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#99742 - 07/15/08 07:14 AM MRE Rundown
johnranyt Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 5
So my dad told me I should try MRE's for our day hikes. I know nothing about them. Can you guys give me the rundown? I know I just need to try them, but are there some that are preferred and some to stay away from? Are they ok, or should I continue to buy real food and lug it around? Thanks Guys!

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#99743 - 07/15/08 07:32 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
MRE's are heavy for the calories you get. You can do better by getting your backpacking meals from the "Prepared Food" aisle of the supermarket. Try Lipton/Knorr "Sides" or some of the dehydrated rice or potato items. Combine these with freeze-dried meat or pouch meat such as chicken or tuna and you have a light, tasty meal for one at 6 to 7 oz. Or, get Sarbar's book on freezer-bag cooking for a lot of other really good ideas. You don't need to cook them in a freezer bag (I don't) but the idea remains the same: boil water, pour it in, stir, cover and let sit, then eat.
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#99744 - 07/15/08 08:08 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Ditto what pika said. MRE's are heavy because they already have the water in them. As long
as you can get water on the trail and don't have to carry it all, there are much lighter options.

If you are going somewhere without water, or where you have to pack in all your water, then
MRE's are ok. I've certainly taken them on extended day hikes in the winter here, where I don't want to carry and entire stove and fuel setup to melt snow for water, and want a big meal.
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#99745 - 07/15/08 09:45 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: phat]
lv2fsh Offline
member

Registered: 04/27/08
Posts: 111
Loc: socal
My biggest problem with MRE's is that darn big bottle of catsup I have to bring to make them taste edible <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#99746 - 07/15/08 10:06 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: lv2fsh]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I should caveat that with I've only taken the Canadian military ones that someone got me a few of. I think they're pretty close to what the US ones are, not sure. same kind of deal with the heater and stuff. The shepherd's pie one was particularly good, at least to me. I've also taken some civilian commercal brand packaging of what appears to be exactly the same stuff.

I've also never served in either military, so I've never been forced to eat the same pile of 4 to 6 MRE meals every day for months on end while deployed somewhere either. So to me, at least, they didn't taste bad at all. I've never eaten an actual honest to gosh US military issue MRE. Only the Canuck one, and the commercial one.
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#99747 - 07/15/08 10:43 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: phat]
lv2fsh Offline
member

Registered: 04/27/08
Posts: 111
Loc: socal
When I was in the military,we had C rations in the can. Most of them were pretty good.I tried MREs when I first started backpacking and got them from my son-in law who was in the Marines.Some of the items weren't too bad but I did not care for most of them. I would rather live on Ramen.

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#99748 - 07/15/08 11:32 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
Dryer Offline
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Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
One thing I don't like about MRE's is the MASSIVE amount of trash they create. Heavy plactic, and associated clutter that comes with MRE's has to be packed out makes them a pain.
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#99749 - 07/15/08 12:38 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
ajherman Offline
member

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 208
Loc: Rock Springs, WY
what you can do is just take the food items. you do not have to carry the entire mre package. I think the mre meals are a good alternative to freeze dried or home made stuff. I like to bring some of each thing, a few mre's, some Freezerbag cooking stuff and some commercial freeze dried meals for some variety. The only mre I have gotten that was inedible was an omelet, otherwise they have all tasted ok, but i'm not very picky. I also like to pick up some of the side dish items like peanut butter, crackers, cobblers to eat on my lunch breaks.
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#99750 - 07/15/08 01:33 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: lv2fsh]
Pika Online   content
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Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
When I was in the Army, we called C-rations "canned heartburn". There were a few classics that everyone tried to avoid such as sausage patties, hamburger patties and tuna, noodles and peas. A lot of the stuff we got was left over from the Korean conflict and was past its prime but my guess is that even in their prime they were pretty awful. Some of the stuff made starvation look like a desirable alternative. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
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#99751 - 07/15/08 05:55 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Pika]
NiytOwl Offline
member

Registered: 11/06/04
Posts: 501
Loc: California
I've found that Hormel Compleats taste better than the MRE equivalents. You can buy the heater packs separately if that's what you want to do to heat 'em up. Otherwise you can bring a plastic baggie and soak the meal in hot water. I don't mind taking fully hydrated food on overnight hikes. Most of the time I eat them cold so I don't have to take the stove and pot.

Pika, when I was in the Navy we had a "beer day" for being out as sea for more than a month - the beer was Budweiser in the old pull-tab can! Being the mid-80's I suspect these were well past their freshness date, but then I can't vouch for the taste because I sold my two cans for $20. The stuff was so old that some of the cans had corroded through.

