7 Reasons MRE’s are Better than Backpacking Meals

There is a common misconception among people who have never eaten MRE’s that they are the same as backpacking meals. (I’ll even admit to being this naive in the past) They are both lightweight meals on the go; that’s about where the similarities end.

MRE Backpack Meals1. Calories

Most Mountain House backpacking meals have 400-600 calories. All military MRE’s have approximately 1250. Everyone knows survival is a calorie game. You have to put as much or more in than you use and MRE’s are a more efficient way to do that.

MRE Side Dish2. Side Dish

Every standard issue MRE comes with a side dish, usually something like rice, vegetables, or fruit. Backpacking meals only come with one main entree unless you buy extra sides.

MRe Crackers3. Cracker or Bread

Every MRE comes with a cracker or break package. I don’t know about you, but I’m a good southern boy and I like to have some kind of bread at every meal. You gotta have something to push with…

MRE Dessert4. Dessert, Candy, Spread

MRE’s come with a dessert package and candy (yes, both) as well as a The Answer Water Bottle Filtration Solution 300x250spread for your bread like peanut butter, jelly, or cheese. Backpack Meal: No, No, and No.

MRE Drink Mix5. Drink Mix

MRE’s get a sports drink, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or shake. Of course with backpacking meal you have to bring your own.

MRE Accessories6. Accessories

Every MRE comes with an accessories packet that can include things such as (but not limited to) spoon, matches, TP, wipes, sugar, salt, chewing gum, and of course Tabasco. You know where this is going: Backpack meals have none of these.

MRe Flameless Heating Unit7. Heater

And finally the most important reason MRE’s are better than backpacking meals: the Flameless Ration Heater. If it’s driving rain, freezing, and you have no fire supplies, with an MRE you can still have a hot meal. Just tear open the heater pouch, add water, add entree, and wait.

MRE Info

Most of the pictures and a lof of good information for this came from MREinfo.com.

They know everything there is to know about MRE’s and can definitely answer any questions you might ever have about things like dating, menus, and knock off brands. (They even have a message board devoted to MRE’s)

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143 thoughts on “7 Reasons MRE’s are Better than Backpacking Meals”

  1. I have carried these in all my packs and LBEs for years they are great but stay away from the cheese it will bind you up for a week lol.

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  2. It is great to an article like this love all the MREs I have lived off one a day before but not for long a week is as far as I dared go but others in my group have gone longer.Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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      • My group buys a case every other week as needed for our gear last year we bought 16 cases at 60bucks per case lol plus all the ones we got off our friends in the army its great my kids are just getting into trying them Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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  3. Ok, so this article was obviously biased towards MRE's. That's fine, but it left out the most important difference between MRE's and Backpacking meals. Which is shelf life. Mountain House meals have a shelf life of 7 years while MRE's are only three. I know there are people who push the three year date, but you could do the same thing with backpacking meals too. The other difference is cost per calorie. MRE's are cheaper on a cost per calorie basis, but if you keep up with shelf life of them that benefit disappears. On a more subjective level I prefer the taste of the mountain house meals. In a survival situation it's amazing how a dessert of Raspberry Crumble can brighten up the day. This one truly comes down to personal preference in my opinion, you have to go with what works with your style. If you enjoy eating MRE's on a regular basis, then shelf life isn't a problem. If you have them prepped for a long term, backpacking meals is probably a better option for you.

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    • Most MRE's will last much longer than 3 years, it all depends on the temperature you store them at. Also expiration dates are just to prevent liability issues for the companies. MRE's or backpacking meals will be safe to eat long after the shelf life expires

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    • As someone who has eaten a lot of MRE's as well as cold weather and long range rations I'll add a few comments.

      Backpacking meals are better than MRE's, hands down. That is why long range patrol rations and cold weather rations are freeze dried Mountain house meals.
      They do not require hot water, they can be reconstituted with cold water and eaten cold. They do not require extra water rations.
      Oregon Freeze Dry, makers of Mountain House freeze-dried foods, states that shelf-life for their pouch product line is closer to a 20-30 year shelf life as opposed to the 7 year shelf life they have been claiming for a very long time.

      Lastly weight MRE's are stupid heavy for what they are. they are designed to be a convenient meal. The are not intended to be carried and supply all your meals for long periods of time. if you are in a vehicle, only need a little food for a short trip, or some other situation where the weight is not a concern, then MRE's will work great. If you plan on putting in long miles, are going to be in below freezing temperatures, in high elevation, or any situation where weight and waste is important, get freeze dried food.

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  4. The shelf life of an MRE is largely dependent on how it is stored… if you keep them in a cool, dry location, they can last literally YEARS longer (and if you store them in a very hot location, they may not last more than a year). Depending on how you are able to store, MRE or Backpack Meals may be better.

    As a former Marine, I like the MRE… it provides alot of value both in calories and comfort items…, but my recommendation is actually to store a variety of different food sources. Get some MRE, some Mountain House, stock your shelves… Give yourself some options.

