I eat healthily as much as I can - meat, protein, carbs as well. I like my pasta, I like my rice, I like to have that sort of sustenance in me because I’m always thinking about survival - Ant Middleton
Making sure that you have enough to eat when you’re in the middle of nowhere and that your shelter is stocked with easy to prepare, long shelf life supplies if you ever need to bug out and head for the hills in a hurry is the sort of dilemma that we all have to face, and find the solution to at some point in our lives.
The obvious answer has always been, and always will be, MRE’s (meals ready to eat), which have been the standard field rations of soldiers serving on the front line or in combat zones for the last forty years.
While they’ve often attracted the ire of veterans in the past, MRE’s have come a long way since they first became a staple of Army life during the nineteen eighties, and now deliver both the calorie count that troops need every day with a surprising variety of appetizing flavors.
An all-in-one source of sustenance, MRE’s have become increasingly popular with hikers, campers, and preppers as they’re easy to pack, store and carry and at the end of a long day, provide a delicious meal that’ll completely satiate your hunger.
That’s why we’ve taken a closer look at five of the best MRE meals and the brands that produce them so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you, and stock up on them for whatever situation or adventure awaits you.
It’s time to take a deep dive into the world of MREs and find the only meals that you’ll ever need to make the absolute most of the outdoor life…
OUR TOP PICK
If you want the genuine article, the MREs that are part and parcel of daily life in the Army, that come straight from the military, then you’ll need to set your sights on Rothco.
For more than half a century they’ve been the largest, and, most trusted, supplier of military surplus in the United States and since their inception in New York at the tail end of the Korean conflict, they’ve been helping to bridge the gap between civilian and military life.
The box of MREs that Rothco supplies contain twelve different MRE’s and each meal includes a water-activated flameless ration heater, an entree, a dessert, a snack, beverage powders, and an accessory pack.
They usually send out the A Box which consists of meals one to twelve and a full list of the contents of said pack can be found here.
The MRE list changes according to the date that the box was inspected and packed on (which is always stamped on the side), so armed with the date, which can vary according to the supplies that Rothco has in store when you order them.
But with a simple click of your mouse, it’s easy to find out what each Rothco box has in store for you.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the inspection date on the side of the box does not correlate to a best before date, as the MRE’s included have an incredibly long shelf life and will usually last anywhere between seven and ten years depending on how well they’ve been stored.
They’re made to last, so you can be confident in the knowledge that by the time they get to you, these MREs will still have at least a five-year shelf life.
- Supplied by America’s premier military surplus company, these MRE’s have been sourced by a company that both the Army and civilians trust and that sort of faith isn’t easy to earn.
- It’s an A box that contains twelve to go MREs and everything that you’ll need to prepare them. And the twelve meals are all different, so you won’t get bored of eating the same thing. Variety is the spice of life, and there’s enough of it in this box to please even the pickiest pallet.
- The whole box weighs just twenty-one pounds, so it’s light enough to carry and easy to store. You’ll easily be able to find enough space for it in your shelter, garage, or car and once it’s stored in your safe place, this box of MREs will last at least five years.
- Some customers have complained about the state of the box that they received and that it had been opened and wasn’t correctly resealed. And a small percentage of that unhappy clientele were incredibly unhappy that the MREs inside of the box appeared to have been swapped for less desirable menu items and in some cases for inferior civilian branded MREs. While we’ve never had a problem with any of the MREs that we’ve ordered from Rothco and they’ve always arrived exactly as they were described, it is nonetheless an issue that you might want to think about before you start filling your shelves with a little help from this company.
They may not have any ties to the military, but that hasn’t stopped Wise from becoming the number one brand in emergency food preparation in America.
They create the peace of mind that helps you to get ready for the worst should it ever happen by always being prepared and ensuring that you’re always prepared.
Wise has a simple agenda that they’ve never swayed or deviated from, one that tells you everything that you’ll ever need to know about them - Always be ready by being Wise.
This all in one survival food kit contains sixty entrees that have been designed to last and to be ready to eat, for anything up to twenty-five years.
With an incredible variety of meals on offer, all you have to do to enjoy any of them is add hot water and let the science that made Wise’s product a reality take over. Fifteen minutes after you’ve added the water, your chosen meal will be ready to eat.
And with the number of entrees on offer, Wise has made sure that the quality of their MREs reflects the quantity and has packed the box with a staggering amount of variety, so you’ll always have a flavor-filled meal waiting for you.
