for the many trips we do, have the time to put the meals together, and have the space to dedicate to a lot of outdoor food. Joan and I do not have a family, busy corporate careers, or other parts of life that make the outdoors not as high a priority. (A choice we made that works for us but also has trade-offs.)
But I looked into RightOnTrek’s system, and I became impressed with the setup. For the person who is pressed for time or does not get out as much, this service fills a niche for people I think will appreciate what RightOnTrek offers.
The user interface (UI) makes a logical design that’s easy to use and makes filling orders easy as an Amazon purchase.
Note you can choose the number of days and even for a whole family. You are, again, making logistics for the time-pressed person easy.
The screen below is for an individual, and you can up the calories ratio for a more vigorous pace, spicier foods, and vegetarian options, too.
And once you select the days and preferences, the UI gives you all the food in an easy-to-see form that you can customize.
The screenshot above does not show the breakfast and snacks, but you get the idea. Note you can swap in different deserts, meals, breakfast, snacks, etc., from the default settings, too.
Once you purchase the meals, you can even ship them ahead to pick them up.
Imagine doing a Sierra trip, flying into the airport, and then grabbing your waiting box at your pre-trip hotel room? Again, for many of the clients I used to guide or some busy friends, this service works well.
Once shipped, the meals are logically laid out, organized, and packaged—no guessing which is Day 1 or Breakfast 1.
As for the cost, the math comes out to roughly $1 per 100 calories or ~$25-$30 per day. Not cheap, but a fair price for the service. Considering a Mountain House-style meal costs roughly $8-$10 and breakfast about $6, the extra money spent for the logical packaging, sorting, and ease of shopping makes it a reasonable price for the right person, in my opinion. Again, if I worked a busy job of ~60 hours a week, the idea of purchasing my meals online, be it for me or my family, organized so well, and pre-packed, and ready to go sounds appealing.
I have not mentioned the food too much itself. I love organization, simplicity, and practical ideas. And, as you can tell, I enjoyed the ease of gathering and shipping my food.
But how is the food itself? The snacks/lunches show the market that this type of plan appeals to, overall. The snacks and lunches provided remind me of what you’d find in Costco or Trader Joe’s, with a few hiker favorites such as Snicker bars thrown in for good measure. Tasty food overall and of good quality. I found the dinners yummy and taste like “real” food. I enjoyed the stew and chili dishes in particular.
The breakfasts satisfied but did not impress me the same way as the dinners and the snacks. I found them utilitarian and not entirely of the same caliber as the other meals. Not bad, mind you, just not as impressive.
Are these meals for everyone? It could get expensive for the person putting down long miles or hours of hiking over challenging terrain. The calories to cost ratio over the long haul may not work. I don’t see long-distance hikers or even regular weekenders such as Joan and myself buying them as part of the meal mainstay. Most people doing these types of trips buy in bulk or need cheaper calories in larger quantities. More a jar of peanut butter and fewer of the (yummy) Boulder chocolate bars. But this type of hiker is the minority overall and perhaps not the target customer.
If you are inclined to purchase individual meals ala Mountain House, the RightOnTrek meals offer a good alternative that tastes better, in my opinion, for a fair price.
Additionally, suppose you are going out for a weekend or even a week at a moderate pace. And you want some good food with much of the packaging and planning done for you. In that case, I think RightOnTrek makes a service well worth considering as the overall price ends up as a fair one. Particularly for people who may not have as much time as they wish to dedicate to planning and logistics pre-trip.
And for another view with more of a food focus, here’s Joan’s –
I tried out the RighOnTrek food options for my solo spring break backpacking trip on part of the Hayduke Trail here in Utah.
My favorite parts were having the right amount of food with the right balance of energy (a mix of protein, carbs, and fats to fuel my trip). The portions and amounts were the right sizes, so I didn’t have to worry about running out of food or carrying too much that I didn’t need.
I loved the variety of snack options. I felt like I was eating real food, not processed junk or boring bars. Each of my snacks was different each day, so I never got sick of anything. My favorites were the cheese and crackers, protein-packed trail mixes, vegan jerky, and biscuits; Snacks are really important on trips for me because they keep me fueled throughout the day with a good mix of carbs and protein. These options were fantastic for the trail and kept me energized.
The vegan shepherd’s pie dinner was my favorite dinner. I wasn’t sure I would like to follow a recipe and add all the little packets of ingredients at different times. I usually have really simple, just add water dinners. But it was easy and turned out perfect. The mushrooms and peas added real food textures, and the flavors were exceptional- spicy but not overpowering, and the oil packet and yeast power adding just the right amount of rich flavor. And this meal passed my “2 AM test,” which means that I didn’t end up waking up hungry at 2 AM!
I choose oatmeal as my breakfasts since that’s what I usually eat. I did like that it had all-natural ingredients with no added sugar – with plump cranberries and hunks of walnuts (not little bits). I would have preferred a richer, creamier flavor- for example, milk or coconut powder for a richer flavor, but that’s personal taste. I found the dinners excellent, but the breakfasts good but nothing extraordinary.
Overall, it wasn’t the individual food items that stood out as much as the whole ordering and packaging system that I loved. It was so quick and easy to get just the right amount of delicious, real food, in the right portions, all packaged up. The RightOnTrek option is such a fabulous service and time-saver.
Are you interested in checking out the meals or the service? You can get a free meal! Per the folks on RightOnTrek, you first need to create a profile. Once you do that task, please enter ‘FreeTrailMeal’ at checkout.
Like what you tried and want to place an order?
Use these codes –
Introduction Code: PMags50
This code can only be used once per user on their first order for a 50% discount.
Repeat Purchase Code: PMags10
You can use this code on any repeat purchases for a discount of 10%.