    One thing that may have been overlooked… MRE's do NOT require to be heated… you can eat them right out of the bag if you need to. So if you need to grab some calories on the go and don't want to take the time or give up concealment to heat up food. MRE may be better. I don't know if you could do the same with a Mountain House meal… at a minimum, they take a little bit of prep.

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    • You both have very good points. I personally prefer MREs over backpack meals, I do like the taste of backpack meals better, but I think the advantages of the MRE outway those of the backpack meal.

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    • The MRE does have the advantage of being able to be eaten directly from the pouch with out prep, the Mountain House meals must have water added to it and most meals require hot water. There are two quick options for heating the meals. An instant heat bag, similar to MRE's, or you can carry a jet-boil. I'm an avid hiker and carry the jetboil in my BoB. I think that having options is probably the best advice. To be a good prepper you need to know your options, both pros and cons. I live in deep south, and cool dry locations are hard to come by, thus making MRE's a less desirable option for me. The bottom line is know your options, and do what works best for you.

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    • Montezuma,

      good point, I forgot to even mention that you could eat an MRE cold if you had to. You could definitely not do that with a mountain house meal. It would be something between sand and cardboard.

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  5. I vote: None Of The Above!

    I eat crepes and drink french press coffee on backpacking trips. I figure that in a post SHTF world being able to cook just about anything from scratch is going to be a valuable skill. Plus, chicks dig it!

    I do keep a few of MRE's stashed around as just in case meals. I like that MRE's have lots of goodies in each one and a built in heater (try running a camp-stove inside your car!). But, beyond that the high cost and not so tasty taste of most freeze-dried food and MRE's ends it for me.

    I forget the brand name, but there's a freeze dried red beans and rice mix that you can get at a regular grocery store that's reasonably tasty and not too expensive. Add some dried onion and dried bell pepper and salami or canned chicken to the mix and you've got a pretty good meal.

    It looks to me like, the big advantage to freeze dried meals is their light weight and small package size. If I was packing to move light and fast on foot or by bike I'd look more into freeze-dried.

    I love the comment about being a southern boy and needing bread. I'm from the the Pacific Northwest; I need good coffee!

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    • Michael,

      Sounds like you are quite the chef. My dad is always big on eating good while out camping or anywhere in the bush. I have to say I love traveling with people like that.

      Obviously if you had the resources available I would love to cook like that everytime, but in a survival situation it just might not be practical. It would be great for morale though.

      Oh, and I love a good cup of Coffee as much as the next guy, especially on a cold morning, but there is something about needing bread in the genes.

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    • It does'nt really matter what the chicks dig, it matters what is more efficient.
      Besides, equal rights began a long time ago.
      That being said, let them prepair for themselves or starve.
      Who wants to hear complaining anyway.

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  6. If you could only choose one food source, MRE's would be your best bet. Now in a long long term survival situation then good fishing gear and a high power rifle are the way to go. A single round from my .300 WSM would feed me and mine for an average of three months depending on the game taken so that is about 5 years worth of meat for a single 20 round box. As far as short term Get out of Dodge or GTT (Gone to Texas) situations I like these freeze dried meals you can get at an asian market, just add hot water (similar to the "backpacking" meals but about 75% cheaper).

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  7. Blindgibbon,

    You're right obviously they are only a short term food solution. Hunting, fishing, and trapping will have to take over after a while, and even long term solutions like gardening if it comes to that.

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    • which Lucas is going to happen if things continue to go as they are without change civil unrest is running rampant across the nation. One of the things that I like is the city police force near where i live saying that Gangs are not an issue here well i hate to tell them but it is one of the major problems in the area and they are not just punks they are some of the more hard core gangs like the Bloods and the cripts i hate that the police are walking around with their heads in the sand.

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  8. salt does have its place in the life of survival Al. it makes you want to drink more so you are getting your liquid with your meal just because of the fact that it makes you want to drink. that is why they say to drink one canteen full of water with an MRE just to off set the salt intake.

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  9. I looked at that MREinfo.com and that guy that works on that website has a real passion those things.
    Im a Canadian guy so I hit up google with the typical search terms to figure out where to buy em and it turns out a Canadian company looks like they are importing the US MRE. <a href="http://www.mealkitsupply.com” target=”_blank”>www.mealkitsupply.com

    129 bucks plus shipping. Seems a bit steep to me for 12 meals but they do come with the heaters.
    Thoughts?

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  10. Calory wise, MRE's make sense. Another option that I have been meaning to try is using a food dehydrator to make my own. It might be harder to pack in the calories, but the variety and long term cost would be worth it. BTW, I love my french press as well. There's nothing like sitting around a fire early in the morning with a cup of quality coffee. Unfortunately, beans might be hard to find long term.

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  11. One thing I forgot to mention that I like to carry with me on back country trips is a zip lock bag full of protien powder. My favorite flavor/calorie wise is Syntha-6 Chocalote. Two scoops will get you 40 grams of protein and 400 calories plus a large number of vitamins and minerals, ten scoops equals about a pound.

    I like Syntha-6 because it has a pretty good taste for protien powder and it will mix in cold water with just a spoon. It is a great on-the-go food solution, no cooking, has a three year shelf life, and will give you the fuel you need.

