We can go approximately 3 weeks without food before dying. But, let’s be honest here: I get cranky and tired after going without food for even half a day! That is why I think it is so important to add some survival food to your Bug Out Bag (aka Go Bag).
A Bug Out Bag is meant for your survival, so each item should be chosen with care. This includes the food for your Bug Out Bag. Here are the requirements I have when selecting Bug Out Bag food.
*If you are new the idea of Bug Out Bags, here are some articles to get you started:
- What is a Bug Out Bag?
- Bug Out Bag packing checklist
- Real-Life Examples of Bug Out Bag Contents
- How to Build a Family Bug Out Bag
You obviously don’t want heavy food items in your Bug Out Bag. But choosing lightweight foods isn’t a solution either. What you want to look for are food items with a high caloric density. This means that they have a lot of calories for their weight (calories/ounce).
An ounce of fat contains 240 calories. An ounce of protein contains 100 calories. And an ounce of carbohydrates also has about 100 calories. So, fatty foods are good options for your Bug Out Bag food. *Read this post for ideas on how to cut weight from your Bug Out Bag.
Caloric density is calories per ounce. Size refers to the calories per volume. You don’t want a lot of large, bulky items taking up space in your BOB which you need for other important items.
Nutritional and Energy Value
This requirement is debatable. I know a lot of thru-hikers who don’t give a damn about nutrition. For example, I know one hiker who practically subsists off of Pringles because they are lightweight and have massive amounts of calories. He hikes for weeks at a time, whereas a Bug Out Bag is meant for about 2-7 days of travel.
However, for me personally, I know that I don’t do very well when I eat junk foods. Eating sugary foods (which includes starchy foods) causes blood sugar levels to spike and then quickly drop. You definitely don’t want your energy levels to drop when you are in an evacuation situation (adrenaline can only fuel you for so long).
The best Bug Out Bag foods for sustaining your energy levels are proteins and fat. They keep your blood sugar levels more stable so you don’t get energy spikes and subsequent drops.
In an evacuation situation, you won’t have time to stop and cook a meal. So, your Bug Out Bag food should be ready to eat and require no preparation.
No one wants to check on the contents of their Bug Out Bag every week. So, you need food that you can put in your Bug Out Bag and forget about it. Okay – you shouldn’t completely forget about it. Ideally your Bug Out Bag food will have a shelf life of at least 6 months and you will rotate it before it goes bad.
Bug Out Bag Food Ideas
Protein-Rich Bug Out Bag Foods
- Beef jerky
- Pemmican (read how to make pemmican here)
- Tuna pouches
- Sport energy gels
- Packets of peanut butter
- Meat paste (just add water)
- Dehydrated hummus (just add water)
- Dehydrated bean paste (just add water)
Nuts, Seeds and Fatty Bug Out Bag Foods
- Almonds (160 calories/ounce)
- Cashews (160 calories/ounce)
- Brazil nuts (184 calories/ounce)
- Pistachios, shelled (160 calories/ounce)
- Walnuts (183 calories/ounce)
- Peanuts (170 calories/ounce)
- Sunflower seeds (173 calories/ounce)
- Pepitas (126 calories/ounce)
- Avocado powder
- Packets of olive oil
- Hard, aged cheeses in wax coatings
- Millenium bars (about 135 calories/ounce – we sell these here!)
- Cliff Bars
- Honey Stinger bars
- Bear Valley Pemmican bar
- Hooah Energy bars
- Emergency food ration bars (we sell a 3600 calorie emergency food bar here)
Add-to-Water Bug Out Bag Foods
- Resource 2.0 meal replacement shake
- Med Pass 2.0 meal replacement shake
- Mighty Shake
- Boost Plus shake
- Ensure Plus shake
- Powdered milk
- Whey powder
Carb-Rich Bug Out Bag Foods
- Trail mix/GORP
- Banana chips
- Dark chocolate
- Snickers bars
- Twix peanut butter bars
- Tootsie rolls
- Peanut M&Ms
- Kit Kat bar
- Pop tarts
- Sesame bars
- Dried fruit
- Fruit leather
- Chocolate pretzels
- Cook-in-the-Pouch meals (Wise makes some good ones that you can buy here)