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M. Ross "Bacchuskitty" RSS Feed (Orange, CA USA)
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Fram CA8918 Extra Guard Rigid Panel Air Filter
Fram CA8918 Extra Guard Rigid Panel Air Filter
Price: $11.60
27 used & new from $10.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Filter, Decent Price, November 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This particular filter (CA 8918) is for my 2006 Toyota Tundra. I've been using these Fram filters for years and have found them to be efficient, reliable, and free from defects. Previous cars I've used these on have been running perfectly after 200,000 miles, so I can assume they've been doing their job.

Not much to say about a filter except that they work, right? Here are some other things I've found from using these air filters over the years:

* Quality - After using dozens and dozens of Fram air filters for different cars over the years, I've never had one that had a defect: No tears or gaps, no mis-glued seams, and the gaskets have always mated perfectly to the air cleaner box surfaces, properly sealing the edges and preventing blow-by.

* Country of manufacture - While the Fram air filters I've used for the past several years have been sourced out of country, the quality control has always been excellent. The last few I've used for my '06 Tundra have been made in Israel, for those to whom this matters.

* Efficiency - The efficiency of these filters meets or exceeds manufacture warranty requirements. That is to say, if you keep your car properly maintained in all other ways, it should last as long as it ought. Some would say that there are other air filters out there that are more efficient, and I'll grant that's probably true. Does it make a noticeable difference over 100,000 miles? 200,000 miles? I've had cars that have lasted longer than that, and my direct experience tells me that it's not worth spending money on something that doesn't make a significant difference. There will be some who disagree with me, and that's fine: I'm just reporting on my personal experience with this product over decades of use and hundreds of thousands of miles.

There are other, excellent filters out there, some a bit more or maybe even a bit less than this one, and they'd all do the trick. For me, this is the air filter I go to because it's been reliable, works as it should, and is priced competitively. Based on my experience, I'd recommend these to anyone.


3M 2097 P100 Particulate Filter with Organic Vapor Relief, 1 Pair
3M 2097 P100 Particulate Filter with Organic Vapor Relief, 1 Pair
Price: $6.72
46 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Efficiency and Effective, November 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are outstanding filters for your respirator (I use them on my 6000 series model 3M 6300 Half Facepiece Respirator - Facepiece Only - Large Size, Requires Filters or Cartridges ) and are a terrific value when compared to the damage to your lungs they prevent. I am a contractor and I use them often for work, but they are just as great in the shop, yard, house. Here is my review of the product based on my experience.

Pros:

* Effective - These really block the particulates. Whether used in the workshop for wood dust, blowing in attic insulation, or cleaning out the dusty old attic, these filters will protect your lungs. They are also effective in blocking nuisance levels of organic vapors: Good for using spray cans of paint on your old yard furniture certainly, but not to be used in a high concentration environment like a professional spray booth. They are perfect for welding or brazing, outside airless sprayer use, in the woodshop, etc.

* Efficient - These P100 filters are rated at 99.97 percent efficient, so there really isn't anything that's going to get through. Certainly good enough for allergy sufferers working in the yard or around the house, these filters are also ideal for working in commercial or industrial environments. They have a large surface area that resists clogging over time and keeps the breathing easy. These are some of the most comfortable filters I've used.

* Lightweight - These filters weigh next to nothing. If you've used P100 rated canister-style filters like I have, these lightweight filters will be a revelation. Unlike the heavy canister filters that begin to cause discomfort within an hour, these can be used all day with no problem. I've found that the tension straps on my 6000 series mask don't need to be nearly so tight to keep it in position because these lightweight filters don't try drag them mask off my face as the day wears on.

* Color - Bright pink that just screams to everyone in sight that you are protected from the toxic environment all around. That's a good thing, right? OK, maybe not, but I've found that the bright color has two advantages: 1) you can tell in an instant and from a distance if your crew is in compliance with their breathing apparatus, and 2) it makes it easier to tell (other than by your breathing becoming difficult to indicate that your filter is clogged, which is already too late) that your filter is getting full or is clogged by foreign matter. I appreciate this visual indicator, as I've had a hard time in the past when light colored particulates have covered my white filter. But pink? The color may not be for everyone, but you'll learn to love it every time you think about what they're doing for your lungs...

* Value - For P100-rated filters that last, are comfortable to used, and that can't be beat for protection, these represent a fair ripper of a bargain.

