What is dehydrated and freeze-dried food?
Drying removes water from food to prevent bacteria, yeast, and mold from spoiling it. This process slows down the action of enzymes but does not inactivate them. Since bacteria and mold can only grow in the presence of moisture, drying is an excellent way to preserve food. Food is dried in several ways – air, sun, controlled heat, and sublimation (freeze-drying). Dried foods are perfect for camping, travel, and emergency storage since they require no refrigeration, are lightweight, and compact. Outdoor Herbivore uses both dehydrated (heated air) and freeze-drying, depending on the product. Generally, our no-cook meals use freeze-dried ingredients.
What products are freeze-dried?
We use a combination of low-heat air drying (130 - 135 degrees F) and freeze-drying. Freeze-dried ingredients include apples, blueberries, banana, broccoli, brown rice, green beans, green peas, sweet corn, and tofu. These products are dried using freeze-drying or lyophilization to retain nutrients and produce a superior texture and flavor. We use freeze-dried ingredients in the following meals (as of 1/2024) -
- Freeze-Dried Organic Apples - Apple Quinoa Oatmeal, Lazy Lentil Salad, Waldorf Slaw;
- Freeze-Dried Organic Blueberries - Blueberry Vanilla Crunch, Bear Patch Cobbler;
- Freeze-Dried Organic Corn - Blackened Quinoa, Fiesta Quinoa Salad, Sunny Sunflower, Switchback Burrito Stuffer, Chili Lime Crunchies;
- Freeze-Dried Organic Banana - Chia Oat Crunch & Coconut Chia Peel;
- Freeze-Dried Broccoli - Cheesy Sierra Couscous, Golden Forest Couscous, Pacific Crest Vinaigrette, Denver Veggie Scramble, Open Sky Yasai, Sunrise Tofu Scramble;
- Freeze-Dried Green Beans - Pack-it Primavera, Sequoia Subji Upma;
- Freeze-Dried Peas - Hop Pea Slop, Pack-it Primavera, Pea-Nutty Matchsticks, Chili Lime Crunchies, Open Sky Yasai, Sequoia Subji Upma;
- Freeze-Dried Mixed Vegetables - Asian Vegetable Mix, Chili Lime Crunchies, Everyday Veggie Mix, Open Sky Yasai;
- Freeze-Dried Organic Tofu - Sunrise Tofu Scramble;
- Freeze-Dried Organic Brown Rice - Cozy Curry Soup, High Elevation Rice Cereal, Lemongrass Thai Curry, Lickety Split Lentils, Naked Freckle Burrito;
Do you use any chemical additives or preservatives?
No. All of our products contain only natural ingredients. We do not use or add chemical preservatives, synthetic flavors, or food coloring agents. Drying is our process of food preservation, either air drying or freeze-drying, and nothing else. We prohibit GMO/Genetically Engineered food ingredients.
How do you test the cooking instructions for meals?
We test our products in the field using an MSR pocket rocket throughout the season at elevations ranging from sea level to 9,000 feet. Our instructed hydration times are based on 5,000 feet calculations.
At altitudes above 5,000 feet, meals require a longer soak/cook time. A general guideline is to add 1 minute of cook (hot soak) time for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain above 5,000 feet. See tips for high elevation cooking.
Why is eating organic food important for backpackers?
Many factors of an industrialized lifestyle contribute to a diminished quality of health, incidence of disease, and digestive distress. Besides the prevalence of chemical toxins in our natural environment, any processed foods you eat is likely to contain a variety of pesticides, artificial flavoring and color agents, unnecessary additives, fillers, preservatives, and other intentional modifications to condition the food for cheaper manufacturing, a longer shelf life, and altered taste. All of these non-natural substances function as just extra toxins for the body to remove. Organic farming practices prevent the use of unnatural chemical agents that destroy soil and crop vitality. For instance, conventional farming will spray chemical herbicides to kill weeds, while organic farming will use traditional crop rotation and mulch to control weeds. Consuming organic food lessens your exposure to unnecessary toxins. Organic food is not only healthier for us, but it is also more beneficial to the environment.
Are all your ingredients organic?
Approximately 75 to 80 percent are certified organic by USDA NOP certifiers or QIP. A few products, such as spices and nuts, are not certified organic, even though they are grown and processed in the traditional manner and are the finest we can source. We are continually looking to expand our organic ingredients, eventually to become entirely organic. We feel organic farming practices are the most responsible way to nurture our land and body.
Do your products contain corn or beet sugar? Is your sugar vegan?
No, we do not use beet sugar or corn sugar. Most sugar beets and corn sugar in the US are genetically modified while sugarcane is generally non-GMO. We use organic cane sugar. Organic sugar is vegan because it can’t be filtered using bone char. Bone char is prohibited as part of the organic program standards.
You have many ethnic dishes. Do any contain MSG or TVP?
