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During my recent trip to South Dakota I found myself in a dilemma of figuring out how to heat my food and water on the trail, comply with TSA regulations and deal with extreme fire danger due to this summer’s drought. Over the last decade the TSA has tightened restrictions of what is allowed on airline checked baggage and backpacking stoves are on the list. The TSA states that camping or backpacking stoves can travel as carry-on or checked luggage only if they are empty of all fuel and then cleaned such that no fuel vapors or residue are noticeable. With that in mind I did not want to risk having to surrender my stove and fuel bottles so I decided to try out the Mountain Oven.

The Mountain Oven comes with everything you need for five uses and includes a large reusable insulated zipper pouch, a plastic storage bag, plastic bottle, 5 salt tablets and 5 heat activation pads. All you need is water and a Mountain House Meal (we used our favorite Backpacker’s Pantry meal pouches) and you are minutes away from a hot meal.
Operating the Mountain Oven is straight- forward and the directions are easy to follow.

1. Prepare your meal according to the package with ambient temperature water (Be sure to check that your meal does not require anything to be simmered, etc.  This kit works best with products that just need to rehydrate with hot water.)

2. Prepare the heat source by placing one heating pad flat on the bottom of the insulated zipper pouch, Then fill the water bottle to the fill line, add the salt tablet and mix will. The salt will act as a catalyst in the oxidation of the magnesium  in the heating pad producing magnesium oxide, hydrogen gas and most importantly heat. Be sure to keep the Mountain Oven away from open flames as hydrogen gas is flammable.

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3. Pour the salt solution over the heating pad, then quickly add your prepared meal pouch and seal the insulated pouch to begin heating. As the chemical reaction progresses the bag will vent steam (a mixture of hydrogen and water vapor) for about 15-20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes pull out your meal, mix and enjoy!

There are several reasons I like this method for heating up meals, but the most important is simplicity. Secondly the Mountain Oven is self-contained and does not need to be watched like a stove so you can be setting up camp while your meal cooks. It is also great for high fire risk areas. Third is the weight, with this kit coming in at only 15 oz (425 g). Finally this product is great for travel and is approved for your checked baggage by the TSA. Over =all this is a great product and receives full marks in my book.

Note: If you want to be extra safe when flying (or if you’re a curious chemist like me) contact Mountain House for the the material safety data sheet (MSDS) and attach this document to the outside of the bag so that TSA agents know what is inside.

Product Information:
Product: Mountain Oven, Flameless Heating Kit
Manufactuer: Mountain House

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# Comments

  • mtbikerchick

    Sounds like a nice alternative to regular backpacking stoves. Definitely something to keep in mind. Do you think the meal got cooked just as well as it would have with the regular heat water/pour into pouch method?

    • FLTrekker

      This method is just as good (if not better!) as adding boiling water. The Mountain Oven takes ambient temperature water and raises it 200 degrees F, which leaves your meal coming out the same temperature (if not hotter!) as the traditional method.

      The only warning I will give is be sure to add the proper amount of water to the meal before you start since you cannot add hot water after it is done cooking.

  • FLTrekker

    As Hurricane Sandy passes south Florida I was thinking this would make a great addition to an emergency kit for your home!

  • LightFoot

    After having my share of gas stove problems, this is a really appealing alternative. I like your idea to add one of these to the emergency kit.

    • FLTrekker

      Great question Kelly!
      According the TSA this product is safe to carry on or check, but as you mentioned each airline has their own rules and regulations (It is excellent that you checked with them!). I flew United Airlines when I used this product, but I packed the Mountain Oven in my checked baggage. United never replied to my email or phone requests about how I should pack this product, but Mountain House gave me the same assurance. When you travel this item it is probably best to back it in your checked baggage with the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) attached to the package so TSA officers know what they are looking at if your bag is searched (Call Mountain House and ask for a copy and they will email it to you right away). If worse comes to worse have this product shipped to your destination and avoid all the hassle!

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