While we were in Europe last month, I was contacted by Mountain House (a company that specializes in freeze-dried foods) and asked if I would like to review their new flameless heating kit – The Mountain Oven. I personally have never eaten a freeze-dried meal – I always thought they were for astronauts. That’s what you get for growing up in the city! Anyway, we decided to go for it and give the Mountain Oven a test run. After all, the term “flameless” is very appealing to us mothers of a toddler.
Rather than experiment with it for the first time while camping, we opted to try it at home. Addie gave me a hand with the preparations. Overall, it was very easy. We selected a freeze-dried meal (also sent to us by Mountain House) – Chicken Teriyaki with Rice, and followed the directions on the back of the Mountain Oven pouch.
Step One – Open the food pouch and pour in two cups of room temperature water. This was easy enough, but it would be nice to have the amount listed in ounces and/or milliliters as well. Rarely do I bring a measuring cup with me when out in the woods, but I do usually have a water bottle with oz/mL marked on the side.
After filling the pouch, you stir well and reseal the ziplock.
Step Two – Unpack the contents of the Mountain Oven. Inside the ziplock pouch is everything you need – carbon pads, salt tablets, and a small bottle to mix the salt tablet with water.
Step Three – Activate the oven. After placing the carbon pad flat on the bottom of the Mountain Oven (the ziplock pouch), all you need to do is fill the little bottle with 6oz. of water (there’s a fill-line on the side of the bottle), drop in one salt-tablet, and shake until it dissolves. Pour the mixture into the bag, quickly place the food pouch inside of the Mountain Oven, seal the ziplock, and in 20 minutes, you have a hot meal!
After 20 minutes, I pulled the food pouch from the Mountain Oven, opened it, and found a perfectly cooked meal! We enjoyed it with a simple side salad.
I was skeptical that the pouch truly contained two servings, as they seemed very small. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself full at the end of the meal. It was the perfect amount for two moms and their baby boo.
Kendra and I were both impressed with how flavorful the food tasted. Seriously, astronauts have it good! Addie liked it too!
While eating, Kendra and I discussed the pros and cons of the Mountain Oven. On the plus side, it’s a relatively fast and easy way to make a filling hot meal, not something easily achieved in the backcountry. It can be used five times before it needs to be thrown away, which allows for a hot meal every night on a five day backpacking trip! At 14 ounces, it’s light, and the pouch can be squished into a backpack with a bit more ease than a fuel-based heating system. Plus, at just $13.10 per Mountain Oven, it might make more sense economically for those who don’t camp on a regular basis.
On the downside, it creates extra waste that you need to pack out (the carbon pad can only be used once), has to be wiped out after each use, and it only cooks Mountain House meals.
Minor drawbacks aside, it’s definitely worth a try! We’ll be bringing our Mountain Oven with us on our next camping trip so we can test it out in the field!
In the meantime, if you’d like to get a Mountain Oven, or order of the Mountain House freeze-dried food pouches, you can buy them at the Mountain House website. For the month of April, if you use the code “OUTDOORMOMS” you can get 15% off your entire order (excluding canned food).