OUR Story

Throughout the Decades

1951: Dri-Lite Foods

In 1951, an ill-fated trip involving heavy canned foods, a long mountain trek and a group of increasingly demoralized Girl Scouts forever altered the course of what was thought possible in outdoor dining. The troop leader of that trip went home more inspired than disheartened, and was motivated to create a lighter, manageable, just add water, option for outdoor adventure. And she succeeded in that mission. Dri-Lite Foods became the first adventure food on the market. Anne Benedict started dehydrating meals in her garage and quickly realized there was a growing demand for lightweight meals for the backcountry. Fast-forward twenty years, when this small outdoor company was purchased by Ronald Smith, after a backpacking trip in the Sierra's sparked his passion for the outdoors. With the help of a small but dedicated team, Ronald transformed the Girl Scouts' inspired idea into one of the world’s foremost producers of freeze-dried meals.

1971: Backpacker's Pantry

When Ron bought Dri-Lite Foods in 1971, he immediately focused on finding food-conducive packaging, a new look, logo and name to help make the dehydrated food be retail-ready. When it came to recipe development, Ron's wife, Jan, and the former Dri-Lite Foods' owner, Anne, would create and test different recipe ideas. Lots of trial and error went into this process to make recipes that were not just convenient but also enjoyable to eat. Delicious & diverse meals has and continues to be of great importance to Backpacker's Pantry.



Settling In Colorado

Canoga Park, California

Dri-Lite Foods got it's start in the Los Angeles Valley, although once it became Backpacker's Pantry in the 70's, ron decided it was time for a change of scenery.

Redding, California

Backpacker's Pantry moved up to Redding, California where it remained for many years. During this time it grew tremendously and began to outgrow its footprint.

Boulder, Colorado

Eventually, Ron & his family moved the company to Boulder, Colorado in the early 90's, where it has remained ever since.

2000's: Change

While Backpacker's Pantry has always offered a wide range of gourmet backpacking meals, back in the 70's & 80's people didn't care as much about recipe variety or dietary restrictions and preferences. Those who were adventuring, simply needed to eat food that was lightweight & convenient. In fact, it wasn't until the late 80's and 90's, when backpacking and the outdoor industry truly began to take off.

In the past decade or so, Backpacker's Pantry has focused on creating authentic recipes, using healthy & sustainable ingredients, making environmentally sound business decisions, and increasing philanthropic efforts. The company has become 100% solar powered, has offset all carbon emissions from shipping and plans to produce sustainable packaging in the new future. 

Ron gives credit to his late son Rodney Smith, former President of AOP, who placed great emphasis on increasing Backpacker's Pantry's charitable donations. Rodney was constantly looking for ways to give back to the community we love, the places we adventure, and the planet we must protect. Because of Rodney, Backpacker's Pantry is proud to be a member of 1% For The Planet, legacy partners with the Conservation Alliance, Cal- Wood & SOIL, as well as supporters of many other non-profit organizations today. In the food niche of the outdoor industry, Backpacker's Pantry has been and will continue to be a philanthropic pioneer.