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Backpacker's Pantry Granola with Bananas & Milk

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Backpacker's Pantry Granola with Bananas & Milk breakfast

Good backpacking breakfast. Easy to prepare and pretty nutritious. More tasty than most freeze dry packaged foods. Price, like all freeze dry, is fairly hefty.


  • Lightweight
  • Easy to prepare (hydrates well with cold or hot water)
  • Fairly tasty
  • “Real granola” taste, texture, and mouth feel
  • Minimal waste


  • Pricey, like all freeze dry prepared meals
  • It’s still granola (though much better than most)
  • Has lots of chemical ingredients I remember from my undergrad chem course
  • At 140 calories per serving, it’s a bit skimpy for backpacking and especially winter
  • For cold preparation, be sure to use potable water or just use boiling water
  • If you are sensitive, note it is “prepared in a facility that processes peanuts, milk, soy, gluten, eggs, and tree nuts”


When I started camping, backpacking, and horse packing with my family as a child, there was no such thing as freeze-dry. Your only choice in dried food was jerky for meat, powdered eggs, KLIM (milk spelled backwards – still exists) for powdered milk, and a range of dried fruits and vegetables (raisins, apples, apricots, tomato powder, potato powder, etc). Various dried cereals were available, some of which like oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, and a few others were available for breakfast.

Yes, Familia Muesli and Granolas were around, most being imports from Europe. Generally, these were not very tasty, required a lot of sugar or honey to be palatable, or did not work well for cooking (dried beans took a day or more of soaking). Plus, after WWII ended, there were military surplus K-rations and C-rations. Frankly, our armed services personnel must have been very hungry to eat that stuff.


When I started college, the sponsor of my scholarship was Food Machinery and Chemical Company (long since absorbed into a huge conglomerate). They provided summer employment for me. At the time, they had a huge contract with the US Military to develop better ways to preserve food that would be tasty in the field and easy to prepare. One of the projects was the perfection of the freeze-dry process. My supervisors found out I was a backpacker and climber. So every Friday, they would hand me a package or two of the latest batch to try over the weekend, with the instructions, “If you figure out how to rehydrate or prepare this, let us know.”

A number of the attempts included meat that was just as chewy as the toughest jerky, although some of the vegetable powders turned out fairly well. I got one package that my climbing buddy Arvid, and I thought was really great – at first. It was dehydrated apple slices. That weekend, we did a climb in the Sierra, and on the peak, started dipping into the bag to eat slice after slice. This stuff was really good. However, we soon got thirsty, and emptied our water bottles. We discovered that the apple slices expanded as they absorbed the water! We spent the next day laying around camp, moaning at our extended bellies. Our report back was to do the rehydration in a pot BEFORE eating the apples.

My experience with freeze dried foods since being a human guinea pig some 50+ years ago has been mixed. Some brands are excellent, while others get very old after a couple weeks straight, especially on expeditions where you have had to haul a month’s supply in, plus supplementing the calories with endless energy bars.

Since I continue to do a lot of backpacking (overnights and month-long) in all seasons, along with rock climbing and mountaineering, I now look for the following features in my backpacking food, whether freeze dry, fresh, sundried, or pre-packaged:

  1. Light weight
  2. Filling
  3. Plenty of calories (fats are ok on an extended trip)
  4. Tasty, but not overwhelmed with spices to hide the inadequacies (I love spicey food in general)
  5. Easy to prepare (and get to edible condition)
  6. “Real food” – taste, texture, mouth feel, after-taste
  7. Variety
  8. Minimal waste to carry out

I pre-prepare a lot of the food I take into the backcountry with me. But I find that a couple of companies produce prepared meals and dishes that meet my criteria. A lot of these are only available in North America and a few other countries. Since a lot of countries have strict customs requirements about food you bring in (including sometimes prepared foods like candy bars or canned food), on expeditions abroad, I often have to rely on hiring local chefs who cater to expeditions.

Backpacker’s Pantry is a company that usually produces acceptable pre-packaged meals. On a recent climbing trip, my spouse suggested I try the Granola with Bananas and Milk. I was a bit reluctant, given my experiences with granolas and mueslis, but I agreed – she does the camping foods part of a couple training courses for Adult Scout leaders, for which I am often the guinea pig.

First Impressions: Knowing that our intended campsite would have no water available during this 5th year of severe drought in California (there are 5 wildfires burning in the state as I write this), I packed in a couple gallon jugs of water from home. Barb handed me the unopened package, pointed to the water jug, and said, “Prepare breakfast!” That meant heating the water for hot cocoa, so I asked if she wanted the granola hot as well. “No, everybody eats granola with cold milk,” was the reply.

So I tore off the top (above the ziplock re-seal) and poured in the requisite 2 cups of cold water, stirred thoroughly as directed with my over-length freeze-dry package stirring spoon, poured one third into Barb’s collapsible bowl, while I ate the remaining two thirds  from the bag (she thinks because she is smaller, she should eat a smaller portion). Observation – it mixed easily and thoroughly absorbed the water.

Details: What is there to say? It actually was one of the best granolas I have eaten (I think the fresh-tasting bananas helped a lot). Since it was only 2/3 of the package (slightly more than the designated one of two servings), it did not completely fill me up. However, all too often, granolas and mueslis eaten in the back country leave me feeling a bit over-stuffed. So I would say that for a day of rock climbing, it was just the right amount.