We do not use synthetic MSG in any of our products. We do not use hydrolyzed/texturized SOY; Soy-based texturized vegetable protein (TVP) is made from GMO soy and uses hexane solvent during processing which we do not support. Soy TVP is high in sodium and glutamate and is frequently added to food products to enhance flavor and provide a meat-like texture and taste. It is popular in many "vegetarian" entrées and backpacking meals to boost protein content and taste. We are concerned about the consumption of this product and do not support it. We find that whole food plant ingredients offer superior nutrition and taste. Natural glutamate is present in plant foods such as tomatoes and mushrooms, which provide exceptional umami flavor. Please see our food model for more information about our ingredient criteria.
Are all of your products vegetarian?
Yes. Outdoor Herbivore's meals are all vegetarian, although we have dairy and eggs in some products. All products are 100% meat-free, and we prohibit animal flesh and byproducts (except for dairy and egg) in our food processing facility. We also offer many vegan options. Vegan backpacking food is our specialty.
Are your products gluten-free?
No. Our facility is not certified gluten-free, and some products that we purchase are not certified. Although many of our products may be suitable for those with gluten sensitivities, we produce in a single facility that processes gluten products. Always read the ingredient list carefully since our meals contain many allergenic ingredients (including gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, and egg). We take all allergens seriously, and have instituted the following procedures as part of our food manufacturing process -
- Produce products containing allergenic ingredients all at one time or at the end of a production run, then perform a complete clean-up with sanitization before producing other products.
- Keep products from coming into cross-contact with other products on adjacent carts and tables.
- Manage and segregate allergenic products in storage to prevent cross-contact with non-allergenic ingredients.
Although we clean equipment and keep ingredients separated, we do not claim our products to be "gluten-free" because we do not test our products for gluten. Contamination during any stage of food growing and processing is a possibility. If you're particularly sensitive to the tiniest trace of gluten, you should purchase certified gluten-free products. We recommend you not consume our products if you are highly allergic to gluten.
Do your products contain sulfur, food colors, or dyes?
No. Foods classified as "organic" do not contain sulfites since federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced foods. Sulfites can cause adverse reactions in sensitive individuals. Instead of the bright and colorful sulfite-treated dried fruits and vegetables, unsulfured dried foods may have a faded appearance or brown color, but are a much healthier choice. We never use food dyes or colors either.
Do you have a list of all of your food product attributes?
Yes, Outdoor Herbivore maintains a product attribute spreadsheet that summarizes and catalogs all of our food products, including the calorie content, weight, and common food allergens such as soy, dairy, gluten, and nightshade ingredients.
Preparation, Packaging & Storage
How do I prepare your dried meals?
The method depends on if the meal is a cold-prep or hot-prep meal. All of our meals fully hydrate within 5 - 15 minutes.
For cold-prep meals,
1) Tear open the packaging at the tear notch, remove the oxygen absorber, and pour cool water into the pouch. Stir well.
2) Seal the pouch and allow meal to hydrate for the length of time stated on the package. Enjoy!
For hot-prep meals,
1) Boil amount of water as directed in a cooking pot.
2) Tear open the packaging at the tear notch, remove the oxygen absorber, and pour the boiling water in the pouch. Stir well.
3) Seal the pouch and allow the contents to rehydrate for the length of time stated on the package. Enjoy!
Note: You can add boiling/cold water to our pouches to rehydrate the meal and eat from the pouch, eliminating the need to pour the meal into a separate container (i.e., cook pot, thermos).
Don't want to eat from the pouch? Boil the amount of water according to the package. Add the dry meal directly to your cook pot/resusable container with the water, stir well, and cover. Allow the ingredients to hydrate in the container. Make sure to cover the container with a tight fitting lid to retain heat. If it's cold outside, we recommend using a pot cozy for faster hydration and to keep the meal HOT.
Can you describe your packaging?
Outdoor Herbivore's packaging is compact to save on space and weight. We use a water tight paper-based barrier pouch with a plastic liner. Due to the multi-layer construction, it is not recyclable. Our meals are packaged in two different sizes:
- Single (Serves 1) pouch dimensions: 7 inch wide x 7 inch tall x 3.75 inch expansion.
- Double (Serves 2) pouch dimensions: 8 inch wide x 7 inch tall x 4 inch expansion.
See photos of our pouched meals.
Bulk foods are packaged in thick Mylar stand-up pouches. If you are purchasing bulk ingredients from our site, or preparing your own trail food, we recommend our high temperature zip-top rehydration pouches.
What is the shelf life, and how should the food be stored?
Outdoor Herbivore uses minimally processed whole food organic ingredients, such as brown rice, whole wheat, fatty nuts, seeds, and olive oil which have a storage life of about 2 years for peak quality. Please purchase only what food you plan to consume within that time frame.
Keep our food stored in a cool and dry place away from light, such as a kitchen cabinet. Never store food long-term in a damp area, near a window, on the floor, near heat or moisture. Do not store food in an area that experiences high temperature fluctuations, such as a garage, attic, crawl space, or vehicle trunk.
How long can I use products past the Best By date?
