A food dehydrator for camping meals is one of the best small appliances that you can have in your kitchen for food preservation if you are a backpacker or gardener, or if you like to buy in bulk.
Not only does it allow you to preserve camping food for long-term storage and outdoor trips, but it also gives you the ability to create unique and delicious snacks.
➡️ Our TOP TWO CHOICES for dehydrators are the Brod & Taylor Sahara Folding Food Dehydrator (it’s foldable, functional, and storable) and the Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine (which makes amazing beef jerky and is easy to use).
Best of all, dehydrators are relatively easy to use, and they come in a variety of sizes to fit any kitchen. So if you’re looking for a way to add some excitement and variety to your camp cooking consider buying one and start experimenting with all the possibilities!
Best Food Dehydrator For Camping and Backpacking Meals
When it comes to food dehydrators, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best food dehydrator for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great food dehydrators on the market, so finding the perfect model for your needs is easier than ever. In our buying guide, we’ll help you choose the best food dehydrator for your unique situation. Read on to learn everything you need to know.
Best Camping Food Dehydrator: Premium Option
Looking for a dehydrator that can do it all? Look no further than the Excalibur 3926TB. This top-of-the-line dehydrator is packed with features that make it perfect for anyone who wants to create delicious, healthy snacks and meals.
With 15 square feet of drying space, the Excalibur can handle large batches of food with ease. Its adjustable thermostat ranging from 105 degrees F to 165 degrees F means you can dehydrate your food at just the right temperature, ensuring perfectly dried results every time.
The temperature range is low enough for fruits and vegetables and is also high enough for dehydrating meat for jerky. Make turkey jerky at 150 degrees in about 10 hours!
The Excalibur also includes a powerful 7″ fan for excellent air circulation and an automated shut-off timer, so you don’t have to worry about over-dehydrating your food. Plus, its clear doors allow you to easily check on the progress of the contents.
- Sturdy and Spacious
- Timer with automated shut-off
- Made in the USA
- Comes with non-stick sheets
- Can accommodate thick foods
- Excalibur has an established reputation for producing top-of-the-line products!
- Cost – more expensive
- Bulky and takes up more space
- No removable drip tray on the bottom
- It’s larger so it puts out more heat and noise than a smaller unit.
- Does not include solid sheets for fruit leather or drippy foods.
Best Camping Food Dehydrator: Budget Option
The best budget-priced food dehydrator on the market is the Presto 06301 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator. This dehydrator is reliable, efficient, and easy to use. It has a clear cover so you can see the progress of your food, and it comes with an adjustable thermostat so you can customize the drying temperature.
It also has a whisper-quiet fan that won’t disturb your family or your neighbors. The Presto 06301 is a great investment for anyone who loves to dehydrate foods in smaller batches. It’s also reasonably priced, making it a great value for the money.
- Good beginner option
- BPA-free plastic
- No tray rotation is needed in the dehydrating process
- Stackable trays can store well when not in use
- Lack of robust construction – it may not last as long as other more expensive dehydrators
- The base of the dehydrator cannot be disassembled for cleaning
- Not large enough for bulk batches
- The bottom section is tough to clean, cannot remove it.
Best Camping Food Dehydrator For Small Spaces
EDITOR’S CHOICE: This dehydrator is AMAZING! It has a place in our home and it is extremely easy to use for creating exceptional backpacking meals. Thanks to its compact design, the Sahara Folding Food Dehydrator takes up minimal countertop space – making it the top pick for small kitchens.
We all know there is only so much room in most home kitchens for extra appliances. This one arrives folding and is about the size of a big textbook! It has seven stainless steel trays with 11 sq ft of drying space.
The temperature range of this food dehydrator is 85 degrees F to 165 degrees F. It has a rotary fan so there is no need for tray rotation as the food gets dehydrated from all sides. During the drying process, the double-heater automatically shifts from high to low power depending on the amount of semi-dried or raw food.
This one is highly recommended if you need a unit you can store in less space without a hassle and want a high-quality unit.
