The Best Survival Foods

After you've built a fire, erected an emergency shelter, located a water supply and started your signaling routine, what you need next is high-energy food. Keep these criteria in mind when selecting the right foods. Plus see the results of our _SURVIVAL FOOD TASTE TEST_.

Cliff Bars

Cliff Bars

Widely available in countless flavors. Roughly $2 at grocery, fitness and health food stores.
Nutrition: 190""230 calories, 10""19 grams of protein and 2""50 grams of carbs per bar.
Shelf life: Six to nine months.
Packaging: Tightly sealed in thin but airtight plastic wrappers; lightweight and compact.
Taste: There are a million and one different flavors, but nobody buys these things for their taste.
Outdoor Life Online Editor

Eating chipmunk, snake and the occasional wild bird egg might keep you going in a survival situation. But it's far better to plan ahead and take emergency foods into the field with you. What should you take? When selecting a survival food, keep these four criteria in mind.

1. NUTRITION
Don't haul junk food into the field. Study the nutritional information on packaging and avoid foods that list sugars (corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose) as the first-and therefore most abundant-ingredient. These give you a "sugar high" that is followed by an energy depression. High calorie content consisting of protein, complex carbohydrates and fats is what you need in survival mode.

Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy, but not all carbs are the same. Simple carbs (sugars) don't provide sustained energy levels; complex carbs supply more energy over a longer period of time. Look for foods that are high in carbohydrates but low in sugars. Those are the foods loaded with complex carbs.

2. SHELF LIFE
You don't want your emergency food supply to go rancid. When you shop, look for the most distant "use by" date. Rotate your inventory by eating and replacing items periodically, even if you're not faced with a survival situation. That will keep the supply fresh.

3. PACKAGING
Survival food should have lightweight, compact, durable packaging. Cans and bottles filled with wet foods weigh too much to carry around, so look for foods with packaging that is easy to open and weighs little. Your emergency food supply should be small enough to fit in pockets or a fanny pack and packaged to protect the contents in any situation.

You don't want a wrapper that falls apart just because the humidity rises, or disintegrates from being tossed around in a pack or pocket.

4. FLAVOR
If the food tastes good, that's a bonus, but flavor is at the bottom of my priority list. Compared to grub worms and bitter greens, just about anything you bring from home or the store will doubtless taste like a feast in a survival situation.