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    • Blinddibbon,

      That's a good one I've never thought of. I've taken protein powder in the past for working out, but never thought about it as a survival food.

      It is good stuff, but for long term use there are some side effect to consider. (That much pure protein is hard on the kidneys).

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  12. Is it just me, or are MREs a lot of work to eliminate? Maybe in addition to the accessory pack and heaters they should be packed with a Mil Spec laxative. Seriously, any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  13. I love MRE's, so much food in relatively small package, I'd take a closet full of these over anything else. The cheapest I've ever seen them was 6 something a pop and that was on a base,well worth it though.

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  14. Found this via StumbleUpon, so sorry for butting in, but one big thing from the backpacking standpoint (which is where I'm coming from) is weight. Those MRE's are comparably super heavy, I'd rather not lug so much weight around when freeze dried (home-made or pre-packaged) will do. Of course, I gather you guys are more worried about societal collapse than a few days in the woods, so I get your point too.

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    • one thing you can do to remove weight and conserve space when packing them is to get rid of the outer packing and the cardboard box along with any of the extra wrapping that you deem not important (except for the wrapper that physically holds the food).

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  15. I have not tried any MRE's – will need to find a good place to get some. Just recently tried some freeze dried food and was very impressed.

    Good post!! I agree with most of what you have said – just need to compare the tastes.

    Take care –

    Rourke

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  16. This article should really be called TWO reasons why MREs are better than backpacking meals. They have more food, and they have a flameless heater. Now for the downsides; MREs weigh quite a bit more than other freeze-dried meals. They also produce far more trash, which can be a hassle if you are out on an expedition length backpacking trip. As someone else already mentioned, both MREs and backpacking meals have excessive amounts of salt. Personally, I think that the best option is to bring raw ingredients and cook your meals from scratch. Sure, the preparation is longer, but you can make the same amount of food weight last twice as long, your meals taste better, you have more options in terms of what you can make (a bag of flour can make you pasta, bread, tortillas etc. where in an MRE or backpacking meal, you get what is in the package.) and trash that you have to pack out is minimized, especially if you re-package your food before setting out on the trail.

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    • 1, Burn your trash or strip off the unnecessary packaging before putting it in your pack.
      2, Drink more water.
      3, One MRE can be a full days food. That drastically cuts the sodium. A standard MRE contains 1800 milligrams of sodium. The US RDA of Sodium is <2400mg. If you are working and sweating a lot that is a non argument even if you are eating 2 a day. Also, this is short term. Not a new lifestyle.
      4, You are discussing cooking for a leisurely camping / hiking trip in a thread about food to pack for a disaster.
      5, I want video of you picking fresh produce and other ingredients while all around you society is collapsing, people are looting and rioting…
      I'm don't even think MREs are such a great choice but your reasons were way off base.

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    • just a thought…the MRE's may weight a bit more but if they have 2-3 times the calories you can pack less. this is of course in a SHTF situation not backpacking. I could do with 2 MRE's per day in a survival situation. I don't have the facts..can somebody include the actual weight of some of these?

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  17. The way I have it set up each person carries 5 meals in the bob. On several different routes to my safe place I have stash points for resupply. There are driving routes and hiking routes. Other family groups will meet up at designated stash points. Each family group has their own stash and a way of leaving a message as to when they arrived and left if nobody else shows in a reasonable determined time. So its MRE's for me and mine. The better meal for the weight and calories.

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  18. Its funny you say that… While I was in the US Military, (about 1993 ish) the MRE was just hitting big and I had the same problem. Easy going in and tough coming out. Fast-forward to 2005, I was part of a disaster response team for Hurricane Rita. We lived off the new menu MRE's for three weeks 3-4 meals per day (no other intake except scavenged beer). After a day or two, I became VERY regular. One well formed stool twice a day like clock work, and on top of that there was no waiting and reading/ me time… It was "I have to go… I'm done" almost like the producers wanted to cut down on Warfighter Down Time. IDK… Oh and I remember the cheese/ gum debate from my days in the service. If you wanted to slow your bowls… trade for the cheese, and after a few days of the trade for the gum. 🙂

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  19. I've eaten MREs that were four times past there expected shelf life and they were just fine. After being liberated from my time in the military, they were stored in my garage with heat, cold, whatever. The only issue I had was the oil separating out of the cheese and peanut butter, but a little extra kneading and some time with the heater fixed that.

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  20. When I was in the military, it was explained to us that MREs were designed to plug you up, so you wouldn't have to worry about nature calling in the middle of combat. A couple of pieces of fruit every few days will unclog you right away. We were told that there was a 30 day maximum on MRE only consumption for that reason.

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  21. Weight is a big issue, but remember, with most backpacking meals you need to add water. MREs are ready to eat out of the bag. So, figure in the weight of the water needed for the backpacking meals.

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    • Where most backpackers are headed you don't carry the water, you find it. The drops I carry to purify water weigh about an ounce. Didn't ration packs used to come with water purification tablets? Viet Nam era I think.