Many of our products contain whole grains, nuts, and seeds, which have a higher oil content and can spoil if not stored properly. It is best to consume these products by the date printed on the package. If you want to extend these products' shelf life, keep them in an airtight location in the freezer. Freezing can extend the shelf life 6 - 12 months beyond the Best By date printed on the package. The meals may not look and taste optimal; however, they should be safe to consume.
If freezing, seal the meals in a larger sealed bag (such as a freezer bag) to dry. Open the pouch and check that no moisture is present on the inside of the meal bag before leaving for your trip or eating. If water develops on the dried food (likely because the pouch was opened), don't eat it. Throw it out. The moisture can quickly grow mold or bacteria and isn't worth the risk.
When you consume food past the expiration date, we recommend using the smell test before consuming - especially on meals containing nuts, which can go rancid. The best way to describe the odor of spoiled nuts is that it will smell like paint. It's a distinctly unpleasant odor. When in doubt, throw it out.
Can I get a catalog of your products?
Yes. We have a summarized listing of all our food items to help you plan your order. View Catalog
Do you offer coupons?
We occasionally offer special savings on products to give you the chance to try something new. Check for current specials or join our Facebook page for updates. We offer military discounts to active troops stationed overseas.
Do I have to pay taxes?
No, there is no tax on food products that are shipped within the USA.
How can I get my local store to carry Outdoor Herbivore?
We encourage you to speak with the store manager and request they carry our products. Please let them know you are looking for Outdoor Herbivore's food products. You can print this letter and bring it to the store manager. Once you've done that, please send us a quick note telling us the name of the store. We will follow up with them to get Outdoor Herbivore in the store where you shop. Thank you for helping us to provide healthy dried meals for you and others to enjoy!
How can I review Outdoor Herbivore or see reviews from others?
We would love to hear from you! We are continually improving our products and would greatly appreciate any feedback you can provide, both good and bad. There are a few ways you can provide us feedback:
- Review products you've purchased (look for our email, approximately 20 days after you place an order)
- Tell us what you would like to see in the future by taking our Trail Food Survey
Where is your operation?
We are located in sunny Sacramento, CA (USA).
Can I pick up my order at your store in Sacramento, CA?
We are a manufacturer and do not have a retail store. However, you can choose store pick-up if you'd like to save on shipping. Our pick-up location is at 4128 El Camino Ave in Sacramento, CA. Note: the pick-up option will appear only for Sacramento area residents. If you live outside the area and still want to pick-up your order, please input your name with our address as your shipping address. You will be notified by email when the order is ready for pick-up. Our current pick-up times are Mon - Fri from 10 AM to 2 PM.
Shipping / Order Status / Account
Where do you ship?
We ship to Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, UK, most of Europe, and the United States, including U.S. Territories and overseas U.S. Military Bases. Most orders ship via USPS Priority Mail or FedEx. Please check our shipping page for detailed information.
I gave you the wrong shipping address. How do I fix it?
We ship out orders quick, so please contact us immediately to let us know the correct address. Once your order ships, we are unable to change the delivery address.
Can I leave delivery instructions for the carrier (gate/door code, where to place packages, etc.)?
Yes. Please add this info as a comment when you place your order. We will include this information on your parcel.
How long will it take for my order to get to me?
The shipping time is dependent on your location and the shipping method. Orders ship the next business day and take 2 - 6 business days to arrive (United States) and 5 - 14 business days (international). Please see our shipping page for more information about transit times. Tracking information will be emailed to you when your order ships. If you create an account, you can also check the status of your order under your account details.
What is the status of my order?
If you have created an account with us, you may check on the status of your order by clicking on the "My Account" button on the upper portion of the page. You will be asked to enter your email address and password to retrieve the status of your order. If you did not create an account with us, you are sent an email with your tracking number when your order ships.
My order shows it was delivered but I did not receive it.
We're sorry to hear this. If your order is marked as delivered but you have yet to receive it, please wait 3 business days before reaching out or filing a claim. Meanwhile, please check with your neighbors, building manager, concierge/mailroom to see if they have received the package for you.
How do I update or reset my password?
To update your current password:
- Click Sign in on the top right of the screen and sign in with your current email address and password. Note: If you've forgotten your password, go to Sign in and click Forgot your password?
- Click Account on the top right of screen.
- Click Account Settings under Orders.
Type your new password in Create New Password field
Type your new password again in Confirm New Password field
Click Update Details button to save.
What is your return policy?
Outdoor Herbivore guarantees all of our products. If you are not satisfied with your order, please call us at 1.916.800.4036 or e-mail us within 7 days of receipt, and we will promptly refund your money with store credit, re-ship/replace your order, or make other arrangements. If your order is received damaged, please take a photo of the original packaging (including the box the order was shipped in), so we can follow up with our shipping carrier. Due to Federal Law, we can NOT accept returns on unused purchased food items. We must dispose of it.
Do you offer wholesale?
Yes, for physical retail stores only. Please click here to contact us regarding wholesale terms.