A persons gotta eat, right? Are you packing enough bugout food and water in your bag. The right food?
Call it a bug-out bag, 72-hour pack, get-home bag, get out of dodge bag, INCH (I’m never coming home) bag, whatever – your food needs to be accessible, light weight, portable, and provide the nutrients and calories to get you to your destination. Your bugout food should also stay good long term but don’t forget about it until it’s growing mold. Rotate and use it.
I don’t need no stinken’ food, I has survival skills.
It kills me when I see people on YouTube saying things like, “The more you know, the less you need.” I know enough to understand I want the best chance to get where I’m going. This is survival, not a macho game of manliness.
Sure, there are some pro survivalists and bushcrafters that can probably make do with their knowledge and skill. Here’s the thing though, Murphy isn’t going to allow Mother Nature, circumstance, timing, and situation to come together perfectly for that ultimate video. This is life and death, not view count. Even for the best of the best survivalist, time, place, and conditions will be a huge variable. I don’t mean to diss on real survivalists, I have mad respect. Truly.
What if you are hurt? On the run? Exhausted? Low on time? Can you hunt down an elk with your best fixed blade, catch some trout with a hook fashioned from a piece of bone you found, trap a squirrel with your shoe laces and forge for some Urtica Dioica – all while your right arm is attached with a butterfly bandage and you’re being chased by a horde of savage girl scouts after your last protein bar? I thought not, Rambo.
Pack what you need for the mission at hand and don’t overload yourself. Over six years in the Army and dozens of missions, not once did anyone suggest putting a mission at risk while we hunt and forage for food. Wow!
Now get that crap out of your head and let’s prepare for survival.
With that said, hunting, fishing, gardening, foraging, and trapping are all skills we should absolutely master. Depending on the survival scenario, the food will eventually run out, giving enough time.
Should we bet our lives on those skills alone? Personally, I plan to have the food required for my wife and me to get to our bugout location. From there, we have several months, if necessary, to get our food sustainment plan going strong.
Okay, back to the bugout food kit.
The Bag – Bugout Food Kit
The options are endless and you have to find what works best for you, your pack, and circumstances. For me, right now I’m using US Military MOLLE sustainment pouches (Amazon partner link).
One for my bugout bag and one for my get-home bag. My EDC bag just has a few protein bars in it. My INCH bag? Well, that’s a whole different animal best suited for another time.
You can fit a lot of food in a US Military MOLLE sustainment pouch. Shown here is almost a week’s worth of food straight from my bugout bag. I have another food kit exactly the same in my get-home bag.
I like the Army sustainment pouch because it can drop in my bug-out bag, strap to the side or back of my pack, or sling over my shoulder with a strap or any cordage.
It is a little off topic but I’ll include a photo of my main packs together here. This might give you an idea on what type of bugout food kit could work in the various bags.
My bug-out bag is a very non-tactical Kelty Red Cloud 110 (Amazon partner link). It’s very large and comfortable as long as you keep it way under the 110-liter capacity. It has no MOLLE so the bugout food bag just sits inside my pack.
My get-home pack is a 5.11 Rush 72 tactical backpack (Amazon partner link) geeked out with way too many cool pouches. This pack is MOLLIE capable but I still store the food pouch inside.
My EDC bag is a blue eBags backpack (Amazon partner link). I’ve since changed from my last EDC bag post so I need to write/record an updated version. This bag only contains several protein bars in a zip-lock bag. I do raid this bag far too often but my protein bars stay very fresh as they’re replaced almost monthly.
Single Food Bag/Pouch Disadvantages
One disadvantage for the Army sustainment pouch, in particular, is that it is not waterproof. That may be a concern if you plan to attach the bag to the outside of your pack.
Another disadvantage to any single food pouch or bag is you’re as likely to lose all of your food as to lose a single portion. I know many hikers, including myself, that portion out their food into separate zip-lock bags so they don’t over-eat past each day’s allotted food or leave the entire food bag on the log you were taking a break at fifteen miles ago. Trust me, it happens. I know first hand, unfortunately.
I mix wet (complete) and freeze-dried foods to reduce the weight yet I’m covered if water collection becomes difficult.
I’m not here to review any particular brand even though I’m currently packing some pretty common brand names. Truthfully, they all pale in comparison to my wife’s cooking but these work great for their purpose. Choose the brand and flavors you like best.
Like I mentioned above, I want my bugout food to be light weight and portable. The single bugout food pouch in my bugout bag weighs in at just 4lbs. 4oz.. I carry that in my pack, along with the cook kit and water kit. My wife carries her own water and several freeze-dried meals. We both carry snacks and protein bars.
Other Bugout Food Options
Like I mentioned, the options here are endless. I’m just sharing what I prefer but you may go an entirely different route. I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 🙂
There are MREs (Meals Ready To Eat). MREs aren’t a bad option for short term bugout food. They are a bit heavy and quite expensive but they can work. Try them first, as with any bugout food.
