Backpacker’s Pantry – Pad Thai
En route to the Adirondack Mountains, we encountered a brief rainstorm and took refuge just outside Rochester, NY. Safe from the storm inside a converted Dodge Promaster van, the chilly evening provided a perfect opportunity to prepare a classic Asian cuisine: Pad Thai.
Preparation was quick and simple, while the resulting meal beat out many restaurant-quality versions on both taste and nutrition. This was one of our favorite Backpacker’s Pantry offerings, and warrants a spot in our regular line-up.
Specification: Backpacker’s Pantry – Pad Thai
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Preparing the Pad Thai was fairly straightforward, but there were a few areas that could complicate the process depending on your conditions.
- The prep ingredients are embedded in the same container as the noodles and spice base (which are loose), meaning it’s easy to create a small but manageable mess when removing each item.
- Additionally, the peanut butter must be kneaded for correct consistency before adding to the package, a small and simple step that is easy to forget. We highly recommend discarding the peanut butter pouch into the included clear plastic bag after use to avoid unnecessarily spreading oil and stickiness—although your fingertips will likely need a small wash.
- The noodles were buried beneath the spice base in our test batches, which makes it difficult to distribute after the boiling water is added. We recommend mixing the dry ingredients evenly beforehand.
- The biggest preparation set-back involved the included sriracha powder packet. The package states that “adding all the sriracha is like a medium heat at a Thai restaurant.” In reality, we found that half of a packet could achieve that level of heat, potentially leading to over-spicing your meal.
- Roughly 20 minutes to fully prepare
- Most of the preparation time is simply waiting for the ingredients to steep in the boiled water, which is added directly to the original package
- Instructions for adjusting cook time for variations in elevation were accurate
- Directions on dosing sriracha powder weren’t perfect in practice
- No recommendation to mix dry ingredients thoroughly before filling the package with boiling water
The taste of the prepared Pad Thai exceeded our expectations. It has a whole-bodied profile given its well-rounded, true Pad Thai seasoning mix. The ratio of noodles to supporting ingredients (peanut butter, lime, garlic, bell pepper, salt, etc) was also well-balanced. The inclusion of sriracha and lime powder, which you can add to your taste, was a welcome touch. It’s also a great source of calories if you’re vegan or gluten free
- High-quality ingredients, including whole peanuts and real Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter & Co.
- Ideal balance of noodles to spices
- Beats the taste profile of many lower-end Thai restaurants
- Included sriracha and lime ingredients are powdered, not the real thing (although it does cut weight)
At Outdoor Food Lab, we list our weight ratings as such:
- 150+ calories/ounce: / Ultralight Hiking Food
- 131-149 calories/ounce:
- 111-130 calories/ounce:
- 90-110 calories/ounce:
- Less than 90 calories/ounce: