Outdoor Meal Shootout: We Rated and Compared 11 Meals So You Don't Have To - ITS Tactical

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Outdoor Meal Shootout: We Rated and Compared 11 Meals So You Don’t Have To

By Bryan Black

Outdoor Meals Group Contents

Our outdoor meal comparison has been a long time coming and includes a selection of two different meals from nearly all of the companies included. Some you’ll instantly recognize from your local outdoor store and some you might not have heard of.

The goal here was to come up with criteria that best evaluated what makes an outdoor meal worth purchasing. The results you’ll read were an average score from three different people, including myself, that each observed the preparation of the meals and tasted them for themselves. Tastes are different with every person out there, so we also included criteria like consistency, appearance, texture, ease of prep, prep time, portability, packaging, satisfaction and fulfillment.

One last thing I’ll mention before I get into the details of the comparison, is my choice to describe these as outdoor meals rather than backpacking meals. I felt that outdoor meals is a better descriptor, as you don’t necessarily have to be backpacking to enjoy them. All you really need is a way to boil water, or in the case of an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat,) cold water if you want to use the included heater to warm up your meal.

Outdoor Meal Comparison

Outdoor Meals Group Shot

I’d first like to go over the different meals we prepared for this comparison and why they were chosen. In regards to the brands we used in this comparison, we tried to not only include the recognized brands like Mountain House, but also newer companies we came across in our research into what was out there. In the case of the MREs, I’m personally one of the only people I know that actually still enjoys MREs after leaving the military. That being said, XMRE is a newer civilian MRE manufacturer and I wanted to include their meals, having never tried them before.

The two meals from each of the brands were completely random and they were either meals we’d never tried or just grabbed from the shelf at REI without consideration to which one was selected. Here’s what we included:

Good To Go

Launched by an award-winning chef, Good To-Go‘s mission is to create real food for real adventure. Their gourmet meals are some of the only dehydrated options in this comparison and feature natural ingredients without preservatives or additives.

Average Prep Time: 20 Minutes // Meals Included: Smoked Three Bean Chili, Thai Curry

Paleo Meals To Go

Designed to bring the first truly paleo and gluten-free meal to market for backpacking, Paleo Meals To Go features an offering of freeze-dried, gluten-free, grain-free, milk-free, soy-free, protein-rich and shelf-stable ingredients for your meals on the go.

Average Prep Time: 4-6 minutes // Meals Included: Mountain Beef Stew, Summit Savory Chicken

Backpacker’s Pantry

Founded in 1951 to supply the Girl Scouts with lightweight and nutritious food on the trail, Backpacker’s Pantry produces gourmet backpacking food that doesn’t contain MSG. Many of their meals are all-natural or organic and contain both freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients as well.

Average Prep Time: 13 Minutes // Meals Included: Katmandu Curry, Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

Mountain House

Located in Oregon, Mountain House got its start producing better tasting home-cooked flavor meals for the US Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They’ve continued to produce meals for the Special Forces and other branches of the military ever since and gained popularity in the consumer market after they realized the demand for freeze-dried food back in 1968.

Average Prep Time: 8-10 minutes // Meals Included: Chili Mac with Beef, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

XMRE

Featuring ready-to-eat components, XMRE meals utilize current US Military MRE components. While being fully cooked and not requiring water, an optional flameless heater can heat up your meal in 5-10 minutes. What’s also great about XMREs is that they not only sell them by the case and pallet, but individually too.

Average Prep Time: 5-10 minutes (if using heater) // Meals Included: Asian Style Beef Strips (Menu 4), Chicken Egg Noodles (Menu 5)

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup

Dubbed “America’s favorite ramen,” Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup can be found in your local grocer and most likely produced in Maruchan’s Irvine, California plant. Their goal when entering the ramen noodle business in 1961, was to produce a higher quality freeze-dried noodle product.

