The 10 Best Survival Foods

Updated April 14, 2018 by Misty Alder

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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Whether you're a hiker, camper, backpacker or a doomsday prepper awaiting the apocalypse, you will appreciate this selection of great survival foods. It includes easy to prepare and hardy rations that make perfect additions to any emergency kit and are designed to last for years, helping to keep yourself or your family nourished during any situation. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best survival food on Amazon.

10. Patriot Pantry

Available in slimline totes that can be securely stashed away under the bed or in a closet, Patriot Pantry is full of homestyle dinners, snacks and desserts for quick access in an emergency, regardless of what kind of predicament you find yourself in.
  • drinks mixes included
  • zip closures to save leftovers
  • on the expensive side
Brand Patriot Pantry
Model 2455
Weight 64.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. S.O.S. Food Lab Emergency Rations

S.O.S. Food Lab Emergency Rations are U.S. Coast Guard approved for use during disasters like floods and earthquakes, and are non-thirst provoking, allowing you to better preserve your water supply. They're not, however, meant as a permanent meal replacement.
  • cinnamon and coconut flavors
  • durable mylar packaging
  • relatively short 5-year shelf life
Brand SOS Food Labs, Inc.
Model 185000825
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

8. Augason Farms

The Augason Farms collection will help you adapt to any situation by offering a comforting bowl of hearty chicken soup or maple brown sugar oatmeal to fill an empty stomach, along with a daily meal planner to make sure you're getting the most out of your purchase.
  • great for rv and boating trips
  • feeds one person for 30 days
  • individual packages are delicate
Brand Augason Farms
Model 5-20093
Weight 35.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Military Surplus MREs

For avid hunters, sailors and outdoorsey types, Military Surplus MREs provide a reliable assortment of individual meal rations just like those used by the American armed forces. Shelf life varies, but units are marked with packing and inspection dates.
  • water-activated flameless heat
  • average 1250 calories per meal
  • no guarantees on packed contents
Brand Western Frontier
Model pending
Weight 20.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Patriot Seeds Survival Vault

Even the highest quality emergency rations are no substitute for fresh, naturally grown food, which is where the Patriot Seeds Survival Vault comes in. An assortment of 20 cultivars offers the opportunity to plant your own garden and become totally self-reliant.
  • high yield and germination rates
  • heirloom varieties
  • includes handy growing guide
Brand Patriot Seeds
Model 50200465
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Valley Food Storage Grab and Go

Valley Food Storage Grab and Go combines all the essentials you'll need in one comprehensive kit, including healthy nutrition, medical supplies, blankets and and a handy field guide. It's a valuable resource to have, should things take a turn for the worse.
  • water purifier included
  • provisions for 4 people for a week
  • practical and convenient
Brand Valley Food Storage
Model pending
Weight 17.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Wise Company Variety Pack

If you've got 15 minutes and fresh water, you have everything you need to prepare a full meal with the Wise Company Variety Pack. You don't even need a heat source to have plenty to eat, and the dehydrated entrees and snacks keep for up to 25 years.
  • all packed in a single pail
  • powdered drinks options
  • no trans fats and low in sodium
Brand Wise Company
Model OS01-104
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Legacy Premium Gluten Free

Legacy Premium Gluten Free is a great choice for trailblazers and survivalists who won't let celiac disease or an allergy to cereal grains get in the way of their adventures. All meals are vegetarian and come in 4-serving Mylar packets for long-term freshness.
  • certified non-gmo
  • 25-year shelf life
  • large serving sizes
Brand Legacy Premium Food Sto
Model EG0060
Weight 16.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. NuManna INT

If you're concerned about potentially harmful ingredients, you'll appreciate that NuManna INT contains no GMOs, soy, MSG, aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup, offering peace of mind that you can still have safe and healthy nutrition in the event of a natural disaster.
  • six servings per package
  • suitable for long-term storage
  • diverse meal options
Brand NuManna
Model INT-NMFP
Weight 21 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Mountain House

Containing individual meals that provide an average of 1,800 calories per day, Mountain House is ideal to have on hand in case you get snowed in or find yourself dealing with other tricky situations. Just add water and heat to enjoy each of the 100 single-serving pouches.
  • 30-year taste guarantee
  • 18 different meals
  • lightweight and easy to store
Brand Mountain House
Model 89606
Weight 19 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

When Your Body's Under Stress: Nutritional Notes

It's great to know you have a supply of survival kits on hand. Sustenance that requires little prep and lasts for years must give you some peace of mind, but really being prepared for anything from a natural catastrophe to a taxing hike means looking a little more deeply into what your body needs during crisis.

