We live in a wonderful world of modern conveniences, but it’s also insanely fragile. You’re not the only one who’s been prepping for the day the walls come down. Having a survival food kit is essential until you can get more stable sources of food going in a SHTF scenario, and depending on the situation, you may need more than just a couple of days to keep you and your family going.
Whether you’re preparing for a major disaster or the next big hurricane, tornado or far-reaching wildfire, it’s important to have the necessities packed. You’re going to be leading you and your family through hell and back, and in that time, you need to keep them fed, and also keep yourself in prime condition so you can aptly defend them. We’ve snuffed out the top ten survival food kits, to take the guesswork out of your disaster preparation.
The Best Survival Food Kit
Mountain House Just In Case kit comes with an ideal setup for campers and full-time RV families, but also has the right stats that you want for emergency situations. With a 30-year taste guarantee and food quality preservation system, you’ll be able to grab any of the varieties of food pouches from the bucket, and immediately enjoy. You get 32 total servings, giving you an average of nearly two weeks of food at three meals per day.
The container is a bit bulky, so it’s not ideal to bring the entire thing in your bug-out bag. The only major downside is the lack of meat in these packets; most of them are flavored pastas and rice, giving you the taste of meat included in the dish, with no additional substance. These go from pouch to hot-and-ready in ten minutes, so if time isn’t on your side, you can quickly prep, eat, and continue moving along.
Non light-permeable bucket container
Contains a total of 32 servings
Average 10 minute prep time for hot food
- BrandMountain House
- Weight3.92 pounds
Excellent amount of servings for the price
Comes with a 30-year warranty on quality and taste
Bulky singular container is difficult to carry
Does not contain meat in food packets; flavors vary
Everything you need, and not a hair of what you don’t. Premium Emergency Survival Bag comes with seventy-two hours of supplies for a two-person team. Whether it’s you and your SO heading out into the great unknown, or you want to extend that for six days for yourself, this is the go-to kit and editor’s choice, all in one. Those first three days after a disaster are critical, and on average, supply/rescue windows start to look better after that first period. You get access to a plethora of first aid essentials, as well as a guide for those that lack the knowledge.
This kit has a serious amount of necessities in it, and as a result, the cost hikes up a bit. You will be able to forego purchasing other related items as a result. This kit includes a firestarter, one knife, bathing wipes, a flashlight, LED lantern, twelve servings of food, and twenty-four packets of Datrex water. Everything is in the palm of your hand. We recommend getting acquainted with your kit before bringing it out in the wild (there’s a lot to it). Be sure to also check out our list of the top bug out bags for more great items like this.
Built for 72 hours, for a two-person team
Kit includes a firestarter
Contains knife, whistles, and bathing wipes
- BrandSustain Supply Co.
- Weight20.6 pounds
Comes with light sources
Includes basic first aid kit
Higher cost due to non-survival food items
Made for two, but only includes one of certain items (blanket, lantern, etc.)
Immense amounts of food in a pale, perfect for storing in your RV or camper. This is for those of you who believe that you can never be too prepared, and those with more than one mouth to feed. Augason Farms 30-Day gives you 307 servings, equalling over 55,000 calories for longevity without sacrificing your energy levels. This comes in the form of thirty-five packets in the pale, the only issue is, the bags are not resealable. If you’re digging into this pale, chances are these food bags are going to go within a week or so of you opening them, so you should be good there.
Thee price is beyond right; you get a twenty-year shelf life on this entire container, allowing you to stash it away in the RV (even though it’s a bit awkward to find a spot), or anywhere that’s easily accessible. Between the hard ABS plastic pale and thermal-resistant individual food storage bags, this will be your go-to emergency storage if worse comes to worst. Keep in mind, you’ll need to have ample water stored to hydrate most of this food. Our handy guide to the top dehydrated camping foods features more great products like this.
Enough calories to sustain one individual for roughly four weeks
20-year shelf life
35 pouches in total
- BrandAugason Farms
- Weight24 pounds
Wide variety of foods and flavors
Excellent value to product ratio
Bulky and awkward to store in RV or camper
Requires a large quantity of water to hydrate entire pale
Grab and go, with a little bit of everything you need. This United States Coast Guard-approved pack is ready when you are, and brings enough supplies for a party of four in total. You’ll be good to go for seventy-two hours, with close to 10,000 total calories to keep you and your companions in full energy. This pack also includes a first aid kit, but as a fair warning, it’s basically a big box of band-aids with little else to offer.
