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"kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:52 pm
by TurtleNomad
As I mentioned in my freeze dried kit overview thread, the two kits which impressed me the most were both by Alpine Aire, so I'll start with their 7-day kit, which just dropped in price at Amazon. :)

I'd heard of Mountain House for years (decades?), but had never seen a significant review or even mention of Alpine Aire. In late 2010, I was on The Road, doing a gruelling contract, and stuck in a hotel with a tiny fridge that did not have a freezer compartment. That seemed like a great time to experiment with freeze dried pouch food, since it meant I could stock up easily. I took a look on Amazon, and the cheapest ones (by far) were a six pouch (3 variety) pack by "Natural High" and a 3-day kit by "Alpine Aire". I ordered both, and was disappointed by all three varieties in the "Natural High" pack, and liked most of the "Alpine Aire" varieties (even the worst was better than the specific NH ones that I had tried).

By sheer dumb luck, Amazon had an Alpine Aire sale right after this, and because I'd already bought similar stuff, six packs started showing up in my "GoldBox", which typically means an extra 5% off. :)

In total, I've bought five 6-pouch packs, the 3-day kit, 5-day kit, 7-day kit, and the 14-day "pantry".

Every single pouch has been in good condition, with no punctures.
In contrast, both the Wise 60-serving, and the Augason Farms 30-day bucket had one pouch with a pronounced puncture.

In general, many of the varieties are blander than Mountain House, however, they also seem to have a richer mix of ingredients, and give the impression of being healthier. They all appear to use much higher quality ingredients than Wise and the one month buckets.

Not all are bland. I think their beef stroganoff is somewhat better than Mountain House's.
Note: sadly, that's not included in the 7-day kit!
It also has no eggs, which is a bit of disappointment.


Overall, I rate their food quality as best, and is equal to Mountain House. Their taste is "competitive" with Mountain House, with some being as good, some not as good but still decent.
Like MH, the pouches are "cook in the bag" with two (sedantary) servings. They're ideal car travel and supplementary "bug in" emergency food. :)

The Amazon price is the cheapest I've seen for this class of food (almost half the price of MH in retail stores).

Note that the "best by" dates of the one I received in January ranged from 04/2016 to 11/2016, with a weighted average of "08/2016".
It appears those are based on a five year shelf life, however the pouches contain oxygen absorbers and are as well constructed as the MH pouches, so there is a decent probability that these will last longer (close to MH's official 7-year shelf life). I plan to keep a few pouches well past their BestBy date, sample them, and report back to y'all. :)


Ok, it's time for some pictures! Thanks for your patience while I nattered. :)

Let's re-use some pictures, starting with the AA kit beside the Wise bucket:
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Here's the "Alpine Minestrone Soup"...

Front (all pouches look the exact same, and just have a variety specific label applied, front and back):
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Back nutrition info and prep directions:
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Dry in the pouch:
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Cooked:
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Closeup on a spoon:
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Taste Test:
Its thickness was somewhere between a stew and a hearty soup.
It's vegetarian, but had a very "hearty" texture and taste.
Yum! :)


Here's the "Beef Rotini"...
Front of package:
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Back of package:
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Dry in the pouch:
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Cooked:
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Closeups on a spoon:
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Taste Test:
Nice beefy taste, with strong (but not overwhelming) tomato paste. The corn was a visual surprise, however it added an excellent textural enhancement, and just the right semi-sweet add on.
Very good! :)


Here's the "Chicken Almond Salad" (which I previously reviewed in Treesuit's very first excellent freeze dried thread)...
Front of package:
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Back of package:
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Inside (crackers are in a separate mylar pouch):
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Closeups of crackers:
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Main food, dry:
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After adding some room temperature water:
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After about half an hour, chicken has plumped up quite nicely:
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Closeup on a spoon:
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Taste Test:
Big chunks of chicken, with nice but not overwhelming almond etc.
The crackers were very bland, but were an excellent combo.
Yum! :)


Ok, that's the first batch. I'll prep more pictures every few days, until they're all done.

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:08 pm
by ak70g2
Seems to be a nice addition to a backpack, with some "regular" rations for imediate use and FD foods for evenings/long breaks. :D

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:20 am
by Bobby
I bought one of these and it arrived yesterday..On the side of the box it states serves one adult over 2000 calories per day..The packages all say 2 servings, at least the few i checked did..I guess they put two servings on the package to show a lower sodium content per serving..I will have to try a couple see how well they taste..

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:06 am
by Name_not_found
Great Post, Love the tons and tons of pictures.

(How do you get more than 10 in one post?)

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:30 am
by Ruleryak
Name_not_found wrote:(How do you get more than 10 in one post?)
He's not uploading the images as attachments on mreinfo.com - he's hosting the images on his own site (turtlenomad.com) and is just using the Img tags to call them up remotely. The limit of 10 is for attachments.