Average Prep Time: 3-5 minutes // Meals Included:  Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup (Chicken Flavor)

Criteria Explanation

JetBoil Boiling Water

Before we get into the results, I’d like to explain the criteria we used to evaluate each meal on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best) so you understand the thought process behind our descriptions. I’ll also mention that to ensure these were all hot and available to evaluate at generally the same time, a Jetboil Stove was used for its speed in boiling water, internal measuring marks in the container that were helpful in following specific measurements for preparation and the overall consistency of Jetboil. I’ve really been impressed with them over the years and the only negative I’ve had is the inconsistency of the optional built-in igniter, but I digress.

  • Consistency was evaluated based on the overall soupiness of the meal after it was prepared according to the company’s instructions on the meal itself.
  • Appearance is something that’s always going to be up for interpretation, but the way we evaluated it here was whether it looked appetizing after it was cooked.
  • Texture was included as more of a subcategory of appearance, as texture is important to your senses. If it looks like broccoli, but melts in your mouth, there’s an issue.
  • Ease of Preparation was tough to nail down, as many of these meals are prepared the same way; with boiling water.
  • Preparation Time was strictly adhered to by utilizing a stopwatch and meals that rehydrated in less time scored better in this specific category. We’re fairly close to sea level here in Texas, so we didn’t need to increase time based on elevation, but it’s something to keep in mind when selecting meals for a trip. Backpacker’s Pantry was the only company to mention this on their packaging and stated to double the time for every 5,000 feet in elevation. Times ranged from 20 minutes at the slowest (Good To-Go) to 4-6 minutes at the fastest (Paleo Meals To Go.)
  • Portability only took a hit on the Ramen Noodles, as every other meal was equally as portable. We didn’t evaluate weight, but with an MRE including so many extras, it didn’t seem right to dock it points in this comparison. Plus, you can always Field Strip an MRE.
  • Packaging was looked at in regards to its durability and whether it would survive if a your pack floated down the river. We also looked at the quality of the ziploc-style closure and how easy it was to open with gloved hands.
  • Taste again is relative as explained earlier and this score, like each of the criteria we used to evaluate, is an average of three different scores.
  • Satisfaction was noted as a way to determine if you’d feel satisfied when eating the meal, or if it left more to be desired.
  • Fulfillment is an important part of a meal as well and plays along with satisfaction. We evaluated whether eating the meal would be enough to fuel your adventure.

Overall Results

Mountain House - Spaghetti Backpacker's Pantry - Katmandy Curry Maruchan Ramen - Chicken Flavor Mountain House - Chili Mac Good To-Go - Thai Curry XMRE - Chicken Egg Noodles Good To-Go Smoked Three Bean Chili Backpacker's Pantry - Fettucini Alfredo XMRE - Asian Style Beef Strips Paleo Meals To Go - Mountain Beef Stew Paleo Meals To Go - Summit Savory Chicken Image Map Mountain House - Spaghetti Backpacker's Pantry - Katmandu Curry Maruchan Ramen - Chicken Flavor Mountain House - Chili Mac Good To-Go - Thai Curry XMRE - Chicken Egg Noodles Good To-Go - Smoked Three Bean Chili Backpacker's Pantry - Fetuccine Alfredo XMRE - Asian Style Beef Strips Paleo Meals To Go - Mountain Beef Stew Paleo Meals To Go - Summit Savory Chicken

Individual Meal Photos and Scores

Below you’ll find the breakdown of the scores provided in the chart above and detailed photos of each meal’s packaging and contents; before and after it was rehydrated, heated or cooked.

Good To-Go – Smoked Three Bean Chili

Good to Go Smoked Three Bean Chili

Good to Go Smoked Three Bean Chili

Good to Go Smoked Three Bean Chili

Good to Go Smoked Three Bean Chili

Good To-Go – Smoked Three Bean Chili

  • Consistency: 10
  • Appearance: 10
  • Texture: 8
  • Ease of Prep: 8
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Portability: 8
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 10
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score:  89 out of 100

Good To-Go – Thai Curry

Good to Go Thai Curry

Good to Go Thai Curry

Good to Go Thai Curry

Good to Go Thai Curry

Good To-Go – Thai Curry

  • Consistency: 6
  • Appearance: 10
  • Texture: 7
  • Ease of Prep: 8
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 10
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 7
  • Overall Score: 83 out of 100

Paleo Meals To Go – Mountain Beef Stew

Paleo Meals to Go Mountain Beef Stew

Paleo Meals to Go Mountain Beef Stew

Paleo Meals to Go Mountain Beef Stew

Paleo Meals to Go Mountain Beef Stew

Paleo Meals To Go – Mountain Beef Stew

  • Consistency: 9
  • Appearance: 10
  • Texture: 10
  • Ease of Prep: 10
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 9
  • Taste: 9
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score: 97 out of 100

Paleo Meals To Go – Summit Savory Chicken

Paleo Meals to Go Summit Savory Chicken

Paleo Meals to Go Summit Savory Chicken

Paleo Meals to Go Summit Savory Chicken

Paleo Meals to Go Summit Savory Chicken

Paleo Meals To Go – Summit Savory Chicken

  • Consistency: 10
  • Appearance:10
  • Texture: 9
  • Ease of Prep:10
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 9
  • Taste: 10
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score: 98 out of 100

Backpacker’s Pantry – Katmandu Curry

Backpackers Pantry Katmandy Curry

Backpackers Pantry Katmandy Curry

Backpackers Pantry Katmandy Curry

Backpackers Pantry Katmandy Curry

Backpacker’s Pantry – Katmandu Curry

  • Consistency: 2
  • Appearance: 7
  • Texture: 6
  • Ease of Prep: 9
  • Prep Time: 6
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 8
  • Satisfaction: 8
  • Fulfillment: 7
  • Overall Score: 73 out of 100

Backpacker’s Pantry – Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

Backpacker's Pantry Fettucini Alfredo

Backpacker's Pantry Fettucini Alfredo

Backpacker's Pantry Fettucini Alfredo

Backpacker's Pantry Fettucini Alfredo

Backpacker’s Pantry – Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

  • Consistency: 10
  • Appearance: 10
  • Texture: 10
  • Ease of Prep: 9
  • Prep Time: 6
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 10
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score: 95 out of 100

Mountain House – Chili Mac with Beef

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef

Mountain House – Chili Mac with Beef

  • Consistency: 4
  • Appearance: 4
  • Texture: 9
  • Ease of Prep: 9
  • Prep Time: 7
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 8
  • Satisfaction: 7
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score: 78 out of 100

Mountain House – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Mountain House – Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  • Consistency: 4
  • Appearance: 2
  • Texture: 4
  • Ease of Prep: 9
  • Prep Time: 7
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 5
  • Satisfaction: 5
  • Fulfillment: 7
  • Overall Score: 63 out of 100

XMRE – Asian Style Beef Strips (Menu 4)

MRE Meal 4 Asian Beef Strips

MRE Meal 4 Asian Beef Strips

MRE Meal 4 Asian Beef Strips

MRE Meal 4 Asian Beef Strips

XMRE – Asian Style Beef Strips (Menu 4)

  • Consistency: 8
  • Appearance: 10
  • Texture: 10
  • Ease of Prep: 10
  • Prep Time: 8
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 10
  • Satisfaction: 10
  • Fulfillment: 10
  • Overall Score: 96 out of 100

XMRE – Chicken Egg Noodles (Menu 5)

MRE Meal 5 Chicken Egg Noodle

MRE Meal 5 Chicken Egg Noodle

MRE Meal 5 Chicken Egg Noodle

MRE Meal 5 Chicken Egg Noodle

XMRE – Chicken Egg Noodles (Menu 5)

  • Consistency: 9
  • Appearance: 7
  • Texture: 8
  • Ease of Prep: 10
  • Prep Time: 8
  • Portability: 10
  • Packaging: 10
  • Taste: 7
  • Satisfaction: 8
  • Fulfillment: 9
  • Overall Score: 86 out of 100

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup – Chicken Flavor

Ramen Noodles

Ramen Noodles

Ramen Noodles

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup – Chicken Flavor

  • Consistency: 7
  • Appearance: 8
  • Texture: 7
  • Ease of Prep: 10
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Portability: 8
  • Packaging: 4
  • Taste: 7
  • Satisfaction: 8
  • Fulfillment: 6
  • Overall Score: 75 out of 100

Notes

Outdoor Meals Group Cooked

I’d like to explain a few things that I mentioned weren’t evaluated, like weight and shelf life. Weight is relative to the specific meal, as explained above, meaning that one meal from a company might have a different weight than another and to evaluate the meals on this criteria didn’t seem right.

