We taste test Wayfayrer's latest protein and carbo ready meal recipe.
I'm not sure that backpacking food counts as 'gear'. Then again, in some cases, I'm a tad dubious about whether it counts as 'food' either. But such is our selfless commitment to the cause, that today's lunch was 'Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Rice' one of four new Wayfayrer meals introduced for this winter.
Wayfayrer, if you're not familiar with it, is pre-cooked, 'wet' food that comes in a foil pouch allowing it to be heated up in a pan of boiling water then eaten straight from the pouch. Or you can simply decant it into a pan and heat through as normal. It's very similar to army rations in fact - strengths are ease of use, durability and taste (sometimes) along with the elimination of any need to emulate Gordon Ramsay. It's also pretty food efficient assuming you re-use the heating water and you can, in extremis, eat it cold as well.
Weaknesses are the weight, relative expense and in the case of many of the meals, the lack of carbohydrate, which means you need to also cook rice or noodles or pasta or couscous to accompany the main meal. The latter isn't as much as an issue with the Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Rice as it also contains carbohydrate in the form of the potatoes and rice. The other new options - Chicken Tikka and Rice, Chilli Con Carne and Rice and Pasta and Bolognese - are similarly a mix of protein and carbo.
The proportions, says Wayfayrer, have been calculated for optimum nutritional effectiveness, a fancy way of saying that it should have enough protein, carbohydrate and fat in the right proportions to fuel your hill-going motor.
Weight is 300 and energy value is claimed at 135kcal per 100g or a total of 405kcal. Fat content is given as 5.8%. That's not really enough on its own as a hardcore mountain day refuel, but you can up your calorific intake with additional snacks, soup, dessert etc.
We reckon it's a good option for a low haslle, weekend overnighter when a few hundred extra grammes don't really matter, but we'd hestitate to use it for more than one night of a mult-day trip when dehydrated food, makes far more sense.
So what was it like? We banged the foil sachet into a saucepan of boiling water and heated it for eight minutes as per instructions, then snipped the sachet open - there's a tear notch as well - and decanted into a bowl. It looked and smelled fine and while it's not a massive portion, it's not too bad either.
Taste was actually pretty good. Not remotely spicy but quite flavoursome in rounded, smooth sort of way - if you like things hot, add some chillies of your own - with a good 'real food' taste and texture. Restaurant critics won't be clamouring for it, but we thought it was pretty good and that was in our own kitchen, served up on a howling moor, we suspect it'd be even more welcome.
How about a super spicy range for high altitude when your taste-buds have withered into bland inertness then?
So, not bad at all as long as you're aware of its limitations. One of which is the £3.99 suggested retail price, which would buy a lot of pasta...
More campsite culinary info at www.wayfayrer.co.uk.