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  22. I posted this as a reply, but I feel it bears mentioning again. Backpacking meals are lighter because they are dehydrated and require water to be added. Figure out the weight of the extra water you'll need to pack for the backpacking meals and I'm willing to bet calorie for calorie, the MRE is the better bet.

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  23. The problem with MRE's is the weight factor. You ever carry 5 days worth of MRE's through the mountains? I would rather eat 2 Mountain House meals than to carry 20lbs of MRE's.

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  24. hi, i am new, and i am learn a lot from this web site, and i not from US so not same equipment like u from US
    i struck when SHTF once when my city go hit , now continue to learning more from this informative site 🙂
    but for nutrition, i will take bee pollen granule or spirulina since 10 gr dried spirulina powder per day enough for 170 lbs person 😉
    so 1lb dried spirulina can be 50 day for 1 person or 10 day for 5 person
    so very good suplement when u cannot get ur regular nutrition
    any one tried spirulina, chlorella or bee pollen?
    no MRE or Backpackinng meal here 🙁

    keep posting guys, i learn a lot from here

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  25. Thanks for the post. I got a couple of weeks worth of MREs, and I like the variety, but have not tried the freeze dried backpacking meals. Will pick some up just for taste comparison.

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  26. We used to strip down the MRE's to make them more compact and lighter. They are convenient for people who can’t cook. For the price I can put together a mixed bag of food that will provide high calories, relatively good shelf life and meet my family’s individual food preferences. The shelf life runs between 2 and 3 years but because these are foods you will eat more often you can rotate them every year. Or go thru your stuff when the Thanksgiving food drives are going on.
    I packed individual day packs (bug out bags) and put them in each family member’s car. The following items can be found at your local Dollar Store for your kits: Spam, canned spaghetti, meet in foil pouches like tuna, salmon and chicken, chili, beef stew, instant noodles, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, crackers, coffee, hot coco, sports bars, powdered drinks*, canned nuts, canned fruit, dried fruit, rice, oat meal, cous cous, bullion cubes, olive oil, season salt, Tabasco, and of course a case of water.
    *I like powdered drinks like Tang or raspberry flavored drinks because you can also use them for spicing up your food. Tang and season salt on fish, raspberry drink and season salt on game.
    Continued:

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  27. I routinely carry MRE main dish meals in my pack when I hike. As you mention, they require little or no water, unless you want to add to it yourself, and taken out of the cardboard box are pretty portable. Being induced with high calories for the meal size and vitamins and minerals is also a plus for long hikes and camping trips where you don't want to feel too full but need the energy for another five or so miles in the bush…

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  28. Haha yep I concur with 308Brew, MRE's are designed to plug you up so in the field on the go you dont have "Squads or platoons" of people having to stop every 15 minutes and wait while someone else has to go… The gum included is a laxative, also if you hold off on the spreads and crackers/breads its usually ok… Ive been a grunt in the Marine Corps for 8 years now and as far as the 30 day max on consumption Ive never heard that especially spending one of my deployments to Iraq on literally nothing but MRE's for 8 months

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  29. In the US, you can go to an Army Navy Surplus store, and get a box of 12 MREs much cheaper. I often grab a box to prep for hurricane season here in texas, JIC.

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  30. These come stocked with 6 large, nitrogen packaged, freeze dried, (4 servings each) food packets from Wide Foods Inc. 12 breakfast servings – 12 dinner servings, just add boiling water. We receive compliments from users who supplement any food supply by adding protien supplements and vitamins. Just good sense. Everone knows one food doesnt cover all the bases. Uncle Bobs GO-Bags has done thier homework here. For those who need a bag, Uncle Bobs GO-Bags has a well thought out bag and has marketing thier "UBGB" to those who need to be better prepared. Uncle Bobs GO-Bags are a Voodoo “Matrix” style Assault Pack. (OD Green or Coytote Tan) Cotote Tan seems to be the best seller. All UBGB’s come with a 3 Liter Hydration Bladder. If you think a GO-Bag is a bad idea thats OK. Because the people who DO want one can rely on UBGB to get them what they need. Free Shipping (via UPS Ground) anywhere in the Continental USA. Additional shipping sure-charge applies to all orders to HI and AK. There are always specials going on so please call for more information. You can see the complete inventory list at http://www.unclebobsgobags.com

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  31. I too use a light/laser combo on mine. I don't know what zschell uses on his shotgun, but mine is bargain basement cheap. I found the little combo on the counter at the convenience store for $5. It has 7 LEDs with a laser in the center. click once for lights, twice for lights & laser, thrice for only laser. I now have a universal barrel mount for it, but it started out with the universal duct tape mount. I figured for 5 bucks it would last a shot or two before the jolts broke it somehow, but actually it has held up great! 50+ shots so far (targets, NOT intruders).

