Instant Camp Eggs Cook-Off

Cooking eggs
Cooking eggs with the Optimus Nova.

Editor's Note: Dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs can inspire strong reactions among backpackers, paddlers, and campers.

We wondered which, if any, were worth packing along on the trail. So, we asked Trailspace member Andrew Friedman (leadbelly2550) to do the honors and taste test the following packaged plain egg products:

Andrew: I found all of these to be very filling, substantial breakfasts, though serving sizes varied widely by package and appetite. Notably, and not surprisingly for eggs, each product was loaded with cholesterol.

All but one come in a bag that can be resealed if you only cook a partial portion, helpful for the trail. The Cache Lake eggs cannot be resealed and would have to be stored in a Ziploc bag.

The Backpacker’s Pantry Scrambled Eggs (non-organic) were the overall winner for me — the best combination of taste, texture, and easy preparation.

The pre-cooked AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs were my least favorite, in part due to their texture, but more so because the preparation takes much longer and was somewhat messier. (While the Scrambled Eggs are pre-cooked to minimize cooking time and fuel, AlpineAire also makes an uncooked Scrambling & Omelet Egg Mix.)

I prepared each egg product for breakfast after early morning hikes, using the same stove and cookwear each time. The stove was an Optimus Nova, and the cookset was an anodized aluminum one with a non-stick coating from Primus. For the seasoned versions of the eggs I added black pepper and cut-up or pre-shredded cheddar cheese.

Breakdown by Egg

 

Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Organic Scrambled Eggs

Cache Lake Outfitters Choice Scrambled Eggs

Overall Score

4/5

4/5

Packaging

Resealable plastic/foil

Resealable plastic/foil

Resealable plastic/foil

Resealable plastic/foil

Clear plastic bag, not resealable

Manufacturer's Claimed Product Weight

 2.5 oz

5 oz

3 oz

1.5 oz

2 oz

Trailspace Weight (Product and Packaging)

3.2 oz / 90 g

 

5.1 oz / 145 g

3.4 oz / 96 g

2.1 oz / 60 g

2.2 oz / 62 g

Ease of Preparation

3.5 / 5

Just add water and cook, but doesn’t mix well.

1.5 / 5

Must add boiling water and allow to sit for a long time, then pour off extra water.

4.5 / 5

Just add water and cook.

3.5 / 5

Only need to add water, but somewhat hard to mix.

4/5

Add water and mix. Instructions say to cook with a small amount of vegetable oil.

Texture
(plain)

Cooked, the consistency was similar to regular scrambled eggs.

Slightly watery, larger chunks were very chewy.

Looked and felt close to regular scrambled eggs.

A little loose and mealy.

Fairly close to regular scrambled eggs.

Texture
(seasoned: black pepper and cheddar cheese)

4/5

Cheese thickens it slightly.

Seasoning did not affect texture.

Cheese improved texture slightly.

4/5

Cheese helps it firm up a little.

 

4/5

Cheese gives it a little more firmness and substance.

 

Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Organic Scrambled Eggs

Cache Lake Outfitters Choice Scrambled Eggs

Flavor
(plain)

Some saltiness and notable egg flavor.

Moderate egg flavor, essentially unseasoned.

Some pepper and saltiness already present, fairly good egg flavor.

Effectively unseasoned, some egg flavor.

Unseasoned out of the package, but tastes like eggs. Oil used during cooking helps.

Flavor (seasoned: black pepper and cheddar cheese)

4/5

Pepper really helped this particular brand. Tasted close to home-cooked scrambled eggs.

4/5

Seasoning improved the flavor somewhat, but ingredients were harder to mix in. Would need a fair amount of salt.

Pepper and cheddar cheese blended in adds some saltiness and bite — I enjoyed this.

Flavor improved with pepper and pieces of cheese, brought out more flavor; salt would help. Consistency still a distraction.

I learned from experience with other brands and added more cheese. It helped a lot, added some saltiness and brought out the flavor.

