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.
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.
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.
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. 😛