    See it here>>> http://www.campingsurvival.com/la8ledflgunm.html

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  32. Only issue with pure breeds like ridgebacks is that they have alot of medical issues or are more likely to develop them then a mix.

    i have to hungarian vislas(both purebreed) and they have some medical issues(one has allergies and the other a genetic issue that disqualified them from being bred) their great dogs and are excellent hunters(they are made for bird hunting) they also like to chase and kill small game(dosent help when you live in the suburbs(watch out for your cats :D) but the only issue besides those medical issues is that they are a very *sensitive* breed and you cannot really start their training till their about 2.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vizsla

    i would think that it would be cool to breed one with a rhodesian so that they have super bad ass kids

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  33. I have to disagree with the myth about carrying different loads in your shotgun. I carry 00 and slugs. I usually load at least one slug, usually last so it's my first round in the chamber. If I have to make an accurate shot at 25 yards the slug from an 870 will do it. From experience as a Law Enforcement Firearms instructor, I think its a good way to go.

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  34. Back to the potassium permanganate and glycerin. I really like these in my altoid tin survival kit. You can store them in separate drinking straws by pinching each end of the straw and melting it. I hold them closed with needle nose pliers and then melt with a lighter. I use different colored straws to designate each chemical. It's also nice to put bleech in a straw.

    The potassium permanganate and bleach can be used to treat drinking water and the glycerin is an effective treatment for psoriasis, burns, bites, cuts, rashes, bedsores, and calluses.

    I really like having things in my kit that serve multiple purposes.

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  35. A gun. When the SHTF, if you have nothing else, have a gun. The cold hard truth of the matter is anything you don't have you can acquire with a gun. Even if you'd rather die before taking something from another human by force, your neighbor may not feel the same way as you do.

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  36. not sure if it was mentioned but what about home made mres? i made some and put them in a vaccuum sealer. knorr makes freeze dried side dishes which taste great and are about 1-2 bucks. add some drink powder a retort pouch of meat like chicken tuna salmon spam ect. a granola bar and one of thoes hormel completes and you have an mre that tastes good and is about 4-5 bucks. i also put the starbucks via coffee in there too

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  37. I think they are designed that way (to bind you up). During wartime, say a firefight, the last thing you should need to worry about is a case of the squirts,

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  38. the freeze dried foods can be prepacked in your vehicle and not be affected by adverse weather conditions as much, when i was in the republic of Turkey i saw MRE entrees swell up and burst because of extreme heat, Freeze dried meals wouldn't be affected as much by the heat.

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  39. One thing about the dehydrated meals that i thought about is that you have to have an outside fuel source while the mres have a heater, i was looking at making a small alcohol stove to heat water for water when i came across this idea that no one has mentioned, I have a fondue pot that burns alcohol as a fuel. I tested it using a small tea kettle and found it will boil water in just a few minutes using about 2 oz of fuel. best thing is the fondue pot was just sitting around doing nothing. My wife who throws away nothing had another one her mother gave her, Check yard sakes abd thrift stiores and you can find them pretty cheap. Use denatured and other types of alcohol. You could also use sterno or even an emergency candle as a heat source.

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  40. About a month ago I went camping with some Desert Storm era MREs and they were great. I have had better tasting food in my life, but they kept me going for a week up in the mountains. They are also flat, so you can pack them more efficiently. And to top it all off, on my third day out there, it was raining like mad. I could barley get my tarp up. Having an easy, hot meal in five minutes made all the difference.

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  41. I agree. When I was in JROTC in high school we ate these things on field exercises all the time. They get you up and moving with out bogging you down with that ugh-im-so-full feeling. I love them. Packed with calories, and they package a TON of food into those things. I would pack MRE's in my bugout bag any day before backpacking meals.

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  42. I noticed 1 thing missing from the MRE . ….. Has the military gotten so PC that it doesn’t give the poor guy/gal gettin shot at a cigarette ration anymore ? Not a slam , Just curious , as pre MRE rations did . Even if you dont smoke , it would be worth something in trade to somebody that does 😉

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  43. this point has been brought up, but WATER is your main concern. We need water to survive. Dehydrated food is good if you have a steady supply of water, but do you really want to sacrifice your limited supply of drinking water to eat? MREs solve the water issue but maybe to expensive for some people. Giving this some thought and the income levels of the families that will be in your group. I thought of Lentils – high in protien, iron, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin B. Plan is to vacuum seal dry lentils and grains in pouches. These pouches can then be boiled in any type of water/urine to cook.

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  44. I'll trade you my cheese omelet for your jalapeno cheese spread. You young guys got it good – back when I was in (Washington was a corporal then) all we had were the C-rations. It was worth your life to try to pawn off a 'ham and lima bean' to someone.

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  45. Learn to make pemmican. They have found samples that are still edible after a few hundred years by their dating system at archeological sites. Most of these were stored in animal, usually rabbit, stomachs that were made into a pouch. Chia seeds are also extremely light weight, but very healthy. The Apaches were very adept at using these for war trail travels (stated that a teaspoon will supply all the nutrients you need for a day). They will absorb water, which anyone who has travelled extensively in the outdoors knows, it is better to carry the water in you than in a canteen and this will allow for the absorbtion over a period of time. They are also easily grown at home. I carried a couple pill bottles full of them on my LBE while deployed to the sandbox. They are also high in fiber for those who find themselves in need (chia seed hulls are what alot of fiber pills are made from).

