Australian Defence Force Ratpack MRE – Taste Test

Australian Defence Force Ratpack MRE – Taste Test

A little while back, I did a product review on the Strive Foods 24hr Ration Pack and after reading it, a wonderful member of the Lotsafreshair community, aka ‘Secret Squirrel’, sent me an Australian Defence Force Ratpack MRE (type C) to also try out.

Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Australian Defence Force Ratpack “C”

This was an insight into a part of the world that I’ve never really had anything to do with – the military – well, except that one time I flew onto a US Aircraft Carrier with an arrested landing and catapault take off… but hey, that’s a WHOLE other adventure!

The first sign that it was going to be big and heavy, was that tell-tale calling card of Australia Post when it wouldn’t fit in my letterbox. When they brought it to the counter, my first reaction was, “You’re kidding, right? Is that just 1 day?” Umm, yep – all 1.8kg (4.1lbs) of it, plus 335gm (11.8oz) if you choose to take the hexamine stove as well.

Total weight = 2.2 kgs (4.8lbs)

As a keen wilderness foodie, always in search of new and tasty (lightweight) treats to indulge and be sustained by in the bush, I was curious to know just exactly what was inside the ratpack and how tasty was it.

The contents of the pack were:

Breakfast

  • Muesli
  • Diced pears in syrup (tin)
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Ratpack Muesli – one of the highlights.

Main Meals (ready to eat)

  • Chilli Tuna and Pasta
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Chilli Tuna & Pasta – Hmmm, looks like baby food!

Snacks

  • Instant Beef Noodles
  • Beef Jerky
  • Processed Cheese (in a can)
  • Crispbread (Crackers)
  • Strawberry Jam (tube)
  • Yeast Extract (tube)
  • Apricot Baked Bar
  • Fruit Cake
  • Jam Sandwich Biscuit
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
‘Real’ Jerky – another highlight

Sweets

  • Chocolate bar
  • Chocolate candies (fake M&Ms)
  • Lemon Lime Chewing Gum x 2
  • Peach & Raspberry Candies
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Chocolate (??) Bar – one of the low lights

Drinks

  • Drinking Chocolate Powder
  • Teabags x 2
  • Instant Coffee x 2
  • Skim Milk Powder x 1
  • Sports Energy Drink Powder
  • Chicken Soup
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Creamy Chicken Soup

Other

  • Salt Sachet
  • Pepper Sachet
  • BBQ Sauce Sachet
  • Tomato Ketchup Satchet
  • Spoon
  • Tin opener/spoon
  • Toilet Paper
  • Matches
  • Pot scourer
  • Hexamine Stove + fuel
Australian Defence Force Ratpack "C"
Hexamine Stove all fired up

I set out to taste all the food in order of a typical day, starting with breakfast.

Overall, I think the feeling that I had most throughout the test was disappointment. If you watch the video, you’ll see that so many things started off quite OK, but then after about 2 or 3 chews, you start to realise that the flavour you expected (ie. the taste of the real products from ‘home’ in Australia), was not what was inside the package you just opened.

People tell me that experienced ratpack eaters concoct various recipes and ways of mixing things up from the contents to increase the tastiness of them. For example:

Michelle from NZ says, “My brother used to mix the muesli, with jam, chocolate drink powder and the condensed milk. He swears by it.”

You’ll need to watch the video to see my thoughts and ratings for each individual element, but in summary…

Highlights

  • Beef Jerky
  • Condensed Milk
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Muesli

Lowlights

  • Crackers
  • Chewing Gum
  • Meat-like substance in Spaghetti & Meatballs

The only reason I can see that the food generally has to be so poor, (when there are great options available to the everyday hiker in an outdoor store) is due to military budgets. I can only imagine how many millions of dollars go into the pointy end of these operations, that when it comes to troop welfare, maybe that’s where cuts are made. Sure, you sign up to defend your country (hopefully not someone else’s) and not for the food.

Q: Have you been (or still are) in the Military or tasted Military MRE ratpacks? What are your thoughts and experiences? How do you improve the flavour?

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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