If your outdoor adventure requires you to count ounces, your best bet is to bring your scale with you to the outdoor store and weigh the particular meal for yourself. Also look at Pro-Paks from Mountain House, which are vacuum packed options for the weight conscious.

Shelf life is an ever changing variable as well and some companies publish the date that it’s best to use by and others don’t. Always defer to the company’s website for the most updated information if a date isn’t printed.

MRE Heater

I didn’t really mention my reasoning for including MREs much, but I felt that not including them in a comparison of outdoor meals was sacrilegious, considering what a complete meal they are. They’re designed to withstand exposure to the elements and just about any condition you can think of. Warmer storage temperatures reduce the time they can be stored, but come on, they even include a spoon!

Ramen can be a staple for some on the trail, as well as in college. It also just requires boiling water for preparation, but the packaging can come open if you don’t toss it into a ziploc on the trail. A hot cup of Ramen can be extremely satisfying after a long day of hiking, but I can’t say it tops a full-on meal like some we’ve included in this write-up.

Something that every one of us involved in this comparison loved, is that we’d never done anything like it as avid outdoorsmen. We’ve all eaten plenty of backpacking meals, but actually sitting down and comparing them was an eye-opening experience and a great way to really find out the “why” of what makes one meal better than another. I’d highly recommend buying a few meals and trying this out for yourself it if you have the resources and time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our comparison and that it will lead you to better decisions next time you’re in need of meal options for your outdoor adventures. This comparison is something we’ll definitely do again and your feedback will help us make it even better next time. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Discussion

  • Brandon Edward

    I found WISE foods to be the best tasting and easiest to prepare

  • Edward Teach

    I go with mountain House, cliff bars and jerky when backpacking

  • Ralph Duharte

    Armando Daniel Cruz

  • Cody Ames

    Always on the lookout for new meals to eat while backpacking, this was a great read! I have been on a pack it gourmet kick for a while but I will have to give Paleo meals to go & XMRE a shot! 🙂

  • RussM

    Thanks for the post, it’s obvious you guys spent a good deal of time on this. I found it very helpful. Two things I would have really liked to see are price per serving and shelf life reflected on the chart. 

    Thanks again.

  • Jesse Wyatt

    Ryan Rae-ellis look familiar

  • William LaBounty

    Dustin

  • Matt Ready

    Awesome review.
    I’ve always used Mt House… looks like it’s time to venture out and try new meals.

  • Dropkick

    What about Calories per Weight?

  • Rabbit Tactical

    To help Ramen, Add a 1/2 cup of Auguson Farms Dehydrated Vegetable Stew Blend to the water, bring to boil and continue as per Ramen instructions.  (add more water if you want it “more wet”)  Makes it much better!

  • clifford1990

    You left out packit gourmet!

  • Michael Coniglio

    To help Ramen, Add a 1/2 cup of Auguson Farms Dehydrated Vegetable Stew Blend to the water, bring to boil and continue as per Ramen instructions. (add more water if you want it “more wet”) Makes it much better!

    • Drhawk7982

      In addition to the dehydrated/freeze dried veggies, you can add chicken from a can or freeze dried. Tried it just to find a way to kick up the ramen after getting a MH or BP version that was loaded. If using the canned version, just use the packing fluid as part of your water for the boil.

    • AuntEG

      I think idea was to be fully contained. We can all make our own for cheap but if you dont make your own, these would be “choices to choose from”.

  • Terry L. Eby

    Chris Orlob

  • Joshua Burns

    Ramen won, I bet.

  • Chris Brooks

    Would have liked to see nutritional info (calories, sodium, protein) and cost in the analysis, but still a helpful piece.

  • Dave Jenkins

    Calories/ounce is a big one for those of us that do multi day trips and need to keep things light and compact.  I use olive oil to add flavor and calories to many types of meal.  You gan get or make flavored versions.  Having a decent salt content is also important if you are not otherwise replenishing electrolytes.

