Outdoor Retailer Summer Market provides the most important forum for the introduction of new products, and backpacking foods are no exception – every year, we can expect new flavors and recipes, and 2004 did not disappoint.

Cache Lake

Cache Lake Camping Food offers Wild Rice Vegetable Salad as an attractive option to nuts and dried fruit. The salad and fixings (wild rice, veggies, and Italian or ranch dressing) are packaged in a zip closure bag. Open the bag in the evening, remove everything but the wild rice, add water and hydrate it overnight. Ten minutes prior to eating, add the veggies. Mix in the dressing, and this no cook meal tastes great and the texture offers a wonderful break from typical backpacking foods, but at a weight penalty (4-5 ounces). 224 calories.

Overnight soaking can be avoided by cooking the rice for 15 minutes (cut cooking time and save fuel with a pot cozy).

Also notable from Cache Lake: tasty vanilla and chocolate pudding mixes.


Richmoor, Inc. is now distributing Crunchies from Blackbird Food Company. Crunchies are freeze-dried vegetables, fruit, and even Edamame (green soybeans) with no additives. Packets weigh 1.4 to 4.5 oz and cost from $2.99 to $5.79. We sampled pineapple, mango, and edamame. Everything had a nice crunchy texture and the flavors were full and pleasing.

Clif Bar

New this year for Clif Bar is the Builder’s Bar: 20 g of protein and 30 g of carbs packed into a very compact and durable package. We found them to be very tasty with a nice combination of crunchy and soft texture, and the right amount of sweetness. Flavors include Peanut Butter, Cookies ‘n Cream, and Chocolate.

Backpacker’s Pantry

Backpacker’s Pantry served up what was unanimously voted as our favorite entrée of the show: Cajun Salmon Inferno. First, the spice is hot – and tasted good! Unique to this meal is a 2 oz fillet of smoked salmon packaged in a foil pouch.

Two other new offerings introduced at the show were also very good: Pasta Parmesan had the feel of comfort food but offers more sophistication than the Kraft macaroni and cheese we cook for our kids.

Tim Ziegler, creator of these dishes lived in Asia for three years and the sweet, subtle blend of spices in the new Saigon Chicken Noodles showed it.

Chef Tim Ziegler with a 2 oz salmon fillet and Cajun Salmon Inferno

Honey Stinger

Two years ago a bored food scientist, a honey packer and his son, and a honey producer, 50% of whom also happened to be marathon runners, started EN-R-G Foods, Inc. The resulting line of bars and gels of course have lots of honey which tastes great and, according to John, the bee keeper, also offer lots of enzymes that give a more natural energy boost than what is found in other carbohydrate energy gels.

We can certainly testify to the taste – Honey Stinger products are exceptionally smooth-flavored. Bars are offered in a variety of flavors including Berry Banana Buzz, Rocket Chocolate, Peanut Butter ‘N Honey, and Apple Cinnamon with Cranberries.

Gel flavors include Ginsting (my favorite), Gold, Mint, Banana, and Chocolate.

Beekeeper John Miller and his Honey Stinger energy bar