Alex Roddie finds the Blå Band Couscous with Chilli Spiced Vegetables a good value, filling meal with a decent spice kick.

Blå Band is a stalwart Scandinavian brand that has been offering dehydrated backpacking meals for many years. One quirk – some might call it the brand’s trademark – is that the packs are wider than they are tall, unlike the more typical vertical format used by almost every other brand.

  • Price: £7.65
  • Weight: 151g
  • Pros: Delicious, convenient pack to eat from, good value
  • Cons: Contains palm oil, calorie-to-weight ratio not the best
  • Rating: 4/5

Calories: 647 | Calories/100g: 428 | Calories/£: 84.58 | Time to hydrate: 10 minutes | Vegetarian/vegan: vegetarian | Allergens: durum wheat flour, celery

This doesn’t make much difference when it comes to packing meals inside your rucksack, but it does make a big difference when preparing and eating the food. It’s easier to thoroughly mix the food with hot water (fewer hidden crunchy spots left in the corners!) and much easier to eat without resorting to a long-handled spoon.

This is a simple vegetarian meal made with couscous, vegetables (carrot, red pepper, cabbage, leek, sweetcorn), and spices. I found that it rehydrated quickly, more quickly than the stated 10 minutes, and tasted really good. One thing to note is that the veg tended to float to the top and the couscous sinks to the bottom; it needed more thorough stirring than usual.

The level of chilli kick was perfectly judged, to my taste – I don’t like my backpacking food to blow my head off, but it added a bit of interest to the flavour. The meal was filling and didn’t leave me feeling hungry after I’d finished it.

At 647kcal per pack, you get a decent amount of energy, although the weight is slightly high at 151g. It also contains palm oil. The overall value is good, though.

See more reviews of the best backpacking meals as tested by The Great Outdoors’ expert testers.

Headshot of Alex Roddie

Tested by Alex Roddie

Alex tasted these meals out in the mountains whilst backpacking or fastpacking. Although trail hunger is the best sauce, he also finds that real-world testing is essential for checking out whether meals agree with him after a big hill day – as well as for testing details such as how glove-friendly the pack opening is. This review was originally conducted in July 2022.