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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Food Dehydrator for Backpacking



If you backpack (and I’m assuming you do since you’re reading this article) then you understand how difficult it is to find backpacking food that you actually want to eat.

That’s what a dehydrator’s for! I like the STX Dehydrator best.

Sure, you could just fill your backpack with Hostess cakes and Snicker bars. You would get your daily calories, but you wouldn’t get any of the nutrients you actually need to make it through your day. You’d also have a backpack full of melted chocolate.

Sure you could buy dried fruit. Or you could save yourself some money and get a dehydrator!
Sure you could buy dried fruit. Or you could save yourself some money and get a dehydrator! The STX Dehydrator at Amazon.

Even when you do find dehydrated meals you like, you have to spend a small fortune in order to have enough to last throughout an extended hiking trip. Besides, those pre-made dehydrated meals don’t have a ton of variety.

So what is one to do?

Bring a backpack full of ingredients? Wait, maybe we could make some sandwiches…. The point is, there really is no good way to stay properly fueled during your trips without adding unwanted and unacceptable weight.

Thankfully, there is a way to get the nutrient-dense meals that your body craves during a hike without having to carry around a bunch of extra weight or spend too much money.

Dehydrators for backpacking? Perfect.

Of course (or maybe it’s not so obvious) I am talking about dehydrators. A dehydrator removes the water from your meal so you can add water on the trail for a hot, delicious meal. One that you actually want to eat! Not only does dehydrating make your food last longer and weigh less, you still retain the nutrients. Those are important considerations when backpacking.

Let’s look through some of the dehydrators that will help you reach your macro counts during your backpacking trips.

Chefman Food Dehydrator

This Chefman dehydrator is a good entry level food dehydrator that has six large BPA free plastic trays, allowing you to make different types of dehydrated foods all in the same batch (this is a great way to keep power costs down).

Here’s the Chefman Dehydrator at Amazon.

It has digital touch settings that let you input temperature presets that range from 95º F to 158º F. The digital pad is also has a countdown timer for 19.5 hours to help you keep track of how long your food has been drying. Once the alarm goes off, the machine will turn off as well.

The Chefman is powered by 480 watts and has a unique fan function that promotes airflow. Your food dehydrates quickly without overheating.

It also has a transparent door that lets you see the progress that your meals are making. Buy this one and get access to Club Chefman, giving you recipes and videos from a professional chef. And one year warranty.

Should you get the Chefman Dehydrator?

This is a bottom tier dehydrator, but if you aren’t looking for a machine that has all the bells and whistles, then you will probably be just fine with this machine. It offers quite a bit of space inside of it letting you dry a lot of food at once — good for getting stocked up for one of those long thru-hikes.

Beautiful views and a pack full of dehydrated meals.
Beautiful views and a pack full of dehydrated meals.

Excalibur Economy Dehydrator

Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator with Adjustable Thermostat For Temperature Control Patented Technology For faster & Efficient 15 Square Feet Drying Space, Black

Excalibur has long been touted as an excellent manufacturer of food dehydrators. I would say that this model is among one of their better residential machines. The powerful 600 watts help move your food along faster than the bottom tier devices do.

Check out the Excalibur for yourself at Amazon.

It comes with 9 trays that give you a total of 15 square feet of dehydrating space. You get more space than most other residential dehydrators on the market. It has an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 95 to 155º F.

The thermostat offers accurate temperature controls, so you have the power to dehydrate any type of food you can think of. Fruits, meats, herbs, vegetables? They’ll all dry perfectly at precise temperatures.

The trays are removable so if you don’t need all 9 going at once, you can remove them as needed.

Should you get the Excalibur?

Excalibur makes very reliable food dehydrators. Anytime you have an opportunity to get one at a discount it would be a good idea to make the purchase. If you don’t have room for larger products, then you may want to look elsewhere, as this will take up quite a bit of space.

STX International STX-DEH

STX International STX-DEH-600W-SST-CB Stainless Steel Dehydra 10 Tray Food and Jerky Dehydrator with 40 Hour Timer PLUS a FREE All New"Dehydrating Made Easy" Cookbook on CD with over 270 Recipes!

The STX International is an excellent device that does more than simply packing a ton of power. It has a heat retentive front door. This does double duty, trapping heat inside for better dehydrating results, but also helps keep your kitchen from getting too hot while it’s running.

See the STX Dehydrator at Amazon.

It comes with 10 fine mesh trays that are stainless steel and dishwasher safe. These are so much easier to clean than normal trays that come in the more inexpensive models. The digital temperature control lets you set temperature from 85 to 155º F and has a 40-hour timer, which cuts the machine off once it reaches the set time.

Should you get the STX?

This is an item that is priced a bit higher than the others we looked at, but it also has a much better performance than the others. The build quality is excellent, and you can expect this one to last a very long time.

Wrap – Up

Backpacking is meant to be a fun, rewarding and healthy activity. But if you don’t have the types of food that let you get the nutrients you need to be fueled appropriately, then you’ll experience nothing more than frustration and agony.

Having a dehydrator that can reliably dry fruits and jerky, and of course, some of your favorite dehydrated meals will help you pack light and stay fueled wherever your adventure takes you.

Additional Resources

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Jack

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Alexis DeAnda

Alexis DeAnda is a food fanatic, library card user, and cast iron hunter, in that order. She has been cooking for anyone that will taste it ever since her mom let her make doughnuts on Saturday mornings at the age of 7.

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