Every few months, a poorly edited horror video makes the rounds on Twitter. “What would you do in this situation?,” asks one Twitter user under a clip of a giant humanoid skeleton ravaging a metropolitan area. “Would you survive?,” another asks as a deadly asteroid appears to hurtle toward Earth. I like these videos because I know exactly what I would do. I’d squeeze my beagle into his adventure harness, grab my emergency go-bag, and haul ass out of town in my neon yellow hatchback. Uh, yeah—I’d survive.
Yes, I have a go-bag—and, per the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, you should, too. Mine is the result of two years of careful curation, especially in the snacks department.
Yeah, man. You do. As evidenced by those poorly-edited Twitter videos, a giant skeleton could threaten your neighborhood at truly any time. If you don’t believe in giant skeletons, please consider the following suite of horrors:
- Freak Lake Michigan tsunami
- Large bomb
- Flesh-eating grasshopper infestation
- Zombie crisis
- Birds turn against humans
- National pancake mix shortage
Disasters happen, regardless of where you’re located. If you live on a coast, you could be forced to evacuate for a hurricane. If you live out west, wildfires are a constant concern. If you’re hanging out in the Midwest like me, you may need to spend the night in your car if a tornado hits your home. And while I am uniquely paranoid thanks to a steady diet of post-apocalyptic material, my commitment to an emergency kit is by no means unfounded. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends that every household prepares a portable disaster supply kit with enough food and water to last for several days. Even if you hope to ride out potential disasters at home, it never hurts to be prepared to evacuate. So there, haters!
I’d like to get one thing out of the way: MREs creep me out. “MRE” stands for “Meal, Ready to Eat” and refers to individual rations originally distributed to solders by the U.S. Department of Defense. These days, civilians can purchase MREs online—but they’re insanely expensive, and a lot of MRE branding errs on the worrisome side of individualistic patriotism. You can keep your freeze-dried carrots, weirdos. The everyday disaster nut has plenty of options, including:
- Beef jerky: I’m not a huge jerky person, but I received a shipment of Stryve Beef Biltong last year and was very impressed. It comes in tons of different flavors, and the texture is pleasantly crumbly in a way that feels more convincing than the rubbery jerky of yore. Plus, it’s a killer protein source.
- Mountain House meals: You won’t catch me springing for MREs, but I’m a big believer in Mountain House’s line of “Adventure Meals.” The freeze-dried entrees each contain two servings, and they’ll run you a good $10 to $15 less than a military-grade MRE.
- Dried fruit: If the grid goes down and I’m stuck living off the land, I’m gonna need some vitamins and minerals until I can plant my own apocalyptic orange grove.
- Protein bars: I’m not a huge fan of standard CLIF bars, but CLIF Builders are some of the best protein bars I’ve tried. My favorite is the Chocolate Mint flavor, which boasts a whopping 20 grams of protein per bar. I’ve got three or four shoved into my go-bag as we speak.
- Fruit Gushers: It takes every ounce of my willpower to avoid dipping into my emergency Gusher supply. I regularly have to remind myself that those aren’t everyday Gushers—those are nuclear war Gushers and must remain untouched.
- Instant coffee: My esteemed colleague Dennis Lee got me into Maxim coffee pouches, and I’m never looking back. Ever. These things are tiny, incredibly easy to prepare, and offer just enough caffeine to support post-apocalyptic athletic pursuits—like sprinting through the woods to escape a horde of zombies.
- Bottled water and LifeStraw: My LifeStraw is probably my most paranoid purchase to date. Will I need to use a tiny portable water purification to sip from puddles any time soon? Probably not, but it’s good to have around and costs less than $20.
- One can of generic green beans: I initially put these in the pack as a joke. Then, I realized that somebody’s gonna have to host Thanksgiving dinner when the world ends. Might as well be me and my small can of beans.
When it comes time to build your own emergency go-bag, any nonperishables will do. But if you want a tasty, well-rounded kit with which to escape the horrors of man, I recommend choosing high-protein snacks, relatively nutrient-dense add-ons, and a few treats (like Gushers) that will keep for a long time. Overall, you want to make sure that you can feed yourself for at least three days while you’re on the go.
One more thing: If you’re feeling wild, you might consider installing mini-kits in your vehicle and at the office if you work far from home. I haven’t compiled my kit for The Takeout’s downtown Chicago office just yet, but it’s comin’. Oh, it’s comin’. Make fun of me all you want—but I’ll be the one laughing when you become a giant skeleton’s lunch.