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  46. for anybody interested , reprorations.com has a good selection of WW2 US, British, German, russian rations if you want to have an idea what your grandpa had to eat while in the army ( no matter what side ) . Fun place to visit if nothing else .

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  47. Definitely strip out all the excess packaging from either choice and that will help with weight issues. Also the the leave no trace issues. The green thing is not as big a deal SHTF wise but leaving no trace makes you harder to follow and that is important.

    I think I’m proably going to go the MRE route for BOB and and freeze dried to tide me and mine over until we get the first crops in. Augmented with game at BOL. Just my thoughts on the issue.

    I hope all do well and stay safe.

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  48. I have to agree with the Datrex rations for a BOB , they are cheaper than MREs , take up less space , and far easier to get , too many phony MREs out there . Datrix and a combination of packaging stripped freeze dried items to make your bug out diet more interesting . Dont be afraid to make your own . I make hiking mega calorie ” field biscuits ” with oatmeal , whole wheat flour , corn meal , peanut butter , sunflower seeds , and molasses as a binder . Bake until very firm , its a good recharge food and hits the stomach like a rock . Good on the move . MRE heaters are worth getting . I would get a few MREs if they were legit military issue , but not having been in the military , I wouldn’t know . Either way , pack multivitamins .

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  49. I was able to get my hands on a couple of Russian MREs ( IRP-P ), These things are huge in comparison to ours , I was told that they fix them to the outside of their packs ….. tell you how they taste in a few days .

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    • OK , I tried one ……. They are not bad , not great , but not bad . The IRP is heavy in meats /grain . One thing you need to do is not look at the stuff when you open the cans …. They are gross cold , BUT if you heat them up like your supposed to they are actually pretty good . The ” bars are rather strange but not bad . the lemon ” whatever it is ” drop was fine . One thing that I did not like was a can of fat …. its probably meant to be a stew of some kind but was tasteless and well …. not much to say about it , gross hot or cold .

      MRE = Meals Refused by Ethiopians , ( humor from another site concerning the old ones )

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  50. If eaten the way they were designed 1 MRE will last 1 Day. The only water required for an MRE is to activate the heater which doesnt requier good drinking water, so you dont have to waste your drinking water. Yes they do Contain a lot of Sodium which is a good thing in a survival siuation to keep you electroite levels up.

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  51. Don't know if this was mentioned, MRE's seem to basically last forever as long as they are unopened, but over time (and even quicker with heat) will lose nutritional value. I have a supply of both MRE and Mountain House. I prefer the taste of Mountain House over MRE entrees, but the sides in MRE's are generally good. The wheat snack bread isn't bad with peanut buter, and the crackers are good with either PB or "Cheese Spread". The drink mixes are good as well. I don't know how they get the flavor of the gum to last only 15 seconds, but oh well.

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  52. MRE's are a great emergency meal. And that's it. On the good and needing a quick high caloric intake too keep moving. After 24 years in the Army, MRE's are not ideal for long term food. Most of the contents are processed. Not like the old C rations. And a long time of eating them can do distructive things to your body. High Cholesterol, Too much fats, perservatives, etc. That's why when issued, your not supposed to eat more than one a day for a week. You still need to have some form of REAL food intake. After about 2 weeks of MRE's your gona be using your knife too clean your 5th point of contact. You can experience the same effect by eating peanut butter for two weeks straight.

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    • I'd love to see a cite for, "no more than one a day for a week." We were issued 3 a day for several weeks during the several rotations my platoon ended up doing through Ft. Irwin's desert training. Once or twice a week we had T-Rations for dinner and only got 2 MREs.
      But then you don't think C-Rats were processed foods.

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  53. I didn't see anyone mention "GORPM" aka Good Old Raisins, Peanuts, Multivitamin. 3 cups peanuts, 1 cut raisins, 1 multivitamin and you are looking at 2,800 calories 200 grams of fat 77 grams of protein and 346 grams of carb's

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  54. Three little-known facts no one has mentioned about MRE heaters:

    1. They contain magnesium and can be used to start EXTREMELY hot fires!
    Use caution however – Magnesium fires are very bright and they WILL flare if doused with water!
    The positive side is that they will also ignite wet tender and such.
    Test it for yourself, but do so in a campfire ring and have dirt to smother it if necessary.
    Simply cut open the heater and remove the powder. Ignite it with a piece of paper to keep your fingers clear!. It takes a bit of effort to ignite, but burns like crazy.

    2. Used sparingly, this can also be used the same way that gunpowder can be used to cauterize wounds in an emergency. It’ll hurt, but it’ll work. Better than bleeding out!

    3. MRE heaters emit a fairly large volume of gas (exothermic reaction).
    This can be used to your advantage as an loud improvised deterrent without wasting ammo.
    Dump the powder into a container (such as a pop bottle) add a mouth-full of water, seal it, and throw it quickly. The pressure/heat will build quickly, resulting in a loud explosion and a very melted pop bottle. You don’t want to be holding it when it ruptures!

    Source of info – 5 years, U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi!

