Product Review: Datrex Emergency Rations

Time to get off the election thing and back to the real world.  Just because we have Hillary bottled up somewhere doesn’t mean the rainbow farting unicorns are going to show up and make life grand.

Until recently, I spent the last 22 years working over 30 miles from home.  Being an old fart with some health problems, I knew that if an emergency occurred and something either had me stuck on the road or worse yet, on foot trying to get home, that there was no way I could make it in a day.  Once upon a time perhaps, but no way now.  I also knew that I would be limited in the amount of gear I’d be able to carry if on foot.

I carried a large “get home bag” in my vehicle.  (I thought I had done a post on that and my philosophy of it, but if I have I can’t find it, so I guess there’s an idea for a future post.)  Among the items in it were Datrex Emergency Rations.

Also known as lifeboat rations, the big selling points for these are their nutrient density for their size and weight and their incredible shelf stability.  Datrex quotes a shelf life of “a minimum of 5 years in even the harshest of environments.

Oh really?

Six years ago, the two packages of rations you see above went into the get home bag.  As you can see on the photo to the left, these were produced 06/10 and had a use by date of 06/15.  I rotated them out for fresh rations in September, 2015.  By that time they had spent 5 years being be-bopped around several states in the back of my vehicle, in temperatures from sub-zero to whatever amazing oven a closed car in the sun can becomes on a 105o day in North Carolina.

After that, they got to spend a year in my basement, where the temperatures ranged from 580to 78o and the humidity is held to maximum 50% by a dehumidifier.  Then one fine day recently Son and I opened them up and sampled a couple.

I thought they were quite good.  However, I’m notoriously not picky about my food.  I’d say they tasted like a coconut cookie.  These were rather crumbly in texture, and while I can’t say whether that is their normal condition or a result of the storage conditions, other reviewers have noted the same, so I guess that’s how they’re supposed to be.

They are dry, as in bone dry.  You will have to have a good supply of drinking water if you plan on using these as your food source, because you’re getting next to no moisture from them.  I suspect that eating these versus some more “normal” sort of food will increase the amount of water you’ll need to drink.

A package of rations weighs 2 pounds, and contains 18 bars of 200 calories each for a total of 3600 calories.  Given the amount of energy you would be putting out walking home this would probably be 2 days worth of “food” unless you plan on being a little hungry, in which case I think you could stretch it to four.  I had planned on supplementing mine with items that I normally kept in my desk for those days I got stuck at lunch, which would have given me between 3-5 more meals of 400-600 calories.  My plan was for a 4 day trip home.  Since I’m packing some extra weight, a little calorie deficit wasn’t going to hurt me for a few days.

Son did not care for the taste, and I suspect anyone who doesn’t care for coconut will not.  The rations are flavored strongly of coconut and I see no way that could be hidden.  He wasn’t much on the texture either.  I suspect real hunger would overcome both objections quickly enough.

While I don’t suggest relying on these long term, at the current price on Datrex’s web site of $139/case (or $129/case if bought by the 70 case pallet), they could be something you might add to your preps for those occasions when a fast, no time to cook, eat it on the go snack or meal was necessary.  I can see them as trail rations for scouting parties, for example.  While they are rated for a minimum of 5 years in storage, I expect my basement storage conditions could easily double that.  If you are in the mind of providing charity for neighbors or unexpected guests in a true TEOTWAWKI situation, these would be an easy, compact if expensive way to provide them with a day or two worth of food in a compact, easy to hand out package.

If this were a few months ago, I’d order a case to drop in my own preps, but the recent job loss means that we are being more careful with the money these days.  I still may, but it will have to be a more considered purchase,  Right now, other things are further up on the list things to buy.

To sum it up, these are a highly shelf stable, relatively palatable, light weight, compact way to carry or store a lot of calories.  While I don’t suggest these as an entire food store, I think they do have a place, but only after you have built your food preps up the old-fashioned way.

2 thoughts on “Product Review: Datrex Emergency Rations

  1. Thanks for the info. I was contemplating trying some life boat bars. Calories are good but you gotta have vitamins 'n um, stuff. These bars appear to me to be nutritionally deficient. You would have to eat 43 of them to get 100% of your day's protein; a can of tuna seems called for, along with some dried veggies or fruit. I use Clif Bars and rotate every six months or so. I told my nutritional go-to guru I often had a Clif Bar and coffee for breakfast; my reward was an eye-roll and a muttered "Well, at least they are the best of the power bars for nutrition.".

    FWIW, I've had 17-year-old MREs and some were gross and some edible-ish. Avoid the Chiclets- they look great and disintegrate when touched by 17-year-old instant coffee.

  2. Y'know, after re-reading your final paragraph, I see you kinda already said what I spouted. I've concluded I should reverse my usual order of doing things. From now on, comment first, then gin-and-tonic. Thanks for the review.

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