* Durable - While not to be used in the rain, these are moisture resistant. I was skeptical until I was in a misty environment, and they still perform very well so long as they are not soaked. I've also had them catch on various branches and machinery and have been surprised how resistant they are to tears and damage.

Cons:

* Color - I'll admit the color may not be for everyone, but I've learned to love it.

Bottom line:

These are outstanding filters for an excellent value. I've never had a complaint when using them and have found them to be long lasting and very comfortable to use; when it comes to the protection they afford, they are second to none, in my opinion.

Five stars for top rate protection and highly recommended.


Vampirina Ballerina
Vampirina Ballerina
by Leuyen Pham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.14
62 used & new from $1.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even Vampires Can Fit In, November 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vampirina Ballerina (Hardcover)
This book is one of our Halloween-themed purchased this year for our daughter who loves stories and is beginning to read. At 4.75 years, she also happens to love her ballet class, which is one of the central themes of the story. My wife, daughter, and I have really enjoyed this book, and it offers subtle support to our teaching of the importance of goals and hard work.

The story follows a young female vampire who aspires to be a ballerina. Off she goes to ballerina school and learns that it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and practice to be a ballerina. (or to be successful at anything, for that matter) There's also a lesson of trying to fit in here, too: All the other ballerinas are non-vampires, and there are amusing scenes where her schoolmates don't quite know what to make of the fangs, bat wings, and the fact that she turns into a bat (poof!) every time she gets embarrassed. Hard work and practice pay off, however, and she finally gets her debut.

I'm not sure I want my daughter to be a ballerina (as if it's entirely up to me) but I do appreciate the overall theme of hard work and persistence, along focusing on the outcome despite challenging beginnings. All this is presented rather softly and it well-received by my daughter. She likes it and asks for it to be read to her at bedtime, so the exposure to positive messages is there; she also enjoys sitting by herself and following the story page by page by herself.

The story flows through the book in asymmetric non-block format, which is good for keeping young eyes focused, and the art is always complementary to the narrative. The art itself is attractively done in watercolor in entertaining juxtaposition of pink (ballerina) and black (vampire). The parents and family members remind me something of the Adams Family, but I like that they are supportive of the little girl vampire's aspirations. Naturally, they are all present at her big theater debut.

The book is a charming and easy read and stands up well to repeated readings. Possibly more effective around the Halloween holiday, this book would work at any time of year for young ballerinas. Recommended.


Which Way to Witch School?
Which Way to Witch School?
by Scott Santoro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.99
62 used & new from $2.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming Story for Young Aspiring Witches, November 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My wife and I bought this book for our daughter, age 4.75, to coincide with the event of Halloween 2012. Parents and daughter all really love this book and it's been read over and over and over again.

It is the story of young witches of varying ages and stripes going off to witch school where, along with learning to become better witches, they also do things common to any children's camp: make friends, go hiking (in the haunted forest), put on plays, sing, etc. The story follows the young witches along as they do their activities and attend class, and it's all in rhyme. Easy to read (again and again) and easy to listen to, it also serves as a decent early reader for our daughter to explore and find words that she knows as well as ask us about ones she doesn't.

I appreciate the school-theme that reinforces our own family's emphasis on education: After all, witches need to learn to. I especially like that in flying-broom class the budding witches (all girls) are learning mathematics and physics, a helpful reference to hard science that I've found lacking in so many children's readers. There are also references to potion-making (chemistry?) and the arts. I also like that something that is otherwise commonly portrayed as frightening - hiking in a dark and haunted forest - is shown to be rather fun and adventuresome. Indeed, all the better if the hike is accompanied by thunder and lightning. As a father trying to bring up his daughter to be appropriately fearless, smart, and sensible, I feel this book sends decent messages.

It's all in fun, of course, and the witch theme is carried throughout. Potentially scary themes and locales are treated softly and with humor and shown to be unthreatening. The story matches well with the art, which is colorful, interesting, and attractive.

We continue to enjoy it and can recommend it.


