Food & Firemaking
We humans can go several weeks without food, but think about it...how well will you function? Have you ever tried fasting for a full day? Two days? Try it. Headaches, loss of energy, confusion, and lack of focus can all happen within 12 hours of your last meal.
How long can your kids go without eating?
In high-stress environments your caloric usage will increase dramatically. You need to carry as much food as you can without going overboard. Give yourself a variety of things to eat - after a few days of eating the same meal you will go bonkers.
And the need for fire for warmth is self-explanatory. One thing to keep in mind, it would take an entire pickup-trucks worth of wood to keep you warm for one winters night if you don't have shelter!
Let's take a look at some options you have for food that you can keep in an emergency kit.
Keep in mind that the recommendations we're making here are running on the assumption that the food will sit for several years in a backpack somewhere to be ready to use when you need it.
If you have the time before an evacuation you can supplement these items with fresher things like: nuts / trail-mix, peanut butter, or rice.
You have basically 3 options: freeze dried, preserved, or canned foods. We're going to skip the canned foods, you can figure that out on your own at the grocery store.
Freeze dried foods, when stored properly, can last up to 25 years. Most mylar packed bags sitting in a backpack somewhere, and potentially exposed to extremes in temperatures (say in a Get Home Bag) should stay fresh about 10 years.
Freeze dried foods require hot water and time to reconstitute. They are not a good option for on the go eating, you'll need a few minutes to heat up the water and make the food.
BTW If you buy anything with the links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale from the manufacturer. For more info click here.
Price: $31.99 1-person - $87.99 4-person kit
Keeps for 25+ years when the pouches inside the bucket remain unopened and in the bucket. The 72-Hour 1-Person Emergency Food Supply provides 42 total servings for 2,667 calories per day. The 4-Person Emergency Food Supply is designed to provide four individuals with 2,230 calories per day for three days. A good mix of breakfast, entrées, soups, breakfast, and low fat dry powdered milk
Price: $39.99 1-person
1,813 calories per day - 5,440 total. Food is sealed in Metallyte pouches which are easy to pack and use.
Ready To Eat
In addition to food you have to prepare, you'll want items you can eat while moving or when time is short. Don't rely on these as your sole food sources, but as quick energy bursts when you need it most.
Keep in mind most of these items will have shorter shelf dates than the freeze dried foods, in most cases about 3 years. Also you might not want to leave these in the car during warmer temperatures, they might melt some.
Price: $29.85 for 15 - $1.99 per bar
Designed with a balance of simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat to provide both short-burst and long-burn energy – no energy spike or crash. It's best used as meal replacement or as fuel before physical activity. Three year shelf life.
Price: $29.99 for 12 - $2.49 per bar
Looking for something organic? Skout Organic Protein Bars have 10g of plant-based protein and each bar has 7 ingredients or less. Since their bars are made with the real stuff, they have a 1 year shelf life, so if you go this route try to keep the box near your survival kits if you can and incorporate them into your daily diet so you will have them available should you need to dash.
Before you can start cooking you need a way to get a fire started. In addition to having a Bic Lighter or two in your gear, you should also have these items from our BOBB Fire Starting Kit.
You should always have a several backup ways to make a fire. Windy, wet, cold conditions all require different approaches, techniques, and gear.
You can get this entire BOBB Fire Starting Kit directly from Amazon by clicking on this link. Total cost at time of writing is $54.75.
Waterproof and windproof, Plasma lighters are an improvement over the traditional flint and gas. Whatever gets in between that arcing electrical current is going to light up in nearly any condition. These recharge with a micro-usb cable just like most cell phones do, so can be charged with a small solar panel, and when full gives you about 300 light ups.
These matches work when wet, in-fact, they even burn underwater. Nice! Wind resistant as well. These will give you about 15 seconds to get your tinder going, should be plenty of time if you set it up correctly.
Traditionally used by Boy Scouts and Bushcrafters, A Ferrocerium rod can throw 5,400-degree Fahrenheit sparks in any weather, and at all altitudes. This UCO rod is good for over 3,000 strikes. The included micro-multitool has 9 functions: ferro rod striker, bottle opener, box cutter, scraper, 6. 5mm bit driver, and 4 hex wrenches. At 1 oz it's a small insurance policy.
Price: $15 for 24 or $0.66 each
Sometimes it's difficult to find tinder that can be lit with a lighter. Paper is usually around but what if it's not, or if it's wet? These WetFire tinders can be lit very easily under nearly any atmospheric condition and will burn up to 5 minutes. See our full WetFire review here. We have a few of these in all of our packs. Worth their weight in gold.
Price: $6.99 for 2
These are a must have item for anyone who is making a campfire. These little metal tubes slide out to make a 19" skinny straw, which you can use to direct your breath into the hot parts of the fire. Like a blacksmiths forge, blowing on the coals or newly lit fuel will increase its temperature and burn rate, giving you fire a turbo boost. You have to try one of these, they are fantastic.
It's rare these days that you wouldn't have access to some manner of kitchen, unless you are completely off-grid or dealing with an extended power outage (and you don't have access to a grill or fire pit.)
If campfire cooking is an option, read this how-to article about it for tips and pointers.
Here are a few options we like for backwoods adventures or for deep bug out planning:
These small foldable and packable stainless steel stoves are a great backup to have. You have multiple fuel options: sticks, Trangia or Esbit spirit burners (alcohol stove), and even solid fuels such as Esbit or tea candles.
Price: $109 + $18 fuel
The Jetboil Flash is a powerful compact stove system made from lightweight titanium. It boils water in a mere 100 seconds. Weight minus fuel: 13.9 ounces (393 grams.) Requires propane/isobutane 4-season fuel canisters, and there are 3 sizes available. The 100 gram size will give you 24 boils.
Eat right from the cup by boiling water and dumping freeze dried food in, or boil water to use elsewhere.
The Red Rock Mess Kit is a compact and packable set which includes metal knife, spoon and fork, a bowl with handle, spice shaker, large bowl, plate and cutting board. It's everything you need in one small and affordable package.
6.5" stainless steel pot with a folding handle to secure the lid and keep it compact for packing. In your bag while not it use, there is space inside it to carry other items. Can hold a single can of soup or package or ramen, or use to heat water for rehydrating freeze-dried food.
Price: $12Designed to slip over standard 1-litre water bottles. Can be used as a cup or to heat food or water. Weighs 5.0 ounces and holds up to 18. Don't use straight from the fire - lip burn!
Super quality and heavy duty. Gotta eat off something, right? Probably not a good idea to go for plastic or paper. You need something sturdy that can handle some heat too. These may also come in useful for other reasons as well: frisbee, signal mirror, tiny shield, hub-cap...you get the idea.
Simple time tested design which has been around forever. Packs very small. Takes a little practice to use properly. Opens cans, of course, although we don't think carrying cans in a Bug Out Bag is a great idea. Too heavy. Better for your long term supply, but these are small enough to carry with you, just in case.
Having a cutting board is a really nice item to have if you want to prepare food without putting it in the dirt, and as delicious as that sounds, its not really that good of an idea. I know, I know..bummer. Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts.
Gotta keep it clean. This is useful for your pots. Rubber scraper with nylon brushes. Don't over-think it.
Vegetable-derived soap, can be used for cleanup and personal hygiene. Strong, only needs a few drops.
NEXT STEP: BUG OUT LIGHTING