Actually, the Tac-Bars (Amazon partner link) aren’t that bad. See my post – Camping Overnight With Tac-Bar. You will need plenty of clean water to help wash them down though. They’re heavy, at 1.22lbs., but that’s 2,500 calories worth.
Not really enough for a day’s worth of fast travel or heavy exertion but neither is my bugout food pack, to be honest.
There are a plethora of commercial freeze dried and dehydrated pack meals available. I’d avoid heavy cans and jars.
I’m a hiker and I pack a lot differently when hiking. I pack a lot of dehydrated foods that I dehydrate myself. I also hike with a lot of pre-packaged foods like tuna, pb&j, spam singles, ramen noodles, coffee, tea, etc..
I’ve also been known to bring along a big fat juicy steak and baked potato (frozen before the hike) for that first night on a multi-day hike.
I’m in enjoyment mode when hiking, not survival mode. Although, there have been times when hiking came pretty close to feeling like a survival moment.
Whatever you decide, consider how you’ll carry it, how you’ll prepare it, and how it will affect your health and body.
Weight: I don’t want to bugout at all. If I have to, things have REALLY gotten bad. I own a pick-up truck, car, and trailer. Plenty of gas stored and rotated. Those are my first choices for travel.
Those bug-out packs across our backs are for last resort.
We even have bicycles if we need them but walking or biking, we must prepare. A dozen cans of ravioli and a gallon of milk just won’t do.
Health: You don’t want to make extreme changes to your diet that cause you to spend too much time with your butt hanging over a log while you become more and more dehydrated. Or eat so few or empty calories (like pop, candy, or even ramen noodles) that you don’t have the energy to complete your mission – which hopefully is to survive until you get to your bugout location.
Cooking & Preparation
Cook kits are far too big of a topic to go into here so I’ll try to write a separate post and/or record a video about them soon. It’s a favorite topic of mine.
We do, however, need to have a way of cooking or preparing the food we carry.
I carry an inexpensive cook kit, as well as a stainless cup and uninsulated stainless water bottle for boiling water. These tools cover everything I carry as far as bugout food.
If I had to dump some weight, I could drop the cook kit & cup and survive on just the stainless water bottle. The pre-cooked packages I carry can be eaten cold if necessary and the freeze-dried foods just require clean water.
Fresh, Clean Water
You can’t live long without water. You want clean water. Remeber that image of your butt hanging over the log? Yep, you want clean water.
Water is heavy. Plan to bring it.
Also, Have a couple of methods of treating your water. Here are my solutions, in this order:
1. Boil it.
2. Filter it.
3. Use water treatment tabs.
☑ Survival Tip: Notice I’m saying water treatment and not water purification. I don’t want to get sick from my water but I don’t want to lie to myself either – or to you. We can still find ourselves very sick, from a variety of things, e.g. bad water, bad food, change of diet, exertion, exhaustion, exposure, and on and on. So prepare for it and bring meds that work for you. I pack both antidiarrheal and anti constipation medicines. You don’t know which way things might turn.
☑ Even Better Survival Tip: Set a bottle of water outside and on top of each bugout bag. Make sure you and everyone bugging out with you know to drink that bottle of water while they’re getting out of the house. If you have the time, two bottles will be even better. Sure, you’re going to need to pee sooner but starting the trip hydrated will go a long way. Most of us are already dehydrated on a good day. See and listen (short podcast): Studies show most Americans are dehydrated.
Test It – Taste It – Over and Over
How far is your bug-out location? How heavy is your pack? Exactly how long does it take to make your first stop with that pack? To your bugout location? Does your bugout food agree with you and give you the energy needed? Do you have enough water? Where can you re-supply your water? Is your pack too heavy?
You should know this like the back of your hand if you’ve actually taken the trip multiple times for practice.
I hike to my bugout location twice a year – once in the winter (Michigan) and once in the heat of summer. I’ll tell you, those are two very different trips. I also hike the 12 miles from work (The furthest I travel on a typical day) using my EDC bag at least once a year. I try to start at different times of the day. This year I started at 5pm. It was about 40℉. and poured rain the entire time. I was home in time to take a shower before bedtime. It was awesome!
Anything over 20 miles from home and my get-home bag comes along. I haven’t tested that 20+ mile scenario yet but I need to. I’ve hiked way over that but not with that particular bag. I have a feeling that test will cause me to replace the 5.11 Rush 72 tactical backpack with something way less cool and much easier to carry. That’s how my other bags have evolved. Just a matter of time.
It really boils down to what works best for you and your family. You’ll just be guessing until you actually have a plan and put that plan to practice. Try your gear and master it. Try your bugout food and make the necessary adjustments before the SHTF.
Your survival and self-reliance depend on you, one step at a time.