DIY Survival Food

Unforeseeable, severe weather and crippling accidents might be uncommon, but such incidents are still an intrinsic part of the outdoor experience. Owners of remote wilderness cabins need to keep their outposts stocked with long-lasting emergency food supplies, while other outdoors enthusiasts such as climbers or backcountry hikers might need to forage for food to cope with an emergency. For these reasons, a serious backcountry adventurer needs to be able to make his or her own survival food.

Nettle Soup

Backcountry adventure parties in temperate zones in need of survival food need look no further than the stinging nettle (pictured above), a plant otherwise left alone. These plants have markedly serrated green leaves radiating out from a central stalk, and may be anywhere from two to seven feet tall. Nettles are at their most nutritious in the spring, before they flower, but can be eaten at any time.

Although most nettle soup recipes call for other flavoring ingredients, nettle leaves can be cooked alone. Cut the leaves from the stem, but be sure to wear gloves to avoid the stingers present on the underside of each leaf. Stuff the leaves into a simmering pot of water and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. The result is nutritious and similar to spinach soup.


The simple snare is another way to forage for do-it-yourself survival food in an emergency, and the technique can be applied in any land environment. Both Les Stroud and Bear Grylls of the Discovery Channel's popular survival programs "Survivorman" and "Man vs. Wild" both frequently use snares as a way to catch animals without investing a lot of time and energy in the process.

To lay a simple snare, make a noose out of some wire or some form of cordage. Even boot laces might be used in a pinch. Observe the movement patterns of small, local animals or search for animal burrows. Drive a wooden stake into the ground near where the animals move, tie on the noose and let it dangle in the area, so a scurrying animal might trap itself in the snare.

Pre-Prepared Foods

Laying extra supplies into hunting blinds and remote cabins is a wise precaution against unplanned changes in weather or disabling accidents. However, this food must necessarily have a long shelf life, or else it must be frequently and laboriously replaced. Many dried goods can be stretched to a shelf life of 5 to 10 years if stored without oxygen, and this can be achieved with ordinary dry ice.

Line the inside of a bucket with a food-grade plastic sheet, make a mixture of rice, beans and dried corn and fill a bucket with the mixture. Then lay a chunk of dried ice on top of the food and put the lid on. As the dry ice "melts," it turns into carbon dioxide gas, driving out all the regular air from the bucket. Once the dry ice is almost gone, put the lid on the bucket and wait a minute or two for the ice to finish "melting." Then seal the lid, using caulk if necessary, to create an airtight bucket of preserved food. Four ounces of dry ice is enough for a five-gallon bucket.


Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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