- The only dehydrator that folds in seconds to 1/3 its size
- Quieter low-noise radial fan
- Easy to clean – stainless steel racks that are dishwasher safe
- Glass doors
- Price – one of the more expensive options
- The power cord is short
- No handle for carrying once folded
Honorable Mentions: Food Dehydrator for Camping Meals
A great modestly-priced dehydrator is the Nesco FD-61WHCK Snackmaster Encore with Jerky Gun Kit. This dehydrator features 500 watts of drying power and an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 95 degrees to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, making it versatile enough to handle any type of food.
It also has an impressive capacity, with four trays that can each hold up to 4 quarts of food. The four-tray system can hold up to fifteen pounds of food, making it perfect for large batches or families. This powerful dehydrator has a 600-watt motor and top-mounted fan to create consistent drying results.
The adjustable temperature ranging from 95 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit means you can create whatever type of snack you desire! It dried food in hours not days, very convenient for those who need speedier results.
Looking for a high-quality food dehydrator that can handle large batches? Then you need to consider the Tribest Sedona Express! Perfect for homes, restaurants, and commercial kitchens, this dehydrator can handle anything you throw at it.
With 25 square feet of drying space spread across 11 trays, this unit is perfect for those who want to dehydrate large quantities of food at once. Plus, the digital controls make it easy to set the temperature and timer to get the best results every time. Cleanup is a breeze thanks to the dishwasher-safe trays.
6. Magic Mill
The Magic Mill food dehydrator machine is a top-quality appliance that you can trust to help you preserve your food. This powerful device has nine trays that can accommodate large quantities of food at once, so you can get the job done quickly and efficiently.
It also has adjustable temperature control so you can customize the drying process to meet your specific needs. Plus, the Magic Mill comes with a helpful guidebook that will teach you everything you need to know about using this amazing machine.
Keep in mind that it is a bigger small appliance so you need the space in your kitchen or garage to store it. With the Magic Mill, preserving your food has never been easier!
The Samson “Silent” Dehydrator is compact in size and allows you to dehydrate up to 6.5 square feet of items at one time using the six stainless steel trays. It really is a quieter option, so much so that you may forget it is running. This may not be the model for you if you plan to make jerky as it can’t run as high as other dehydrators.
The Hamilton Beach 32100A Digital Food Dehydrator has five stackable drying trays and 500 watts of power. The temperature settings range from 100-160° F. Thanks to its ease of use, this food dehydrator is the perfect choice for beginners. It’s also very easy to clean! The fan on this model can be a bit noisy, however.
The Cosori Food Dehydrator is a stylish and sleek and very popular choice! It looks great on your kitchen counter if you are looking for something trustworthy to use on a daily basis, resembling a mini oven.
The unit has six dishwasher-safe stainless steel racks, a glass door, and an automatic shut-off with overheat protection. The cook time caps at 48 hours. Please note, that the mesh screen and fruit roll sheets are not dishwasher safe.
The Chefman Food Dehydrator Machine comes with six adjustable BPA-free plastic trays. It has digital temperature preset settings ranging from 95º F to 158º F integrated with a countdown timer up to 19 1/2 hours. The Chefman comes with an insert mat for small items such as tiny fruits and nuts so they won’t fall through which is convenient.
The Nesco FD-1040 Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator comes with four BPA-free trays and is expandable up to 20 trays. Each tray provides 1.2 sq. ft. of drying space. It also comes with a fruit roll sheet for convenience. This is a good value dehydrator for the beginner.
It has 1000 watts of drying power and also comes equipped with a digital timer. This machine should be sufficient for you if you are not going to be a heavy-duty user and don’t need space for bulk batches.
How Do You Dehydrate Food For Camping Meals?
The most important thing to remember when dehydrating food is to use fresh, ripe, and unblemished produce. That means no bruises or blemishes. If you’re dehydrating meat, make sure it’s fresh and has been properly trimmed of any fat.
✔ Harvest or Purchase: Only buy the freshest produce and likewise harvest items from your garden at the peak of flavor. Dehydrated foods taste better when made from slightly immature produce than overripe.
✔ Clean and Slice: Scrub, peel, and slice everything carefully and meticulously. If they’re too thick, they’ll take forever to dehydrate. This will be the longest part of the hands-on process.
- Slice vegetables very thin, around 1/6″, preferably using a mandoline. Thicker vegetable slices are prone to gathering microscopic beasties during the dehydrating process!
