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The “survival food” category, one that was likely dominated by outdoor enthusiasts and those serving our country, may be getting more attention from ordinary citizens now, as supply chain issues can cause growing concern over food security. We wanted to check out what survival food bars are out there, and how they stack up against each other. Whether you're headed on an outdoor adventure or simply want to be prepared in case of an emergency, survival food bars are a great staple.
Here, the best survival food bars.
Best Overall: Ultimate Survival Technologies 5-Year Emergency Food Ration Bar
This ready-to-eat bar has all the necessities: It’s high in calories (2,400 calories per packet), offers a long shelf life (5 years), and is “perfect for keeping in your backpack, survival kit, or shelter-in-place kit,” according to the manufacturer. These apple-cinnamon flavored bars come vacuum-sealed and are great to have on hand in your family’s emergency supplies. The bright orange and silver packaging is great for visibility, in the event of power loss. Each 3-ounce bar contains 400 calories, 19 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals (especially iron and calcium).
Best Plant-Based: PROBAR Meal Bar Variety Pack
These gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO bars come in a variety of appealing flavors, such as Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Banana Nut Bread, and Wholeberry Blast, so there’s something for everyone in your family. They range from 370 to 410 calories per bar, perfect for a quick energy boost, and they are organic and plant-based for those who are vegans or vegetarians. Two servings (1 bar) contains around 22 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein, as well as other vitamins and minerals (numbers will vary based on flavor).
Best Gluten-Free: Nature's Juice Bar Emergency Food Bars
These Nature’s Juice bars are perfect for any emergency kit you’re putting together. There are two flavors—cranberry coconut and lime—and each box contains six shelf-stable (32 months) 150-calorie bars individually wrapped in waterproof packaging (with an easy-to-open feature). Each bar is enclosed within a wafer layer that helps to seal in moisture, ensuring a tasty, chewy bar that’s not too dry (since you don’t want anything that provokes thirst) or crumbles into a mess; they even remain soft in freezing temperatures. These bars are also gluten-free and made with vegan, non-GMO, organic ingredients.
Best Flavor Assortment: Freccia Rossa 18-Pack Market Millennium Energy Bars Assorted Flavors
In an emergency situation, your priority would likely be any kind of sustenance, no matter the flavor, but, with that said, having a variety of options to switch things up certainly can’t hurt! These bars offer a fun mix of flavors (cherry, mixed berry, orange, tropical fruits, lemon, etc.) to keep you from getting too bored. They offer a 5-year shelf life and have been vacuum-packed in BPA-free packaging so you don’t have to worry about any spoilage no matter the extreme circumstance. Each bar contains over 400 calories. As an added bonus, the variety pack comes with a survival guide booklet.
Best Coast-Guard Approved: Shield-Safety 3600 Calorie Survival Food Bars
Mayday’s survival food bars are U.S. Coast Guard-approved—so you know they’re good to have on hand in an emergency. Each bar contains 400 calories, 19 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein, plus a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals. The 5-year shelf-life will ensure you don’t have to restock too often. These bars taste similar to a shortbread cookie.
For a basic, no-frills bar to stock your emergency kit, we recommend Ultimate Survival Technologies 5-Year Emergency Food Ration Bar (view at Amazon). If you’re looking for something with a bit more pizazz when it comes to flavor options, check out Freccia Rossa Market Millennium Energy Bars (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in Survival Food Bars
Flavor and Texture
You want to bite into one of these and have a chewy texture, preferably one that tastes good, too. Survival food bars come in many different flavors, including chocolate, peanut butter, a variety of fruit flavors, and more. These bars are not supposed to provoke thirst, so one that is dry and crumbly is not the best option to keep on hand. Try a sample, if you can, before stocking up on supplies.
Watch the ingredients label to ensure that you are getting what will work for your family, especially if dietary preferences or needs include gluten-free, soy-free, organic, or vegetarian diets.
Storage and Packaging
Check the shelf life for these bars on the packaging to not only see what the expiration date is, but so you know how fresh they are before buying them. Survival food bars are wrapped in a vacuum-sealed package that helps keep them fresh. Some manufacturers wrap them in individually but use the same outer package, and others are wrapped in blocks that are meant to be broken off in pieces as needed. Be cognizant of the type of packaging used, as some will state things like waterproof and easy to open.
What are survival food bars used for?
Besides stashing up those emergency kits and bug-out bags or locations, survival food bars are good to have on hand when backpacking, hiking, camping, boating, traveling, and any other activity.
Where do you store survival food bars?
The shelf life of these bars is usually around five years or more, and for the best storage, they should be kept in a cool, dry place. Keep the bulk of them at that location, but grab a handful to store in easy access places, too. They are able to withstand extreme temperatures and won't spoil, so it is not unusual to have some stashed in different locations including an emergency kit, a bug-out location, or other selected areas.
What should be in an emergency kit?
Besides adequate food and water supplies, other items that you should keep on hand for an emergency include flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, a multipurpose tool, personal hygiene items, a radio, medications, matches, candles, blankets, and pet food, if needed.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews.