How-To & Advice

Mountain House Pro Pak vs Pouch – How To Choose

For nearly 50 years, Mountain House has continually pushed the envelope in the freeze-dried food space, honing their recipes and entrees to ensure a satisfying meal at the end of a trailhead or welcome respite during an emergency or disaster.

With so many varied and unique ways that their freeze-dried meals are used, Mountain House has introduced two lines of their popular freeze-dried food: Pro-Paks and their regular Pouches. These two options serve very distinct audiences, and for different reasons.

Let’s go ahead and dive into the Mountain House Pro-Pak vs Pouch discussion, do a bit of comparison and contrasting, and take a look at the Pro-Pak entrees and their regular Pouch equivalents.

Pro-Pak vs Pouch: Making a Decision

Life is about choices, and so is choosing the right Mountain House freeze-dried food pack for your needs. In this case, deciding between the Pro-Pak and regular Pouch is pretty easy.

Below is the basic breakdown of each, with an in-depth and detailed look at the Pro-Pak vs regular Pouch debate.

Reasons to Choose the Pro-Pak

You would choose the Mountain House Pro-Pak if you primarily value the following:

  1. Less weight, where ounces count
  2. Compact, packable size
  3. Package won’t expand at altitude
  4. Know your caloric requirements
  5. Don’t mind limited entree options

The target audience for the Pro-Pak are extreme adventurers, mountain climbers, high altitude campers, experienced trekkers and back county backpackers intending to stay afield for a week or more.

Beef Stroganoff with Noodles - Pro Pak

An Example of Mountain House Pro-Pak Entree Packaging

Reasons to Choose the Regular Pouch

Opt for the Mountain House regular Pouch if the below are important to you:

  1. Larger selection of entree options
  2. Generous portion and serving sizes
  3. Weight is not necessarily a concern
  4. Don’t mind a slightly larger package footprint

Regular Pouches are intended for folks looking to stockpile freeze-dried food for an emergency or disaster, those taking short backpacking trips and excursions lasting no more than a couple of days.

Beef Stroganoff with Noodles - Pouch

An Example of Mountain House Regular Pouch Entree Packaging

Entree Availability Comparison Chart

Below is a handy table that shows all the entrees available to consumers in both the regular Pouches and Pro-Paks. Please note that this chart covers Mountain House entrees only.

Mountain House offers a total of 20 different regular Pouch entrees, while the Pro-Pak entrees are limited to five, with the expectation that additional Pro-Pak entree choices will offered in the future.

Regular Pouch vs Pro-Pak Entree Availability

Pro-Pak vs Pouch – Similarities

There are quite a few things that both the Mountain House Pro-Paks and Pouches share, including the method of food preservation, shelf life and entree selection. Let’s start with the food manufacturing process you can expect to find in a Pro-Pak and Pouch.

Freeze-Dried Food

First up, the obvious. Both of these Mountain House products are freeze-dried entrees contained in a durable and resealable Mylar bag. The bags themselves are meant to withstand rough handling (within reason) while in your backpack or bug out bag.

All entrees are pre-cooked and then freeze-dried to lock in their taste and texture. Once the entrees are reconstituted, and properly prepared, they have the same taste and texture as they originally did when prepared in the kitchens of Mountain House.

Shelf Life

In addition, both the Pro-Pak and Pouch share the same 30-year shelf life and Taste Guarantee. Essentially, as long as these products are stored and cared for properly, they will still taste just as good when reconstituted with boiling water as when they were first cooked.

Mountain House 30 Years Taste Guarantee

It’s important to note that these products can exceed their shelf life dates and still be viable sources of food. According to Mountain House, if a Pro-Pak or Pouch “expires”, the quality of the food may be impacted, but can still be consumed, with only a slight change to the taste and texture of the meal.

Nutrition

Both the regular Mountain House Pouch and Mountain House Pro-Pak entrees share the same exact nutritional benefits, including the % Daily Value (%DV).  There is no difference between the two in either ingredients or macro or micro nutrients.

Below is the nutritional information for the Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki entree in a Pro-Pak (photo on left), and a Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki entree in a regular Pouch (photo on right).