Wise also knows how important storage is to the dedicated survivalist and always ready prepper, which is why they’ve used a lightweight, durable plastic box that’s designed to last in any environment to store their MREs in.
Compact enough to fit on the shelf, or in the trunk of any vehicle, it’s an ideal way to store all of the food you’ll need to ready if the world ever descends into chaos and you need to beat a hasty retreat.
And it’s also perfect for campers and hikers as Wise would never want them to think that their needs and wants were being ignored. Like Wise says, it’s the all in one answer for every emergency food situation.
- It’s a sixty meal variety box that’s been purpose-designed to weather any storm and feed you and your loved ones no matter what happens and where you find yourselves.
- Made to last for anything up to twenty-five years, you’ll be able to store the Wise emergency kit and not even have to think about it until you need it.
- And that ease of storage? It’s mirrored by the simple preparation process that Wise’s meals require. All you need is some hot water and fifteen minutes and you’ll be ready to start eating. It really is that simple.
- Wise has also ensured that their emergency kit is well within the financial reach of every American family. It’s an incredibly adorable way to prepare for the worst.
- With an incredible assortment of different meals on offer, everything from chicken pot pie to Southwest beans and rice to chili macaroni included in the box, you’ll run out of food long before you get bored by Wise’s menu.
- It’s a matter of taste. Some people like Wise’s MREs and some people don’t, and the only way to find out which camp you fall into is by sampling and trying them. And the allotted portions of each MRE have led some customers to complain there isn’t enough in every meal to satisfy their hunger after a day in the wilderness, which is slightly alarming and food for thought if you’re tempted to stock your shelves with these MREs
XMRE is dedicated to producing next-generation ready to eat meals that are designed to ensure that all of their customers can meet the challenges of their daily lives without experiencing any loss of energy.
They’re made to keep you in peak physical condition and to enable you to face whatever life throws at you.
The brand’s genesis lies in the ranks of the US military and they’re a veteran-friendly company that manufactures products for soldiers, law enforcement offices, and civilian clientele.
Their standards are exacting and they demand the best from themselves in order to make sure that they always deliver the best for each and every one of their customers.
Made to military standards, each of the twelve different meals packed in the XMRE case includes an entree (chicken, beef, pork, or vegetarian options), a sweet or savory snack (which includes cookies, bars, and selection of side dishes), a bread item, a beverage and an accessory pack that includes utensils, condiments, coffee, and non-dairy creamer and sugar.
And just in case that wasn’t enough, each MRE also comes with XMRE’s patented, game-changing flameless heating system. It’s everything that you’ll ever need in one box.
All of the MREs that bear the XMRE stamp are pre-cooked and can be eaten straight out of the bag because they know and understand that sometimes you don’t have the luxury of being able to sit around and prepare each part of your meal.
Sometimes life gets in the way and pushes you in all sorts of directions that you never thought it would, and when it does, XRME will make sure that you’re ready to push back.
- Each MRE has an extended shelf of three years that can be extended to five with a little extra care and attention. Which means that you can just store it and forget about it until you need it.
- Each box is designed to be lightweight, durable, and waterproof, and is easy to carry and store. XMRE has made sure that their meals are always ready so that you will be too.
- Each box contains twelve different meals and everything that you’ll need to enjoy them no matter where you are.
- They’ve been created by veterans who understand the rigors of life on the go and what it’s like to eat under extreme conditions. And they know that just because life gets tough, it doesn’t mean that you can’t demand the very best from your MRE.
- A small percentage of their customer base have questioned the quality of the MREs and have expressed their displeasure at what they refer to as the “bland” flavor profiles that XRME has chosen for their menu. Again, it’s all a matter of taste and the only way to discover whether you subscribe to the XMRE way of doing things is by trying them out for yourself.
Mountain House is one of the companies that kicked the MRE revolution into overdrive.
Tasked by the United States military with making food that tasted better, lasted longer, and weighed less for Special Forces teams during the war in Vietnam, they put their collective thinking cap on, won the contract, and immediately started making meals for long-range patrol units.
And they've been making meals for American Special Forces and various branches of the military ever since. If it wasn’t for Mountain House, there wouldn’t be any MREs.
Each Mountain MRE House bucket contain twelve pouches, and every pouch includes two servings of either chicken fried rice, beef stew, spaghetti in meat sauce, beef stroganoff with noodles, and granola with milk and blueberries because Mountain Houses knows that when you’re out in the wild and you’re alone, taste isn’t just important, it can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.