Ready America Deluxe does contain far more than food. You’ll have biohazard bags, safety goggles and dust masks, among other things: you’ll basically be prepared for just about any scenario, so long as you can find your necessary items without dumping the bag out on the ground. The quality of the bag itself is standard or low-quality, so it’s not a bad idea to grab this kit for the items, and get a bag you’re more comfortable with for the excursion. Love this product? Check out our review of the top survival backpacks for our top picks.
US Coast Guard-approved
Includes enough supplies for a four-person team
Three days of use
- BrandReady America
- Weight20.5 pounds
Nearly 10,000 calories of food in this little pack
Preps you for multiple hazardous situations with goggles, survival blankets, biohazard bags, and more
Backpack itself is fairly low-quality
107-piece first aid kit is basically a bunch of band-aids
It’s nothing but the good stuff, cutting out all of that GMO garbage, staying kosher and vegan-friendly, but if you have a nut or legume allergy, stay away from this kit. The good folks at NorthWest Fork made a great product, but they should have had more prominent labeling. If that isn’t a bother to you, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the high-nutrition food packets, each with about three to five meals in them. They don’t take a crazy amount of water to rehydrate, either.
You get a total of ninety packets in here, equalling a thirty-day supply to keep you and your companions going strong. In total, you have ten years of shelf life, so long as you use the proper storage conditions (which we’ll cover in the guide below). Organizing these packets and putting them into the appropriate packs and bug-out bags will give you and your family an immediate head start in an emergency situation. You’ll have the upper hand, and peace of mind. If you plan to go to the wilderness, make sure you also check our paracord survival bracelets review and be on top of any situation.
Completely kosher, vegan,-friendly, and non-GMO
Comes with a total of a ten year shelf life
90 total servings
- BrandNorthWest Fork
- Weight16 pounds
Contains food with high nutrition value (and a variety so you won’t get bored)
Good for a thirty day period for one person
Fairly high price
Does contain peanuts and tree nuts (depending on variety) but barely lists this information anywhere on packaging
The wise company made this container with meat-eaters in mind. Since they don’t want you to be left with that hungry feeling in your gut, there’s also an additional twenty rice packets that are simple to prepare. Wise offers a 15-year shelf life, which helps you keep down on replacing your emergency food supplies, and it’s all thanks to the low-oxygen packaging with thermal-resistant materials. That being said, the actual meat in the containers does come out a little bit bland, so it’s recommended to bring your own spices.
Apart from that, the serving sizes are designated by Wise, and as a result they’re fairly small. Wise Company Gourmet Seasoned Freeze Dried Meat is a preferred selection to those who don’t just want the normal flavored rice-style packets found in most kits; you want meat, something with substance, something that’s going to help stave-off hunger. This container has a total of 80 servings, and take about 12-15 minutes to prepare if you’re looking for a piping hot meal in the middle of a sticky situation.
80 servings in total
15-year shelf life
Average 12-15 minute preparation time
- BrandWise Company
- Weight1 pounds
Perfect light-blocking container is easy to store
Thermal-resistant packages contain low oxygen; longer shelf life per packet
Marketed as seasoned, but very bland; bring your own spices
Small serving sizes
The food is long going to outlast the bag on this 5-Day Survival Backpack. If you’re out for an all-in-one kit for a one-man army, you’ve found your ticket. Wise includes five days of single user sustainability, between hygiene, personal first aid, and waste containers/bags for everything you can imagine. We’re head over heels with the price, but not exactly crazy about the small serving sizes. You’re expected to have 6-7 servings a day, making them relatively low-quantity meals.
With a 25-year shelf life and a portable camping stove, you’ll be all set to grab and go. That stove also comes with 24 refuel tablets, allowing you to reignite the light under any circumstances, including plenty of re-dos for human error playing a role. The bag itself is of good quality, though for being a well-rounded kit, it doesn’t give you as much as you would expect. Last but not least, be certain to pack a few spice packets or shakers; the food is bland, but it gets the job done, and helps to keep you feeling full out on the road.
25-year shelf life
Designed for five days of single-user sustainability
Includes small first aid kit and hygiene pouch
- BrandWise Company
- Weight7.9 pounds
Absolutely killer price for what you get
Includes a portable stove with 24 refuel tablets
Well-rounded, but ultimately small amount of supplies for an all-in-one kit
Small serving sizes
We’re coming to a close on our list, but we’ve still got a few aces in the hole to keep you and your loved ones safe when disaster strikes. Emergency Zone compiled this killer backpack that comes filled with everything you need. High-quality first aid kit items, hygiene products, food bars: everything for two people to survive by the skin of their teeth in a worst-case scenario. This bag is seriously high grade, and comes as discreetly as possible. While other brands flaunt their name, Emergency Zone keeps it discreet so you’re not the first target of theft in a SHTF world.
