It’s always wise to have more food and water than you need in your backpack, even if you’re only setting off on a day-walk. I always make sure that I do, but I’ve never put much thought into whether it would actually be enough in a survival situation. I was intrigued when I heard about Mainstay’s survival products, and agreed to take a sample of their emergency drinking water and food bars for review.
The products have a 5 year shelf life (from the date of manufacture) and it’s claimed that they can be exposed to temperatures from -40°C to 149°C. Their packaging and stability meets and exceeds standards set by the US Coast Guard and Department of Defense. This makes them a handy item to keep in your pack for years at a time, safe in the knowledge that you’re covered if things go awry.
There’s obviously not much to say about the water. It comes in a 125ml bag, which is opened by tearing at the top. Unfortunately when I did so, I applied a little too much pressure and lost a fair amount of my water in the process. It would definitely work better if the packaging was designed to tear across, rather than down from the top of the bag. When I got some in my mouth (drinking from the tear wasn’t easy either) it did have a bit of a strange flavour to it, but that’s to be expected when you’re drinking water out of a metallic bag. It was still very drinkable anyway.
The food bars are enriched with vitamins and minerals, to levels above the recommended daily dietary requirements. They’re available in 1200, 2400 and 3600 calorie sizes and each bar is divided into 400 calorie portions. For land-based activities (ie. hiking), Mainstay’s recommendation is to consume three portions per person per day (1200 calories). I’m (obviously) not a scientist, nutritionist, or doctor, so I can’t say if these portions would actually be enough to keep someone alive, never mind give them enough energy if they needed to get themselves to safety. I can only trust the recommendation on this one. What I did notice when I ate one of these 400 calorie portions, was that it wasn’t nearly enough to make me feel full.
The bars come in a resealable pack, which is handy considering that they need to be broken up for consumption. I can’t help but think it might have been easier to just individually package each 400 calorie portion.
As for the taste, I’d go as far as saying they’re quite yummy. On taking my first bite, I immediately thought of yo-yo biscuits (obviously without the creamy filling). I haven’t had a yo-yo for a long time, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d say they’re very similar in both taste and texture. Of course I wouldn’t choose to eat yo-yo’s for three meals a day, but in a survival situation nobody would be complaining.
In conclusion, I guess I should say that I’m not rushing out to buy Mainstay’s products so that I can keep them in my backpack at all times. However, I don’t have any other brand of survival food and water in my pack either. Should I? Quite possibly. I’ll give it some thought.
Survival Storehouse provided a sample of Mainstay’s emergency food and water for review (and are supporting a giveaway for readers), but this has no influence on my opinions and my review is completely unbiased.
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Have you ever used Mainstay’s survival products? If you have anything to say about them, please leave a comment below.