- Slice fruits around 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Smaller slices dry faster and more efficiently. However, if you slice anything too thin, sticking to trays can become an issue if you are not using a non-stick mat. Thin veggies can make delicious chips so experiment and see what works for you.
✔ Pre-Drying Treatment for Vegetables. Not everyone blanches but many do! Mushrooms and zucchini slices do not need blanching, nor do chili peppers.
- Boiled Water Blanching: Using a pot of boiling water large enough to cover your produce, blanch each type separately. Every vegetable needs a different blanching time. Properly blanched, vegetables will be heated through but won’t be cooked.
- Count the minutes from the moment the water starts boiling again after adding your vegetables. Most vegetables should be blanched for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Brussels sprouts, cut corn, and potatoes and take a long time to blanch in comparison to others: 5-6 minutes. When time is up, strain and dump the produce into ice water. Lay on a towel. Be attentive and blot pieces dry, carefully.
✔ Pre-Drying Treatment for Fruits, specifically apples, pears, peaches, and others that oxidize when exposed to air. Fruits do not get blanched prior to dehydrating. Oxidation, however, damages flavor and can destroy vitamins C and A. Try using a dip or a soak in a “preservative” if you wish (it is optional):
- Salt-Water Dip: To keep your fruits from darkening you can slice and soak them for 2-4 minutes in a solution of water and pickling salt. One gallon of water and 6 tbs pickling salt. Be sure the salt is dissolved. Strain, air dry, and proceed.
- Ascorbic Acid Dip: This is a form of vitamin C. Add 1 tbs ascorbic acid crystals to 1 quart of lukewarm water. Place sliced fruit into the solution for 1 minute, drain, and let air dry before proceeding.
✔ Spread on Trays Evenly: Put your fruits and vegetables in one single layer on trays, not touching, unless you are drying herbs, which can be loosely mounded.
✔ Dry Food until Positively Done: Dehydrators get pretty warm so be sure to place your unit somewhere convenient and give it enough space to breathe. Follow your specific dehydrator’s guide.
- Dry vegetables until they are brittle and can shatter when struck by a hammer! Yes, you don’t want any moisture. Fruits are dry enough when they are leathery and some will remain sticky no matter the length of drying time.
✔ Label Your Loot: You may think you will remember what is what but those sweet potato chunks and carrots start to look identical after a few months have passed. Likewise, if you have several trays of items that look similar, be very careful in the excitement of unloading that you keep them separated.
Best Tips For Dehydrated Food
🍏 Drying food takes anywhere between four and 24 hours, so dry food in large batches. Fill your machine! That way you’ll have a lot of food ready when you’re finished.
🍏 Store your dehydrated foods in an airtight container, such as a mason jar or a vacuum-sealed container, in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
🍏 To prevent sticking (for sticky dried fruits) you can try shaking them in a bag of dusting material. Bananas (powdered oats), apples (cinnamon), tomato slices (garlic powder), or pears (nutmeg) are a few to get creative with.
🍏 Condensation in your bags or jars indicates that the food wasn’t dried enough. If you notice this right away, you can immediately put the product back in the machine and dry it for longer.
🍏 If you dehydrated food that you’d like to last a year or two, put it in freezer bags, date it, and remove all of the air before storing it in the freezer.
🍏 When you’re rehydrating the food you’ll want to use equal parts food and water but you can adjust the amount of water you add at any time.
Food Dehydrator for Camping Meals: FAQs
Is It Worth Buying A Dehydrator for Camping?
YES! Dehydrating your food is not only convenient, but it’s also a great way to ensure your camp food is healthy and packed with nutrients. Since the process locks in those nutrients, so you know you’re getting the most bang for your bite.
Dehydrated backpacking meals are the perfect way to get your daily doses of vegetables and fruit while on an outdoor adventure.
When you dehydrate food, you remove the water content, which can account for up to 97% of the weight of fresh produce. This not only makes the food lighter and easier to transport but also extends its shelf life.
Dehydrated foods are also a great source of energy since they contain all of the calories of fresh foods without the water weight. So, if you’re looking for a healthy and convenient, zero waste way to fuel your camping adventures, dehydrated foods are truly the way to go.
