My First Kit
When I was 13 or 14 my mom allowed me to put together a 72 hour kit for our family. I wasn't sure what to do; she pointed me to the milk carton kit.
- can of chili
- two envelopes of lipton soup
- three granola bars
- 3 pieces of hard candy
There may have also been some hot chocolate and instant oatmeal packets. One winter we had a number of days without power, and we opened the kit to use the chili for a baked potato bar. By then the granola bars were nasty and the hard candy was soft. The financial committment to rotate the kit made me less interested in pursuing emergency preparedness.
Christmas Gift Kit
Several years later, just after Hurricane Katrina, my grandmother made me an elaborate 72 hour kit with jerky and boxed milk, crackers and cookies, hand warmers and a sewing kit. It was (and is) a great kit.
But low and behold, it had to be rotated. Out came the boxed milk, the crackers and cookies, the beef jerky, the raisins, the applesauce. And I couldn't commit to rebuying all that stuff. I bought a few things. I made sure we had protein and carbs. But the advice I got was to rotate it every six months! Do you know how expensive that is?! We're talking minimum $30 for two people every six months.
My Kit today
A few years ago, when I started talking to Mr. X about the Chilkoot trail, Mr. X started talking about Mountain House meals. Sure I knew what they were, I also knew they were expensive. I'd always wanted to put MREs in a 72 hour kit but the money oh, the money.
Eventually Mr. X convinced me to buy a few packets for hiking. And then when we saw a sale, a few more for emergency preparedness. And now I'm convinced that this is the way for us to go.
Cue the info-mercial music: Mountain House meals provide enough energy to maintain your standard activities and more - something those milk carton kits won't do. They also aren't as expensive as I thought. I can get Mountain House meals on sale at Fred Meyer for $3.95 or $1.97 per serving, or in other words, a 72 hour kit for one person: $17.73. These meals last for seven years so the money involved is $2.53 per person per year. I throw in a bag of hard candy and some chewing gum and we're all set*.
But what about heating them? Check out Moutain House's flameless oven if you're worried about heating them up. You also can eat the meals cold if you have no way to heat water.
But what about water? We have a supply on hand and a pristine mountain stream 2 blocks from us. We have several water purification sources including filters and chemical. You just have to factor that into your plan.
But aren't they nasty? No, they're pretty good. Mr. X and I lived off of them while on the Chilkoot. We had enough energy to hike 8 - 12 miles a day and carry all our gear. And even though when we got back to Skagway, I had a bunch of canned food ready for a feast, we opted for an extra Mountain House because it was just so darn easy. My favorite is Chili-Mac.
But what about food allergies? This is why I recommend buying your own in the store rather than buying a kit directly from Mountain House. You will have the flexibility to choose what your family needs rather than what someone else thinks sounds nice. Mountain House may not be for you if you are Celiac or have high blood pressure. You can contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have allergen questions.
Anyway. That's what we're doing. How about you?
*except of course we live in Alaska and have to have a 168 hour kit. We're up to hour 144.