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? Ours can go a whopping 12 minutes...
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, so have some way to make a fire in your bug out bags.
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!
Prepping food and water should be your top priorities.
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.
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.
If you're new to all of this, you might want to try out a monthly box subscription from Backcountry Fuel Box. You get new items each month to try from a variety of manufacturers, so you can get a feel for what you like and what you don't.
Backcountry Fuel Box Subscription
Typical Price: $30 a month with a 12 month subscription
- Delivered Monthly
- 8-12 High Quality Snacks
- Expertly Curated and Tested
- Newest Snacks not available at stores
- $40 - $50 Of Value in every box
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.
Nutrient Survival NRE | Nutrition Ready To Eat
Typical Price: $35
Move over MREs! The future has arrived. Complete the mission with the Special Ops grade nutrition you need to keep your mind sharp and body strong. The NRE™ delivers Nutrition Ready to Eat™ that's 40% more nutrient dense than what even GI Joe gets in their average MRE.
Comes in three flavors NRE ALPHA, BETA, CHARLIE.
Each contains a full day's worth of individually packaged, delicious meals and drinks. 1,415 nutrient packed calories and 76 grams of protein in 7 convenient servings to sustain you from morning to night.
Augason Farms 72-Hour Emergency Food Pails
Typical Price: $40 1-person
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.
Readywise Company 72 Hour Emergency Food Supply
Typical Price: $45 1-person
Formally Wise foods, one of the most trusted names in preparedness meals.
1,813 calories per day - 5,440 total. Food is sealed in Metallyte pouches which are easy to pack and use.
Valley Food Storage 72-Hour Emergency Kit
Typical Price: $70 1-Person
The Valley Food Storage 72-Hour Emergency Food Kit provides you with 1,800 calories per day for 3 days.
Whether you're planning your next great adventure or preparing for an unplanned emergency, you'll be supplied with great-tasting and ready-made food you can count on with this 72-hour food kit, where quality always comes first.
2 Breakfast pouches, 2 Entree pouches, 1 Freeze-Dried fruit: gives about 32 servings of food.
Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Meat
Typical Price: $130 for 3 pouch kit
Freeze-dried protein is one of the most critical and hard-to-find foods for your emergency supply. Valley Food Storage sources high-quality USDA-certified meat, all made in the USA. Available in a 6 Pouch Pack or 12 Pouches with a Free Storage Bucket.
- 3 Pouch Pack
- 3 Total Pouches / 24 Servings
- 1 Pouch of Freeze-Dried Chicken
- 1 Pouch of Freeze-Dried Beef
- 1 Pouch of Freeze-Dried Sausage
✔︎ USDA-Certified ✔︎ Made in the USA
✔︎ 25-year Shelf Life ✔︎ No Added Junk
Also available in 6 and 12 pack quantities.
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.
Picky Bars - 10 Bar Pack
Typical Price: $27
Keep yourself healthy during stressful times. Picky bars don't just taste great, but they are packed with protein.
- 80-190 calories
- 6-7g plant-based protein
- Gluten, dairy, soy, and GMO free
- Some contain honey
Nutrient Survival Chocolate Chip Cookie - Meals
Typical Price: $33
Whole grain rolled oats, sweet molasses and rich chocolate chips sprinkled with sea salt. 25 individually wrapped cookies equal to 12.5 servings.
Just 2 cookies provide your body with the nutrients that help you thrive, because these cookies are "cold-baked" using our patented freeze-dried process that locks in the flavor and nutrition over a several hour period.
Nutrient Survival Honey Granola Bar Meals
Typical Price: $37
Hearty rolled oats, organic brown rice crisps and milled flax seed with a drizzle of honey. 20 individually wrapped bars snacks equal to 10 servings.
Grab-and-go meal for when life gets busy. Fiber rich oats drizzled with real honey make this an essential in your survival kits, desks and go-bags.
Typical Price: $30 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.
Typical Price: $14
Granola is the old standby for trail food, and for good reason. Picky makes delicious granola ready to eat.
- Gluten, dairy, soy, GMO-free
- Only 5g added sugar (per snack serving)
- Balanced complex carbs, satiating fats, easy-to-digest protein
- 10 servings per bag
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:
Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System
Typical Price: $109 + $18 fuel
Read our JetBoil Flash review here.
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.
Emberlit Fireant Stainless Steel Stove
Typical Price: $40
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.
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.
Dual Arc Waterproof Plasma Lighter
Typical Price: $16
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.
UCO Stormproof Match Kit
Typical Price: $11
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.
UCO Survival Fire Striker with Multitool
Typical Price: $10
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.
UST WetFire Fire Starter Tinders
Typical 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.
Collapsible Pocket Bellows
Typical Price: $6 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.
Red Rock Outdoor Gear 8 Piece Mess Kit
Typical Price: $14
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.
MSR 775 ml Pot
Typical Price: $20
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.
Holds a single can of soup or package or ramen, or use to heat water for rehydrating freeze-dried food.
GSI Stainless Cup/Pot
Typical Price: $12
Designed 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!
GSI Stainless Plate
Typical Price: $9
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.
Can Opener P-51 Model
Typical Price: $2
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.
MSR Alpine Cutting Board
Typical Price: $8
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.
MSR Alpine Dish Brush
Typical Price: $5
Gotta keep it clean. This is useful for your pots. Rubber scraper with nylon brushes. Don't over-think it.
Sierra Dawn Campsuds All Purpose Cleaner
Typical Price: $7
Trusted by campers for over 50 years, Sierra Dawn's Campsuds is the original all purpose outdoor cleaner.
Campsuds come in a very convenient, portable and lightweight (181g) bottle, which makes it the perfect accessory for camping, hiking, backpacking, travel or even for use at home.
It's all-natural ingredients makes it tough on grime to clean heavy duty mess on your camp dishes and clothing but gentle enough for you to wash your hands, face and hair.