All you need to make these meals come to life in hot water and ten minutes of your time. And if you don’t have access to hot water? Just add the water that you do have, and double the preparation time, and your MRE will be ready to eat.
As you’d expect from the godfathers of the MRE and the company who made them a reality, the shelf life of their MREs is simply staggering, and if they’re stored in the right conditions, they can last for up to thirty years.
Mountain House is the original home of the MRE, and they’re still the best at what they do.
- Mountain House was the company that the US military turned to when they needed someone to develop a new more nutritious and dependable version of traditional rations for their soldiers during the war in Vietnam, and they’re the brand who are ultimately responsible for giving the world the MRE.
- With an estimated shelf life of up to thirty years, there’s a good chance that Mountain House’s MRE pack will, regardless of how careful you are, outlast you.
- It’s all about variety and ease of preparation and Mountain House has made sure that their MREs follow both rules to the letter.
- It’s the same old story rearing its ugly head once again, some people like these MREs and some don’t. Taste, like everything else in life, is subjective and unfortunately, it’s a trap that Mountain House can’t escape. You won’t know if you’re a fan or not until you try their MREs.
It may say Sure-Pak on the box, but these MRE’s were made by Sopakco, and while you might not place much faith in a name, in the MRE world, names are everything.
Sopakco was founded to make rations for US soldiers during World War II, and for the last eight decades, that partnership with the military has been at the heart of everything that they do. They’re an MRE machine, they always have been and they always will be.
Each pack contains twelve meals, six each from the A and B menus that Sopakco supply to the US military and each meal includes an entree, a dessert, a side dish, a beverage power, a condiment pack, and the flameless heater that you’ll need to prepare your meal.
With a menu that includes everything from beef ravioli to cheese tortellini and sloppy joes to meatloaf with gravy, the nearly-endless variety of meals that could be included in this pack is mind-boggling. But one thing for sure, with a box of Sopakco MREs by your side, meal times will never be boring.
With a shelf life of around five years, Sopakco has designed their MREs to last and be easy to store and use.
Longevity, taste, and a high enough calorie count to fill even the hungriest soul are the forces that have driven them to do what they do for more than seventy-five years, and they’ll almost certainly drive them to do the same for the next seventy-five too.
- Sopakco has been making meals for the military for almost eighty years, which means that they know what they’re doing, so if you’re looking for a brand that you can depend on to supply you with the best MREs that your hard-earned dollars can buy, then look no further.
- Featuring meals from their A and B menus, the variety of different meals that each pack contains guarantees that you’ll never get bored and that you’ll stumble across at least one MRE that you’ll love in with in every box.
- As every pack has a shelf life of five years, you’ll be able to store them and pull them out as and when you need and want to use, them.
- While almost everyone who sampled the Sopakco MREs seemed to love their meals, some customers were less than satisfied with the shipping agent, Sure-Pak. The company has apparently been supplying out of date MREs to their clients, so if you want to fully embrace the Sopakco experience, you’ll probably be better off going to the source rather than dealing with Sure-Pak.
Best MRE Meals (Top Brands Reviewed) Buying Guide
Which MRE Meal Is The Best One For Me?
While all of the MREs on our list have been made to fulfill a similar purpose, the driving forces that should direct you to a particular brand are price and how long you want them to last.
Once you’ve set your budget and have decided just how long you want your MREs to last, take another look at our list and the answer to your question should become immediately apparent.
Having said that, if you were looking for a little additional advice or wanted to follow our lead, then we’d always recommend the MREs made by Mountain House or Sopakco.
They’re the people that make MREs for the military, so if you want the real thing, pay either of them a visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is An MRE?
An MRE, or a meal ready to eat, is an individual ration pack issue to serving soldiers by the US military when they’re unable to use field kitchen or canteen facilities.
Light and easy to use, they are purpose-designed to deliver an optimal number of calories to all serving personnel and to do so in a manner that is highly palatable.
Developed during the Vietnam war at the end of the sixties, MREs were originally created for Special Forces units whose missions meant that they were unable to carry traditional ration packs and needed a lightweight, easy to carry, and use alternative.
Even though they didn’t replace the standard rations that most soldiers were used to until the beginning of the nineteen-eighties, MREs have now become the standardized form of meals for troops serving on the frontline and in combat zones.
During the last thirty years, MREs have also become incredibly popular in the secondary civilian market that includes hikers, campers, and preppers who value them for their long shelf life, and lightweight, easy to carry, and simple to use aesthetic.