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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Emergency Food Bar Review

I recently did an update to my Bug Out Bag (BOB)/Get Home Bag (GHB) to swap out my summer clothes with some more appropriate winter clothes.  Since I was there, I decided to swap out the Mayday Survival Bar that had been in the bag for the past 3 years.  I ordered a Mainstay Emergency Food Ration bar to replace the Mayday bar.  Since I had purchased too many of them, I decided to do a comparison.

The idea behind these types of bars is that they are high-density foods.  They don't take up a lot of space or weight, and they provide a bunch of calories - perfect for an emergency bag of some sort.

A couple of things:

  • Both of the bars tout the fact that they are a non-thirst provoking food - they don't make you crave water.
  • The older Mayday bar was 3 years old, and the Mainstay was 1 year old.  The shelf-life of both bars is supposed to be 5 years.
  • The Mayday bar was a 2400-calorie bar, the Mainstay was a 3600-calorie bar.
  • I don't have a financial interest in either company.

We both like the newer Mainstay bar better.  The flavor was better, and the cookie was much more moist.

One thing I was a bit disapointed in with the Mainstay, was that the package gave the impression that the 9 individual 400-calorie blocks were each individually wrapped.  Like the Mayday bar, the entire block is wrapped as a single unit.  Because of this, I recommend that you buy the bars in the one day, 1200-calorie bars. 

If you were in some sort of emergency that involved water (flooding, mud slides, levee breaks, having to cross creeks/rivers, etc.) having an entire 3-day bar unwrapped is risking your survival food.  

In a couple of years, when I swap out the Mainstay bars, I'll test them against a newer Mayday bar to see if the Mainstays dry out like it appears the Mayday bars do.

Accept The Challenge

These types of foods are a perfect compliment to a BOB/GHB.  I am a bit suprised at the price difference between the bars.  I'm able to find the "losing" Mayday bars for a bit over $3 per 1200-calorie bar.  The best price I can find on the Mainstay bar is about $4 (some sites were as high as $9 for the 1200-cal bar!).

I was pretty pleasantly surprised that the bars tasted pretty good.  Although the texture of the Mayday bar was overly dry, its flavor was still pretty good.  After doing some more research, I understand they supposedly taste like apple and cinnamon.  Ok, I'll have to take their word for it.  Still, they were quite edible.

I have a bunch of the newly-purchased 3600-calorie Mainstay bars.  I'm going to break them down into 1200-calorie portions, and vacuum seal them back up.

Make sure you have emergency drinking water in your BOB/GHB.  "Non-thirst provoking" or not, you need some liquids when eating either of these bars!
Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Jack said...

Thanks for the good info. The video really help show the difference.

Chief Instructor said...

I'm glad it helped. I'll be interested to see if the Mainstay bars age - and dry out - similarly to the Mayday bars after 3 years.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of either of these, I think I'll buy a couple and see how they are. I don't usually buy this kind of food but it makes sense for a Bug out bag, maybe I'll get some for my kids.

Chief Instructor said...

Yeah, the only place we keep them is in our BOBs/GHBs. All of our car bags have 2, 3600 calorie bars, and our BOB has probably a half dozen, if I'm remembering correctly. I'm going to swap them all out for the 1200 calorie versions of Mainstay (each car will have 6, 1200 calorie bars).

Pandabonium said...

Helpful comparison test - thanks.

However, who would want to get by on 1200 calories? Especially under stressful conditions. I really find these companies are trying to put one over on people in claiming that a 1200 calorie bar is going to get you through the day.

"Survival" companies also sell water packets which are totally inadequate in the amount of water.

Not saying don't buy them, but do be aware of what your body really needs to survive. Yes, for three days you'll get by - but one can "get by" on zero calories and water for 3 days. Would you want to? Would it maintain your health and strength? NO! You'd be better off with more water and no food.

Likewise "survival" water packets contain very little water. A person loses 2 to 4 liters of water a day, and if exercising even more. So plan accordingly. Don't trust the guidelines of survival kit companies. Make sure you can remain healthy on your emergency supplies.


Jere said...

I don't know anything about these or other high calorie survival bars. Thanks for info. So your suppose to ration them per meal.

Jere said...

I think I only take in about 1000 cals a day, if that. Breakfast , late lunch, light snack before bed.