With all those notches in the belt, it comes with its flaws: there’s only a five-year shelf life on this, and that’s if you keep the food bars in a perfect temperature and setting for that entire time. While you should definitely have a cool, dry place to store your survival food and bug-out bag, this one is a bit disappointing with the food life. You’ll have to replace the bars every 4-5 years, if you don’t end up using them. The bag is jammed; you won’t be fitting any other survival equipment in here. Apart from that, you’re ready to air on the side of caution, and walk through fire without getting burned. For more great emergency products, check out our portable water filters review.
Designed for two-person use
Contains SOS brand food and water
US Coast Guard-approved
- BrandEmergency Zone
- Weight14.5 pounds
High quality backpack
Everything you need for survival and hygiene
Only has a five-year shelf life
Bag is jam-packed; no room for added survival items
It’s a portable chef in a bucket: you get 330 servings of high-quality food in this enormous container, giving you complete and utter control over your day-to-day operations out in the midst of a disaster. While there’s a lot of servings, they’re size-defined by Chef’s Banquet, so they’re rather small. This entire bucket will give one person thirty days of food with a high calorie intake, giving you maximum energy to take on the day. High-quality meals come in eight different varieties, so you can switch it up to prevent getting bored of the same old thing.
This container is heavy as hell and bulky (for an emergency food survival kit), so you’ll want to find somewhere to stash this without needing to move it often. We thought the brand name was a little cheesy at first, until we took a bite out of each different meal. Where other survival kits require spices to keep it edible and fresh, this comes with nothing but a high-quality taste and plenty of seasoning. Enjoy this right out of the container with quick meal prep times, and get you and your family into a full night’s rest with full stomachs. Don’t forget to also check our emergency blankets review because it can come in pretty handy.
330 servings in one container
One month supply for one person
High-quality meals in eight varieties
- BrandChef’s Banquet
- Weight28 pounds
High caloric intake each day keeps your energy on-point
Little to no need to add spice; food is delicious right out of container
Heavy, bulky container isn’t easy to store for full access
Small portion sizes
Last but not least, we have Legacy Premium, bringing a seriously big punch. You get sixty super-sized servings of food in this container, which puts you and your family as the perfect position to completely fill up, while enjoying the high-quality flavor and consistency of Legacy’s meals. These all come 100% GMO-free, packing a twenty-five year shelf life. Whether it’s tomorrow or a decade down the road, you can be ready for absolutely anything that comes you way. Keep in mind, this is not good for single users; each packet makes a ton of food, and you want to conserve as much as possible.
This does all come at a fairly high initial cost. All of your food is stored in one large food storage mega tub, making it super simple to just slide into the back of an RV storage compartment, or leave in the cupboard (in reasonable conditions) until the time strikes. Legacy Premium is all about quality control: if you’re not happy with the product, they’re one of the few brands that will put their name on the line to make it right for you. If you’re still not certain which survival food kit is right for you, continue reading our guide for more information on proper food storage, the features we found to build this list, and more on the subject.
Comes with sixty large meal servings
25-year shelf life
100% certified GMO free
- BrandLegacy Premium Food Storage
- Weight18.2 pounds
Meals are actually a good size
Nearly 25,000 calories in this container for top energy
Not applicable for single-person use (large food quantities per packet)
Survival Food Kit Buying Guide and FAQ
Here on Gear Hungry, we’re very big on camping, hiking, and commanding the great outdoors. For more reasons than one, we’ve taken a good hard look at the emergency preparations needed to enjoy the world, and prepare for those dark times. We’ll cover shelf storage times, preparation, and tips on how to get the most out of your survival food kit.
How we Chose Our Selection of Survival Food Kits
While these products may appear bare-bones in terms of the food itself, we’ve gone through a rigorous period of testing and determining just exactly what needs to be look at before going ahead and purchasing it. We built our list off of the following criteria:
- Quality of ingredients
- Quantity of servings
- User reviews from multiple sources
- Overall price and value
We took the guesswork out of this so you can select from a higher caliber of items, instead of scanning numerous pages, looking for that special product.
Features to Look for in Survival Food Kits
Meal Variety - Just because it’s built for an emergency, doesn’t mean it needs to taste like it. There are plenty of kits out there with multiple servings and a variety in flavor/consistency, so you don’t get bored with what you’re eating.