To survive means literally "to live through" a situation. But when disaster strikes, at home, on the trail, or during travel, what you probably really want is to ensure your family thrives. So, take a good look at the nutrition labels (I know it seems boring, but it's your family we're talking about), and get serious about providing complete nutrition for whatever you'll be living through.

You'll notice that some survival foods are heavy on sugar and/or carbs. That's because the brain needs glycogen -- which, put simply, is derived from sugar -- to function well. You might be familiar with that early-morning brain fog that somehow seems to clear when you snarf a sweet roll.

Simple carbs, like sugar and white flour can, in a manner of speaking, hit the brain pretty much right away. This allows your foggy head to clear enough for you to finish that weekly report before your mid-morning meeting. Of course, you don't want to indulge in sugar and simple carbs every day (because of the crash that follows the spike in energy), but in an emergency, your body will be grateful.

Fats play a pretty heavy role in most survival kits, as well. Fats help you feel full longer: this is key when you're battling extreme circumstances. On a hike, for example, you won't have to keep stopping to eat to maintain energy.

Some kits, you'll find, offer a nutrient ratio similar to what was adopted by NASA for 1960s astronauts. That is, 51 percent carbohydrates, 32 percent fats and 17 percent protein. However, today's nutritionists tend to recommend amping up protein when you are under stress.

So, you might consider adding protein tablets to your store of kits. While you're at it, powdered vitamins and minerals couldn't hurt, just to be sure you're covering all the bases.

And of course, keep as much water on hand as you'll need, both for drinking and for prepping the meals.

Survival Foods: Methods of Dehydration

You may not be an astronaut, but when it comes to survival food, you probably have some of the same standards.

Good survival food needs to be lightweight and compact, but it also has to keep your energy up and meet your needs for protein, carbs, and fat .

The difficulty lies is in making it taste good. Food during the early space programs didn’t pass the taste test. It was so bad, in fact, that the astronauts -- disciplined and accustomed to enduring physical extremes -- complained. It took a team of food scientists several years to develop better-tasting options for space flight.

Dehydrated foods are foods from which the moisture has been removed. Even prehistoric peoples dried foods to preserve them, typically by placing them in the sun. Removing the moisture helps stop the spoilage process. In the 1800s, foods were often dried using heated air. This method was used to prep rations for World War II soldiers.

These days, foods might be dehydrated using tunnel, kiln, cabinet, or vacuum driers. The less time the food takes to dry, the better it will taste. Vacuum drying is great for fruits and veggies. Spray drying -- converting liquid to fine mist and then heating it -- is one good way to make powdered dairy products. Freeze-drying works especially well for meats. It allows foods to hold onto both nutrition and flavor for several years.

Freeze-dried foods were put to the test during the Gemini and Apollo space ventures. Meals were “prepared by quick-freezing cooked items, which were then placed in a vacuum chamber where they were heated to remove all water,” according to the National Air and Space Museum. The food was “then vacuum-packed in a four-ply laminated container with a water valve at one end.”

NASA explorers first had only cold water to re-hydrate their rations. Hot water later became available during flights, and the food became a lot more palatable.

Most of the foods in our recommended kits have been freeze-dried. You may not need a hot water gun to reconstitute them, or a restraint pouch to keep the food from floating off in zero-gravity conditions, but the flavor and nutrition you’ll enjoy surely owe a debt to NASA.

Survival Prep: It's Not Just for Mountain Men

Survivalism in its literal form dates all the way back to the first cave dwellers foraging for food to give them enough energy to go about their daily tasks.

Many millennia later, around the advent of the nuclear explosive, the US government actually encouraged ordinary citizens to construct their own home bomb shelters. The well-stocked, underground bunker seemed to some an even safer alternative.

As panic over the bomb subsided, folks who still kept up a shelter were seen by some as a bit kooky, on the lunatic fringe. They were often the butt of late-night TV and tabloid jokes. But at the turn of the millennium, citizens again resorted to prep mode. The events of 9/11 provided yet another trigger.

Today's preppers are a truly mixed bag. Some have an eye toward natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes. Others seem to anticipate man-made circumstances that would lead to apocalyptic conditions. Preppers come from all walks of life. There are suburban moms, white-collar workers, blue-collar families, and rural residents. Some are driven by ideology, while others see themselves as practical. Naturally, the survival foods industry happily serves them all.

In any case, learning to provide for ourselves and our families during harsh and unexpected conditions builds a sense of resiliency. And there's nothing off-the-wall about that.


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Last updated on April 14, 2018 by Misty Alder

Born and raised in the American Deep South, Misty's career in elder care took a sharp left turn when she was swept away to the land of Robinhood by her very own Merry Man. She's a coffee-swilling master of stitch-witchery with a magical touch in the kitchen and a never-ending stream of Disney gag reels playing in her head.


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