How to Field Strip an MRE in 12 Easy Steps

by August 22, 2009 08/22/09
MRE Field Strip

Field stripping an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) is a common technique used by soldiers to reduce the weight and bulk of the standard U.S. Issue MRE.

An MRE is packaged with a lot of unnecessary things that can make trying to carry them in your pack heavy and cumbersome. The solution? Field strip them!

Field stripping is usually done just prior to a situation where you’ll be in the field for an extended amount of time and have to carry multiple meals, or in a survival situation where space savings is mandatory.

The great thing about removing the unnecessary packaging and contents is that it doesn’t compromise the expiration date of the meal, because everything is still sealed.

To field strip your MREs follow these simple steps or just follow along with the video below!

  1. Open your MRE Package and dump everything out on a table
  2. Toss the individually sealed condiment package
  3. Toss the spoon (All you need is one, so carry a reusable one with you)
  4. Toss the dairy shake if there is one
  5. Toss the heater (Is it really essential to the mission that your meal is hot?)
  6. Sort through the included extra side dishes and determine what you want to keep
  7. Open the main course meal cardboard packaging and toss the box
  8. Stack everything in space saving fashion back into the MRE plastic packaging you first opened
  9. Ensure everything is pushed to the bottom half of the packaging and fold over once
  10. Grab the lip of the MRE packaging and fold in the corners, streamlining your fold
  11. Take duct tape or riggers tape and wrap a complete turn around the packaging, tightening as you go
  12. Leave a tail on the tape and tear it off the roll (fold the end of the tape over so removal is easy)

Weight before: 1 lb. 13.7 oz. – Weight after 1 lb. 0.2 oz. While it might not seem like much, remember the old adage “An ounce in the morning weighs a pound at night.”

There you have it, how to field strip an MRE in 12 easy steps. Check out our video below showing a complete MRE field strip!


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The Morgan Hill Homesteding Project
The Morgan Hill Homesteding Project

One thing you might consider doing is with the bottom of the MRE is cut off some of the plastic. Not quite sure how much weight you are cutting off, but it might be worth weighing.

Austin Kopp
Austin Kopp

This was the first ITS video I saw. I was searching on youtube for videos about MREs and I stumbled upon this one, and I'm glad I did! Anyway, great video, I like the idea, especially for a bag of evil, where you can leave them in there, periodically switching them with ones you leave in the freezer to bump up the freshness.

John
John

Offer the heaters to your medic to warm IV fluids, especially in the winter. Warm fluids are MUCH better at treating shock than cold or even room temp.

Brent
Brent

The coffee grounds make for good dip to keep you up during that late night guard duty, or over extended mission.

Travis Barrett
Travis Barrett

On a seven day desert hide overwatch for an MSR in the middle of nowhere that we hiked in for, I had packed 3 powerbars a day. It was considerably lighter, but I haven't been able to eat one since!

One of the better tactical blog/websites out there! Keep up the good work guys. I appreciate it.

Travis Barrett
Travis Barrett

On a seven day desert hide overwatch for an MSR in the middle of nowhere that we hiked in for, I had packed 3 powerbars a day. It was considerably lighter, but I haven't been able to eat one since! One of the better tactical blog/websites out there! Keep up the good work guys. I appreciate it.

Beal187
Beal187

I like S.T.R.I.K.E. Meals for longer missions. Even though those have to be field striped as well.

just a scout
just a scout

Yummm, ham and chicken loaf... Oh, wait, you guys might be too young to remember that.

VooDoo3
VooDoo3

I do something similar, but I just take whatever I want out and tape it up into a bundle. Your way is better I think.

GunMonkey
GunMonkey

I Purchased one of these a long time ago, Lightweight and works great. Much better IMHO than the ones that come with them. Another great tip I've learned is when cutting open the entree packs, cut it on the long side instead of the narrow side. Easier to eat and not quite as messy.

http://lightmyfireusa.com/spork.html

GunMonkey
GunMonkey

I Purchased one of these a long time ago, Lightweight and works great. Much better IMHO than the ones that come with them. Another great tip I've learned is when cutting open the entree packs, cut it on the long side instead of the narrow side. Easier to eat and not quite as messy. http://lightmyfireusa.com/spork.html

TheNance
TheNance

not to mention apparently the dairy shakes might have salmonella in them now...

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

Thanks! That's pretty significant especially if you are talking serval days worth of meals. I've done my fair share of humping a ruck and every little ounce counts.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

MRE packaging makes a more compact package, but does weigh more compared to a ziploc. The reason we don't favor ziplocs is because they're typically odd sizes and everything moves around more inside of them, taking up more space. You could always use riggers tape on those too, but taking the tape on and off could rip the bag. Definitely an option though.

Thanks for the comment!

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

Great post. I wish you would have done a before and after weight comparison though.

Brian C.
Brian C.

Why did you choose to use MRE packaging instead of a ziploc?

Whenever I did this, I always chose to use a ziploc instead because I could reseal it a lot easier...

Maybe its just easier and doesnt require anything else?

