Hiking snacks are like the rugged, bearded twin of the airplane snack. They both need to be compact and lightweight, but hiking snacks also need to be calorie-dense, nutrient-dense, and a little more, well, on-the-go-friendly. Here are some ideas for trail snacks you'll actually look forward to enjoying en route to your next destination.
Hiking Snack Ideas
What to Look for in a Hiking Snack
Whether you're taking a day-long hike on a local trail or planning a full on backpacking trip, the key snacking consideration should be the weight to energy ratio. In other words, you want as much nutrition as possible while adding as little weight to your pack as possible.
There are plenty of hiking snacks out there that are small and tasty, but they might not be packing the nutrients and calories you need to sustain your journey. Similarly, you probably don't want to pack an entire to-go box of last night's leftovers, no matter how healthy they might be. You also want to think about what tools you'll need to eat them - the fewer the better since that's another thing to carry.
For anything more strenuous than a stroll, you'll want to pack snacks with a solid ratio of the following:
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are your body's preferred source of energy, and they'll be the first thing depleted when you're working up a sweat on the trails. Complex carbs (like whole grains) will digest more slowly for sustained energy, while simple carbs (like fruit) are a good way to get your blood sugar up more quickly when you're low on energy.
- Protein: Protein is a building block for muscle, and it's also key for lots of metabolic reactions in the body. If you're doing a longer or more difficult hike, you will definitely want to incorporate protein to help you feel fuller and recover more easily.
- Fat: Fats are another way to help you stay satisfied and keep energy levels steady.
Sweet Hiking SnacksIf sweets are your jam (no pun intended), some great options are:
- Nutrient-dense protein or snack bars. A bar with a good balance of protein and carbs will help you stay full and keep up your energy. We love GoMacro, Perfect Bars, and RX Bars for wholesome ingredients that taste great.
- Pouches of fruit or veggies
- Nut butter - large squeeze pouches are great for longer hikes and mini pouches are easy for shorter day hikes
- Dried fruit like raisins, dates, mangos, or fruit leather for quick digesting carbs. Bonus points: pair it with a squeeze of nut butter for a more balanced bite.
- Homemade energy balls like these Sunflower Butter Balls, Almond Chocolate Quinoa Bites, or Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites
- For shorter trips, a piece of fresh fruit such as apples, clementines, or a banana
- For longer trips, quick-cooking oats or oatmeal packets, protein pancake mix, or a loaded granola mix
Savory & Salty Hiking SnacksIf you're more the savory type, consider:
- Jerky, Epic Bars, or meat sticks with clean ingredients such as Chomps
- Pouches of tuna or salmon (easier than carrying around cans)
- Nuts and seeds or dried chickpeas
- Powdered hummus (just add water!) and hearty crackers such as Mary's Gone Crackers
- Dried seaweed snacks
- Avocados are surprisingly portable and have tons of potassium to replenish if you've been sweating. Eat it plain or bring some crackers.
- Hard-boiled eggs for a shorter hike
- Hard cheeses (but again - consider the temperature and length of journey)
- For longer trips, dried grains, pastas, or freeze-dried meals are good options if you'll have access to water for boiling
And if you prefer a little of both:
- It's called trail mix for a reason, yeah? Take your GORP (good ol raisins and peanuts) to the next level with these combos, or check out the bulk bins at your local grocery or natural foods store!