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864

    “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. – Thomas Edison

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  55. I've eaten both MREs and Mountain House freeze dried foods, quite often in the past 25 years. MREs have higher calories and most don't require any extra water added to eat (hence the name). Freeze dried food weighs a lot less (because 95% of the water has been removed), but has less calories and requires water to reconstitute (in most cases). The accessory packs in MREs are very useful, but can be duplicated and/or tailored to your needs with a little thought.

    A major consideration for anyone stockpiling food for the long term is the _practical_ shelf life of the food they store. The shelf life of any MRE is **dramatically** affected by heat – unless you store them somewhere cold, they will NOT last 5+ years and still be safe/tasty to eat. Freeze dried foods last 25+ years in the #10 cans and are not bothered by heat.

    If you have access to water, then you can carry a LOT more food with freeze dried goods, and in less space. If water is not as available, then the MREs will make it easier for you to stretch your water supply at the cost of weight and space.

    MREs are expensive and difficult to get these days, since the military cracked down on civilian acquisition of them. The cheap knockoffs are not the same quality, while the authentic MREs you find are usually already 2 years old or more (and you have no idea at all how they were stored before you bought them). Buyer beware on 'surplus' MREs – I've opened MRE entrees that were marked as only 2 years old, then had to toss the whole thing because it was a decomposing, oily mess.

    Freeze Dried foods are not cheap, but they are readily available in both small and large quantities. They are also current production items, made by the same people who make military rations (in some cases, like Mountain House).

    In our bug out bags we carry just a pair of MREs for no water/low water situations, but the rest of our food is freeze dried. In our apartment, all of our long term food storage is freeze dried goods, since we also stockpile water and have multiple plans/methods for getting more. Between the stored foods and what will be on hand in the fridge/pantry on any given day, we are in good shape.

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  56. I will say, the military MRE`s look tempting will all of the extras you get with them[cracker, drink mix, jelly, etc.] but they don`t taste very well. I have had the Mountain House meals before, and they taste really good. Not as fancy as an MRE, but after a long day of survival, you just want something that tastes good.

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  57. Everyone is talking about weight, calories, etc. as the most important benefit of one or the other, but we are forgetting the MAJOR difference, which is that MREs are not freeze dried/dehydrated. If you are in a survival situation where drinkable water may only be available for a few days or a few hours, you don't want to have to use a limited resource just to rehydrate your food. If you have to carry it all on your back then dehydrated makes sense assuming you can find and purify water to rehydrate them, but if you are talking about a supply to keep at home or in your vehicle, then something that still has its moisture in it is a better choice.

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    • Though an alternate way of looking at it is the with MREs, the water in them is already committed to being part of your food even if you would maybe have a better use for it if you carried the same mass as just straight water.

      Probably the best solution is to have a mixture of both. Dried food is really, really light and MREs can be easily ditched if weight turns out to be a bigger factor than water availability.

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  58. In ancient times, the backpack was used as a means to carry the hunter's larger game and other types of prey as a way of easier transport. In the cases of larger hunts, the hunters would dismember their prey and distribute the pieces of the animal around, each one packing the meat into many wrappings and then into bags which they placed on to their backs.

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  59. A LOT of MREs available for purchase are stolen off military bases. If it says Property of US Government on it, it means it "fell off a truck". I have found very few legit MREs for sale. I would rather not buy stolen goods. I will stick with a couple Mountain House meals and find/catch what I need.

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  60. You have to look at the intended design when reviewing 2 products in this way.

    MRE – Meal Ready to Eat: Intended for use in combat situations where organised food facilities are not available.

    Dehydrated Backpacking food: Intended to reduce the weight of carrying multiple days (or weeks) worth of food on self propelled adventures. (hiking, climbing, paddling)

    In this light, there are solid reasons why the products are different.

    MREs don't need to be super light weight because most military units are vehicle supported in one way or another. However, for simplicity and ease in combat they need to be comprehensive in their contents, and contain enough calories and salt to replenish the needs of an active military personnel.

    Dehydrated food on the other hand is designed solely for the purpose of being lightweight. When you are hiking/climbing for weeks at a time, you simply cannot carry enough MREs for the whole trip. Its not possible.

    They each have their advantages in particular scenarios.

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  61. Totally disagree. A ration consists of a protien, starch, drinks (coffe/tea and cold drink). Most of the accesories in an MRE you could do without. One mountain House 2 person entree, a chocolate bar, a single serve packet of drink mix and a 3 in 1 coffee, sugar, creamer packet weights one fifth of an MRE. 20 years in the Infantry, trust me or not.

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  62. I have always been an on-the-go guy. I love doing outdoor sports and consider myself as a backpacker whenever I travel. That includes a complete set of my to go meals and some glucosmart to keep me healthy from strenuous activity that I am doing.