Number of Servings - Whether it’s just for you or for a small group, factor this in. Take into consideration the possibility of having additional, unexpected members with you. Disaster is never convenient.
Portability - The fewer utensils and additives your kit has, the easier it will be to carry. There’s an art to packing a lightweight and effective bug-out bag.
Preparation - On average, preparation on all of these kits are extremely simple to achieve. Preparation is set to take the same amount of time.
Calories - You want high calorie contents in your emergency food kits. Most of these come with 800 to 3,600 per serving, allowing you to maintain your body weight and energy levels.
Ingredients - Every kit has brand-specific ingredients. More often than not, there are not a lot of preservatives or chemicals in these foods. They are kept by air-tight sealing and proper packaging, focusing on nutrition above all else.
Taste - We’re not going to lie: these aren’t all going to taste pretty. We have some tips to increase the flavor of your emergency food in the guide below. As time has gone on, the initial taste of survival food has gotten much better.
Packaging - Light and moisture are bad for your stored foods. Packaging comes in the form of aluminum cans, thermal-resistant and anti light-permeable packages, and airtight, food-safe containers.
Shelf Life - One of the biggest factors is, how long will your food last for? We cover the averages and other information below, but keep this in mind during the purchase process so you can adequately plan for its eventual replacement if you don’t end up using it within the shelf life time frame.
Survival Kit FAQ
Q: What is a Survival Food Kit?
A: Food survival kits contain non-perishable foods, or foods with extremely long shelf lifes exceeding that of your normal grocery store items. These kits don’t need to be refrigerated, cooked, require little to no water, and don’t need a lot of special preparation. They are designed for disaster situations, including hurricanes, floods, wildfires where food runs low, and general preparedness for droughts, famine, and other instances. In our world, we don’t hear of or are included in these things often, but that’s exactly why you’re here: you know that nothing lasts forever.
Q: Who Needs a Survival Food Kit?
A: Just about everyone you can think of. These aren’t casual items found in your everyday pantry. In this modern world of convenience, we take food and other things for granted without so much as a second thought. When the time strikes, very few will be ready. You’ll need a kit if your power goes out (check out our portable generators review for this situation), if your world comes crashing down, and so will your family.
The main focus here are the wife and kids. It’s your solemn duty to protect them, and if you can’t so much as feed them in a disaster situation, then all other preparation efforts will have been wasted. Those going camping, hiking, anywhere majorly away from immediate civilization, and those who fear disaster striking, are all the people we’re trying to reach with this message: you can never be too prepared. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start.
Q: When is a Survival Food Kit Necessary?
A: There are several situations, ranging from extreme to unlikely, that we’ve covered below. In all of these scenarios, it’s important to have access to clean, potable water, whether from a source or from your carrying kit. If you’re applying your own potentiality for requiring a food survival kit, you may also need a water purifier straw or container, for which, we have a guide.
- Global Disaster: While unlikely, you never know what’s around the corner. Those who say you’re nuts for storing food now, are the same ones who would ask you to share if a global attack or disaster ever struck. In situations like these, you could go months or years without having a solid stance in the world. Eventually, we’ll all figure out a way to bring things back to normal, but until then, it’s survival of the fittest. In these situations, these kits aae your primary food source for a while, and backup food later on.
- Hurricanes or Natural Disasters: There are spots all over the glove that endure the panic and disaster of hurricanes, tsunamis, and general flooding each and every year. It takes months or years to get a total count on the fatalities, and often times, many of those are attributed to starving. Whether you’re hold-up in the basement or on a raft floating down Miami roads, food is your number one priority.
- Camping or Hiking: The power on the RV goes out, you lose your food supply storage to bears or other creates. Worst case, you’ve gotten injured while hunting on the trip, and you’re waiting on your mate to come and find you. Having a few days worth of food, especially in a sedentary position, can be the difference between life and death.
- Skiing or Winter Sports Catastrophe: You hear it once every few years, where a few snowboarders or skiiers got trapped and either didn’t make it, or made it by the skin of their teeth and a globalized rescue team. In these situations, whether it’s a cave-in, valance or brutal injury, supplies can be difficult to get to you. By the time they can get supplies to you, it’s already close to the end of the rescue as it is.
- Temporary Poverty: The financial game only takes one wrong turn to twist on its head. While there are charities, communities and organizations willing to help, returning to or entering poverty for the first time comes with an immediate adjustment to your usual food intake. Even if this is temporary, starvation doesn’t take long.
