Beef jerky is the ultimate survival food because it’s nutrient dense, lightweight, portable, easy to store, and lasts a long time. It is an excellent addition to any survival kit or emergency food kit.
The best beef jerky for survival is commercially-produced and packaged jerky which can last several years when stored properly. Homemade jerky can be used for short-term emergency situations, but lacks the shelf-life of commercial jerky, which lasts indefinitely.
According to FEMA, a minimum of 72 hours worth of food (~6,000 calories), water (~3 gallons), and other supplies per person are essential to survival. Ready.gov recommends including food items that are ready-to-eat, non-perishable, high-energy, and considered a comfort or anti-stress food.
Beef jerky checks all those boxes and is considered by most preppers to be the perfect emergency food. Being ready for disasters takes preparation, and beef jerky is a critical component of an emergency food kit.
Let’s dive into the top five reasons beef jerky is an essential survival food.
1. Beef jerky has a really, really long shelf life.
Beef jerky has been a survival food for thousands of years across many different civilizations and cultures from the ancient Egyptians to Native Americans. The main reason is that beef jerky lasts a long time.
The low moisture content in beef jerky allows it to last a long time. As long as a beef jerky is properly cooked, dried, and packaged, it will last indefinitely.
Most commercial beef jerky is labeled with a best by date, often 1 year from the production date, but it can last well beyond this timeframe when stored properly.
Learn more about beef jerky shelf life and answers to the question: does beef jerky go bad?
2. Beef jerky is lightweight and portable.
Beef jerky is naturally light and portable. The dehydration process removes nearly all of the weight of the meat. Outside Magazine ranks beef jerky as one of the best snacks for hiking and backpacking because it’s so lightweight.
It might be lightweight, but it’s not light on nutrients or protein. The ratio of calories and nutrients per ounce is significantly higher than any other survival food.
This chart demonstrates that beef jerky has one of the highest protein per calorie ratios of any survival food.
Commercial beef jerky is packaged in durable, lightweight plastic material that makes it highly portable. It can easily be stored in an emergency kit, trunk, or “go bag.”
3. Beef jerky is easy to store and requires no cooking.
Beef jerky does not require any special handling, storage, or cooking. You simply have to open the package to enjoy. This is especially valuable during times of crisis when you may not have access or the ability to cook.
Beef jerky is surprisingly resilient and can be stored almost anywhere. There are a few keys to storing beef jerky for maximum freshness and longevity.
How to Store Beef Jerky
Keep your beef jerky in an airtight container (the original packaging is always the best option). Maintain the jerky in a cool, dry place and away from the sun. Emergency kits are a great place to store beef jerky as they will remain cool, dry, and away from direct light.
Learn more with our deep dive into How to Store Beef Jerky.
4. Beef jerky is packed with high quality nutrients.
Dehydration is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. It’s also the reason why beef jerky is packed with high quality nutrients.
The dehydration process increases the nutritional density of beef jerky. A one ounce serving can over 10g of protein, a great source of this essential macronutrient. The CDC recommends including quality sources of protein in an emergency kit and beef jerky delivers that protein in a compact package.
Because it’s an extra-dry style of jerky, our Old Fashioned Original Beef Jerky has a whopping 16g of protein per serving. That means a 2.5 ounce bag has 40g of protein!
Beef jerky also contains many essential vitamins and minerals.
Salt is a key component of beef jerky. It acts as a natural preservative. Among other vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Vitamin B12, Choline, sodium is an essential electrolyte that fuels the body. Think of beef jerky as the original sports drink.
Learn more about the health benefits of beef jerky.
5. Beef jerky is full of flavor.
The fact that beef jerky is delicious and will bring pleasure during trying times is an under-appreciated but important reason it’s a great survival food.
Ready.gov recommends selecting foods that will bring you comfort, happiness, and satisfaction during trying times. There’s nothing that can deliver on that promise like quality, artisan-crafted beef jerky.
Most people enjoy beef jerky as a healthy, high-protein snack, but it’s also an essential addition to your emergency food supply.
Beef jerky is packed with high quality nutrients, lightweight, portable, easy to store, has a long shelf life, and most importantly, it’s delicious.
If you’re looking for a premium jerky that has an extra long shelf life then you’ve come to the right place.
Our jerky is handcrafted in a family tradition that spans four generations and 90+ years in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. A tradition built on quality ingredients and a handmade process that delivers a better-quality, better-tasting, better-for-you jerky.
Curious about the best tasting emergency supply kits? We wrote a deep dive into the best tasting emergency kits.