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Light & Easy: are Primal Pods the next big thing in backcountry cuisine?

January 07, 2019
Light & Easy: are Primal Pods the next big thing in backcountry cuisine?

When you limp into camp bruised, blistered and broken, cooking is often the last thing you feel like doing. This is certainly how we felt on the 65km-long Green Gully Track, so we were pretty pleased to have a couple of Edas Foods Primal Pods included on our four-day menu. Unlike prepackaged backcountry meals that need to be rehydrated with boiling water, Primal Pods are air-dried meals with only two instructions: open, eat.


Who they’re for:

Ranging from 60 to 80 grams, Primal Pods are nutrient-rich, compact, lightweight and have no expiry date – ideal for packrafting, bikepacking and multi-day trekking, or stashing in your zombie-proof bunker… (you can thank us later.) Budding ultralighters will appreciate the grams saved in their packs from being able to leave their stove and pots at home. Primal Pods come in three flavours: Sunday Roast, 5 Spice and Thai, with both meat and 100% vegetable versions.


What we like:

Each Pod uses 160g of protein and 300g of vegetables (or 600g to 700g of veg for the meat-free options), and with the individual dietary information laid out clearly on the box, they’re certainly one of the healthier sources of life-fuel we’ve come across within the outdoor adventurer sector. Where rehydrated hot meals can serve up some fairly dubious textures and flavours, Primal Pods taste natural and true to the source.


What we don’t:

As much as we appreciate the convenience of a main meal that eats like a bag of Doritos, in cold or drizzly conditions, you really can’t look past the morale-boosting benefits of a hot dinner. That said, instant nourishment has clear benefits in foul weather when you don’t want to be fumbling around with a stove.


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In the field:

Admittedly, an air-dried no-cook meal takes a bit of getting used to. On first tasting, which was on a car camping trip in Dharug National Park, it was hard to imagine a dry, crunchy meal hitting the spot. That said, the flavours of the Thai veggie mix were delicious. The wafer-like snow peas and pops of sweet, chewy pineapple were surprisingly moreish and made for satisfying mid-afternoon snacking.

Exhaustion, we learned one month later, tells a slightly different story. We busted open the Sunday Roast Beef on day two of the Green Gully Track, and found ourselves reaching greedily for the dried beef and veggie chips as if we hadn’t eaten for a week. Without even looking at the nutrition info, it was obvious the protein from the beef and vitamins from the sweet potato, broccoli, mushrooms and onion provided the precise energy and calorie hit our bodies craved after a serious beating on the trail.


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Primal Pods come in individually sealed sachets so you can leave the bulky box at home.


The Five Spiced Pork was devoured at the end of the trek on day four, as an accompaniment to a cobbled together cheese platter – sounds weird, but it was a total crowd pleaser. The salty soy flavours of the pork, the vibrant red capsicum and the fragrant star anise infused with the green beans made this Pod the unanimous winner in terms of smash-ability and flavour. So impressed was one of the tasters, he mentioned introducing Primal Pods into his weekly meal plans. It’s easy to see how this type of health-focussed ready-to-eat meal could score major points beyond the adventure set; think time-poor workers, gym junkies, students and the like.

Most of the time we enjoyed sharing and grazing on the Pods, but their primary purpose is to serve as one main meal. This shows in how filling they are. I actually couldn’t eat a whole one to myself in one sitting, however I’m not a massive eater and the ¾ I did get through felt nice and light on the tum. It’s worth noting you will need a drink to help wash a whole Pod down – we all agreed the Sunday Roast Beef would go down a treat with beer.

The other standout for us is the attention Edas Foods has paid to dietary requirements. As well as having a vegetarian equivalent to every meat flavour, you’ll find the packages marked as paleo, keto-friendly, gluten free, dairy free and nut free where appropriate. Edas Foods has stopped at nothing to ensure their diet-specific offerings are not the lazy afterthoughts coeliacs and vegetarians are so used to seeing, if indeed they are catered for at all.


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Yay or Nay:

Dried, preserved and dehydrated foods have been the way of bushwalkers and doomsdayers for yonks. But we reckon what Edas Foods brings to the backcountry table fills a gaping hole in the market that we didn't even know was there.

What they lack in piping hot heartiness, they more than make up for in convenience and transparency; the knowledge you’re getting whole-food goodness and natural flavours without the weight and perishability of fresh produce.

It’s true Primal Pods will hit the hip pocket harder than if you stocked up on Continental side dishes and Maggi noodles while they’re on special, but at $13.95 apiece they’re also a lot cheaper than a steak dinner – and let’s not forget that nutritionally speaking, a steak dinner is more or less what you’re getting.