Brian C.
Brian C.

Why did you choose to use MRE packaging instead of a ziploc? Whenever I did this, I always chose to use a ziploc instead because I could reseal it a lot easier... Maybe its just easier and doesnt require anything else?

ajc281509
ajc281509

Great Info! However I have to disagree with ditching the dairy shake, if my memory serves me, these are packed with calories. Calories are always good in a field/combat enviroment.

foxtrot
foxtrot

i was told that upon removing everything from the main pouch and cardboard boxes the 10+ year shelf no longer applies. is this true?

kiltman
kiltman

I never thought about that. God tip to know.

"Doc"
"Doc"

I always stuffed main meals in one main bag, pogie bait and such in another. That way if I want a snack I reach for one, if I got time for a meal another one. Full size bottle of Tobasco and your G2G! This is a good post, hope I don't have to do this again but just in case;-)

Teagle
Teagle

True, good idea. I like to cut the corners off and squeeze everything out though... its alot faster.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

GunMonkey,

Good tip on cutting the long side open to eat. I've used that method before myself, and it does make the entree easier to eat.

Thanks for the comment,

Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

GunMonkey, Good tip on cutting the long side open to eat. I've used that method before myself, and it does make the entree easier to eat. Thanks for the comment, Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Here's a link to the Army Times article about the salmonella dairy shakes

Below is what MRE's with Dairy Shakes are questionable.

2007 Menus

1 - Chili w/Beans

9 - Beef Stew

10 - Tuna

22 - Chicken w/Dumplings

2008 Menus

1 - Chili w/Beans

9 - Beef Stew

21 - Tuna

22 - Chicken w/Dumplings

2009 Menus

1 - Chili w/Beans

9 - Beef Stew

21 - Tuna

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Here's a link to the Army Times article about the salmonella dairy shakes Below is what MRE's with Dairy Shakes are questionable. 2007 Menus 1 - Chili w/Beans 9 - Beef Stew 10 - Tuna 22 - Chicken w/Dumplings 2008 Menus 1 - Chili w/Beans 9 - Beef Stew 21 - Tuna 22 - Chicken w/Dumplings 2009 Menus 1 - Chili w/Beans 9 - Beef Stew 21 - Tuna

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

CF, Yes it does. Thanks again!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

CharlieFoxtrot,

Just added the information and appreciate the request. Weight before: 1 lb. 13.7 oz. -- Weight after 1 lb. 0.2 oz.

While it might not seem like much, remember the old adage "An ounce in the morning weighs a pound at night."

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

CharlieFoxtrot, Just added the information and appreciate the request. Weight before: 1 lb. 13.7 oz. -- Weight after 1 lb. 0.2 oz. While it might not seem like much, remember the old adage "An ounce in the morning weighs a pound at night."

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

MRE packaging makes a more compact package, but does weigh more compared to a ziploc. The reason we don't favor ziplocs is because they're typically odd sizes and everything moves around more inside of them, taking up more space. You could always use riggers tape on those too, but taking the tape on and off could rip the bag. Definitely an option though. Thanks for the comment!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

AJ, Thanks for the comment, and we appreciate your support!

The dairy shake, while loaded with calories as you've said, can stop you up faster than anything in MRE's (even the peanut butter). That may be your goal though out in the field, so your mileage might vary.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

AJ, Thanks for the comment, and we appreciate your support! The dairy shake, while loaded with calories as you've said, can stop you up faster than anything in MRE's (even the peanut butter). That may be your goal though out in the field, so your mileage might vary.

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Foxtrot, the 10+ year shelf life is dependent on the temperature that the meals are kept at. We'd only suggest field stripping these when necessary or your space is limited. If MRE's are stored at 60˚F they'll keep for 130 months, the time they'll keep declines as the temperature rises.

I've personally eaten a 8+ year old entree and I'm still here. And I'd say that's a big myth on the shelf life declining if the outer packaging is opened. Everything inside is still sealed.

Thanks for the comment and question,

Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Foxtrot, the 10+ year shelf life is dependent on the temperature that the meals are kept at. We'd only suggest field stripping these when necessary or your space is limited. If MRE's are stored at 60˚F they'll keep for 130 months, the time they'll keep declines as the temperature rises. I've personally eaten a 8+ year old entree and I'm still here. And I'd say that's a big myth on the shelf life declining if the outer packaging is opened. Everything inside is still sealed. Thanks for the comment and question, Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Thanks for the comment Kiltman, glad you found the article useful!

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Doc, Great tips! I'm a Tabasco guy myself, especially with the Chicken Tetrazzini meal we just packed on the video :)

Thanks for the comment,

Bryan

ITS Admin
ITS Admin

Doc, Great tips! I'm a Tabasco guy myself, especially with the Chicken Tetrazzini meal we just packed on the video :) Thanks for the comment, Bryan

Austin Kopp
Austin Kopp

Another saying, "Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain".

LW
LW

Yeah they stop you up no doubt about that...but it sucks needing to take a dump during a 20k movement in Taliban towns. ha ha. Great sight btw I love browsing here!

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