Esbit 1300 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for Backpacking, Camping and Hobby - 12 Pieces Each 14g
Esbit 1300 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for Backpacking, Camping and Hobby - 12 Pieces Each 14g
Price: $5.99
60 used & new from $4.99

235 of 243 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reliable Fire, Anywhere, November 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is for the Esbit fuel tablets in the 14 gram size. Developed in 1936 in Germany, these fuel tabs are made of hexamine and are in solid form. They have been used in purpose-specific pocket stoves for decades, in WWII, as part of humanitarian packets worldwide, and for years as part of NATO troops' standard kit. I use these primarily for the Esbit pocket stove but they also make for excellent fire starters, especially in adverse conditions. Amazon has proven a reliable source for these as well as a decent price, though I've found they can be had for comparable prices at local outdoor/adventure stores. I have been using these for years and have found them so reliable that they live in my home and auto-based emergency kits, my dayhike pack, and my backpacking gear. The following is a breakdown of my experience with the Esbit fuel tabs:

Pros:

* Utterly Dependable - It has been found that these fuel tabs burn just as long and just as hot after decades in storage. I don't know that I can say that about any of my other camping stove fuels: White gas, diesel, isobutane canisters, or alcohol. Any of the others would be prone to spills, evaporation, varnishing, leaky valves after an extended period of time. After years of use, I've never had one fail to light or burn, ever. This kind of dependability makes them ideal for long term storage in emergency kits, that you may not be opening regularly.

* Flexible - My typical use of these fuel tabs is in the Esbit pocket stoveEsbit Pocket Stove, but they also happen to make excellent fire starters, especially in less than ideal conditions. If your tinder happens to be slightly damp, starting a fire can be a challenge. These fuel tabs will burn over ten minutes (14 gram size), giving time and heat enough to dry and ignite surrounding tinder. This allows you to save matches on those cold damp days when you really to get a fire going.

* Performance - As a stove fuel, the Esbit tabs are perfectly reliable and can bring a pint of water to a boil with a single tablet, under good conditions. To increase the heat, or to extend the duration of the burn (a single tablet burns approximately 12 - 14 minutes), you can simply burn more than one at a time, or in succession. For large scale cooking, or when you really need to modulate the heat, a backpacking stove or camping stove is the way to go, however.

* Clean - As a solid fuel, spills are never an issue. When burning, the flame is smokeless, usually less than a burning candle. The fuel tab can be reused also, by blowing out the flame - the remaining tab can be re-lit for the next meal. When completely burned, there minimal residue remaining. To keep your Esbit stove especially clean, just put a small piece of aluminum foil on the burn surface - after the fuel tab burns, just toss the foil with the residue on it.

* Simple - This may well be a drawback to some, but this reviewer appreciates the simplicity of this fuel, along with the Esbit pocket stove. I've got several fancy backpacking stoves that have valves, o-rings, pressurized fuel bottles, multi-fuel capacity, and that can boil water in minutes flat. And sometimes that's good: When the wife is hungry and tired, it's not healthy for me to make her wait. But when I have that rare moment when I can be somewhere remote when it's just me and the silence, I really enjoy the quiet, dancing flame of my Esbit stove. No pumping, priming, adjusting, or extensive set up of a fancy stove, nor the jet engine howl of the gas burner. No. Just unfold the stove, light the match, and listen to the soft hiss as your water comes to a boil. With all the electronic connectivity of modern life, sometimes simple is good. Better than good.

Cons:

* Wind Sensitive - As these can be easily blown out, care needs to be taken to shield them from the wind if the best performance is to be had from them when cooking or heating water. I make my own windscreens for my Esbit pocket stoves by folding a long sheet of aluminum foil length-wise a few times until it is about 3 to 4 inches wide and about 18" long; I then make slits at the bottom to allow air to the flame and place the windscreen around the outside of the stove, allowing enough space for air to flow. Thus protected, I've never had issues with my Esbit-fuelled stove. Most backpacking stoves are likewise sensitive to the wind and need to be similarly protected by a windscreen.

* Limited Cooking Options - When used in a pocket stove, Esbit fuel is ideally suited to boil a pint of water to reconstitute a dehydrated meal, cook ramen noodles, or to make tea, coffee, or hot cocao. This makes it ideal for minimalist backpacking, day hikes, as an emergency or backup stove, or for keeping in your truck (like I do) for those times when you are out in the boonies on a frigid day and could really use a hot cup of tea or coffee, or a steaming bowl of noodles. It's not that you can't cook a full meal on it, and I have - but it will never be as fast, easy, or convenient as using a more capable and adjustable backpacking stove.

