Last weekend I put to the test a product which I have heard about on overseas websites and recently found out have one lone NZ supplier. Mainstay rations are designed to a pretty much indestructible food that you can store for an emergency or take with you in the outdoors.

Now I have tried some of these "emergency" foods before and to be honest it was like gnawing on cardboard. But hey they were for emergencies, desperate times call for desperate measures right? In that kind of situation its the nourishment that matters.

So when I tried these Mainstay energy bars out, I didn't have high expectations. I took them out on a day walk as a breakfast and lunch replacement, and stopped for a break around 9am. Opening the shrink-wrapped foil packet, I could see they were scored along the meal portion segments, so I broke off a square.

The taste pleasantly surprised me, it was like a compact lemon shortbread. I ate it slowly, with plenty of water for wash it down as it was quite rich (judging my the nutrients packed into a single serving I'm not surprised)

I set off again, it was a cold day and the wind was bitter. I stopped at a particularly scenic location to do a bit of whittling for about an hour, then set off again. At around 1pm I stopped for a break, stringing my poncho up as a wind break. I was starting to get a bit peckish, so I has another square of Mainstay ration with water.

Heading home, I decided to go off track for a bit and explore a nearby ridge, it was tough yakka through the scrub. I got home at around 5pm, but wasn't hungry for dinner until 6pm. I was very happy with how these sustained me, and I will be carrying a few with me as back up food. I would want to have something hot with them (like a billy of tea) for dinner, and I would prefer to mix them up with regular meals if on a multi-day outing.

I would not hesitate to take them out on a day trip, or as emergency food, or when I was needing to pack light. I'll also stockpile some as emergency food around the home in case of a natural disaster or something, they have a 5 year shelf life and withstand temperature extremes.

The picture above is the Mainstay 3600 pack, or 9 X 400 calorie meal portions. These would be good for emergency preparedness or group trips.

Below is a picture of the Mainstay 1200 sports packs, which contain a days rations: 3 X 400 calorie meal portions. These are great for day trips, or out on the boat or mountain. Both of these are used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

If you are interested in getting hold of some yourself, are the sole NZ supplier and at the time of publishing they have them on special, along with some other great camping and emergency preparedness gear.

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Comment by Ryan Johnson-Hunt on October 13, 2010 at 20:15
@Tony: Great point, checking the manufacturer date is a great tip

Comment by grilla haskell on October 12, 2010 at 0:11
These food sources can be really useful. If you plan on taking advantage of the 5 year shelf life though, I would reckon that you'll want to see the date of manufacture on the package before you buy - because that shelf-life will be 5 years from the date of manufacture, which could theoretically at least have been 4.5 years ago....

Comment by Ryan Johnson-Hunt on August 26, 2010 at 20:21
400 Calories (or 1675kj according to online converter). I would take something solid as well, but at least with these your are getting energy and vitamins for tissue recovery

Comment by Bill Raymond on August 26, 2010 at 19:13
Is there no energy/kj information? I can't see it on the wrapper.

Anyway, this is interesting - I'll be sure to purchase someone in the future. Food tends to be an issue for me on tramps etc. I tend to use those freeze-dried meals but they don't really keep me going and I'm often hungry. I don't really care about the taste so long as I'm not fantasising about food while tramping the wilderness!

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