How Filling (plain)

A substantial breakfast

Very dense and filling

A little more substantial than the organic version, very filling

4/5

Not hungry after, quite filling

4/5

This makes a somewhat smaller portion than the other brands, but filling nonetheless

How Filling
(seasoned: black pepper and cheddar cheese)

No significant change with my added ingredients.

No significant change with my added ingredients.

No significant change with my added ingredients.

4/5

No significant change with my added ingredients.

4/5

No significant change with my added ingredients.

 

Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Organic Scrambled Eggs

Cache Lake Outfitters Choice Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients and Preparation

Easy to prepare, just a little harder to mix water in.

Have to pour in boiling water, then wait for the hot water to soak in. The waiting time was longer than stated on package (10 min). Pouring off excess water, as instructed, was a pain.

Just mix with water, cook in a greased skillet, and eat; very easy.

Easy to prepare, just a little harder to mix water in.

4/5

Having to bring oil or shortening is a minor nuisance, but mixes easily with water.

Servings per Container
(Manufacturer serving sizes reflect the USDA's recommendation of no more than two eggs daily per person)

 

Good volume given packaging size; normal person eats two servings.

Says six servings, feeds more like three. Large package size because it’s freeze-dried.

A lot of food for a small package, but only feeds one person, half of what the package says.

Single serving package is accurate; provides a medium portion for one.

4/5

Package says it serves two; I felt like it was either a large breakfast for one, or a small portion for two.

Container Weight

4/5

Not much weight given how well it cooks up.

4/5

Larger, bulkier package.

4/5

Heavier than the organic version, but worth the extra weight.

Very lightweight.

Very lightweight and flexible.

Overall Score

4/5

4/5

 

Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Scrambled Eggs

Backpacker's Pantry Organic Scrambled Eggs

Cache Lake Outfitters Choice Scrambled Eggs

Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles

Adventure Egg prepared

4/5

Pros

  • Easy to prepare

  • Fairly tasty right out of the bag

Adventure Egg anywhere scrambles package
  • Nice consistency, closer to fresh eggs

 

Cons

  • Powdery texture makes them somewhat more difficult to mix with water

  • A little more seasoning wouldn’t have hurt these at all.

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs

Alpine Aire scrambled eggs prepared.

Pros:

  • An alternative if you are prone to burning eggs — dried eggs soak up boiling water

  • Alpine Aire scrambled eggs package

    Container re-seals.

  • Pre-cooked to minimize cooking time and fuel.


Cons:

  • They take a long time to absorb water — much longer than the 10 minutes indicated on the package. Even after waiting twice the designated time, the larger pieces had a chewy/rubbery texture.

  • These would have benefited from breaking up the larger pieces in advance.

  • Needs seasoning

  • Total cooking time is long because the eggs have to sit, and messy because, as instructed, you have to pour off the excess water. (AlpineAire also makes an uncooked Scrambling & Omelet Egg Mix.)

Backpacker’s Pantry Scrambled Eggs

Backpackers Pantry Scrambled eggs prepared.

Pros:

  • Best flavor of the group, comes pre-seasoned with some salt and pepper
  • Backpackers Pantry scrambled eggs package
    Very good consistency — similar to cooking fresh eggs.
  • Easy to prepare and cook
  • Resealable container
  • My overall favorite

 

Cons:

  • They aren’t fresh eggs, but I really had very little to criticize about them.

 

Backpacker’s Pantry Organic Scrambled Eggs

Backpackers Pantry organic scrambled eggs prepared

Pros:

  • Relatively easy to prepare

  • Organic

  • Backpackers Pantry organic eggs package

    Resealable package

 
Cons
:

  • Mealy consistency was a turnoff.

  • Virtually unseasoned, so they need spicing up.

  • Powdery and a little harder to mix with water than some.

 

Cache Lake Scrambled Eggs

Cache Lake outfitters choice prepared

Pros:

  • Easy to mix, cooks quickly

  • Nice scrambled egg consistency

  • Cache Lake outfitters choice package

    Great taste


Cons
:

  • Slightly smaller portion than other brands

  • Unseasoned

  • Requires oil to cook properly

  • Requires two pans to cook properly

 

Preparation

The Backpacker’s Pantry scrambled eggs (both organic and non-organic) and Adventure Egg come in slender, small packages and are dry/powdered. To prepare them, you need to measure out the appropriate amount of water, mix, and cook. It’s a fairly easy process, though two of the brands were sufficiently powdery that mixing them with water took somewhat longer. Ultimately, though, even if it took longer to mix, I didn’t feel like that significantly affected the final product.

The AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs come in a much larger package and are freeze-dried. To prepare them, you measure out the amount of eggs, boil twice as much water (two cups of water for each cup of dried egg), pour the boiling water into the eggs and mix well, then let stand for at least ten minutes.

I found that the AlpineAire eggs needed much more time to allow the water to absorb, and even doubling the time to 20 minutes, I thought the texture needed improvement. If I were to cook these again, I might break up the larger chunks to help the water absorb.

The Cache Lake eggs are supposed to be cooked with a little vegetable oil or shortening in the pan. While bringing a small container of oil was something I would not normally do, the oil both improved the texture and made cooking and cleanup much easier, and it may have improved the taste. To cook the Cache Lake eggs according to the directions, you need to mix in one pan and heat up oil or shortening in another — meaning you have a little more cleanup.

It helps if your stove can modulate the flame. All of these eggs cook relatively quickly and can burn if you use high heat.

Texture

Texture varies among these products — significantly in some cases. For example, I liked the texture of the plain Backpacker’s Pantry Eggs and the Adventure Egg better than the others because they resembled home-cooked scrambled eggs, whereas the Backpacker’s Pantry Organic and AlpineAire eggs had a texture that diverged somewhat from regular, home-cooked scrambled eggs.

Flavor and Seasoning

The flavor of all the egg brands benefited from seasoning, some more so than others. For whatever reason, perhaps because they are pre-cooked, my added seasoning and extra ingredients didn’t mix as well with the AlpineAire as with the other brands.

I tended to like the eggs that already had a little seasoning, perhaps because I didn’t add any extra salt.

Testing Notes

A caveat to my review is that I learned a lot about cooking dried/powdered eggs through this process, and I know that knowledge influenced my results in at least one case.

Because most of these eggs were lightly seasoned, if at all, adding ingredients like salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese obviously will make a big difference in how they taste. As a result, I tended to add more cheese with the later batches, and it improved the taste. I could easily see adding other ingredients to these eggs — potatoes cooked in a skillet, sliced salami or vegetables, and really improving them.

I think these freeze-dried or powdered eggs are best viewed as a baseline, some better than others, and that using your creativity to add ingredients is both part of the fun of cooking them on the trail and a real improvement in the taste.

 

Notes: We tested only plain versions of these eggs to keep the comparisons as objective as possible. Depending on your individual taste, all could be improved upon with your own seasonings and additions.

Some of the brands tested also offer pre-seasoned and flavored eggs, which include cheese, beans, ham, spices, etc. If seasoning your own eggs isn't your thing, be aware that seasoned versions are available.

Share your own egg and breakfast reviews with the Trailspace community.

Disclosure: Samples of the above products were provided by the manufacturers for testing and review.

Filed under: Gear Reviews

Related Content

Adventure Egg  |  AlpineAire Foods  |  Backpacker's Pantry  |  Cache Lake Foods  |  Breakfasts  |  Food and Drink

Comments

apeman
0 reviewer rep
1,238 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 12:38 a.m. (EDT)

leadbelly2550 said:

This thread is for comments on the article "Instant Camp Eggs Cook-Off"

Cooking eggs with the Optimus Nova. Editor's Note: Dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs can inspire strong reactions among backpackers, paddlers, and campers. We wondered w...

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2011/09/20/instant-eggs-review.html

This a good example and reason of why we all need to carry a epy-pen with us in the back country.   I know I always have a strong unpleasent reaction to both dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs myself.  ;-}>

kayakingdog
51 reviewer rep
71 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 9:23 a.m. (EDT)

Great review!! Thank you

mikemorrow
344 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 10:43 a.m. (EDT)

Nice Review. But I'll pass on the eggs. Sticking with oatmeal. :)

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,166 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 10:45 a.m. (EDT)

apeman said:

This a good example and reason of why we all need to carry a epy-pen with us in the back country.   I know I always have a strong unpleasent reaction to both dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs myself.  ;-}>

Ha ha! Not exactly what we meant, and hopefully no one has that strong of a reaction to breakfast.

