Best Meats That Dont Need Refrigeration, For Sailing or Camping!

Whether or not you are out sailing or on a camping trip, the needs are basically the same; you want to bring tasty meats, full of protein, that lasts a long time outside the fridge and doesn’t weigh too much.

The best meats that dont need refrigeration include dehydrated ground beef (1-2months), freeze-dried chicken (15 years) and vacuum bagged smoked meat (6hours). Below you will find a complete table comparing homemade preservation to commercial preservation methods.

Ground beefDehydrated1-2 months12 Months
ChickenDehydrated1-2 months12 Months
TurkeyDehydrated1-2 months12 Months
Other MeatFreeze driedN/A15 Years (25 years)
Other MeatCanned1 Year2-5 Years
Smoked MeatVacuum2 hours6 hours*
Other MeatVacuum2 hours6 hours*
*Not recommended by USDA
The numbers in this tables are estimations based on experience, always check the meat before consuming it.

Bringing meats on a trip is sometimes tricky without refrigeration to keep it cold. Meats go nasty quickly, and if we are in a scorching place, this might be only half an hour away, so storage is essential (more on that below).

If you are looking to bring a special kind of meat, use the table above as guidance, but if you are willing to widen your gaze, there are plenty of good options to get the protein intake you want and need.

There are a few topics I want to discuss with you here; one is how we store the meat that we want to bring, and also how to package it, so it doesn’t go bad sooner than it has to.

And two, I would like to open your eyes to some exciting alternatives. That has a much longer shelf time and doesn’t even need cooling at all.

The 4 Best Ways of Preserving Food

There are four main ways of preserving food and meats, they all have different pros and cons, and here they are;

  • Freeze-dried
  • Dried/Dehydrated
  • Vacuum-packaging
  • Canning


Freeze drying your food is a very effective way of removing a lot of water and increasing the lifespan. Removing the water makes it hard for enzymes to interact with whatever it is that you dried, and since freeze-drying removes around 98 percent moisture, the process is almost halted.

This means that freeze-dried stuff will last for many years, often up towards 15-20 without losing much nutrition. Freeze-drying can be hard to do on your own, so buying it commercially freeze-dried is recommended but expensive.

My personal experience (mainly from the military)with freeze-dried foods is that they are usually pretty bland, and if you dont cook them in the right way with a lot of love, they’re not great. I do really like the high amount of protein and how easy it is to carry around.

Recommended Freeze-dried food for your trip;


Much like the freeze-drying method, drying tries to remove as much moisture as possible, this method is not as efficient and leaves more moisture and thus decreasing shelf life to somewhere around 12 months.

The good thing about this method is that it is something you could do on your own. There are three ways you can do this, using a dehydrator, sun drying, or in the oven. Using this method, you can reduce the moisture content to around 20 % compared to freeze-drying at 5%.

Foods that are dried are best used for soups and other meals that will cook for a long time and have a lot of liquid.

I think Dried foods are really cool; I have some friends who usually bring their wild-caught mett and its great. Getting the beef jerky stuff you guys have in the US is good, but thick homemade pieces of dried Swedish reindeer are delicious, and I hope you get to try it!

Recommended Dehydrated foods for your trip

Vacuum sealing bag

I would argue this is not really a way of preservation since it doesn’t really make a big difference. Instead, I would call it an addon or a packing that can extend the life of something already preserved.

Let’s say you have fresh meat. Will it hold longer if you vacuum packaged it, well not by much since you haven’t done anything about the bacteria that’s already on the food. You’re just packing the bacteria in with the food.

So unless you’re going to do something with the food, you want to preserve then vacuum sealing inst really a thing. But let’s say you freeze-dry or dry it (or just put it in a freezer) then it makes a lot of sense, now you are doing something about the inside and stopping stuff from the outside from interacting with your food.

Putting it inside an airtight container is good since it removes the air and hinders the bacteria that need air. However, there might still be an anaerobic activity (anaerobic means something that works without oxygen), and you haven’t done anything about that by just putting it in the bag.

So my recommendation is to combine vacuum sealing with other methods. My experience with this is that it’s a cool way to bring some food on a day trip, but since the packaging easily breaks and doesn’t do much to keep the meat fresh, it only makes sense for the first day of your trip.

Recommended vacuum-sealed foods for your trip;

  • About any meat that you can find in the store!
  • KitchenBoss Vacuum Sealer Machine
  • Home-made waxing of cheese (not vacuum packaged but a nice way to bring some extra cheese)


Canning can be done in two ways, either as a hard can, the usual round ones or in a soft package such as many tuna producers are using right now. Canning is possible to do on your own, but it doesn’t give the same shelf life as a commercially sterile canning environment will.

Canning requires more understanding about the meat or food you want to preserve since depending on the acid(amongst other) levels, you might have to choose a different method.