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  63. If you’re going to use a long-term food storage option like either of these, it’s best to pack along a vitamin supplement. MRE’s, Backpacking meals…anything freeze-dried or “just add water” … all of it’s processed and, while complete in carbs, fats, protein, tends to be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Storing a bottle of no-doze (caffeine pills) + multi-vitamin (unopened, should last a while, since they have keep-dry packets in them) should help a lot. The no-doze helps for long pushes. The problem with survival situations is that you’re normally going to need a lot of energy up-front (to move out, get situated, prepare base camps, unblock roads or trails around you, scout for survivors/resources/etc). But, in the long-term, you’re going to do a lot of sitting around, even while hunting and farming. Early on, some high-calorie meals can help, some caffeinated foods (like perky jerkey or energy shots) or no doze can help (caffeine stack w/ ephedra/primatene mist, caffeine pill + aspirin will synergize to make it last longer). When they send in the marines, they usually have them packing some kind of caffeniated foods, b/c they can’t stop to make coffee. So, they’ll have energy bars laced with caffeine, etc. Not a lot (don’t want to od on the stuff), just enough to keep them going for 48 hours or longer as needed. I wouldn’t juice up on caffeine in the SHTF unless absolutely necessary. Some folks have a nasty headache crash after it wears off, but a quick jolt of energy can prove useful. For long-term food, I would still rely on dry beans and other more healthful things. MRE’s are a good emergency, but I wouldn’t want to live off them unless I absolutely had to…like while I was getting a farm and some hunting going.

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  64. mre main meals can be eaten cold without heating or if you dont have water to activate heating element of course urine can be used to activate heating element so you dont waste good water.backpacking meals need alot of water and a way to cook heat it.

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  65. you can also open up mres and split up components or remove stuff you dont want which will reduce alot of weight plus you can snack of stuff all day instead of 1 meal 1 shot deal

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  66. a 70-percent solution for the weight/mass issue is "field-stripping" them to just the stuff you want to take. If you "rat-f**k" (I have been AD army for 14 years lol) a case of full meals, you can take an empty outer bag and put a full days worth of food in it (x3 entrees, x1 side, x3 snacks, x3 drink mix, x3 heaters, and reuse a spoon)

    As with most here, I'd take MREs anyday….only downsides to me are the shelf life and the volume of trash.

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  67. Let me start with the fact that freeze-dried foods don't need water (they can be eaten dry), your BODY needs water, at least 3 quarts (more is better) per day! The water you rehydrate the FD food with goes into your body, the water that goes into an MRE heater does not (hopefully). If you can eat an MRE without anything to drink than you're tougher than me. If you don't have enough water then you should NOT EAT as ALL foods (protein especially) require water to digest and thus can dehydrate you, a potentially fatal situation. In my opinion, (ex-Marine) MRE's taste like Crocodile Dunday Iguana (CRAP), but they will make a turd! Getting FD foods in #10 cans is a little cheaper than individual pouches, rodent proof, and provides you with a food-safe container for cooking and/or water treatment; the downside of this is 5 or more of the same meal in a row, unless you carry several different meals. Also, with several cans (and a can opener) you can use the metal can(s) as a make-shift shovel, sturdy container, or building material (tin roof, anyone). MRE heaters are convenient but have been known to go 'pop' and potentially waste your meal. MRE's have a lot of paper/plastic waste and a standard-size salt shaker, for example, will last for weeks instead of 3 individual-size packets per 3 MRE's per day. Another example is one ziplock quart bag will hold the contents of about 20 or more individual cider packets! I like to carry MRE packets of crackers, peanut butter and jelly for use as a convenient and quick mid-day meal (on-the-go). For a quick energy boost, I add honey to water (preferable hot/warm), it gives you an almost immediate energy boost and is all natural. Don't forget multi-vitamin/mineral supplements and of course, salt, pepper, coffee, tea, sugar, etc.; all the little things that make a potentially bad situation a little less so! High on my wish list are large rectangular cans (with rounded edges like a spam can) and a opening 'key' on top containing multiple FD meals (6-9), MRE-style PB&J or other side dish (dryer or FD), coffee and/or tea, cocoa powder, cider mix, sugar, spices, a lightweight folding stove (a cheap Esbit, for example), & fuel for same. Would this not be the perfect survival/prepping item?

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  68. Look folks. Add a couple of 8 oz. packs of Chia Seeds (60 calories, 3g protein per teaspoon) to your pack; will last a longtime and go a long ways and you can eat these raw on the move.

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  69. I personally love MRE's and it's not because I'm in the marines. They taste good cold or hot they are Liitterally their definition Meal Ready To eat

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  70. He didn't mention the weight issue if you had to carry these. MH you can carry 6 for 1 MRE half the MRE entrees taste like sh!t, plus the aforementioned shelf life. So for the same weight 6 MH have 3600 calories as one 1250 calorie MRE. 1250 is actually a stretch being bored I tallied many of these up and the truth is closer 1000. Having both I prefer MH for taste, weight, and longevity.

    MH=Mountain House.

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  71. Is there a reason the author is comparing a main entree to an entire ration?
    Pull the main from an MRE and compare it to a mountain house meal. IF you want to include sides, coffee, dessert, then include them on both.
    Or just save yourself same time and realize that the military uses backpacking meals for their cold weather and long range rations because under those conditions they are better than MRE's.

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