* Smell - When burning, the fuel doesn't give off too much odor unless you're in an enclosed space. (which, of course, you shouldn't be anyway) The residue, however, smells of old fish. I recommend storing your stove (which will have the residue on it after use) in the excellent Opsak bags by Loksak OPSAK Odor Proof Barrier Bags (3 Size Options) These bags will stop odor dead in its tracks. If you're backpacking or hiking in a regulated area, your stove bag also makes an excellent way to pack out human waste for those areas that are regulated, or if you just want to be a good citizen. (Side recommendation here: 12-pack WAG(tm) Bag Kit )

Possible Uses:

I carry spare fuel tabs, along with the Esbit pocket stove, stormproof matches, four tea bags, plastic baggies, a nano pack towel, an ounce of campsuds, and a titanium spork in a Snow Peak Trek 700 cup/pot. This little piece of kit is a surprisingly versatile cook kit that lives in my truck and goes on every day hike and backpacking trip. It's always at the ready to serve up a cup of tea, rehydrate a Mountain House meal, or cook ramen noodles. Of course, it's also there if I needed to boil water in an emergency in order to purify it, start a campfire, etc.

Bottom Line:

While there are many options for camp stoves, I always carry these Esbit fuel tabs in a pocket stove wherever I go and also use them for my home-based emergency kit. I've found them to be reliable, durable, and handy. I can unequivocally recommend them for outdoor recreation, simple camp cooking, emergency use, or for back up to other camp stoves. Great product, five stars.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2014 8:26 PM PDT


Maasdam Pow'R Pull PP100, Post Pull'R
Maasdam Pow'R Pull PP100, Post Pull'R
Price: $29.98
34 used & new from $26.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for Pulling T Stakes, November 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Now here's one of those tools that you'd probably be happy paying double or triple for if you tried pulling T fence stakes out of the ground by hand. I've tried with channel lock pliers, crowbars, digging. No luck. I tried on one that had been stuck in heavy clay soil for 30 years and nearly threw out my back and poked my eye out at the same time. This post puller took that T stake out in about 30 seconds. In another five minutes, I had out a half-dozen of his brothers, all equally stubborn. It was so easy, it was so silly-simple to do, it was actually fun. Who knew.

Simple in design and all steel construction, the puller just uses leverage and a wedging mechanism to do the trick. The components are heavy enough that this should last a while if you've go acres to re-fence. In addition to a heavy metal wedge to use for metal T stakes, the puller also has a hook attachment that you can use with some chain and tackle to pull other posts: 4 X 4's, treated posts, 6" posts, etc. It's got a reasonably wide foot to keep it from sinking into the ground, which should work well for all but the soggiest soil; you can easily increase the foot area by throwing down a 2X4 or similar for it to sit on. It is intuitive and easy to use.

This is a super tool and the thing to get if you've got to pull posts and stakes out of the ground. Of course, if you're in the country and/or have a working farm, you've probably already got pole extraction covered. If you're in the 'burbs or semi-rural areas and have posts and stakes you don't want, you need this tool. Given the time, effort, and injuries this will save you, it represents huge value. Huge.

Highly recommended.


HKS 586-A  Revolver Speedloader for S&W 586, 686, 581, 681/Ruger GP100
HKS 586-A Revolver Speedloader for S&W 586, 686, 581, 681/Ruger GP100
Price: $10.29
33 used & new from $6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Speedy, Effective, Tough, November 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got several of these speedloaders for my Ruger GP100 and I can say this: They make for a WAY better shooting experience than hand loading one cartridge at a time. I've put them to the test in many environments, from relaxed to stressed, and with many brands of ammunition and they've yet to break, fail, or degrade. Here are highlights of my experience with these excellent speedloaders:

* Quality - Every HKS speedloader I've ever had has worked the first time, every time, in every condition. Simple in design, the speedloader has few moving parts so there is little to break or go wrong. They are made of high quality materials that have stood up to many uses over time.

* Durable - I've never had one of these break or fail on me, despite frequent use and dropping plenty of them on the concrete, dirt, and sand. They are rugged and have stood up to use and abuse and continue to work perfectly.

* Reliable - This is critical for those who really need to reload as if there life (or stopwatch) depended on it, and these units have never failed or stuck.

* Simple to Use - Easy to load, these speedloaders make redoading a snap. Release the spent casings, insert speedloader, and with a twist you are good to go.

* Fast - These are much faster than reloading by hand, but it also takes practice and technique. Under stress, I'm not sure these would be a benefit to someone who really needed to reload very quickly unless they were well-practiced - see comments below.