  • ITS Tactical

    Chris, nutritional info is actually shown in the photos of each meal. We made sure to grab a shot of the backside of each package that shows this. Only meals that didn’t have that were the XMREs. Thanks for the feedback!

  • John Gates

    Awesome information. I’m surprised that “Paleo” did SO well, definitely something to try out in the future. Thank you for the great information!!

  • Danny Vanco

    Thomas Brannan

  • Jason Crist

    Ha! So figures, the lowest rated one is my fav. I CRAVE MH spag so much so that I’ll fix it for a snack at home.
    This year at an outdoor event I snuck a couple of packages of vacuum sealed salmon in my bag as a treat to go with the freeze dried stuff. What a treat that was and will always be something I add to a load out from here on.

  • hutchnate

    Nice comparisons. I use both Mtn house and MREs. Calories count and 3500 calorie MRE for lunch, are a great way to recover and no need to heat. If you don’t mind it cold. Sit, tear, eat and go. Breakfast and dinner for sitting and waiting for water to boil while you’re setting up taking down camp are when i use dehydrated / freeze dried meals. Since i hike alone, MRE are a great survival food should you become injured. It’s hard to rehydrate food when you’re unable to boil water or move to get water.

  • Bob Ralke

    Have been waiting for a comparison like this, thanks.

  • Brian Valters

    MH and BP are my two “go to”s. I love MH, but I haven’t tried either of those MH meals… And they both look like crap to be honest. BP has some awesome meals, but they didn’t fuel me for an extended period of time like MH, or sit in my stomach as well.
    Also if you want breakfast in a bag, avoid any of the egg based recipes from MH. They absolutely suck, and oatmeal would have been a better choice.

    • HTEngineer

      Egg based MH require copious amounts of Tabasco.

    • AuntEG

      Eggs are like rubber puff balls. Yuck! I like my own breakfasts, and their dinners

  • Michael Weisbaum

    Great topic – this is very helpful. Thanks for doing this guys!!

  • Yanne Root

    We had a breakfast meeting at Violent Little Machine Shop this morning…

  • Eduard Recafranca

    You can’t beat the MRE’s!!!

  • ccattrrt

    Thanks for the review!

  • Matt Clark

    Michael Clark

  • Ben Pearson

    Mt House; Teriyaki Chicken with Rice!?!? Best I’ve had.

  • Matt Stephens

    Diamond Pribble

  • Josh Bellmer

    Zach Bellmer

  • Chris Akmezikyan

    Shant Tig Ian

  • Demian Potter

    Clare Mildred Berklich

  • Evil Queen

    I was excited to see that there are pale options,  not so excited by the cost.  $13 bucks per meal is a bit pricey!  I’m looking into buying a food dehydrator ($40-60 on Amazon, plus about $13 for the ‘Dummies’ book) and making my own.

  • Micah Lee

    That and their chili mac are tough to beat IMO! 😉

  • Jim Tobey

    Very edible

  • Trent Tyre

    You should have added pack-it gourmet to that list.

  • vettepilot427

    Bryan,
    Great review(s).  I would really enjoy seeing this as a regular feature on ITS as there are SO many options out there and food is a necessary and (usually) enjoyable part of any outdoor experience.  It’s also nice to see conventional MRE’s compared against freeze-dried selections.
    I would also encourage you to add a few quick comments about each meal as they stood out to you both good and bad.

  • Brandon Mcintyre

    Matt Roberts

  • Wyatt Boboltz

    Try eating MREs for a month and see if you still rate them a 96

  • Vernon Leland Fulmer

    Thomas Headle Ezra Layman

  • caad3_xtr

    Great article, You should have thrown in the cost, as more times than not, it can be a determining factor on an extended trip.  Some of those meals (paleo to go) are a bit pricey.

  • Beau Hancock

    Ellen

  • Mm

    You should check out Hawk Vittles. I know people that absolutely love them. From what w’ve found is to cook them the way it says and then throw it in your camp cup or whatever and just toss it in a camp stove or fire for a few more minutes to thicken. Taste is the best!

