Jerky has been a quintessential food source for centuries – first popping up in Peru in the 1500’s and growing to become a popular trade item over time through world exploration and expansion. Though most commonly made from beef, jerky can be made from virtually any meat, poultry, or fish with the end result being a dense, nutrient-packed powerhouse snack that is resistant to spoilage; making it a staple for hikers and homesteaders alike.
Nowadays, you can find jerky almost anywhere – and there are a lot of different types and varieties to be had. Some of it is pure crap, and some of it is way over-engineered for such a simple snack food. Consider all the options that are available, I thought it might be a good time to intervene and help guide you towards the best jerky that I have tried, and ultimately fallen in love with.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top five jerkies I would recommend for your next adventure.
Rosie’s Vermont Beef Jerky
The top echelon of convenience store jerkies, Rosie’s sticks to a “keep it simple, stupid” approach by removing all fillers out of their jerky, and ensuring you get nothing but beef! Available in nine desirable flavors and in different package sizes, I’ve relied on Rosie’s since high school because the flavor is always balanced and the meat isn’t overly tough.
Top Flavor: Smoked Cobb
Based on the natural trail food of the Native Americans, Tanka Bites blend buffalo meat with cranberries and offer a delicious, nutrition packed meal replacement. Soft and chewy in texture, Tanka Bites have a shelf life of one year and are available in three flavors.
Top Flavor: Slow Smoked Original
Field Trip Jerky
I randomly found Field Trip Jerky after a long three days and nights of hiking in the cold rain this spring – and it was a euphoric experience. The texture is gritty and grainy, but the flavor isn’t overbearing in anyway, but is instead delightful. Available in all-natural beef and turkey, Field Trip jerky isn’t widely available, so make sure you snag a bag when you see it.
Top Flavor: Original No. 3
Relatively new to the market, Krave Jerky is available in Beef, Pork, and Turkey. Unlike the standard fare jerky, Krave is soft and juicy. This is due in part to a proprietary cooking process that requires less salt, and in turn has less cholesterol and calories than other jerkies. I do not know what impact this has on shelf life, but that’s because this stuff doesn’t last more than a couple of days in my possession.
Top Flavor: Sweet Chipotle Beef.
The New Primal Jerky
Sprouting from the founder’s journey of personal rediscovery, The New Primal Jerky is possibly the most basic and purest jerky in the group. Available in beef and turkey, this jerky is free of chemicals and preservatives – guaranteeing what you’re eating is as pure as what our ancestors did. I’m a big fan of the Spicy Grass-Fed Beef variety, but it might be a little too spicy for most folks.
Top Flavor: Free-Range Turkey.
So there you have it, a list of jerkies that are not only good, but based on the ingredients and processes used in making them, are good for you. You’ll notice that list doesn’t contain a lot of the “name brands” you’re accustomed to seeing when you stop in for a Slurpee. That’s because those are usually pure garbage, and though they will succeed in filling you up – they’re so over-processed that you’ll be hard-pressed to get though a whole bag.
In closing, in case you were wondering how deep my love affair with jerky goes, I will leave you with this picture. It’s real. It’s very real.