Cons:

* Fiddly - In theory, these pop in six (in my model) rounds relatively quickly, but here's the thing: Releasing the cartridges takes a twist of the knob. That same twist of the knob will also want to rotate the cylinder of your handgun, so you've got to keep the cylinder from spinning with a finger from your other hand. No big deal, you say? No, it's not when you are sitting on your couch watching your favorite spaghetti western. But what about in competition? What about when you are being timed? What about in the dark? Under stress? My point is this: While it's not a complicated or lengthy process, using a speedloader quickly and effectively is still a process, one over and above the act of popping open your cylinder and shoving rounds in by hand. It takes some practice to do it quickly, without binding the cylinder, or accidentally twisting the knob too early and spilling all your cartridges at your feet. For those of you who started out with a semiautomatic handgun where you just slap a magazine in, you may be surprised at how fiddly these are in comparison.

Other Thoughts:

Here's where I give the product four stars rather than five. Up until fairly recently, these speedloaders were the best. A new design is out there now where the cartridges are released with a press of the knob rather than a twist - I do believe that to be a better design if time proves the design to be equally reliable. Pushing the knob precludes the cylinder from turning, removing a step from the process (holding the cylinder), making it - theoretically - simpler, easier, faster, and safer. I've yet to use that other design, so I'll withhold judgement for now and stick with what I know works every time, time after time: HKS

One would do well to try both designs to see which one works best for them, but in the meantime I can easily recommend these reliable, tough units that take the chore out of reloading wheelguns.


Allen Company Knit Gun Sock for Handguns (14-Inch)
Allen Company Knit Gun Sock for Handguns (14-Inch)
Price: $6.99
9 used & new from $2.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality Gun Sock, Great Price, November 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I usually prefer BoreStores for handgun storage but thought I'd give the Allen knit gun sock a try. I'm glad I did!

Pros:

* Thick and Soft - The material is thick enough to protect the handgun from accidental nicks and scrapes from taking it in and out of the gun safe, and keeping it from coming into contact with its neighbors. As a protective device against accidental bumps and scrapes, it is excellent.

* Generous Size - It doesn't look that big to begin with, but the material is knit and thus very stretchy. Plenty big enough for full-size semi-automatic duty guns, and can accommodate a Ruger GP100 with a bulky cylinder lock with ease.

* Opaque - I never like advertising my firearms, no matter who's around, and this is a nice way of shielding the handgun from prying eyes as it makes its way from the gun safe to the range bag. The sock has enough material and give that it doesn't perfectly outline the firearm, so casual observers wouldn't automatically know what's inside.

* Closing Mechanism - ...is in the form of a low-tech drawstring. I like that because it is completely reliable, repairable, and doesn't make a loud ripping sound when you open it, unlike hook and loop enclosures. I've never liked the loud 'RRRrrrrrrripp!' that simultaneously announces both my presence and the act of opening my handgun storage thingy. Call me paranoid.

* Price - Hard to beat the value proposition here: Effective, high quality product for the price of a burger, fries, and a drink. Not bad at all.

Cons:

* None to date

Other Thoughts:

I take my firearm safety very seriously, especially as there are children about. This gun sock is protective of the finish, but in no way is it a safety device. It won't keep little hands away, and it won't keep the trigger from being pulled by mistake or mishandling. Once in the sock, the handgun still needs to be put somewhere truly safe.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy this product as needed for other firearms, and it's good enough for everything from duty weapons to your finest collectibles. Recommended!


Oshlun MMA-0310 Standard HCS Oscillating Tool Blade with Uni-Fit Arbor for Fein Multimaster, Dremel, and Bosch, 1-1/3-Inch, 10-Pack
Oshlun MMA-0310 Standard HCS Oscillating Tool Blade with Uni-Fit Arbor for Fein Multimaster, Dremel, and Bosch, 1-1/3-Inch, 10-Pack
Price: $41.07
2 used & new from $36.29

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Blades, Huge Value, November 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a contractor, I'm always looking for tools that will make my work safer, better, more efficient, or all of the above. I've been amazed at how much I have used my oscillating multi-tools. It has saved me and my crews hours of time at at the same time has improved quality. The only drawback has been the high price of the brand-name blades. I wince every time I buy a new pack. I also believe in quality, though, and so was skeptical when ordering a pack of these -0310 blades from Oshlun. Imagine my surprise when blades that I had expected to be dull, flimsy, and cheaply made lasted nearly as long as the brand name blades that cost over double. I will only be buying these blades from now on and can recommend them to anyone. Here are the highlights based on my use:

* Quality - These are high quality blades, and while they may not last quite as long as the brand name blades I've been using, they pretty darn close. They don't flex any more than the expensive blades, and their cuts is just as clean and true. I've also been impressed with their longevity, as it is hard for me to tell that these don't last just as long as the brand name blades. I've used a single blade to cut through countless cedar shims, make plunge cuts in red oak flooring, cut holes in drywall, and it's still sharp enough for delicate work with hardwood. I'm impressed.