  • Michael Davis

    Jaime Rae Parsons

  • Daniel Luebbert

    Ive been eating Mountain House food for years, and those two meal options in particular and mine have never looked like yours and they always taste great. Thats ok though, I know exactly what you did to get those results. First you used way to much water, second you didn’t seal the bag during the cooking time, and third you may not have allowed long enough cook time.

  • Robert Paine

    I’m a Wise fan too but this was a ton of option suggestions. Thank you. Thank you Brian Valters for the MH egg meal tip too.

  • Nicholas Knight

    Katie Shaffer

  • Mike Blanchard

    Douglas Wood

  • Trevor Halloran

    All I can say is when it comes to breakfast mountain house biscuits and gravy is my favorite! Just look at my profile picture lol

  • Tyrel Rose

    Tyler Plagmann

  • spenceman

    @Dave Jenkins suggestion for calories/ounce (packed weight?) would be great for any future reviews or comparisons. I would also be interested in price/100calories or something to that effect. 

    Actually if ITS Tactical does a few more outdoor meal showdowns, the final culmination can compare the quality score from the showdown (98 of 100, etc) with Cal/oz and $/100cal (and maybe total meal cost).

  • DianaSmithHill

    Problem with these for me is additives- MSG, etc.. wish that was used as a comparison. Looking for real food in a package isn’t easy. If you want the most from your body on an adventure you have to give it real food, additive free.

  • Alex

    Thanks for doing this, usually I just get mountain house but now I’ll be checking out the paleo meals too.

  • loup407

    This is super useful, thanks! I’ve avoided MH and BP for years as most of their meals have way too much sodium. I’ll check out some of these new brands. Anyone remember StarLite (Part of Armour Meats)? They made dehydrated meat products (i.e.: freeze-dried steaks and pork chops) that were great. They disappeared from the market in the late 60’s, the rumor was 100% of their production went to Special Forces in Vietnam.

  • James Pacheco

    That Thai curry sounds great!

  • Cindy Marie Brown Shao

    These would be good for hurricane prep too (I use my propane grill if the power is out. I’ve already made pork chops and fried rice in the garage so surely I can boil a pot of water.)

  • Dustin Gotz

    I realize there have to be trade-offs some times, especially when it comes to making food light, palatable, shelf-stable, and easy to fix. However, many of these foods have completely unnecessary additives that could be replaced with more natural ingredients or left out all together. Again, I realize eating real food gets complicated when out on the trail for more than two days so I’m not asking for perfection, just for them to be not quite so bad.

  • Tyler Adams

    Mountain House is what we always took when I went backpacking back when I was in scouts. They were pretty good.

  • Chris Willis

    did you even read the article? look at the ingredients in the paleo meals savory chicken: “Ingredients:
    Chicken, broccoli, spinach, onions, spice blend (spices, granulated onion, granulated garlic), asparagus, green bell peppers, mushrooms.”

  • Andy Halter

    Mike might like this for info

  • Nick Johnson

    Now factor in cost, and suddenly ramen wins.

  • Lee Smith

    Great test thanks! I would like to see $ per calorie added and a more level playing field like beef stew vs beef stew type comparison.

  • Justin Patterson

    I make my own for hiking and canoeing trips. Canned venison, dehydrate it, put it in a vacuum bag with a packet of brown gravy mix, add mashed potato flakes, dehydrated milk, and egg noodles, vacuum and seal. Venison & noodles with mashed potatoes ready to go, just add boiling water. Fry and dehydrate hash browns, well drained bacon, and scrambled eggs, grind dehydrated eggs in a food processor into a course powder (if you dont they become rubbery and wont reconstitute well….ask me how I know) throw all together, vacuum and seal. Voila, some boiled water later you have instant breakfast. I carry a small bottle of olive oil to use as a butter substitute. Youre only limited by your imagination and equipment. Freeze drying is another possibility. Personally, I havent tried it but Ive read that it can be done on a cookie sheet in a chest freezer. I read it on the internet so it must be true. LOL. My homemade meals are 1/10th of the cost of commercial meals and taste WAY better. Ive had MREs, Mountain House, Wise Foods, etc. One package of Moutain House is about $8. For $10 worth of groceries, a little time, and a partial roll of vacuum bags you can have a weekends worth of food for two people. I realize it wont keep as long as nitrogen packed, freeze dried foods in mylar bags but will keep plenty long enough for what I do with them.

