Emergency rations come in all shapes and sizes these days, ranging widely in price, convenience and taste. The Survival Tabs are among the most simple and straightforward options on the market.
According to the folks that make them, a person can survive for four to five months eating only the Survival Tabs and nothing else. They’re gluten-free, non-GMO, and require no special storage, refrigeration or preparation.
Is that enough to make them the best emergency survival food option? Well, as with so many things, that depends partly on what you’re looking for.
What You Get
The Survival Tabs are available in various flavors and quantities, but the tabs themselves are essentially the same. This review is based on The Survival Tabs 8-Day Food Supply, which includes four bags of the tabs, each bag containing 24 tabs in a different flavor (those flavors are Vanilla Malt, Butterscotch, Chocolate and Strawberry).
That’s 96 total tabs, which at the suggested serving size of one per hour for 12 hours a day, is supposed to keep you going for eight days.
Who It’s For
These things have been around since the ‘70s, making the Survival Tabs some of the oldest survival/emergency food rations still on the market. They were originally inspired by the space program, which raised a need for food that was compact and easily storable while also having a long shelf life and being easy to digest.
The Survival Tabs have generally always been mainly aimed toward preppers and survivalists, though in recent years there’s been a marketing shift more in the direction of meal replacement or nutrition supplement for athletes, particularly for cyclists, climbers, backpackers and the like.
That makes sense from a sales standpoint, as the market is pretty limited if preppers are the only ones buying your survival rations. I’m more interested in how well the Survival Tabs really provide one’s nutritional requirements, whether you’re hiking and camping or using them to subsist in a survival situation.
Ingredients & Nutritional Content
The first three ingredients in the Survival tabs are non-fat dry milk solids, sucrose and vegetable oil, which respectively provide your protein, sugar and fats. Beyond that, the ingredient list consists mostly of vitamins and minerals. All told, the Survival Tabs include 100% of one’s daily value of 17 vitamins and minerals.
That being said, nutritional content and what the body actually absorbs are two different things. I’m not a nutritionist, and there are plenty of folks more qualified than I to tell you how that works. Suffice to say, there are many factors that impact how much nutrition is absorbed by the body and how much energy you get from it.
The recommended daily serving—which, again, is 12 tabs taken one per hour for 12 hours—provides 100% of your vitamins and minerals, but it also only supplies you with 240 calories. So it’s best to consider these as supplemental rather than complete nutrition.
That’s not to say that they aren’t beneficial for survival or handy in an emergency. Just that the Survival Tabs alone, while they may provide the nutrition to keep you alive for eight days (or, I suppose, four to five months if you have enough of them), aren’t necessarily going to give you the energy to feel strong, alert and highly functional.
One of the big advantages of the Syrvival Tabs is that they require no preparation. Unlike freeze-dried meals that need to be cooked or re-hydrated, these don’t require any water, other than perhaps a bit to aid in digestion. That makes the Survival Tabs very well suited to true emergencies and survival situations in which you don’t have access to any supplies or amenities.
- Survival Meals Ready To Eat contains 15 Essential 100% USRDA Vitamins and Minerals. Made with the highest quality protein. GLUTEN FREE and NON-GMO.
- The ‘Just in Case’ Food Supply, Survival Meals Ready To Eat backup for the situations such as natural disasters. This is the best possible food in the smallest possible volume. Created to supply the body with all the daily essential vitamins and minerals needed when facing uncertainty. The compact design allows for easy storage and is perfect for individual emergency kits.
- This portable, personal pouch will sustain a person for 4 day | This calculation is based upon one average person. Consumption requirements may vary from person to person.
- Flavor: Mixed Flavor. | Contains: 4 x 12 tablets. | 20 Calories per tab.
- Weight: Approximately 10 ounces per pouch. Dimensions (inches): 5.5 x 8.5 x 2.75 (W x H x L).
Taste & Palatability
Honestly, they’re not bad. It would be a stretch to say the Survival Tabs are delicious, but they each have a fairly appealing taste. Chocolate arguably leads the pack, and the Vanilla Malt and Butterscotch flavors are very similar to one another. The flavors are somewhat reminiscent of protein shake powder.
The texture of the tabs is a bit chalky and dry, but not unpleasant. Overall, they taste about as good as I would expect them to taste, probably a little better.
Admittedly, the more of these you eat, the more the taste starts to shift in the direction of unpleasantness. Popping one or two while you’re hiking or biking to give yourself an energy boost is one thing, but subsisting on nothing but the Survival Tabs for days or weeks is quite another. Granted, in a true survival situation, taste is not the top priority.
Shelf Life & Storage
The Survival Tabs are lightweight and compact. Each two-day supply comes in a plastic pouch measuring 5.5” by 8.5”, or about the size of a small bag of granola, and weighs approximately 10 ounces. It’s easy to stick one or two in your hiking pack, go bag, emergency kit, RV or car’s glove compartment. Larger quantities are also available for stocking emergency shelters and the like.
As far as shelf life, an unopened package is said to last 25 years. The folks who make the Survival Tabs say they still have some from the 1970s that retain their palatability and nutritional content.
The Survival Tabs can also be stored at cold temperatures, including sub-freezing temperatures with no ill effect. They are a little more vulnerable to heat, however, and can melt into a sticky goo if left out in the hot sun for an extended period of time.
Emergency rations, in general, aren’t necessarily cheap. The Survival Tabs are neither at the front nor the rear of the pack in this regard. It can be tricky to quantify what one should pay for something like this, but one way to think about it is price per calorie.
The Survival Tabs 8-Day Food Supply, at 240 calories per daily serving, offers 1,920 total calories. And at a cost of about $32, you’re looking at an approximate total cost of $1.7 cents per calorie. That’s a lot cheaper per calorie than most freeze-dried meals, but a lot more expensive than, say, an eight-day’s supply of rice.
Is this the most important consideration? Probably not, but it is worth thinking about if you’re looking for the best value in an emergency ration.
Final Thoughts on the Survival Tabs
It’s easy to weigh the pros and cons of any emergency food item, the Survival Tabs included. But it’s also important to remember that in a survival situation, anything is better than starvation.
In the context of being lost or stranded in the wilderness, the Survival Tabs make an excellent supplement to whatever food you may be able to hunt and forage. And in the absence of any other food, they can keep you alive on their own, even if they might not keep you feeling in tip-top shape for long periods of time without additional sustinence.
Regardless, the long shelf life, light pack weight and compact size of the Survival Tabs is a real plus. There’s no downside to keeping some in your emergency preparedness kit, or throwing a pouch in your pack when you go hiking, hunting, mountain biking or camping. Whether you intend to have them handy as an occasional energy boost or an emergency food source, they’re nice to have.
I wouldn’t plan on making them your only source of nutrition, but then again, things often happen that are not planned. And it’s better to be prepared than not.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.