* Price - Can't complain here. These are a fraction of the cost of brand name blades without much loss (if any) of quality. I've always been a believer in buying quality, but I also think it's silly to pay more than you have to. You will want to see for yourself, but this reviewer has found these to very good, for a whole lot less.

* Versatile - These blades will fit Fein, Dremel, and Bosch. I've used these on my Bosch tools and the fit is tight and precise, with no loosening or slop.

This review is for the wood plunge blade, which is what I use most often. I can't speak to the quality of the bi-metal blades, but after my experience with these I would certainly give them a try if I need them.

Based on my experience with these blades I can easily recommend them. Depending on the price and whether the seller offers free shipping, these are a steal.


Mountain House - ProPak - Chicken Teriyaki w/Rice [4.06oz]
Mountain House - ProPak - Chicken Teriyaki w/Rice [4.06oz]
Offered by BIGFLYSPORTS
Price: $10.44
3 used & new from $9.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tasty, Compact, Good Shelf Life, November 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a review of Mountain House Pro-Pak dehydrated meals, in particular the Chicken Teriyaki w/Rice version. I've been eating Mountain House meals for years, and I just picked up some Pro-Paks for backpacking and truck rations. Here are main points of my review, specifically for the Pro Pak:

Pros:

* Tasty - This isn't unique to the Pro Pak packaging, but Mountain House meals are my favorite among all the dehydrated meals I've tried. It's not like home, and no one's going to mistake this for gourmet cooking, but these meals are reliably edible and even downright tasty. The most recent one I ate in the Pro Pak form was Chicken Teriyaki w/Rice reconstituted with hot water boiled with an Esbit pocket stove. The sauce was convincing and the right consistency, the chicken flavorful. It was hard to tell that the rice had been dehydrated. Not bad at all. Of course like most meals of this kind, it's kind of a sodium blast. But if you're working or hiking hard and taking in lots of water, that's fine in the short term. Relating to taste, and in the context of food for emergency use, this reviewer prefers these to MRE's, in any instance. Keep in mind that you need water to reconstitute these meals...

* Space-Saving - These Pro Pak meals are vacuum-packed, so they take up much less space than the regular versions. Part of it may also be due to slightly smaller serving sizes: the Chicken Teriyaki w/Rice is listed at 2 servings (2 cups), and 115 grams unprepared. Though they are vacuum packed and do take up less space, the package itself still strikes me as a bit larger than it needs to be. Regardless, the Pro Paks are great if you are going to some altitude, as they stay shrunk and will not expand as you go up the mountain. Whether you are putting these in your backpack for back country adventures, day hikes, or just to keep in your truck so you are never far from a hot meal, you will appreciate that the Pro Pack packaging takes up so little space.

* Long Shelf Life - The stock I just received (as of November 2012) has a use-by date of 2019. That's pretty good for a non-nitrogen flushed packaging. For real shelf life, see Mountain House meals in the #10 cans (large coffee can size), which have a shelf life of 25 years. These are ideal for long-term emergency supplies. Still, the Pro Paks have good shelf life and are great for shorter term rations for your car/truck kit or to take advantage of when you find a sale to stock up on for next years' backpacking trips.

Cons:

* Price - As with any dehydrated instant meal, you pay a price for packaging and convenience; These are relatively expensive hiking/backpacking food when compared to what you can knock together yourself with some care. Still, they're not too bad considering the size of the portion and there is always something to be said for convenience.

* Packaging - For purists, the disposable packaging is always going to be something of a burn, but there's no getting around that all the time. Even when I'm being good about bringing reusable containers on my backpacking trips, I still come away with some trash. It's a small gripe, but I think Mountain House could make their backs a bit smaller.

Bottom line, Mountain House meals are the best of the breed for this reviewer for consistent quality and edibility. The Pro Paks offer a good option for those applications where you need to save some space, though it comes with a negligible price premium. Just as with mom's cooking, some of the meals are going to be more to your liking than others, so try them before you need to eat them in the boonies to make sure you know what you're getting when you are far from home.

I can give these a hearty recommendation whenever you are looking for dehydrated meals, whether for backpacking, camping, truck, emergency kit, or the zombie apocalypse. (for the latter, I recommend the #10 cans)


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