  • AuntEG

    Price vs what you get was left out. Sometimes if there is a huge closeout, I’ll get it although the product is just ok ie not my favorite. Also, gotta watch the sodium! Some people can palette a 1200mg bagged product but a lot cant. My friend couldnt finish her backpacker brand for that reason and loved the Mountain H. I had for flavor. All becsuse of salt. Also final comparison would be gms of protein in a package. I love u did this study and well written but, if there is a next time, do equals like a noodle dish and chili dish from each brand. Although i am a mountain house fan, there are some products i wont rebuy , always open to new stuff.
    Thanks again. Great photos!

  • Terry L. Eby

    Would like to see tests like this with similar recipes form the various companies. Spaghetti or beef stew form 5 companies for instance.

  • Darque Ronin

    Mountain House is what I go with, but I have and like MREs too. Mountain House destroys the competition in most Youtube reviews!

  • Stephen Saag

    Thanks man ive been searching for a place to buy MRE

  • Dustin Gotz

    I admit I did not closely check the ingredients of these specific meals, because over the past two years I have checked many on store shelves and I’ve always run into the same problem stated above. I also didn’t look at any meat containing meals at all, because I am a vegetarian. I did not clarify that in my original post but I do not complain about the smaller number of vegetarian options, as I’m not a hostile vegetarian and it is a choice I make and thus do not expect to be catered to since I’m in the minority.

  • Shane Singleton

    Agreed. you can pick up an entire case of ramen + various other dried foodstuffs for the price of a single package of most any of the others.

  • Jeremy Ansley

    So you comment on their stuff, why?

  • Gardner Roe

    lol – I was an Army brat… MREs for our troop!

  • Chris Orlob

    I think the should test 8-10 from each company.

  • Kai Kennedy

    Every mountain house I have ever had was great.

  • Kelly Brightbill

    Not enough calories. At only 170, and with only 4 grams of protein you will burn through this too fast.

  • Kelly Brightbill

    Lee is correct, $ per calorie is what is important. You need to get as much nutrition as possible for hiking and working.

  • Max Janszen

    Depending on the duration you’ll need a balance of macro and micro nutrients, so for instance, as a Type 1 hasty search team member, I would mix calorie rich food (like 70%) with nutrient rich food (the other 30%), and another supplement, snack bar or sports drink mix to have with my water to keep me rolling as fast as I can to locate the victim and still be able to think and function properly after two or three days of stress

  • Max Janszen

    I typically will not worry about price, if it’s a SAR mission.
    Otherwise, bring on the giant trail mix bag

  • Dylan Robinson

    Actually Bryan and staff are pretty good folks and ITS does a lot of good for a whole lot of people. Feel free to unlike the page instead of being a dick and know-it-all. Speaking of which, I’m a little surprised that for all your infinite wisdom you haven’t started a competing website to offer “better” information. Surely if you’re right, it would be a smash hit…. Right? Right?

  • JoeFreedom

    Been an obnoxious prick long?

  • JoeFreedom

    No block for this troll asshat?

  • grizzly92

    After a long day on the trail, I have found that just about anything tastes pretty good to me and my wife is a professional chef.

  • magnacasa

    I would like to see a bit more about each item.  You give the raw scores, but no comments about why the meals scored well or poorly in any given category.  Some categories might not need much (like time), but even giving the prep time would be nice.  Some tasting notes are definitely needed.

    Maybe next time you could set up a poll beforehand, to let people vote for their favorite meal or two from each company.  Then just test the favorites–and maybe a control if there is something similar from each company (like beef stew).

    Another possible article would be sampling each option for one manufacturer and selecting the top entrée.

    Basically anything that gives me more articles to read during down time at work would be great.

  • Ltyler

    I would like to see your rating with the same meal from each company, i.e. beef stew or chicken noodles so you are comparing the same taste, consistency, etc with the same meal.

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