Another consideration is how mandatory a dehydrator is for achieving variation in a raw food diet! Keep in mind that raw foods usually qualify as raw after dehydrating at 105 degrees or 115 degrees, which is lower than the 135 to 150 degrees normally recommended for drying fruits and vegetables.
Why is the Excalibur Dehydrator So Special?
The Excalibur dehydrator is one of the hottest dehydrators on the market. Many consider it to be the best dehydrator, period.
Why? Because it is super dependable, is a reputable brand, and is complete with a digital control panel that has a temperature range from 105° to 165° F, a 26-hour timer, and an automatic shut-off. Plus, it comes with 9 trays so that you can dehydrate large quantities at one time!
The secret to the Excalibur’s success is its patented dehydration technology. By circulating hot air evenly throughout the dehydrator, the Excalibur can remove moisture from food quickly and efficiently.
As a result of the top-notch design of Excalibur dehydrators, foods retain their natural flavor and nutrients, making them far healthier than their processed counterparts.
With its innovative design and powerful performance, the Excalibur is a perfect choice for those who want to expand their creativity in the kitchen. Plus, with its large capacity and digital controls, you can dehydrate anything. If you have the funds and the storage space, pony up now and get the best! You will not regret it.
What Should I Consider Before Buying A Food Dehydrator for Camping Food?
When shopping for the best food dehydrator there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
✔ First, consider the capacity. How many people will you be feeding? If you’re only feeding yourself, a smaller dehydrator will suffice. However, if you’re feeding a large group, you’ll need a larger unit.
✔ Second, think about how much space you have. If you’re limited on space, a smaller dehydrator might be your best bet. Dehydrators come in all different sizes, from small countertop models to large floor-standing units. Make sure to measure the available space in your kitchen before making your purchase.
✔ Third, consider what types of foods you’ll be drying. If you plan on drying delicate fruits and vegetables (such as berries and leafy greens), look for a dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings.
Almost all dehydrators have a fan and heating element. Inexpensive food dehydrators usually have fixed heat settings and no thermostat.
To solve that problem, you can plug them into an electrical timer, but you may need a model with a thermostat if you are planning to dehydrate a variety of foods.
If you’re mainly interested in dehydrating meat, then you won’t need to worry about temperature settings as much.
✔ Food dehydrators have fans and make noise. Most compare the level of noise to an air conditioning unit. They can also warm up a small room when in use.
✔ Finally, think about your budget. Dehydrators can range in price from very affordable to quite expensive.
How Much Does a Food Dehydrator?
While there are some cheap dehydrators on the market, these usually don’t work very well and will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run as you have to replace them more often. For a good-quality dehydrator that will last you for years, you can expect to pay at least $100.
Prices can also vary widely, so it’s important to set a budget before you start shopping. In general, food dehydrators range in price from about $70 to $300. Higher-end models typically offer more attractive features and may be better suited for large-scale dehydration projects.
However, even a basic food dehydrator will get the job done if you’re simply looking to preserve some extra produce from the garden from time to time.
What’s The Difference Between A Freeze Dryer And A Dehydrator?
A freeze dryer and a dehydrator both remove water from food. However, they do it in different ways.
Freeze dryers work by freezing the food and then using a vacuum to remove the ice crystals. This leaves the food with very little water content and makes it shelf-stable. A dehydrator, on the other hand, uses heat to remove water from food.
For a freeze dryer, the food is placed in a chamber where it is exposed to warm air. This causes the water to evaporate, leaving behind dry, shriveled food. While both methods can be effective, freeze-drying is generally considered to be superior because it preserves more of the food’s nutritional value and flavor.
Conclusion: Best Food Dehydrator for Camping Meals
Now that you know a little more about each type of dehydrator, you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Adding dehydrated food to hiking and camping trip meals is going to be life-changing!
Whatever your needs may be, there is a food dehydrator out there that is perfect for you. You should definitely consider adding one to your kitchen as a small appliance to enjoy the benefits of preserving produce and making unique snacks!
No matter which model you choose, any camping food dehydrator on our list is a great tool to have in your kitchen. So get out there and start enjoying the great outdoors with all of your own food that you have dehydrated so thoughtfully! Your stomach will thank you.