At first glance, lifeboat rations seem like a rather odd thing to review on Mud and Routes. Following our recent benightment jaunt, where we had to try out some survival rations on the hill, we wanted to find what was possibly the least appealing option out there. We couldn’t find any turblokken, and these were about all we could get our hands on. Were they really as bad as we expected?
Each box contains 500g of rations, which provides around 2500 calories divided and well wrapped into 9 bars. There’s the cardboard, then a shrink-wrapped foil cover, clear plastic and finally greaseproof paper which makes for quite a tough survival ration. Not surprising considering that these are standard ocean going rations. While I don’t think I’d bother with this on a regular weekend trip in Snowdonia, I can see the benefit if you’re out somewhere such as Knoydart for a number of days. One of these boxes would be enough for a couple of days, as most backpackers will usually have some sort of food left over while backpacking that they could use to supplement it. If not, then 1200 calories for a couple of days is still going to keep you going. About the only thing that’s higher in calories than this are chocolate, nuts and lard (now that’s a Ready Steady Cook I’d buy on Blu-Ray).
So the contents will prevent you from starving to death and sustain you for a day or so, but what do they taste like? If you’re starving, then it’s hardly going to matter anyway, but it helps if they taste more like food than a tasteless lump. We thought they tasted like a cheap, super-value brand shortbread just packed with loads of calories and a bit on the powdery side. If you were starving, you’d happily munch on these, and in reality they don’t taste bad, just rather bland. To put that into context, eating plain pasta or rice would be much less tolerable than these. Perhaps if these tasted of strawberry, you’d be more tempted to scoff the lot rather than ration them out, so the blandness may not be such a bad thing!
There’s no arguing about what they do, and how well they do it, just as to how useful they are to the typical users of this site. I could see these as an essential part of a Sea Kayaker’s emergency kit, and useful for the backpacker who’s walking into seriously remote territory. You might find them useful if you take groups into the hill, but might be a bit much for the typical hill walker. Though carrying one of these in your pack, with a five year shelf life and bomb-proof nature, would probably work out cheaper over five years than endless bars of chocolate and would actually be uneaten in the pack when you need it the most.