One of the most important items to pack whether you are going for a hike, drive, or camping trip is some emergency food. As humans we never stop thinking about food. What’s for breakfast? What’s for dinner? These questions take on a whole new meaning when you are stranded or lost in the woods and are part of the survival basics.
Humans are always hungry, without food we eventually just die. Most people can go three or more days without food, but only a few hours without water before they start to experience serious health problems. If you find yourself stuck somewhere with little nourishment, try to limit your activity to reduce the amount of food energy you require to keep from getting hungry if you become stranded or lost.
What To Bring
Where to find food depends greatly on the situation and time of year. What you pack is very important, you will want to get the most nutrients as possible while taking up as little space and weight as possible. Items such as beef jerky, nuts, granola bars, sunflower seeds, and dried foods such as cranberries and other fruits are relatively non-perishable, water proof, lightweight and have a high nutrient value. Pack items such as oatmeal cookies instead of chocolate bars which can melt. Hard candies such as mints, travel well and are a good source of sugar if you need it.
Food For Go-Bags
All of these foods are great to pack when driving or going on a day trip. They will keep for quite a while if properly sealed and are enough to get you through the night. These snacks along with some canned foods such as stews, beans, or vegetables are good to put in a go-bag or your pantry to have available in case of an emergency or natural disaster at home. Some other popular items to pack include powdered soup mixes and Kool-Aid. Some flavours of Kool-Aid contain vitamin C, which is essential for good health and can be added to a bottle of water and consumed warm or cold.
Powdered milk is another item to keep on hand in case regular dairy supplies are interrupted or unavailable for a while. There are many kinds of M.R.E’s (Meals Ready To Eat) available from camping stores and outdoor outfitters. They are lightweight and simple to prepare. Don’t forget about your pets. Keep a few cans of food on hand for your cats or dogs as well.
Food In The Woods
If you are lost in the woods for any length of time, the search for food takes on a whole different meaning. Keep many of the same items in your backpack such as beef jerky, nuts or dried fruit, but try to eat what you can find. Nature provides many different sources of food at all times of the year. Keep an eye out for fresh strawberries, raspberries, or coconuts and tree nuts. Many different types of mushrooms are edible as well. Even acorns or plants such as cattails and cactus have edible parts.
Consult a book of wild plants related to the area where you intend to be before heading out to gain a better idea of what is available. If you are unsure if a food is safe to eat then it is best to leave it alone. Some plants can be very toxic even if only a small amount is ingested.
Tools for Outdoor Survival
Items from your backpack such as sunflower seeds or granola can be used to attract other animals such as birds, squirrels or even rabbits to you. A few seeds can attract several large birds maximizing your emergency rations and providing you with a nice meal. Be sure to bring a source of fire with you so you can cook your catch and a metal container capable of boiling water to contain it all. A small knife on a multi tool is also very useful to bring with you for cleaning and cutting your meal. Keep all these items in your backpack so you know where they are in an emergency. If you have canned food, make sure you pack a can opener!
Crusader cup cooking systems available at outdoor shops are very useful for heating up a cup of soup or tea and take up very little space in your backpack. Packaged salt, pepper, and sugar from restaurants are useful to keep in your first aid kit as well. Another very useful item to pack is a few different sizes of fish hooks and about 50′ of fishing line. If you are in an area with fresh water, the hooks can be used to catch fish, frogs, or even birds. If the worst comes to the worst, you can eat many different kinds of grubs and bugs, however try to save them as bait for the hooks rather than a meal for you.
Snack For The Road
Mother Nature provides us with many sources of food that are available at all times of the year. Plan ahead and pack a snack and something to drink in case your car gets stuck during the winter or you get lost while out in the woods. Even if you have a campsite full of food it never hurts to have a little extra with you.
Copyright 2016 Mike Wilson