Do you know we can go without food for as long as three weeks!! While most of us feel that we will starve to death even if we have to skip a single meal, the reality is that we can survive much longer without food. However, you really don’t want to test your survivability when you are out in the woods, hiking unknown terrains in harsh weather.
Food is possibly the most important part of staying alive. So, before you set out on a long hiking or trekking trip, you must acquaint yourself with basics of survival food. What can you eat? What food can keep you alive? How can you cook a meal when outdoors? Here are answers to some of the most basic questions on survival food.
Photo by Lisa Redfern
For a day trip or even an overnight trip, you can carry as much food as you like, because weight would not be a major problem. However, if you are going on a long one, you need to be very careful, because you are limited by the weight you can carry, but you still need all the essential nutrients to keep you going.
Here a very simple calculation. You need to know how many estimated calories do you burn hiking (or trekking, running, whatever your activity is). For example, if you burn 1500 calories a day hiking in the woods, you need to provide your body so many calories before it starts using up your reserves such as fat deposits. If you are skinny and do not have any fat reserves, the body will start using up your muscles, which you don’t want to happen.
Now this is not all. There is something called the basal metabolic rate, which in simple terms, is the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions such as breathing. So, if you are sitting on the couch doing nothing the entire day, your body still needs certain calories and that is your basal metabolic rate or BMR. There are many BMR calculators available online.
So, the crux of the story is that you need your BMR (let’s say 1300 calories) plus the calories you are going to burn during the day. You can plan your daily dietary requirements according to this. You can adjust the caloric requirements as per your goals. If you are planning to lose weight, take fewer calories than you need.
What kind of food should I carry?
• It should provide a sufficient number of calories and the right nutritional value to keep you healthy for a long time
• It should non-perishable, i.e. it should last for the long term even in the worst case scenarios
What are the best survival foods for a long haul?
• Dried meat: These high protein foods are lightweight enough to be carried conveniently in backpacks for long hauls. Beef jerky can give you 13 grams protein per ounce and freeze-dried chicken can give as much as 21 grams per ounce. These are also high on certain essential micronutrients such as sodium, Vitamin B12, niacin and others.
Beef Jerky- our favorite!
• All types of nuts: Nuts are powerhouse of nutrition. They are high in healthy fats, fibre and protein. They also provide a wide range of essential nutrients such as several B group vitamins, vitamin E, minerals including iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, antioxidant minerals and other phytochemicals.
Your body will thank you later, This is Nuts!
• Dehydrated fruits such as dates: Dates are concentrated source of calories. 5 dates can provide 117 calories and even 1 gram of protein. They are also quite filling because they are rich in fibre.
Royal taste, Great treat. Dates are god's gift!
• Dried herbs: Keep some dried herbs in your backpack; you can use them as teas and seasoning. Lavender buds are a healing herb and makes great tea. Another good option is peppermint leaves. They can be used both for seasoning and for making tea to soothe stomach discomfort.
Much more than a fragrance. Lavender
• Protein bars: While we don’t really promote processed food, when it comes to ease of use, you can’t bit the good old candy bar. A few bars of Snickers or Twix in your backpack will assure that you keep your smile through the rough terrains. Just try to avoid chocolate on warm weather.
Calculate the nutritional and caloric value of each of these food items and plan your meals accordingly.
What cooking equipment is recommended to carry in your backpack?
You can certainly prepare a tasty, wholesome meal with the right kind of equipment. A decent warm campfire dinner can and will keep high morale and good spirit, which is a key principal in survival.
You can either invest in a Stainless Steel Portable Folding Gas Stove with a Split Burner or a wood stove. These stoves are easy to carry and super efficient. You can also buy a cookware set Specially designed for outdoor use.
When you are out on an adventure trip, the right kind of food will make your experience much better and could potentially save your life and help you survive even in the harshest circumstances.