Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

Best bug out bag survival food: GORP

GORP - the better bug out bag survival foodOne 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:

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:

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!


About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. How long does the average gorp mixture store for?

  2. After packing up this GORP in those double zip lock bags, about how long would they last before spoiling??

    • A very long time but it depends on what you put in them. Having fruit or anything with a higher water content would make it not last as long. If it’s just nuts and seeds, it’ll last much longer than you should have your bag sitting around not being used. Probably many months if not years.

      • Do the dried cranberries still retain a slight amount of residual water, or do you think they would be ok to use for a “long-term” GORP that stays in go-bags? I know the raisins would be out for “long-term” storage. I am also thinking of vacuum sealing the bags as well to try to extend the shelf life.

        • Depends on what you mean by long-term. You shouldn’t have a bag stashed away in a corner for years anyway. You should be rotating any stored or survival food on occasion anyway. I have no idea how long any particular food will last though since I’ve never let it sit that long.

          • Gotcha, my idea was no longer than 4 months for the GORP, and rotate in a new bag. I may try the cranberries in the first batch and see how it fairs. I am hopeful the vacuum sealing will help. Also considering throwing in an oxygen absorber packet to help cut down on any moisture.

  3. Sandy Patterson says

    Like graywolf says, it really dependsryEry to get really fresh ingredients and then vacuum seal them after you mix. It will help to keep the fatty/oily ingredients from going off. You can also make a bar form by adding some honey and baking in an oiled brownie pan. If you vacuum seal these while they’re still hot, then throw them in your freezer after they cool they should last for quite a while. The honey and cayenne ingredients are a natural preservative/antibacterial and baking reduces the number of bacteria present, which extends storage life. Freezing and sealing reduces both the oxygen present and the rate at which it reacts with your food, also extending storage life.

  4. have you tried any red or green chili pistachios? they are awesome.

  5. I like Good Sense Dietary Snack Mix, and WalMart has a good generic trail mix with cranberries.

  6. D. Zemira says

    Using raw nuts is a healthier option and also lengthens shelf life. Roasting can cause rancidity as well as transfats. It also damages nutrients, some not all (and this depends on the nut). I’ve been eating them raw for ages and they’re delicious and wouldn’t have it any other way. The only nut you cannot obtain raw is the cashew since it’s already processed, so it’s not the healthiest nut but nonetheless lovely. For more info: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vs-roasted-nuts#section3

  7. D. Zemira says

    Furthermore, I store nuts in the freezer because even raw nuts will eventually go rancid.

  8. tonya henson says

    Thanks for all the yummy ideas!!

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