Review: Wild Zora

When I’m five days into a backpacking trip, living off freeze-dried, oversalted, and mostly unsatisfying camping meals, I crave nothing more than my mom’s home cooking, and fantasize about her famous spaghetti, made with home-canned tomatoes and accompanied by a heaping side salad with pepperoncini and thinly sliced red onion. Unfortunately, I can’t take my mom—or her kitchen—with me in the woods, but with Wild Zora’s pantry of portable snacks and meals, I’ve found a good substitute.

Their Baja Citrus Quinoa Meal ($8) and Mediterranean Lamb Bar ($30 for a 10-pack) showed me that compact, freeze-dried camping meals can be tasty, satisfying, and refreshing all at once. Prep for the quinoa is as simple as any other camping meal—just add boiling water to the bag and let it sit a few minutes—but Zora’s wholesome ingredients and fresh flavors distinguish it from others that too often end up tasting like chicken ramen. Zora even throws in a packet of olive oil to drizzle over your meal, a luxury that reminds a humble hiker of the comforts of home. Their Lamb Bar, made with 100% lamb and a few other ingredients you could find at your farmers market, is robust and a little sweet (from fresh fruit, not added sugar), and gets its protein and nutrients from real, minimally processed ingredients rather than the confections of other energy bars that often taste synthetic.

Wild Zora’s eponymous founder promises to make the same “real food” she serves her own children, family, and friends, and Zora delivers; with meals and snacks from her kitchen on my next overnighter, I’ll be bringing a taste of home along with me in my pack. But don’t worry, Mom, nothing beats your spaghetti.