Dehydration Backpacking Meal Challenge

This unique lesson was shared by Sue Gottsch and Steve Watts, from West High School, Sioux City, Iowa.  Sue teaches hikingfood science and other FCS classes. Sue says that the curriculum tends to get boring for the students so she has been trying to add some new labs each year. Their school system has coaches to help with ideas and technology etc. Steve is formerly a science teacher. Together, they decided to plan an interactive meal challenge.


  • Imagine packing your backpack, lacing up your hiking boots, and heading out on the trail.  Whether you are on an overnight hike in the back country or completing the 2,174 miles of the Appalachian Trail one thing is essential…FOOD!


  • Laptops
  • Outdoor Grills
  • Ziploc Bags & Tin Cans


  • Provide students with the following background information:  You are part of a team that working for Loess Hills Trail Food.  This company specializes in dehydrated backpacking food that focuses on the 3E’s: Essential Fuel, Easy Preparation, and Exquisite Flavors.
  • Present their task:As a team, you will create a dehydrated backpacking meal that lives up to the 3E’s.  As a group you will collaborate to create a meal and the following tasks will be divided up by your team.
    1. Nutritionist(s) – Research suggested nutrition for thru-hikers and the nutritional information here for your meal. Information should include an ingredients list, and nutritional values of the percentage of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and also the total calories found here.
    2. Graphic Designer(s) – Design and create packaging for your meal. The packaging should be attractive to the customer and captures the essence of the adventures of backpacking.
    3. Chef(s)— Write a recipe for meal preparation and instructions on how to cook your meal in the field. Write why this meal is good for hiking. Look for helpful ideas here.

    Your final product will be presented to a sample consumer audience in an outdoor presentation.  The consumer ratings will determine which meal will be selected as the new meal for Loess Hills Trail Foods.

  • Steve shared a video about backpacking and camping. On the final day we watched a video on how to make a one minute fire similar to this one.
  • We then took students to the outdoor classroom where they started fires in hibachi grills that Steve provided.
  • Students cooked their food in tin cans. Hot water was carried out in a thermos to speed up the cooking time. We took out the needed utensils and plenty of spoons  for tasting.  We work with 90 minute blocks and we used the entire block to cook and enjoy our food. We had everything from chicken soup, apple crisp and dried fruit salsa to beef soup and dried apple sauce which was like a crispy fruit roll up.
  • One student wrote a thank you note saying this was a great lab and thanking me for everything she learned this year in food science. All of the students were engaged and loved the lab!




  • Courtesy of Dreamstime
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment for “Dehydration Backpacking Meal Challenge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.