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#99752 - 07/16/08 08:13 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
johnranyt Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 5
Thanks for all the replies guys. Lots of great info to consider.

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#99753 - 07/16/08 08:53 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
When I dayhike I haul my stove and pot to boil water - and make a real lunch. Last Saturday we took a 2 hour lunch at a lake and had a lazy lunch.

Or....I carry cheese, tortillas, cream cheese and an avocado. That is for the quick lunches - and make wraps. Bacon is good added. Spinach too!

You don't need to eat MRE's. Why someone would claim that is beyond me! You can carry nearly ANYTHING with you on dayhikes! All you need is an insulated way to carry it (bags of ice cubes, buried deep in your pack).

You can carry a foot long sub, bottles of beer, spinach dip, a cake. Weight isn't an issue in most cases with day hikes so live it up. I have carried tomatoes and avocados and made trail guacamole before - that was about 2 lbs of weight, but it did taste great. I have carried Greek pita bread and fresh chicken salad. You get the idea <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

If you wouldn't eat it at home, don't take it with you!
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#99754 - 07/16/08 08:57 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: sarbar]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
This got me thinking... last year we did this on a group dayhike:








We do feed-alls often <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Most of us cook even on dayhikes <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> (That is my friend Dicentra cooking in the photo - she runs www.onepanwonders.com )
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#99755 - 07/16/08 09:59 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: sarbar]
lv2fsh Offline
member

Registered: 04/27/08
Posts: 111
Loc: socal
Looks yummy! My wife and I always try to have a good lunch when day hiking. Our style of BP is to make a base camp and explore from there. I love to "tailgate" on a stump or rock. A shore lunch in a beautiful setting beats the best restraunt any time.


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#99756 - 07/17/08 06:52 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: sarbar]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
After reading your reply Sarbar, I'm tempted to just take day hikes so I can cook a great lunch and lay back and take a nap before the hike back.
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#99757 - 07/17/08 08:41 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
I spent 9 1/2 years as a Marine and have consumed MANY MRE's.

Thoughts.

Break them down and carry only foil packs of the items you like. You'd never find me carrying "omelet with cheese" (thankfully now done away with), but I really like the cherry nut cake and cheese spread that came with them. No matter what you do, don't bother with the cardboard crackers, the one truly foul part of every MRE.

Try them. I genuinely like many of them, and they keep getting better every decade (the menu, not the actual MRE's which are fairly toxic after more than a decade of sitting there). I really liked chicken stew, cheese tortellini, and tuna with noodles.

Remember they are pretty heavy when you transition to multi day backpacking. They are already hydrated, perhaps a plus in the desert, but heavy compared to a Mountain House Propak, which weighs half as much but provides twice the food when rehydrated.

Be ready for some constipation. You know why there is such a tiny roll of TP in an MRE? You know why there is that funny chemical smell when you first open them? Because there are chemicals in them that tend to bind up a fighting man (or woman's) intestinal tract. It bad enough to be shot at or shelled or bombed. It's worse while doing the Aztec Two-step. MRE's reduce that likelihood. It may mean you don't go for a day or two.

MRE's are better with just a smidgeon of cooking skill. There are entire cookbooks on how to make your MRE's more palatable. Quick hints are add that cheese spread packet to the entree. Cook them with a pack of ramen or ichiban noodles or a bit of minute rice. You don't have to use that whole little bottle of tobasco - half a bottle often preserves the flavor better.

MRE's are NOT a necessity. I never take them on a day hike. But I have, on occasion taken a pack for the first night of a backpacking trip and added them to ramen or rice. The taste is often not bad at all, once you get past that initial chemical smell. But on a dayhike, I'm much more likely to carry a Subway 6-inch for lunch.
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#99758 - 07/17/08 09:08 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Bearpaw]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:

Be ready for some constipation. You know why there is such a tiny roll of TP in an MRE? You know why there is that funny chemical smell when you first open them? Because there are chemicals in them that tend to bind up a fighting man (or woman's) intestinal tract. It bad enough to be shot at or shelled or bombed. It's worse while doing the Aztec Two-step. MRE's reduce that likelihood. It may mean you don't go for a day or two.


Really? YGTBSM!

I'd never thought of that being part of the design, ick.. There's a reason I like my oatmeal and almonds when hiking - I hate carrying an extra load all day!
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#99759 - 07/17/08 09:23 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: phat]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Quote:
Quote:

Be ready for some constipation. You know why there is such a tiny roll of TP in an MRE? You know why there is that funny chemical smell when you first open them? Because there are chemicals in them that tend to bind up a fighting man (or woman's) intestinal tract. It bad enough to be shot at or shelled or bombed. It's worse while doing the Aztec Two-step. MRE's reduce that likelihood. It may mean you don't go for a day or two.