There are plenty of other specific situations. Having yourself ready for anything is an immediate signal to your friends and family that you’re the one to turn to when times get rough. Nobody has ever regretted being prepared for the worst.
Q: What is the Shelf Life of Survival Food?
A: Each package is different, each brand has their own preservation methods, but if you’re talking about a standard freeze-dried meal (like one of the twelve packs that come in our #1 pick on this list), then you’re looking at anywhere from twenty to thirty years on the shelf. Keep in mind, this all depends on how you store it, the surrounding temperature, and if light can penetrate the container.
Then you get into smaller survival food, like individual bars (the ones that range from 1,200 to 3,600 calories or more in a single serving), then you’re looking at about five to ten years. Any reputable emergency food company/manufacturer will also list this on each individual bag, so you won’t have to consult any manual or information that came with your kit. Proper storage is key. While there are optimal conditions for 90% of all stored survival food, be certain to take into account what your food of choice containers, and adjust your storage methods accordingly.
Q: Once the Bag is Opened, How Long Will the Food Last?
A: The food itself may only last for a few days. There’s no moisture in the food, which means it won’t mold. But, at the same time, with no moisture (and generally no filler preservatives) in the food, it grows stale, clumps together, and just generally expires a lot faster.
This is where canning comes into place. If you can put the food from these thermal-resistant bags right into a food-safe can or other method of preservation, on average, depending on the brand, you could have about one year on the shelf. If you store this food improperly, you’ll know it when you go to open it.
Some bags will come with resealable sections and gaskets to push all the air out, but the fact of the matter is, once these have been exposed to air, their twenty or thirty-year shelf life that you purchased them for, will immediately shrink. Be sure to date your food if you plan to store it in alternative means.
Q: Where to Store Survival Food?
A: Survival food, if it doesn’t come in light-blocking packaging, should be stored in metallic and/or airtight containers, and kept out of direct sunlight. If you’re going to be storing your supplies in your pantry, it’s important to check it out often. Moisture, light, and simple age are all factors that degrade the quality of your survival food kit over time.
Stick to dark places in low-moisture environments. One major tip, especially if you live in humid climates that are prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters, is to keep your bag near a vent where your air conditioner runs. Near, not directly in front of. You don’t want to build condensation on the inside of your external frame backpack, but you want to keep everything from getting damaged with time.
Ziploc bags are not an okay storage container for survival food, nor are tupperware containers. Many rookies make the mistake of assuming these are airtight, but that’s completely up to human error, and is still light permeable. You should have a knife with you if push comes to shove, meaning it’s a viable option to put your freeze-dried food in food sealer bags that suck all the air out, and then place those in containers/in your bag.
Golden rules: no light, no moisture, check once every three months to ensure food and supplies are still all set for a worst-case cenario.
Q: How to Prepare Survival Food?
A: Survival food comes freeze-dried, which is why you’re able to store it on the shelves for so long at a time. To prepare your good, as well as a few additional tips to ensure everything is done safely and efficiently, we’ve laid out our pro tips below.
- Bring water to a boil for your freeze-dried meals. You don’t need to continue boiling it, because that 212F temperature is going to kill all bacteria and harmful pathogens.
- Add your food to the water. Most freeze-dried foods are read-to-go in about ten to twelve minutes after you mix them into the water.
- Be sure to have some sort of spice together, whether it’s salt or pepper, and keep it in your kit. Bonus points if you can mix a blend of your favorite spices, essentially making an “all-spice” for whatever it is you’re preparing. Basic salt, pepper, and other preferred ingredients can liven up this food and make it truly enjoyable.
- Ensure that you prepare everything in an easy-to-clean container. If you’re interested, you can check out our camping cookware buying guide to find a great set. Keep in mind, in emergency situations, you may not have access to much water to clean with.
Additional Tips for Preparing Survival Food
- Bring a recipe book along for the ride.
- You can prepare food with cold water, but only if it is potable.
- It’s recommended to practice cooking a few meals (perhaps grab an additional less expensive pack of food) so you understand what you’re doing from first-hand experience.
- Bring a reliable heating source, such as an alcohol stove.
- Bring utensils in your kit, if it doesn’t already come with them. If the SHTF and you’re left without utensils, you’re going to waste more food from unconventional means of eating it.
Professional survivalists also recommend having reminders or calendar dates to check for food when it’s within thirty days of expiration. This gives you time to eat (you don’t want it going to waste), and replace those kits with newer food supplies. If applicable, keep your bug-out bag in a visible location so you’ll remember to check on it frequently.