MOUNTAIN HOUSE PRO-PAK MEALS
BY STEVEN M. KIDD
September 06, 2010
Steven M. Kidd
Franklin, Tennessee, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
220 lb (99.80 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have gained a renewed enthusiasm for the back country. I generally go on one or two night outings and now try to average a 30 lb (14 kg) pack.
|Courtesy of Mountain House|
Manufacturer: Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.mountainhouse.com
Item: Pro-Pak Single Serving Freeze Dried Meals: 16 oz (454 g)
MSRP: US $5.90
Entrees Tried: Beef Stroganoff, Chili Mac with Beef, Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Listed Weight: 4.06 oz (115 g)
Measured Weight: 4.10 oz (116 g)
The Mountain House Pro-Pak is a single serving 16 oz (454 g) vacuum packed freeze dried meal. Currently 9 flavors are available as follows: Beef Stew, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Teriyaki with Rice, Chili Mac with Beef, Lasagna with Meat Sauce, Pasta Primavera, Rice and Chicken, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice. All the meals are 4.51 oz (128 g) or less in weight before being reconstituted with water. The three I've had were all rated at 4.06 oz (116 g). Most of the meals are reconstituted by adding 14 oz (0.41 L) boiling water to the pouch, zipping the bag shut and setting for 8 to 9 minutes. The packaging contains an oxygen absorber that needs to be removed before adding water.
Beef Stroganoff Nutritional Information: Total Calories: 520 ~ From Fat: 180 ~ Total Fat: 20 grams ~ Saturated Fat: 8 grams ~ Transfat Acid: 0 grams ~ Cholesterol: 80 milligrams ~ Sodium: 1680 milligrams ~ Carbs: 62 grams ~ Dietary Fiber: 10 grams ~ Sugars: 10 grams ~ Protein: 22 grams
Chili Mac with Beef Nutritional Information: Total Calories: 510 ~ From Fat: 160 ~ Total Fat: 18 grams ~ Saturated Fat: 7 grams ~ Transfat Acid: 1 grams ~ Cholesterol: 50 milligrams ~ Sodium: 1060 milligrams ~ Carbs: 58 grams ~ Dietary Fiber: 5 grams ~ Sugars: 13 grams ~ Protein: 29 grams
Lasagna with Meat Sauce Nutritional Information: Total Calories: 500 ~ From Fat: 120 ~ Total Fat: 14 grams ~ Saturated Fat: 5 grams ~ Transfat Acid: 0 grams ~ Cholesterol: 60 milligrams ~ Sodium: 1140 milligrams ~ Carbs: 67 grams ~ Dietary Fiber: 6 grams ~ Sugars: 7 grams ~ Protein: 26 grams
For some time I've found Mountain House products to be the tastiest and least "Styrofoam" tasting of all the freeze dried backpacking products on the market. I've historically used the 2 entree packages because the single serving meals didn't sate me. However, I never liked the bulky nature of the packaging and often found myself wasting food because two servings were too much or I was overeating. Last autumn, I stumbled upon a Pro-Pak and found it to be the perfect size to satisfy my hunger and I really liked the vacuum packed nature that took up less storage room in my pack.
|Lasagna with Meat Sauce|
Since finding the Pro-Pak meals at a local outdoor retailer I have used them exclusively when choosing a freeze dried meal on a backpacking outing, generally in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee. I've eaten them in temperatures as warm as 90 F (32 C) and as cool as 14 F (-10 C). I had tried most available flavors in the larger entree portioning before finding this version, so I was already aware of the meals I preferred. I generally like the Italian style meals and creamy ones.
This led me to choose Chili Mac with Beef which is very tasty, but like most freeze dried food it could be a little spicier in my opinion. I found the Lasagna with Meat Sauce to be a little sweeter than the Chili Mac, and the Beef Stroganoff is very creamy and filling. Actually one of the few drawbacks I see with the Pro-Pak is the lack of selection. The larger entrees are available in dozens of varieties, whereas only 9 different Pro-Pak meals are marketed.
I find them to be lightweight for backpacking and easy to make after a long day on the trail. Directions suggest sealing the pouch and letting it sit for 8 - 9 minutes. I believe it is a good idea to massage the bag a few times during the reconstitution phase so the freeze dried food has an opportunity to absorb water, and eliminate any dry pieces.
I like my food spicy, so I generally take a Ziploc baggie full of a garam masala dried spice mixture to add to them. This kicks the flavor up a notch and makes them just right in my opinion. They do tend to be high in sodium and when I've eaten several in a few days I even found my wedding band to be tight from minor swelling.
|Chili Mac with Beef|
The meals can still be a little hot even after sitting for 10 minutes, so I often hold them with a bandana as seen in the accompanying photograph. They also save me time on post meal cleanup, because they are meant to be eaten directly out of the pouch. In fact, the pouches are designed with a gusseted bottom to safely set on the ground without tipping over. My cleanup consists of licking my spoon clean at the end of dinner.
I've been very pleased with the Pro-Pak meals. They are the tastiest freeze dried meals I've found on the market. When reconstituted I find they taste like the food they are supposed to be, rather than having a spongy texture that I recall from my days of eating MRE's. I have not had a Mountain House product, be it a Pro-Pak or other that I found unfit to eat. I typically find them priced a little lower than similar products of this nature as well.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
I give kudos to Mountain House for creating tasty meals that are portioned right for me and stow well in my pack. I enjoy the quick preparation time and easy cleanup after a long day on the trail, or when I just want to take a short break for dinner (the noon meal in South). I would suggest them to most any backpacker.
There are only two minor drawbacks I see to these meals. For those concerned with high sodium intake, these may not be the ideal meal. Also, I'd love to see more variety in the Pro-Pak meals. Currently there are only 9 varieties available, while there are dozens of the larger entree portions to choose from.
In conclusion, I feel the Mountain House Pro-Pak meal is a quick, convenient, lightweight and tasty meal for the trail.
Read more reviews of Oregon Freeze Dry, gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd