Mountain House Review: Putting It To The Ultimate Test

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 01/30/2024

Mountain House Food KitToday, I’ve got a review I’m excited to share…

It’s one of the biggest freeze dried food brands on the market today:

Mountain House.

But does it live up to the hype? Is it worth an investment? How does it taste?

Today, I answer ALL these questions and more….

TOPICS THIS ARTICLE…    ↓(click to jump)
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A Backpacking Story

I recently received a couple of survival food pouches from Mountain House.

They wanted to hear what we had to say about their freeze-dried meals for survival.

So far, I’ve conducted thorough reviews of both Valley Food Storage‘s and Legacy Food Storage‘s survival food.

I was excited to put another survival food company to the test.

Full disclosure: I’ve used Mountain House products in the past.

In my younger years (before kids), my wife and I spent many days and nights backpacking in the remote wilderness.

It used to be our favorite hobby.

For example:

We spent our honeymoon in Yosemite’s backcountry.

We started in Yosemite Valley and hiked up to Little Yosemite Valley for a night via the incredible mist trail.

↓ Mist Trail Hike in Yosemite National Park

Then we spent the next day hiking along the Merced River to reach Merced Lake.

The next morning we hiked back towards Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in sight.

And on the final day, we submitted Half Dome.

↓ Hiking Half Dome Summit at Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Backpack Trail Map

Yes, that was our honeymoon, and we loved it!

So a few years later, after we moved to Colorado, you can only imagine the number of backpacking adventures we enjoyed.

The point is we spend many days, nights, and dinners in the deep wilderness.

And our backpacking meals often consisted of Mountain House freeze-dried pouches.

Why? Because freeze-dried meals are lightweight, easy to cook, and contain calories.

Freeze-dried meals are a “go-to” option for many backpackers.

But the question remains…

Are Mountain House’s Pouches Good For Survival?

That’s what I’m going to answer today.

Update: I recently did a video review of Mountain House – you can see my video review below:

↓ Mountain House Food Review

Mountain House Review

So again, Mountain House sent two freeze-dried meals to try.

I was excited to try both meals because those flavors were new to me.

Our favorite Mountain House meals in the past were Beef Stroganoff with Noodles and Lasagna with Meat Sauce.

But this time, we were going to try their Chicken Fajita Bowl and Spicy Southwest Breakfast Hash.

Mountain House Pouches Side By Side

Cooking The Meals

So, one evening after work, I pulled both meals off the shelf and got to cooking.

The first thing I always do when cooking a new freeze-dried meal is read the cooking instructions carefully.

You want to make sure you use the exact amount of water.

Too much water and it’ll be runny; not enough and it may not cook properly.

And while reading the directions, I noticed the most significant difference between Mountain House and the competition – HOW you cook the food.

Mountain House has been a staple for backpackers for many years, so they focus on those needs.

And one of the biggest challenges in backpacking (or bugging out) is the weight.

Pack weight is an epic struggle.

It isn’t easy to keep your pack weight down to a reasonable level vs. taking enough gear and food items to survive.

However, Mountain House helps with weight reduction by allowing you to cook the food directly in the pouch!

This is huge.

This means backpackers can cook their food without carrying unnecessary heavy pots and bowls.

Instead of dumping the food into a boiling pot of water (like other survival food directions), you add the boiling water to the pouch.

Again, I hope you realize how important this is for cooking a good meal in the wild.

This allows you to use a lightweight, portable stove (I use a Jet Boil) to boil water and pour the water into the pouch.

No mess AND less cooking gear.

This can sometimes save an entire 1 lb. or 2 worth of backpacking gear – which is a big deal for backpacking and bugging out.

Heavy packs will slow you down, so every ounce matters.

The feature that makes this possible is the inner resealable Mylar bag.

The pouch has an airtight seal all the way around.

And to open the pouch, you just cut a strip off the top.

But with other freeze-dried meal pouches, there’s no zip-lock type resealing option.

This means you can’t cook your freeze-dried meal in a pouch without the resealing option.

Too much heat from the boiling water would escape, leaving much of the food undercooked.

However, you can cook the meals in the bag with the resealing option on the Mountain House pouches.

Heck, that’s how they recommend you cook it in their “cooking instructions.”

This is the biggest difference between Mountain House and other survival food companies.

That’s why I’m spending so much time explaining this.

So, for me, Mountain House is the best freeze-dried meal option for your bug out bag or your get home bag.

These pouches allow you to carry a lot of calories in your pack at the lowest total weight (meal + cooking gear).

But How Does Mountain House’s Food Taste?

The taste test is the least important aspect of survival food.

Why? Because if you’re starving, any food will taste amazing.

Seriously, if starving, plain old rice will be delicious.

But nobody wants to invest in food that tastes bad, so let’s see how Mountain House compares.

After reading the instructions, I followed the directions.

Boil water, add water to the pouch, mix, seal, wait four minutes, mix, seal again, and wait ten minutes.

Food Planning Guide eBook Cover - with dried foods and grains spilling out onto a wooden table

Want a free family-first food planning guide?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Resealed and Waiting

Resealed and Waiting

So once the timer told me the meal was ready, I reopened the pouches, mixed the meals one final time, and plated them.

Mountain House Survival Food On Dish

Left: Chicken Fajita Bowl / Right: Breakfast Hash

I called my family to dinner (my wife, my 3.5-year-old, and my nearly one-year-old ).

Now, the kids do not like spicy foods. I don’t know any that do, so with the “spicy southwest breakfast hash,” I gave it a try before giving any to the kids.

Yup, it was spicy.

And since I’m the only one in the family who likes spicy food (my wife avoids it as well) I was the only one to test the breakfast hash.

It was good. I enjoyed it.

It tasted like a southwest breakfast casserole, and I ended up eating the entire pouch myself.

The other meal (chicken fajita bowl) was shared with the rest of the family.

After a few bites in, I asked everyone what they thought.

My wife said it was pretty good but not as good as our past Mountain House go-to’s.

She also found a chunk of freeze-dried chicken that was still hard.

I believe this single chunk didn’t get hot enough boiling water on it.

My guess is it was stuck in the corner of the pouch and somehow escaped the boiling hot water and the mixing.

So be sure to thoroughly mix the pouch before letting it set to cook to avoid this.

It was a minor issue and one that I’m sure I could fix with more careful mixing.

But it is one downside of note to cooking your meals in the pouch.

My daughter (who’s a very picky eater) ate a few bites and was ready to move on to some fruit.

But the fact that she ate 3 or 4 bites is like 4 out of 5 stars for her.

So, the food tasted excellent, especially for survival food – good job Mountain House.

Clean Up

I don’t think I’ve ever talked much about meal clean-up in my past survival food reviews.

Because there usually’s nothing of note to share.

However, with Mountain House, the cleanup is a highlight worth mentioning.

I took both empty pouches and put them in the trash.

Then I took the plates and put them on the floor for our dog to “pre-wash” the dishes.

Chocolate Lab Cleaning Up Plate

Chocolate Lab Clean-Up Plate

That’s it—no extra pot pans to clean or scrub.

The pot I used to boil the water in was still clean, so I wiped it dry and put it back on the shelf.

In survival, water is always a premium, and the less you waste on cleaning up, the better.

So, from that standpoint, Mountain House is a clear winner.

Another nice bonus for cooking in the pouch!

How About Shelf Life?

Most survival food companies have an “up to 25-year shelf life guarantee”. But not Mountain House; they’ve gone one step better.

Based on their ongoing testing of actual products, Mountain House raised the shelf-life of their products to 30 years.

And if you purchased a Mountain House before July 2016, it’s okay!

Their Taste Guarantee is retroactive to products dating all the way back to 1986.

Independent studies proved the shelf life of Mountain House products exceeds 30 years under real-world conditions.

In other words:

Real Mountain House meals stored for 30+ years in real-world conditions meet consumer expectations of “tasting good.”

This was corroborated by many astonished reviewers of Mountain House Military meals that had been stored for up to 42 years.

Mountain House is the only brand in the industry that can legitimately make this claim.

The sample pouches Mountain House sent me had a “Best Buy” date of July 2047 (which is 30 years from the time I wrote and published this review).

Food Planning Guide eBook Cover - with dried foods and grains spilling out onto a wooden table

Want a free family-first food planning guide?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Miscellaneous Review Items

The Mountain House packaging was impressive.

The thick Mylar bags they use are durable and can take some abuse without being ripped or punctured.

Again, this is another plus for taking these pouches with you on an outdoor adventure.

The bags are well designed to lock in freshness, keep oxygen out, and allow the emergency food to last a very long time on your shelf.

An ingredient list was available on the back of each pouch.

However, a few items in both meal packages were difficult to decipher.

Does anyone know what “ferric orthophosphate” is?

Mountain House Ingredient List

Mountain House Ingredient List

So, if you’re looking for a simple to understand ingredients, Valley Food Storage is your best option.

Mountain House also has gluten-free meal options for those with dietary restrictions.

Final Thoughts

In the past, I’ve chosen Mountain House for my outdoor adventures.

And I’ve selected Valley Food Storage for my survival stockpile.

However, when I decide to buy more survival food in the future, I’ll revisit my options and include Mountain House before I buy.

Stocking up on food for long-term storage with Mountain House has never been easier, thanks to their survival and emergency food kits and buckets.

Ranging from 2-Day to 14-Day supplies, these emergency food buckets and kits ration the perfect amount of food to power you through any situation.

And if you’re looking for a survival meal you can add to your bug out bag or get home bag, Mountain House is your best option.

And if you are looking for survival food to add to your survival pantry, the 30-year shelf-life taste guarantee is impressive.

Mountain House provides some real peace of mind for such a substantial food investment.

So, take Mountain House freeze-dried pouches confidently on your next outdoor adventure.

And stockpile it for the next widespread emergency that knocks your power out.

Either way, Mountain House is a reliable, worthwhile survival food option.

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