Prepping 101: Flameless Food Heaters – New Product Review – Mealspec Ration Heater

Send to Kindle

This is the Mealspec Ration Heater, in green, next to a 4 serving freeze dried rice dish from Wise foods.

This is the Mealspec Ration Heater, in green, next to a 4 serving freeze dried rice dish from Wise foods.


Mealspec Ration Heater
Bulk Packs 12 or More: http://www.mealspec.com/buy-mre-heaters/
Individual $1.95 Each: http://www.campingsurvival.com/meflmrehe.html

Do you have a “bug out bag”? Many of us do, but even if you are not planning on leaving your safe location should the Apocalypse arrive unscheduled, there is going to be a transition period between normal life, and survival life. During that time you have to be able to cook. Think about that, because if you are going to rely on freeze dried foods, as we suggested in an earlier installment, that means you should have some kind of cooking apparatus that doesn’t require setting up a stove. For this article we got to look at a fairly new product that is just now finding its way into consumer retail. It is called a “ration heater” from Milspec. This product was developed for heating military MREs, which for home prepping are way too expensive per meal, and they don’t have a 15 year shelf life like freeze dried. So we tried to use the $1.99 Mealspec Ration Heater to actually cook a 4 serving rice meal from Wise, part of a popular pack carried by many gunshops, and even Walmart.

It works very simply. Open the green bag. Take out the chemical heater pack, put it back in the bag, put your food to be heated. We put the Wise dried ingredients with the measured water into a Zip-Lock, then added the water, then stuffed in the food.

It works very simply. Open the green bag. Take out the chemical heater pack, put it back in the bag, put your food to be heated. We put the Wise dried ingredients with the measured water into a Zip-Lock, then added the water, then stuffed in the food.


The problem with most MRE heaters is that they just don’t get very hot. For a fully cooked meal, warm is fine, but if you want to cook rice, pasta, or reconstitute freeze dried vegetables and other popular survival foods, you really need some heat, and you need that heat over at least 15-20 minutes. Until now I had yet to find a chemical heater that would deliver this kind of performance. Therefore, this is officially a heads up for our early readers to go buy the Mealspecs until they are sold out, which they will be shortly is my guess.

The Mealspec Ration heater works very simply. You open the out plastic bag, take out the chemical heater pack, drop that back into the bag, then add a little bit of water and whatever you want to cook. “EW” you say? You don’t want to dump your freeze dried food in with that chemical heater? Don’t worry. We didn’t either, so we used a gallon sized Zip-Lock to hold the contents of the 4 serving Wise package, and added the requisite reconstitution water to that, and stuffed the whole thing into the heater bag.

In seconds the water in the bottom of the bag boils, and that heats the food. It boiled for over 20 minutes.

In seconds the water in the bottom of the bag boils, and that heats the food. It boiled for over 20 minutes.


Within seconds of pouring the water into the Mealspec heater, it boils, then it continues to boil, we found, for at least 20 minutes. You wouldn’t think that little packet could provide that much gumption, but it does. The heater easily cooked the rice to done, and the meal was just as good as if it had been cooked on a stove. This is an AMAZING survival product, and for a couple bucks each, you should buy a bunch of them.

Please not that there is a “GEN II” version of this heater coming from Mealspec, and it is called a “Cooking Bag.” I have not yet found them for sale, and I don’t have any review product yet. It appears that the bag is much bigger, 13×11, and it stands up, which is definitely an issue with this model. Heat rises, so you want to stand the bag up and have your food on top. The GEN II also runs for upwards of an hour, so it can boil survival water. As we suggested in our first water article, you are much better off to filter than than boil. But it is a nice convenience. I will buy some of the GEN II when they are available, but I bought 96 of this one, because it is good enough, and CHEAP. I didn’t take the rice out to have someone try it for an hour because I got distracted, and the GEN I bag was still piping hot.

We measured the heater under the bag on a plastic table and it held at almost 200 degrees.

We measured the heater under the bag on a plastic table and it held at almost 200 degrees.


This is one of the few products in this Prepping 101 series that we actually got for free as review product, but I did then go and buy a 96 pack of them myself. Ultimately, everyone should have some fuel stove and fuel put aside for long term use. You can cook three meals a day on one propane tank and burner for a family of several for a couple months. But before that new lifestyle begins, there are going to be those transitional meals where you will either be traveling or hunkering down and letting everyone else kill each other for scraps that you will not need. These meal heaters will be extremely value, and well worth their paltry purchase price.

Oh, and they are great for camping to. :P

The steam escapes through a hole in the top of the bag. You could theoretically get the contents hotter longer by pinching the bag at the top and letting it off when the bag is in danger of exploding, but try this at your own risk as it is not advised by us or the manufacturer.

The steam escapes through a hole in the top of the bag. You could theoretically get the contents hotter longer by pinching the bag at the top and letting it off when the bag is in danger of exploding, but try this at your own risk as it is not advised by us or the manufacturer.


In about 20 minutes the rice was fully cooked and the vegetables fully reconstituted. An hour later it was still piping hot.

In about 20 minutes the rice was fully cooked and the vegetables fully reconstituted. An hour later it was still piping hot.

{ 6 comments }

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • SmokeHillFarm August 18, 2014, 4:57 am

    Sounds like a great product. Does anyone have a thought as to how long a shelf life these might have, and if they require any particular conditions for storage?

    I have a couple of dozen boxes of the old military cooking chemical — trioxane bars — sitting around somewhere, but these seem like an easier solution, especially for long boils.

    • JACOB August 19, 2014, 9:27 am

      MEALSPEC uses a unique proprietary blend for the heating element. MEALSPEC said they can say 5-7 years shelf live, but that is only because they have been only conducting tests that long. They have had zero failure activations in this time. Once more testing is conduct, I am sure they will increase the shelve life more than other manufacturers.

      MEALSPEC recommends storing the bag in a dry location along with your food items. The heating element is individually sealed, and stored inside the heating bag.

  • MKrueger August 18, 2014, 5:44 am

    Covering that vent hole is highly inadviseable. The insurgents overseas are using these MRE heaters as mini IED’s which the troops refer to as “ankle snappers”; they’ll cause pretty serious injury if they go off next to something soft and meaty. Just cook your food the way the manufacturer intended and spare yourself the hassle of digging into your med kit.

  • Lone Wolf August 18, 2014, 8:27 am

    With the advent of loss of electricity, and running water, seems like a waste of good water to me.. I realize you’d need water for the food, but seems like a waste to have to use more water to activate the heating agent..

    • Administrator August 18, 2014, 8:29 am

      It’s like 3 ounces lol.

    • Sam August 18, 2014, 10:37 am

      The trouble will be potable water when the SHTF. My understanding is this can be non-potable(if you use the method the review suggests) just to “activate” the chemical reaction. Hell save your water and pee on it!!

Leave a Comment