Canning is much like vacuum sealing; it’s not really a way of preserving as it is a way of packaging an already preserved product. 

This means that the actual preservation is done either through boiling, refrigeration, freeze-drying, or antimicrobial treatment.

Recommended canned foods for your trip;

The best packaging for storing

We have already discussed two different types of caning, soft and hard.

These really have some implications. No matter if your out sailing or if your out camping and carrying everything in your backpack. You dont want to be moving around a lot of extra weight and packaging.

When you have eaten your food, the optimal situation is that there is no garbage(weight and space); that is not often the case, so it is more about minimizing the trash. Using hard cans means difficulties since they will almost take up the same space as when it contained food.

On the other hand, soft cans are perfect since once you have eaten the yummy stuff on the inside, they dont take up much room or space. They can be easily folded away, and you have both minimized space and weight.

And you also dont have to break open the hard can with a can opener, and the soft can is possible to be heated while in its packaging on either a “heat-bag” or on a hot object such as engine or whatever you have lying around. The can needs to be opened since it cant expand. And on a sailboat, if most likely will fall off from wherever you decided to out it.

Fishing for protein

There’s one thing a really want to put out there, of your sailing, I think the most beautiful part is when you can catch your food from the sea. It might be a cinch from the Bahamian sand bottom, or I might be a weird looking fish from the middle of the ocean.

But whatever it is, the satisfaction of eating something that you have caught yourself is a cool thing. Oh, I almost forgot lobsters.

So what I’m trying to say is that, if you had enough of dried stuff. Try to catch your fish!

Tips before you go out

Before you head out on your trip, there are some mistakes that I have made and that I dont want you to repeat. These tips work for any situation where you can afford to be sick. Including a sail a hike, a trail run, or whatever, you get the point.

Tip number one is to taste everything before you buy a bunch. Prepare some test meals and see what you think. Make sure they are ok, not only ok to eat, but something that you actually would like to eat. This is important since, on many trips, eating is what you’re looking forward to after a long and sometimes exhausting day.

So if your meals aren’t something you’re not looking forward to, I suggest you switch them out for something you like.

Another important aspect is that you make sure your stomach can handle the food, you dont want to be eating stuff that makes your stomach rebel against you and you’ll have to spend all your days doing you know what. Test your recipes and preferably multiple times. 

Variation is essential, you can have the same ingredients but prepare them in different ways with other spices, this makes for a cool way to create very different meals with limited resources. Also, think about shapes and sizes, try meatballs one day and burgers thee other.

In theory, it’s the same, but you and I both know there’s a big difference 🙂

Bring Spices! This adds to the experience, having a good set of spices, and knowing how to use them is super important if you want to have a pleasurable meal out at sea. 

Here’s a list of the best spices to bring!

  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cajun
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom

Vegetarian option

There’s another way of bringing meat for your trip, but it doesn’t include meats. Research has made some significant progress when it comes to making vegetarian food that looks and tastes like meat.

This is something I use when going camping since it’s free of any animal products. It tends to hold a little longer than meat. For me, it has been working for a few days before getting too old to eat.

There is a brand called Beyond meat, which is the best if you ask me, but many times you can’t get that, so I just go for any “ground-soy” product that is shapeable. This means you can make meatballs or any other type of meat shaped stuff, and you don’t have to adjust your recipe, want to grill it, grill it, want to fry it, fry it. I think it works great.

Does it taste exactly as meat, nope, but it works really well, and also being environmentally friendly adds to the taste!

Remember to bring the spices I told you about above and you’ll have a really tasty meal without meat that won’t get ruined as soon.

General Food Safety

A general guideline is to get a good feel for how your food is doing by smelling, looking, and tasting it in small pieces. If you dont feel comfortable doing this, ask a friend to let them help you get better at it. It will save you tons of money, and you will help make our planet a little more efficient! And we do like efficiency! 

If you’re still unsure whether or not it is eatable, just check USDA guidelines and stay on the safe side, we dont want any stomach issues 🙂

Foods that Will Never Expire

There are some foods that will never expire if stored properly, and I dont mean never expire as in many years, I mean never expire as in humanity will probably be gone before it expires!

  • Honey, There are stories of scientists finding 3000-year-old honey and it was supposedly perfectly eatable. this is due to its high amount of sugar, high acidity, and low moisture.
  • Vinegar is also one of the things that don’t have an expiration date. Just as with honey it is due to its high acid content that it can last for a very long time.
  • Salt was used as a preservative (and in some cases still is) for a long time. as long as the salt is dry it will last forever. when used for preservation it draws the moisture out of the meat and making the environment uninhabitable for bacteria.
  • Sugar, keep it dry and cool and it will outlast us all.

Extra Tips

  • Check out your local store and anything that is canned will also have a “eat before” date, but usually, it’s multiple years.
  • And don’t forget to bring some other good stuff like, monster energy drink, monster zero cals or Pepsi max


Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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