LDP Camping Foods - Hiking and Backpacking Food and Gear


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LDP Camping Foods has been selling camping and backpacking foods since 1991.

Shelf Life of MREs and Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze Dried Foods

The shelf life will vary even within brands mainly by fat content.  The more fat in the food, the less time it will take for the flavor to go a little bit off.  The time the food spends in the freeze drier, the packaging method, and the packaging material determines shelf life.  The time spent in the freeze drier and the packing method will determine how much moisture and oxygen is present in the food when it is packaged (less of each is better). Finally, the packaging material will determine how much of each will seep in over time.

Below is a general guideline for storage at room temperature, ~75F.  These numbers are conservative, and deal mainly with flavor.  If you open a pouch of any age, and it's damp inside, you should discard it.  If the pouch or can is out of date and the food inside is still dry, it will be safe to eat, though the flavor may be a bit bland if you're a few years past the "best by" date.

 ~30 yrs       Mountain House Cans and Can Systems  (Shelf life example)
 ~30 yrs       Mountain House pouches
   ~7 yrs       Backpacker's Pantry pouches
   ~5 yrs       AlpineAire and Peak Refuel pouches

The lifetimes of all of these freeze dried foods, no matter how it's packaged, can be extended by storage in cool conditions.  Heat will shorten the times listed above.  Since there is almost no water in the packages, storage below freezing is not a problem, and will extend the shelf life quite a bit further.


The shelf life of MREs can be quite long.  Temperature is the determining factor.  However, since there is water in the MRE pouch, you should avoid repeated freezing and thawing, so the ice crystals won't damage the texture of the food.  Below is a table of the expected shelf life of MREs.
Temperature   Months
     120F             ~1
     110F             ~5 
     100F           ~22
       90F           ~55 
       80F           ~76
       70F         ~100
       60F         ~130
Temperatures lower than 60F should extend the shelf life past 130 months, but there's not enough data on tests of MREs stored at lower temperatures for more than 12 years.


LDP Camping Foods
109A Gill Dr., Lafayette, Louisiana, 70507


800-826-5767 or  337-235-4695

This page was last modified on August 7, 2021.