Nomad Nutrition, a quality backcountry food company that utilizes a unique drying process and lots of herbs to create some fantastic meal options.
When working hard in the backcountry you need to keep your body fueled. Not enough calories or the wrong type of calories and you could suffer unnecessarily. A bag of Doritos will keep you full and though relatively light, it’s not the type of energy you want to put in your body to bag a peak or spend a long day in the saddle in the Chilcotins. That’s when we often turn to a dehydrated camping meal.
Nomad Nutrition’s vegan, gluten free, locally sourced and locally made backcountry meals (if you’re in BC) pack a calorie dense meal that is dairy free, soy free, Non-GMO, palm oil free and is sure to satisfy in the backcountry. Even better, they taste great! With a wide range of nomadically named meals there’s a flavour to match nearly everyone’s taste buds.
We spent countless kilometres in the mountains this year on the Great Divide Traverse and found these to be our favourites.
Who is Nomad Nutrition?
Nomad Nutrition is the result of the chance encounter between Dennis Mikhailov, an avid climber, and a Mountain Guide on a climbing trip in the Bugaboos. Dennis was tired of the freeze dried meals that were on the market. Dennis was looking for something different and the Mountain Guide’s homemade dehydrated camping meal was the inspiration he was looking for.
To make the Nomad Nutrition’s meals, Dennis goes to the farms and food distributors three times a week to pick the freshest ingredients available. Then the Nomad team cuts and cooks everything themselves in small batches. Finally, the meals are put through the REVdry process and are shipped out around the world.
What is REVdry?
Nomad nutrition uses a process different from most other brands of dehydrated camping meals. They use REVdry. REV stands for Radiant Energy in a Vacuum. Essentially, Nomad puts the food in a vacuum so this lowers the boiling temperature of the food. The process is really gentle, and the radiant energy used is much more efficient at taking water outside of the cell wall compared to freeze-drying or regular dehydration resulting in absolutely no loss in vitamins or minerals.
According to Nomad Nutrition, REVdry technology is the most eco-friendly process on the market, as compared by electricity use, because the dehydration process is 6 times faster than freeze drying and 24 times faster than normal dehydration.
That’s enough science and history for now. The Nomad Nutrition meals were good enough for the Dragon’s Den but I’m not much of a stew guy. Would I remain that way after trying some of Nomad Nutrition’s best offerings?
The Spoon Test
Dehydrated camping meal packages all differ in physical size. Lots tend to err on the side of being deep to keep the ingredients from spilling and this means using conventional sporks will result in getting a lot of food on your knuckles as you dig deep into the bag. How does Nomad Nutrition size up here? You’ll want a long spoon.
When I received the Ukranian Borscht packet I was not excited. I’ve never had a borscht I liked. That changed immediately when I had Nomad Nutrition’s Ukrainian Borscht. The violet soup base from Red beats is prominent in it’s color but mild in it’s taste. The dill shined through brightly and this was what made the meal for me. Fresh tasting dill on a cold wet afternoon, yes please! The cabbage, kidney beans and tomatoes rounded out the Borscht into a hearty meal.
Canadian Barley Soup
Full disclosure, I don’t like Barley soup. New disclosure, Nomad Nutrition’s Canadian Barley soup is delicious. It’s a hearty mix of potatoes, carrots, barely, tomatoes and a mix of lentils and lima beans that is held together quite nicely with Thyme and garlic. Any time I can get fresh tasting herbs in the backcountry, I’ll take them. The thyme shone in this soup, marrying the ingredients together nicely.
The Hungarian came through like an eastern european Chili, and that’s a good thing. Kidney bean forward, this goulash was great on the trail and one of the more filling meals from Nomad Nutrition. The red paprika powder lent a lot of influence but it was the adobo chili pepper that I enjoyed the most, adding a bit of spice to the mix.
Indian Red Lentil Stew
This was the thickest of the meals we ate of Nomad Nutrition’s, and as someone who values mouth feel and volume in a backcountry meal, I appreciated this. I felt entirely full at the end of the meal. This meal has a little fire to it, but is still relatively mild. IT had a nice glow that accompanied the potatoes, carrots and lentils but the real winner here was the sun-dried tomatoes. They aren’t something I associate with an Indian style curry, but they were greatly appreciated.
This was reminiscent of a yellow curry. I like yellow curry, a lot. The coconut milk flavour is really what set this apart for me. It was such a departure from the other flavours that it was a great surprise. The yam was a nice change from potato, too. Then, came the carrots, onions and most importantly the crushed tomatoes! This was a delicious little snack pack. That said, the package we received was 56 grams dry weight. Though delicious, once hydrated this was not a full meal. I’d opt for the larger pack size in the future.
Bonus Snack: Chewy Banana Bites
Bananas pack a ton of nutrients that are essential while on the trial. The problem with bananas is that they become purée the moment you put them in your backpack. Normal banana chips, although delicious, are often over sweetened or are deep fried. These little REVdried morsels were a surprising hit.
Each piece of banana is about 2cm thick, and unlike banana chips, really do look like a fresh piece of banana, albeit dry. As there is no sugar added, they taste just like a banana but without the added oil or sugar. Each bag contains three bananas, chosen, peeled, chopped, REVdried and packaged by the Nomad Nutrition team.
Their surprise is their mouth feel. One of our testers described it as gum like, another marshmallow like. They were a big hit with some and a miss with others. You’ll have to decide for yourself which team you’re on. But regardless it was nice to get all the nutrients from a banana without the added sugar, oil and banana mush in my backpack.
Pros: Calorie dense, great flavours, fresh and thoughtfully prepared, dairy free, soy free, Non-GMO, palm oil free, gluten free
Cons: Make sure when you purchase the larger package size as the smaller sizes are too small when you’re active and hungry at the end of the day. All vegan options (a pro if you’re vegan I guess…)
Overall: I’m not a stew guy, but Nomad Nutrition’s meals have made me rethink my pallet. Their calorie dense, fresh and herb forward meals made for a great change from the typical dehydrated camping meal.
Pro Tip: The meals really benefit from a few extra minutes for full hydration, don’t rush it.
Black Sheep Adventure Sports was supplied with some samples for review but of course this didn’t influence us in any way.