I ordered this with the intent of using it, prior to an emergency, to see if the kids would like to eat what was included, and to get an idea of the amount of water needed to prepare the contents of an entire kit. If I am satisfied I will be purchasing three new Emergency Pails for the family to supplement the #10 cans of Augason Farms food I already have.
Look for me to be updating my review in a few weeks after we have had a chance to try out the meal planner. There is both a 30 day and a 45 day meal planner, I plan to try portions based on both ration schedules.
I placed my order on the 17th, I received my Emergency Pail on the 19th, when it had been scheduled for delivery on the 24th. Shipping is probably the most variable of all things for an online purchase, but based on my experience I would not expect unreasonable transit times for this product.
The 6.5 gallon Emergency Pail shipped in a heavy gauge cardboard box, neither the box nor the pail were damaged in transit.
I ordered my Emergency Pail on April 17th, 2013.
The PACKED ON date shown on the label for this pail is 04/15/2013, two days prior to the date I ordered it, four days prior to receiving it.
The BEST BY date shown on the pail is 02-12-2033.
The individual packages have a manufacture date range of 02/13/2013 (for the Cheesy Broccoli Rice) to 03/29/2013 (for the Cheese Powder) and best by dates corresponding to the same days in 2033. So the best by date on the Pail is dated 1 day prior to the earliest best by date on an individual package.
The lid was a standard pail lid and took less than two minutes to open. The lid was the variety that has a pull tab for removing the material between sections allowing you to pry off the lid. I have had poor experiences with this style and so manually cut the material rather than pulling the tab. Other than the kitchen scissors I used to snip the plastic no tools or gloves were needed.
I would recommend you replace the lid that comes with the Emergency Pail with a Gamma Seal lid, which allows for easy opening and closing. Some Walmarts have the lids in stock, and they are available online at Walmart.com through ToolKing.com, however the price is significantly higher than when you find them at a brick and mortar Walmart. For colored lids I find the best price and availability are at Walmarts in Utah(where Augason Farms is located), when I drive through on vacation I stop and pick a few up, I have also seen them at Walmarts in Washington State, never in Colorado where I live however. Black lids I get locally at a national DIY chain, but only if I run out of those I bought at a Walmart while traveling.
Though I can see where the lid that ships with the pail prevents pilfering of supplies before the need for them arises, I would pay more for a pail that came with a Gamma seal or similar product on it for ease of use. Augason Farms sells empty Pails and Gamma Seals together as packages on Walmart.com so there would be no new inventory for them to bring into their network.
Other than a small rip in the meal planner there was no damage to the contents of the pail. I removed and inspected everything, no rips, no tears, there was what I assume was leaked product because of the smell of the dust, but I believe it came from manufacturing not any of the containers in my Emergency Pail.
I do wish that there was some flavoring for water included in the Emergency Pail such as the Orange Delight or Apple Delight drink mix they offer separately, the addition of some sort of hard candy would also be nice.