7 Reasons MRE’s are Better than Backpacking Meals

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By Joel Jefferson •  3 min read

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 naïve in the past) They are both lightweight meals on the go but that’s about where the similarities end.

7 Reasons


Most Mountain House backpacking meals have 400-600 calories. All military MRE’s have approximately 1,250. 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.

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 entrée, unless you buy extra sides.

Cracker or Bread

Every MRE comes with a cracker or bread 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…

Dessert, Candy, Spread

MRE’s come with a dessert package and candy (yes, both) as well as a spread for your bread like peanut butter, jelly, or cheese. Backpack meal: no, no, and no.

Drink Mix

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


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


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 entrée, and wait.

MREs Benefits at a Glance

Best MREs You Can Buy

Here are my top picks that you can buy:

  • Long shelf life
  • Compact and portable
  • Quality ingredients
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  • Genuine US War Fighter Rations are the ultimate survivalist, Prepper & outdoor enthusiast Meal.
  • Ideal for hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and emergency food supply./span>
  • Average 1250 calories per meal.
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  • 12 meal value case is packed with fully cooked ready meals, rich in protein and bursting with flavor
  • No hydration, no refrigeration needed/span>
  • Provide up to 1,200 calories of high quality food
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MRE Info

Most of the pictures and a lot 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)Save

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.