Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

7 of the Best MREs for the Camper or Prepper

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whether you’re packing a bag for a hike across the Appalachian Trail, or for when the life hits the fan, MREs are an excellent item to include. They’re vacuum-sealed, lightweight, and provide the nutrients you need to stay on the trail or on the run. They’re also suitable for stockpiling since they last 3-5 years when stored in cool, dry spaces.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) were developed for the military back in the 70s, who are still the main consumers of durable foodstuffs.  If you’re looking for MREs with a Department of Defense seal of approval, you’re going to be getting one produced by one of three companies: Sopakco (Sure-Pak), AmeriQual (A-Pack), or Wornick (Eversafe). These three brands have the lock on most of the military’s MRE contracts; however, the government is known to buy MREs from civilian producers in times of crisis.


Related Guides

If you’re looking for some top-notch pre-made, self-stable cuisine, we’ve rounded up the best seven flavors based on user reviews.

Wornick-Chilli-Mac MRE

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Since the MRE’s inception, chili-mac has been a favorite of military personnel and civilians alike. It’s so popular that virtually every company carries it. Two American classics in one pouch-how can you go wrong? This specific one is manufactured by Wornick and is sold through an MRE wholesaler on Amazon, so you’ll get all the other standard-issue MRE sides and condiments.

Peak Refuel-Breakfast Skillet

Image used with permission by copyright holder

This breakfast skillet from Peak Refuel is a favorite among campers and extreme backpackers. It’s very filling and enough for two. Packing 39 grams of protein and 640 calories per pack, this is just what you need before you hit the trails.

Mountain House- Beef Stew

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mountain House is a favorite brand among survivalists. They have one of the largest selections of MRE pouches around. Beef stew is a classic entrée that’s pretty hard to get wrong. This meal packs 20 grams of protein and 400 calories per pack.

Good-To-Go-Thai Curry

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Who doesn’t want a little ethnic diversity in their ready-to-eat cuisine? Good-To-Go has a nice selection of unique and exotic entrees. This Thai Curry pack is highly rated, and at 20 grams of protein and 780 calories, it can power you through most of a day of outdoor adventures.

Wild Zora Paleo Meals To Go – Bedrock Beef Chili

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Wild Zora Paleo Meals to Go prides itself on not being your grandparents’ camp food, which is probably true since our grandparents never heard of the Paleo diet when they were out sleeping in the woods. Nonetheless, these minimally processed meals with all-natural ingredients are great for anyone. They boast no antibiotics and no preservatives; just real food. This pack of chili has a substantial 36 grams of protein and 420 calories.

Bridgford Italian Sausage MRE Sandwich – 3 Pack

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s understandable that if you’ve been living off of ready-to-eat meals for an extended time, you can tire of the stew-like consistency that most of them have. Bridgeford has developed a pocket sandwich, similar to that of a Hot Pocket (or pasty for our Midwestern readers), so you can switch it up from time to time. This Italian sausage with sauce is one of the brand’s more popular flavors. Each sandwich has 330 calories and 10 grams of protein.

LuvyDuvy Freeze-Dried Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwiches – 4-Pack

Image used with permission by copyright holder

We all need a sweet treat every once and a while, especially if we’re held up in our bunkers waiting for the zombie apocalypse to blow over. LuvyDuvy has been selling astronaut-inspired, freeze-dried ice cream products since 1985. Their tagline; “If it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for you!” Just kidding, but it really should be.

What You’ll Find In An MRE

In a standard-issue MRE, you’ll find some variation of the following:

  • An Entrée (usually meat but there are some veggie options)
  • A Side (usually a carb)
  • Bread or Cracker
  • A Sweet Treat
  • After Dinner Mint or Gum
  • A Beverage or Beverage Mix
  • Salt, Pepper, Hot Sauce, or Appropriate Condiments
  • Matches
  • Flameless Heat Pouch (Optional)

There are a number of ways people can get their hands on MREs. Army/Navy surplus stores and online surplus dealers are a popular source. But beware, these methods run the risk of purchasing expired MREs. We suggest going straight to the source and buying in bulk from one of the suppliers mentioned above.

Military MREs aren’t known for being the most delicious options around. Still, demand for MREs has grown among civilians, especially among emergency relief contractors, non-profits, outdoor enthusiasts, and doomsday preppers. This increase in demand has caused civilian MRE providers to up their game and make their meal offerings more appealing. The lack of choice has kept the military MREs both the least desirable and the most affordable. If you’re looking for gourmet-level MREs (which still isn’t saying much) produced by civilian companies, you’re going to have to pay more. Companies like MRE Star, Emergency Essentials, and Bridgeford have emerged, offering a slightly higher caliber of cuisine and more menu options. However, as noted, you’ll also pay more for them.

Editors' Recommendations

Steven Johnson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
The best winter hiking boots: Don’t leave home without one of these great picks
Hit the trails in confidence with great traction and insulation this winter
winter hiking boots

Heading out hiking in the depths of winter is no mean feat. You might be heading out for your usual few hours on the trail, but when the temperatures are below zero, and the weather can change in a moment, you need more than just your summer hiking gear to keep you safe. As well as warm merino layers and a backpack full of winter safety essentials, you need to be wearing a proper pair of winter hiking boots.

Sure, you can get by in your summer hiking boots, and perhaps you'll be okay. But what about those days when you're not? Those days when temperatures plummet, snow is melting through your lightweight boots, and you can feel your toes turning blue or going numb. On those days, a pair of insulated, fully waterproof winter boots are worth their weight in gold — trust me. We've put together this list of the best winter boots to keep you on track in the snow.

Read more
Sleep tight (and warm) this winter in the best cold-weather sleeping bags
Winter camping: All you need is the right gear and a little extra preparation

A lot of campers pack up their camping gear to store for the winter season. But some people — those of us who live with many snowy months each year — are simply swapping out their go-to items. Cold weather doesn't have to mean camping and backpacking season is over for anyone, though. With the right winter camping gear, wintertime camping can be a beautiful change to getting outside during the warmest parts of the year.

The key, of course, is having the right equipment, like a four-season tent, a camping sleeping pad, and a high-quality sleeping bag designed to handle low temperatures. A cold-weather sleeping bag is essential to make sure that, no matter how low the mercury drops, you can always sleep soundly. With the best cold-weather sleeping bag, you can rest easy and toasty warm wherever your adventure takes you. From snowy conditions to cold nights in the desert, these bags should cover cold nights in an array of terrains.

Read more
Gear up for the slopes this winter with the best ski and snowboard pants
Your ski runs demand the right outerwear, including a solid pair of snow pants
Snowboarder cranks turn on mountain slope
Read more