Personally, I think we're all in debt to Andrew and his arteries for his very thorough review.

Callahan
255 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 12:29 p.m. (EDT)

What about MH Scrambled Eggs with Bacon ?

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,166 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 1:07 p.m. (EDT)

Callahan said:

What about MH Scrambled Eggs with Bacon ?

Sorry, we aimed to select only eggs without add-ins, to keep it as comparable as possible and focus on the eggs themselves. Even then, we couldn't do all available, but selected a sampling, and it's still a question of personal taste.

However, there are several (mixed) reviews of the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Bacon on Trailspace: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/mountain-house/scrambled-eggs-with-bacon-pre-cooked/

Also, if anyone has used OvaEasy egg crystals, please add a review on the site. We just added their brand info at someone's suggestion: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/ovaeasy/

skinewmexico
38 reviewer rep
134 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 11:01 p.m. (EDT)

I've heard great things about OvaEasy.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,166 forum posts
September 21, 2011 at 11:23 p.m. (EDT)

skinewmexico said:

I've heard great things about OvaEasy.

I think they sound promising too.

I'm interested to hear more and I hope some users will write reviews and let us know how they taste in reality.

Guyz
153 reviewer rep
235 forum posts
September 22, 2011 at 8:14 a.m. (EDT)

Great review.  I usually just make my own stuff, but I like hearing about what's out there.  Some times its easier to drop by the store before the trail if I don't have time for prep.

Jeff RMNP hiker
22 reviewer rep
23 forum posts
September 22, 2011 at 9:22 a.m. (EDT)

Recently in AK we did MH Scrambled Eggs.. every morning.. having had MRE's years ago .. MH was to die for.. Seriously, easy, not runny, tasted like eggs, had texture of eggs, stayed toasty in the bag while we waited.. I think 13 breakfasts is a pretty good evaluation.. Thanks for posting

ocalacomputerguy
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts
September 22, 2011 at 9:56 a.m. (EDT)

Excellent review I'm going to get some of the Backpacker's Pantry and try them out one morning.

Alicia said

it's still a question of personal taste.

If only we had scratch and sniff/lick and taste monitors.

newfiebound
76 reviewer rep
28 forum posts
September 22, 2011 at 1:39 p.m. (EDT)

I have to agree backpackers panty makes the best they also offer several other egg base delites. Maybe next time let's look at an old standy by oatmeal now there are so many types and varieties. Who would think but look at what they did to eggs!

northofbeyond
3 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
September 23, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT)

The best eggs for backpacking are Ova Easy Egg Crystals, and they are much cheaper than the eggs that you tested here. They are available from http://www.nutriomstore.com/  The only ingredient is egg, and they cook and taste just like fresh eggs.

Wolfman (Wolfgang Greystoke)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts
September 24, 2011 at 12:12 p.m. (EDT)

I think I will stick to my fresh chicken eggs!  I do love eggs when hiking.  But they are usually gone in the first few days.  So maybe this is something I need to try for a longer trip. 

How big was the clean up?  If your eating out of the pan you are cooking in is anymore then oatmeal?  Also, on the two that need to be mixed, could you have used the bag that they came in? 

AlpineAire Scrambled Eggs Can you skip the pan and just cook in the bag with a cozy?

Cache Lake eggs can these be mixed in there own bag first?

Wolfman

greenninja5150
34 reviewer rep
6 forum posts
October 7, 2011 at 6:39 p.m. (EDT)

I know this was a review for eggs without "add ons" but I feel that you need Mountain House Wraps - Breakfast Skillet on the list anyway.
Hash browns and scrambled eggs mixed with pork sausage, peppers and onion. About the best thing I've ever had for breakfast and you rehydrate/cook in the bag so there is no cleanup! Thank for the review!

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