Really? YGTBSM!

I'd never thought of that being part of the design, ick.. There's a reason I like my oatmeal and almonds when hiking - I hate carrying an extra load all day!


I never thought of it that way, but yeah, it's a good point.

It was not uncommon for Marines to go 2-3 days between using a slit trench. If you were on the attack (especially a vehicle march), you might not be able to stop and take care of business often at all. Combine this with the fairly dirty conditions of life in the field, and you can see how diarhea could be a fairly serious problem. MRE's fight that issue.
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#99760 - 07/17/08 09:32 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: chaz]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Quote:
After reading your reply Sarbar, I'm tempted to just take day hikes so I can cook a great lunch and lay back and take a nap before the hike back.


One of the top reasons to dayhike to a pretty alpine lake after bug season <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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#99761 - 07/22/08 08:54 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Bearpaw]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I had the privilege of eating MREs in the desert for a year. (yeah!) Everything Bearpaw said is right on. They are designed to make you constipated. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
To add: as Bearpaw said, you must break them down. Take out the stuff you don't need. Sometimes I hike out in the desert for an overnighter. They are perfect for that. I just take the main meal, heater packet, and add whatever else I want that I don't have to cook, like cliff bars or gorp or something. Then I leave the stove, pot, fuel, and fuel cannister at home. I also take a little less toilet paper. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> For one night, and maybe even two, they can be a lot lighter and much easier. After that, it gets lighter to carry a stove and dehydrated food. They aren't dehydrated, so you are carrying water in them, but you can minimize this by only carrying the main meal.

Unless something has changed in the year since I got out, there are 24 different menus. They are split into two boxes (A and B). The A box has twelve different menus, and the B has 12 more. If you buy more than one box, make sure you don't get all A's or B's. I try and stay away from the vegetarian ones. Luckily the fingers of death have been discontinued. Iraq has helped to refresh the Military supply, so now only new ones are in circulation (in the military). My favorite is the Enchilada one with jalapeņo cheese sauce. The chili-mac one is also good. If there is a cheese packet in one, put it in the main meal for a better taste. The peanut butter was good for the first 6 months, then I got tired of it, and stayed away. The crackers suck, but the wheat bread is good. The pound cake is also really good, especially the poppy-seed one. The lemon pound cake is also good. If there is rice, then heat both the rice and the main meal at the same time, in the same heater pouch. Put the rice in the main pouch afterwards. The same goes for the oriental noodles (except you don't have to heat the noodles, just put them in the meal). The pork chop is imitation pork, so it is ok to throw to the Iraqis <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />. The beaf steak is good between the two wheat bread pieces supplied. I will add that out of the 24, some you will never like, some you will start out liking, but change after 6-7 months, and some you will start liking after 6-7 months of eating the other ones. I would say that it won't hurt to try them and see what you like. If you do this, remember that just because you don't like one, it doesn't mean you won't like another. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Good luck. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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#99762 - 07/22/08 09:10 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: phat]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:


Really? YGTBSM!



Not if he ate an MRE. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

I wonder if you drink contaminated water, and ate MREs if they would even each other out. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />
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#99763 - 08/24/08 07:40 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
Narf Offline
member

Registered: 12/25/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Missouri
MRE's, to me, taste alright. Of course that depends on the entree but most I've had I would rate above average.

I recently had the opportunity to pick up a couple of the Winter (white packaging) MRE's off the fleabay. In my opinion these were much better than the regular brown packaging type. The white winter kind do not come with heating elements, I'm assuming because they would not be effective in extreme cold. I believe they are also all freeze dried, as opposed to brown - having basically canned goods in a pouch. (makes sense, you don't want a spaghetti popcycle for dinner). The last one i had was a spicey asian chicken w/rice. Tasted very good for a freeze dried meal, very comparable to the consumer freeze dried camp food if not better (maybe it was the tobasco that gave it the edge <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> ) fyi though, these are usually expensive, upwards of $8-10 each because they are 'rare'. Though if you think about the normal consumer camp food being $6+ for 2 servings of one entree it doesn't sound all that bad.

MRE's have a bit of novelty factor too, kind of neat to have a few if you've never had the pleasure (or displeasure). Basically my rule of thumb on MRE's is if I can get them for below $4-5 each (this includes shipping cost) I will buy them. Just have to watch out for shipping gouges. For instance I will only buy a case if the grand total, auction+shipping is less than $60. They love to charge $30 to ship these boxes, just gotta watch out.

site with just about all the info you need if your curious http://www.mreinfo.com/

I've alwasy wanted to try a canadian imp or some of the other countries' mre, however they are too expensive on fleabay (upwards of $20-30 each when you include shipping)

Bottom line however, making your own 'pack food' will have a higher taste:cost ratio for sure.

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#99764 - 08/24/08 10:14 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
schweinhundert Offline
member

Registered: 08/24/08
Posts: 36
Loc: Amerikkka
Crikey, but some real, whole, organic food and leave that stuff in the garbage pail. Yuck!

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#99765 - 08/28/08 06:36 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: johnranyt]
searscr Offline
member

Registered: 08/13/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Arizona
Here is my take on MRE's. I had never tried them on a camping trip before, and I thought I would give it a try. I purchased some through theepicenter.com. I purchased through them because they had vegetarian meals. The meals themselves were very good. The down side is the weight and price. Making your own custom meals is better. You can customize the flavors to your pallet. In my opinion, MRE's make great emergency food, but they do not belong on the trail.

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#115267 - 05/01/09 05:52 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: searscr]
r-ice Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/30/09
Posts: 7
Loc: Canada
I've tried the canadian version of the mre, the IMP and I can say im not a fan but at least most of the cardboard can be disposed of in the fire except for the plastic.


Edited by r-ice (05/01/09 05:52 AM)

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#116318 - 05/20/09 06:05 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Bearpaw]
caddis Offline
member

Registered: 09/12/03
Posts: 60
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Bearpaw
I spent 9 1/2 years as a Marine and have consumed MANY MRE's.
Thanks for your service thanks



but I really like the cherry nut cake and cheese spread that came with them. No matter what you do, don't bother with the cardboard crackers, the one truly foul part of every MRE.[/quote] Funny you say this because I have the opposite tastes. I have a friend in the reserves that gives me a case of MRE's every time he's out (He's in a mobile unit and they haul there own food around) I can't eat any of the cheese products..I can taste the vitamins and it makes me gag. But I always eat the crackers and peanut butter. They are great trail snacks.

Quote:
I really liked chicken stew, cheese tortellini, and tuna with noodles.
My fav's are the chow mein (Only found one of those and it had a lot of black pepper) and the solid meats...ham, chicken.

The best addition is the ziplock for heating a cup of coffee. I toss a heater, ziplock, small straw, and an instant coffee (Usually the coffee with creamer and sugar that I buy in asian stores) in my fishing gear. It's a nice pick me up whenever I'm on a high country lake far from camp
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#116358 - 05/21/09 12:25 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: caddis]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By caddis
I can't eat any of the cheese products..I can taste the vitamins and it makes me gag.


You would be the first person I would want to find. I always searched out those type of people to trade with. The jalapeno cheese is the absolute best, and the normal cheese is also good.
grin
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#116433 - 05/24/09 02:56 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: r-ice]
frenchie Offline
member

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 461
Loc: Lyon, France
Tried the french ones once.
Vile....

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#116434 - 05/24/09 06:53 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: frenchie]
arolfsen Offline
member

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 38
Loc: alabama
chicken with salsa.

its so good you can eat it cold. and the pack comes with that really good bread (forget what its called) and skittles.

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#116573 - 05/26/09 10:21 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Bearpaw]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
My brother-in-law (career Army) said MRE's were three lies for the price of one:

Meals
Ready to
Eat

Never got to try them; we were still trying to eat up the stockpile of leftover Korean War C-rations. They made you long for that chow hall specialty of creamed chip beef on toast (aka S--- on a Shingle.) smile

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#116592 - 05/27/09 09:56 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Glenn]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The C-rations I particularly recall are the sausage patties. I think they just stacked the cooked patties in the can and then filled all of the air space with melted tallow. Just thinking of them gives me heartburn! sick
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#117072 - 06/09/09 08:27 PM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: Pika]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
I've never served in the military (just with it) but I've et a lot of MREs. Some are good, some are just so-so and the "crackers" are positively cardboard.

I've used MREs mainly on canoe and sea kayak trips, due, of course, to their weight. Contrary to popular belief the (U.S.) military spends considerable time and money trying to improve the taste and calorie content of MREs to keep morale higher in the field.

I know of soldiers that said the German soldiers on maneuvers with U.S. troops ALWAYS wanted U.S. MREs instead of their own - just like Brits always coveted U.S. backpacks in recent years. They are more comfortable and they don't fall apart.

Eric
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#117126 - 06/11/09 11:45 AM Re: MRE Rundown [Re: 300winmag]
Folkalist Offline
member

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 374
Loc: Fredericksburg, VA
LOL
I like the crackers! To each their own I guess. MREs are one of the few "heavy" items that I don't try to talk my sister out of carrying. She always gives my the crackers and cheese!
_________________________
Why am I online instead of hiking?

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