Best bug out bag survival food: GORP
One of the things that you need to have in your bug out bag or camping/hiking backpack is some kind of survival food. The problem is that food costs weight and space and you can only carry so much stuff. By choosing your food carefully, you can maximize the amount of calories and protein per ounce and per cubic inch.
Typically, preppers pack their bug out bag with food like Mountain House dehydrated pouches. There’s nothing really wrong with that but let’s look at the numbers. The Mountain House beef stew gives you 200 calories and 14 grams of protein in 115 grams of food, or 1.74 calories and 0.1217 grams of protein per gram.
For those who aren’t used to the metric scale, that’s 788 calories and 55.22 grams of protein per pound. Each meal has a different amount of calories, protein, and overall weight so you’d have to look at them individually.
BTW, I know I keep mentioning this but if you’re serious about having a bug out bag and being able to carry what you need, check out some ultralight backpacking websites like ulborbust, forums like backpackinglight, and books like Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping. That stuff can really help you cut down weight in your pack and still let you carry what you need – as well as help you learn what you ACTUALLY need.
A better choice (as far as pack weight/space efficiency and definitely not taste) are S.O.S. Rations Emergency 3600 Calorie Food Bars. The SOS rations (whole package) weigh 756 grams and provide 3600 calories and 64 grams of protein, giving you 4.76 calories and .0847 grams of protein for each gram you’re packing. That’s 2,160 calories and 38.4 grams of protein per pound. More overall calories but in this case, less protein (which won’t always be the case). It also takes up a LOT less space than the 18 packs of beef stew would to get the same amount of calories.
There is a better solution than either of them, however.
For those of you who haven’t done a lot of hiking or survival training, you may not be familiar with the term GORP. Gorp is essentially a form of trail mix. It stands for Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts, but it can also stand for “granola, oats, raisins, and peanuts”, or “grapes, oranges, raisins and peanuts” or “gobs of raw protein”.
In general, nuts and seeds pack approximately a walloping 6 calories and 0.3 grams of protein per gram, which is 2,721 calories and 136 grams of protein per pound! That’s even better than energy bars.
Depending on your choice of gorp (assuming you’re not a purist who sticks with just raisins and peanuts), this may fluctuate a little from those numbers but keeping the majority of your gorp as seeds and nuts will give you a LOT of calories and grams of protein per pound you carry – and it’s a lot easier to pack since you can just put it into a baggie and fit it into any open spot in your pack. AND- doing this yourself is a lot cheaper per pound/calorie/cubic inch than prepackaged survival food.
Now, for a little variety to make it taste better, and also to give you some more nutrition, most people will add a few other things to their gorp. Your overall amount of protein and calories per gram will depend on exactly what you add and the percentage of overall food that is nuts and seeds but it’s still going to crush typical survival food as far as nutritional value per pound.
For the best-tasting gorp (and most foods in general), you want a mix of salty, sweet, tart, savory, and fatty flavors. When you get that all balanced correctly, it makes a good-tasting meal a great-tasting meal. In fact, I actually had to make more gorp after writing this article so I could get a good picture because I ended up eating half of my stash as I wrote.
This is my GORP recipe (although I do change it up occasionally):
Graywolf’s Ultimate GORP Recipe:
- Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts. This gives you a lot of protein and calories from the nuts as well as some salty-sweetness. Peanuts are also extremely cheap compared to a lot of nuts.
- Planters Lightly Salted Cashew Halves & Pieces. This adds some complexity to the nutty flavor and a little salt.
- Roasted and Salted Shelled Pistachios. They have a lot of vitamins and minerals and taste yummy. They also may cut down on cholesterol. God, I love pistachios.
- Oat Granola. This not only adds a nice crunch to the mix, it has a good amount of fiber.
- Dried Cranberries. These are really healthy for you and add a tart sweetness.
- Dry Roasted Sunflower Seed Kernels. These are not only another really healthy addition, they add a nice twist to the nutty flavor.
- Raisins. Another really healthy addition that adds that great raisin sweetness.
- Cacao Powder. You can also just use cocoa powder instead but cacao is processed differently, has more health benefits, and tastes pretty much the same.
- Cayenne Pepper. A couple of dashes of this will not only give it that kick that’s set off by the sweetness and especially the cacao, it’s a natural appetite-suppressant and has a lot more really great health benefits. If you’re out in the woods for a while and don’t have a lot of food, it’s nice to have something that keeps you from getting hunger pangs, distracting you from what you need to be focusing on.
I don’t really measure anything when I put it together. I just toss it in a large bowl, add a bunch of each, taste it, then add more of whatever it needs until it comes out just right. Then I scoop out a bit and put it into a couple of Ziploc Double Zipper Heavy Duty Quart Freezer Bags with whatever amount I want to carry. Spreading it out into 2-3 bags not only allows you to pack it easier, it lets you keep one bag for easy-to-reach snacking. This stuff tastes so good I even keep it on my desk to snack on while I’m working (which is shown in the main pic above). Just watch if you do end up eating this stuff when you’re not out there expending a lot of calories traipsing around the woods with your backpack because these calories add up quickly.
Other ingredients you can add to your GORP:
Some people like to add chocolate but I live in the desert and chocolate doesn’t work really well. The last thing I want to do is get my hands all gooey every time I grab a handful. Here are a few other things that you can add to balance the flavors but just keep in mind that the more non-nut/seeds you add to the mix, the fewer calories and grams of protein per pound you’ll have. Obviously any nut or seed kernel should work just fine so I’m not going to list them but here are some popular ingredients:
- Shredded Sweetened Coconut.
- Banana Chips.
- Snyders Mini Pretzels.
- Crystallized Ginger.
- Roasted/Salted Soybeans.
- M&M Candies.
- Coffee Beans.
- Goji Berries.
So, by getting your own ingredients and putting it together, you can not only save money, save space in your pack, and cut down on the weight you have to carry, you can make yourself a snack that isn’t just not bad for you – it’s actually good for you!