15 Must-Have Emergency Food for Outdoor Survival

Nutrition and caloric intake are essential for outdoor survival. In the wild, it’s important to have a food supply that’s portable, lightweight, shelf stable and calorie dense. For any wilderness or backcountry excursion, it’s important to bring along high-calorie food and extra food that doesn’t require cooking. In the event that you run out of stove fuel or can’t start a fire because of adverse weather conditions, ready to eat food products will be a lifesaver. This article will give the 15 best survival food products that can save your life in extreme outdoor conditions.

Essential Read: The Essential Survival Gear That Can Save Your Life

High Calorie Food Bars

Food bars are compact, lightweight, and give you a fair number of calories given their small size. Most food bars have a shelf life of about 5 years if they’re kept in their vacuum-sealed packages.

S.O.S. Emergency Food Rations have created food bars that are 410 calories each and weigh only 25.6 ounces. They’ve also been made so that they do not provoke your thirst.

Dried Meals

Dried meal bags are one of the best survival food products because they’re lightweight, give you an adequate number of calories, and entice your taste buds more than food bars. For any wilderness excursion, you can pack them in your backpack easily. You can find a wide array of entrees and even dessert packs that are ready to eat by just adding water. They can have long shelf lives of up to 10 years.

Mountain House is a company that sells freezer dried meals for emergency or hiking purposes. They have meals such as breakfast skillet, beef stew and chicken teriyaki.

Survival Food Tablets

Food tablets are highly concentrated with proteins, vitamins and other nutrients to help you survive in emergency situations. Since they’re in a tablet form, they’re lightweight, easy to carry around, and have an exceptionally long shelf life.

Survival Tabs are chewable tablets that give you 20 calories per tablet. Although their caloric content is low, the tablets allow you to fully absorb essential nutrients for your body. The unopened container has a shelf life of 25 years.


Rice is high in carbohydrates and has a fairly long shelf life. It’s also very easy to cook rice, as all you need is water. The downside with rice is that carrying large quantities can be heavy.

Having a stock of Minute Rice will ensure you can get carbohydrates quickly and easily. The parboiled rice takes only 10 minutes to cook with water. For half a cup of Minute Brown Rice your body will receive 180 calories and 39 grams of carbohydrates.


Like rice, pasta is a good source of carbohydrates. It also has a long shelf life, making it easy to stockpile and bring with you on any outdoor survival trip. Pasta is also lightweight and easy to make.

Barilla is a pasta brand that has a Pronto line of pasta that gives you cooked pasta in 10 minutes or less. Their Pronto line includes half-cut spaghetti, rotini, penne and cut macaroni.


Dried legumes, such as lentils, beans or peas last for long periods of time and are easy to cook. They’re lightweight in their dried form but once cooked they become a heavy meal filled with nutrients and lots of protein.

Shilo Farms has a wide variety of organic dried legumes that are great for survival situations. They have anything from black eyes peas, brown lentils and heirloom orca beans.

Dried Meat

Jerky or dehydrated meats are a versatile protein source because they can be eaten as is or rehydrated in soups or other entrees. Dried meats have a long shelf life and are fairly lightweight to bring along with you.

For Jack Link’s Original Beef Jerky, you get 1280 calories and 196 grams of protein per 16-ounce bag of jerky.

Trail Mix

Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts are a great source of protein, fats and calories. Dried fruit can also help boost your energy when you feel tired. Nuts can be heavy in large quantities, but their small size make them easy to pack. Keep in mind that they need to be stored in tight-sealed packaging to keep the nuts from going stale.

Nuts.com allows you pick and choose the dried fruit and nut combinations you want in a trail mix. The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding a mix you’ll want to have with you in the wild.

Canned Meat

Canned meat such as chicken, tuna and salmon will provide you with protein and calories in outdoor survival situations. The meat is compact in a can and has a long shelf life when unopened. The downside for canned products is their heavy weight.

Ocean’s offers canned wild salmon and tuna that’s full of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein and omega 3.

Canned Fruit and Vegetables

Having canned fruit and vegetables provide you with vitamins and nutrients to keep you alive. They’re compact and have a long shelf life. However, with any canned product, your biggest obstacle will be weight.

Simple Truth has organic canned fruit such as sliced peaches and pears to give you a sweet boost of energy. They also have canned vegetables such as green beans, corn and sweet peas.

Nut Butters

Nut butters are high in fats, protein and calories. They’re dense and heavy to haul around, but you can find them in plastic containers or squeeze packs to help save some weight.

Peanut Butter & Co now packages their peanut butter in small squeeze packs for easy carrying. Each 32-gram pack gives you 180 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein.

Instant Soup

Soups are great to have because they’ll often have dehydrated grains, legumes and vegetables for nutrition and calories. Instant soup is lightweight, easy to carry around, and has a fairly long shelf life. All you need to do is add hot water and you’ll have a comforting, hot meal in the outdoors.

Harmony House Foods offers a wide array of easy-to-make dried soups that are great for any emergency situation. They have flavors such as beefish quinoa soup with mushrooms and verylicious veggie chili.


Oats are lightweight, easy to carry, and provide you with nutrients such as Vitamin A, iron and folic acid. Calorie-wise, it’s not one of the emergency food front-runners, but it’s high in carbohydrates to keep you going.

Bob’s Red Mill has a wide variety of oats to choose from, but if you want oats that can be prepared quickly, consider buying the Quick Cooking Oats.

Dry Cereal or Granola

Cereals and granola will supply you with carbohydrates and well-needed calories. They’re lightweight and easy to carry around if they’re taken out of box packaging. If packaged properly, they can be kept for a long time without going stale.

Back To Nature makes gluten-free granola that’s delicious and nutritious. Their Classic Granola is sweetened with fruit juice concentrate and gives you 200 calories and 38 grams of carbohydrates with every half cup that you eat.


Chocolate with a high cocoa content supplies your body with high amounts of minerals and antioxidants. Having the little bit of sugar will also help boost your energy when your morale starts to deplete.

Green & Black’s has a great selection of chocolate bars. Their dark chocolate line is made with 55%+ cocoa and also comes in a variety of flavors such as ginger, toffee and hazelnut.

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