Bug Out Bag Essentials : Food

Food is pretty easy to plan for and there are many options out there.  The average adult will need about 2000 calories per day to sustain a moderate level of activity.  One option for this is Mainstay rations.  They come in 3600 calorie “bricks” that are segmented out into 9 400 calorie bars.  There are some pros and cons to these like the fact that they can withstand extreme temperatures (i.e. leaving your BoB in your car), meet or exceed daily vitamin and mineral requirements, and are generally not really expensive.  They claim they taste kind of like a lemon cookie, and they don’t make you thirsty.  They may not make you thirsty, but good luck getting these things down without some water on hand.  Also, if you pack these, you may want to break up the monotony a little and pack some other type of energy bar or something as the taste of these can wear on you pretty quick.  We are talking about survival, though, not a 4 star meal.

Another option is Datrex bars.  They are similar to Mainstay except that they tend to taste more like coconut.  Lots of people like these better than Mainstay, but I am not a fan of coconut by any means and prefer the lemony taste of Mainstay better.  They are similar in size, calorie count, and temperature tolerance however, and are great for storing in the car.

Those are probably the most popular “bar” type rations that you can pack, but there are also more “meal” type rations if you prefer.  For example, you can always pick up a few MREs.  These are commonly used by the military and stand for Meals Ready to Eat.  The drawback is that they take up more room in your pack, and you will likely need at least two MRE’s per day per average adult to stay active, but they aren’t bad to eat and they make up 100% of your daily nutritional intake according to the FDA.  They usually come with an entrée, a side, snack, drink, desert, and condiments.  There are many different kinds of MRE’s to choose from, however, so you can change it up a bit which can go a long way towards trying to be as comfortable as possible.

Another “meal” type ration is the Mountain House Meal.  These are what I prefer.  I have eaten these and so far I have been really impressed.  You could easily serve these to your family one night without them knowing it and they would think you made a great home-cooked dinner.  As far as calorie count is concerned, the 16 oz chili mac I have in my bug out bag says it is 500 calories so that is probably about average for the 16 oz packs, but it will vary a little.  I have a few of these Mountain House meals in my BoB but not enough for 3 days as I intend to offset it with Mainstay and Datrex bars.  The big drawback to Mountain House meals is that they require water to prepare.  The meals are freeze-dried, so you boil about a cup of water and pour it into the package to re-hydrate.  Not exactly a quick on-the-go meal and can eat into your water supply, but to me it is well worth it for when you settle into a location for the day.

Those are some of the more popular options for food for your bug out bag.  I personally recommend a mixture of ration bars, and meals.  It just makes more sense to me.  The meals are good for when you reach wherever you are going to set up camp for the day and give you something to look forward to, while the bars are good for on-the-go and you just need to take a break and eat before continuing on.

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