Entree Options

And finally, all entrees offered in the Pro-Paks are also available in the Pouches. The food contained in the Pro-Pak entrees have exactly the same taste and texture as their Pouch equivalents.

Here’s a quick summation of the similarities between Pro-Paks and Pouches:

  • Freeze-dried food
  • Shelf life longevity
  • Resealable package
  • Entree options

Pro-Pak vs Pouch – Differences

When it comes to contrasting the Mountain House Pro-Pak and Pouch, the differences primarily lie in four important areas: serving size, weight, altitude considerations and entree selection. Let’s tackle serving size first.

Serving Size

As with any food, serving size is an important consideration when consuming your daily intake of calories. With the Pro-Paks, the amount of servings is reduced compared to the regular Pouches. For example, the Pro-Paks have 2 x 1 cup servings, while the Pouches have 2.5 x 1 cup servings, about a 20% difference.

Mountain House makes an important distinction when it comes to the serving sizes of their Pro-Pak entrees. These serving sizes are based on the USDA’s “Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed” (RACC) values, a baseline in which Mountain House Pro-Pak entrees are offered in whole 1 cup servings (photo on left) and never half servings, as found in the regular Pouches (photo on right).

This 1 cup serving size allows consumers to directly compare Pro-Paks to other manufacturers that produce freeze-dried foods and who also use RACC metrics. This is important as it allows people to create a baseline between Mountain House and competing products when planning their nutritional needs.

Because of this, it’s important to concentrate more on your individual caloric intake needs, and not on serving sizes. This is due to the fact that everyone’s caloric intakes and metabolism rates are different, which is driven by the respective activity and effort level you anticipate to be performing.

Weight

Because of the reduction in serving size for each Pro-Pak, the weight for each Pro-Pak is appreciably reduced. This is an important factor for folks who are counting ounces in their rucksack when planning very long, arduous backpacking or adventure trips.

Because of the reduction in weight, the physical size of the Pro-Pak is also reduced, which lends itself well to being more packing friendly. Due to the smaller volume, folks can also fit more Pro-Paks in with their gear, and have better control of rationing their food due to the 1 cup per serving size ratio.

Vacuum Sealed

The primary reason Pro-Paks were brought to market was to accommodate folks who required sustenance at high altitudes. This could range from anyone climbing K2, to aircraft crews keeping Pro-Paks on board in the event they went down while performing rescue operations in high-altitude areas.

So why is it important that the Pro-Paks be designed for high-altitudes? Essentially, it boils down to physics. The major distinction between the Pro-Paks and the Pouches is that the Pro-Paks are vacuum sealed (photo on left) and the Pouches are not (photo on right).

This vacuum sealed feature in the Pro-Pak prevents the packaging from bulging and expanding in your gear while attaining higher altitudes. This is an important aspect for some folks, such as mountain climbers, who are space and weight restricted when packing their backpacks.

Entree Options

Unlike the regular Mountain House Pouches, all entrees offered in Pouches are not necessarily found in the Pro-Paks. We’ve gone ahead and created a cheat sheet of which entree options are shared between Pro-Paks and Pouches, and which entrees are Pouch only (see the Entree Availability Comparison Chart at the beginning of this article).

Below is a summation of the differences between Pro-Paks and Pouches:

  • Serving size
  • Weight
  • Vacuum seal
  • Entree options

So, Which One is Better?

This is a tough question, because it essentially comes down to what you are planning to use the Mountain House entrees for. The regular Pouches and the Pro-Paks are aimed at distinctly different audiences to fill very specific needs.

At the end of the day, if you don’t care if you end up with a regular Pouch or Pro-Pak, and your only concern is cost, then the Pro-Paks are usually cheaper than buying regular Pouches. This is due to the fact that there are less serving sizes in the Pro-Paks though, so do take this into consideration.

Interested in learning more about freeze-dried food? We have a great article on the subject, Is Freeze Dried Food Good for You? and a companion buyer’s guide on the Best Mountain House Meals – Complete Reviews with Comparisons. Be sure to check them out!


What do you think of our write-up? Did we get it right? Feel that we got it super wrong? Tell us! Feel free to reach out and let us know what you think of the article; we always appreciate thoughtful, constructive criticism, good or bad!