Heating food and hot drinks is an everyday task during bushwalking. It is not difficult but there are times when naked flames are banned and it is always impossible to take fuel on commercial aircraft. So is there an alternative?
Chemical heating pouches were invented for the military market so that soldiers could heat their MREs* (meals ready to eat) without fire smoke giving their position away to an enemy. Whilst they have been used for many years these chemical pouches have been regarded as poor performers at best.
The MEALSPEC Flameless meal heater is a new product which consists of a zip lock bag and a separate sachet containing the chemical pouch used to create heat. You put your meal into the zip lock bag along with about 100 ml of water then add the chemical pouch (after discarding its protective sachet). The performance is amazing. The chemical reaction will boil the water in about 12 seconds and maintain 105°C for more than 12 minutes. Another version of the product will hold its temperature for 60 minutes.
When cooked, remove the food from the zip lock bag and it is ready to eat. Beware of the steam.
This product is available from its US manufacturer but is also available from an Australian importer for $3.95 each plus postage. It will probably be cheaper in bulk. The company offering these pouches can be found at mealspec.com.
The heating pouches are for one time use only. So you need as many as the number of meals you want to heat. You can use ordinary freezer bags for the food so the weight and space for a dozen heater sachets is much less than a conventional stove and fuel canister.
*Meals Ready to Eat got their name from the idea that they could be eaten cold. But soldiers never like to eat cold meals so heating devices were invented. The MEALSPEC Flameless meal heater easily outperforms the US Military’s flameless heater so soldiers are now buying their own MEALSPEC heaters.