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:18 pm
by TurtleNomad
Batch #2 (1 breakfast, 2 dinner, and 1 yummy dessert)...


All American Roast Beef Hash:
Front of package:
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Back of package:
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Dry in the pouch (lots of meat!):
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Cooked, in a stainless steel camping mug:
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Closeup on a spoon:
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Cooked in the bag:
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Taste Test:
I made this in two batches, and should have let the first (mug) batch rehydrate longer. In general, give potatoes lots more time! I also should have eaten it in combination with something else. The first batch was definitely a disappointment. It was the most salty of any AA entree I've tried.

I made the second batch in the bag, and roughly doubled the sit time, which greatly improved the degree of rehydration, and thus taste. I also ate it with some scrambled eggs, and bread. Batch #2 was "good", and the saltiness was much less noticeable.
Please learn from my mistakes. :)

Note that the above is an older version. The new 7-day kit is much lower sodium, so I plan to try it, soon, and do it strictly in the bag with extended sit time. I'll then eat it in two meals, one with eggs, one without, to better judge this entree.



Chocolate Mudslide:
front of package:
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back of package:
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dry in the pouch, showing two toppings packages:
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dry in the pouch, just the main pudding mix:
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two toppings packages and oxygen absorber:
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pudding after rehydrating:
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adding the "oreo topping":
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final ready to eat, with both toppings (oreo and peanuts):
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Taste Test:
Very good!
Solid chocolate flavor, and the toppings add a very nice enhancement.
It's not "awesome", but much better than the MRE pudding and MRE brownie. :)



Santa Fe Black Beans and Rice:
Front of package:
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Back of package:
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Dry in the pouch:
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Cooked:
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Closeup on a spoon:
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Taste Test:
Mildly spicy, but overall bland / plain taste. The tomatoes and corn do improve the texture, but are otherwise rather bland.
It wasn't bad, just not "exciting".
This is completely vegetarian and "gluten free".


Western Tamale Pie:
Front of package:
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Back of package:
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Dry in the pouch:
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Cooked:
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Closeups on a spoon:
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Taste Test:
Mildly to moderately spicy, with a nice but not overwhelming "kick"!
Had real beef, and a variety of nice textures.
Very good. :)


Next...
It'll probably be longer before my next batch.

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:36 pm
by TurtleNomad
Bobby wrote:I bought one of these and it arrived yesterday..On the side of the box it states serves one adult over 2000 calories per day..The packages all say 2 servings, at least the few i checked did..I guess they put two servings on the package to show a lower sodium content per serving..I will have to try a couple see how well they taste..
Shiny! :)

Bobby, please post up some reviews! :)
I've tried more than half mine, but will probably wait on the unique (i.e. not present in the other kits I've bought) items (in particular: "Chicken Rotelle", "Kernals Corn Chowder", "Potatoes with Cheddar and Chives", and "Chocolate Hazelnut Bavarian Cream").
Please go crazy with those (or any!), if they sound intriguing. I was pleasantly surprised at how hearty the one soup I've tried has been, and plan to try at least one of the others. The Chocolate Mudslide was my first AA dessert, and it's going to be difficult to resist trying the Hazelnut thingie - I'd love to see what it looks like. :)

It would be great to get somebody else's opinions. :)

As I've vaguely mentioned, many of these are blander than the typical Mountain House "comfort" menus, but they all feel like "real" food, and are satisfying.

I'm a 140-ish pound female, so normally eat fewer calories than most of y'all, so in most cases I've eaten only half a pouch per meal, and left the remainder for a day or two in the fridge. That's under "sedantary" conditions. :)
A couple of times I've eaten an entire bag after spending several hours birdwatching. :)

What do you think of the box?
I've read a lot of online comments excited about the Wise square bucket, but I really don't see any big advantage to it. The AA box is a good shape/size, and stacks easily. It would be very easy to move into one's car, if an evacuation was necessary.


Adrian,
I've got a complete set of the "no frills" AlpenAire items in your "box", and a couple of these fancier pouches, both with meat. :)


Name_not_found,
I'm glad you liked them! I'm very visually oriented, and much prefer picture centric reviews (like yours!).
Ruleryak perfectly explained the tech stuff - thanks! :)

Re: "kit" review: Alpine Aire 7-day (25 different pouches)

Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:08 pm
by Bobby
I prepared the All American Roast Beef Hash out of the 7 Day Alpineaire Kit..I enjoyed it..The meal did not have a salty taste to it, but it did have more of a pepper taste than I like. It is something I would eat again..Lots of meat and potatoes..The one thing I would do is use less water to rehydrate the meal as it was kinda soupy..I put it on the stove and cooked it to remove some of the water then covered the skillet and let it sit about 10 minutes..I had already let it sit in the pouch about 15 minutes..