The taste, texture, and mouth feel were quite good (though I might have preferred an omelet for a day of climbing). It was good enough that I will consider taking this on a backpacking trip of several days and having it for more than one day on the trail (considering my general feelings about granola and the traditional “bloatmeal on the trail”, that’s actually pretty high praise).

One problem, though, is that I, at least, need more than the 280 calories that one serving supplies for a day of climbing (or 560 if I eat the whole package). The fact that 110 calories of the standard serving is from fat, does mitigate the small total amount somewhat. But, I did down a moderate amount of hot chocolate, which helps boost the morning calorie intake.

The Bottom Line:  Food preservation and reconstitution has come a long way since my college days as a human guinea pig. At least some freeze dry foods are easy to prepare and tasty. In the case of Backpacker’s Pantry, they are doing pretty well. Backpacker’s Pantry Granola also comes with blueberries in place of bananas.

I will note that prepared backpacking foods, especially freeze dry, are expensive. Looking around on the web, I see that this particular meal can cost up to $10 and as low as $5. We got this package on one of the regular sales that REI seems to have several times a year for freeze dry food.

One of the problems with backpacking and climbing foods is that at altitude and when putting out a lot of effort in the hiking, carrying a backpack (even UL), climbing, and backcountry skiing, one’s appetite and tastes shift – favorite foods at sea level often do not taste as good under those conditions. But in this case, I might even change my mind about granolas and mueslis in general.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $6

Loaded with calories, this Backpacker’s Pantry breakfast is an excellent product for one VERY hungry hiker, or two people with normal appetites. Note: This is a LOT of breakfast, you don’t want to feed forest creatures. Look for the single serving granola meals!

This just-add-water dehydrated meal is ideal for people that want to enjoy their meal quickly, and get to what they want to be spending their day doing, be it hiking, sailing, or any other highly rigorous activity.


  • Tastes great
  • No prep time/no cooking needed
  • Great weight-to-calorie ratio


  • Water prep amount is overestimated
  • Non-recyclable bag/container
  • Expensive
  • Sensitive for gluten/tree nut allergies



Makes Two 13oz Servings

Net Weight: 9.5oz (269g)


Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 2/135g

Servings Per Container: 2

Calories 620 (Calories from fat 280)

Total Fat 31g (48%)

Saturated Fat 18g (88%)

Trans Fat 0mg 

Cholesterol 60mg (21%)

Sodium 280mg (12%)

Total Carbohydrates 74g (25%)

Dietary Fiber 7g (27%)

Sugars 32g

Protein 17g

Vit A 15%

Vit C 4%

Calcium 30%

Iron 15%


Taste: This breakfast is superb! It is difficult to prepare a meal similar to this that tastes this good, balancing all of the nutrients needed to spend a long haul with a pack on one’s back. Backpacker’s Pantry accurately describes this meal as "Traditional small batch granola baked with real butter, almonds, coconut, & freeze dried banana in rBST free milk."

Note: rBST is a product primarily given to dairy cattle to increase milk production.

This meal was prepared cold, keeping things quick and simple

Prep: This meal is about as easy as it gets; add water, mix, and eat. Note: It is very important to find the little Cracker Jack toy, also known as the oxygen absorber. This recipe calls to add 2 cups/480mL of cold (OR HOT) water, stir thoroughly, and serve. I personally like to recommend the importance of getting every single calorie out of the pouch by rinsing with water, and drinking. 




Energy/Satiety: This breakfast is a very, very satisfying meal! The balance of TONS of sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins greatly satisfied me for hours during a long section hike on the Appalachian Trail. I’d strongly recommend sharing this breakfast with another, I cannot overemphasize that this is A LOT of food!!!


Claims: Backpacker’s Pantry claims to be an innovation leader in delivering the finest tasting foods to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. "Our lightweight, delicious meals are packed with nutrition to fuel even the most extreme adventure, and they require only minimal preparation to enjoy!" I believe these claims to be valid, however I now feel that the best pre-made dehydrated meals are much closer-than-ever to everyday good old-fashioned home cooking!


Packaging: Backpacker’s Pantry bags undergo a nitrogen flush, a vacuum seal, and each package contains an oxygen absorber yielding their pouches with granola products a 3-year shelf life. The packaging is made from a non-recyclable BPE free material, allowing the food to be cooked in the bag.


Best For: This meal is most advantageous for people that are engaged in strenuous activities that demand high calories. Fast and easy, this is perfect for the weight-conscious traveler that wants to eat, and run!


Conclusion: If you don’t have time to carb-up at the diner, the Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Milk & Bananas is a tasty alternative that is much, much quicker! Many thanks to the people at Backpacker’s Pantry for the opportunity to test this product for the Trailspace Gear Review Corps!


Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Backpacker's Pantry for testing and review)

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Price MSRP: $6.80
Current Retail: $5.16-$6.99
Historic Range: $3.93-$38.95
Reviewers Paid: $6.00
Dry Weight 9.5 oz / 269 g
Serving Size Two 13 oz Servings
Product Details from Backpacker's Pantry »

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