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Of all the things that go into our packs for a day hike, the snacks get the most attention. We want to keep it healthy, and we want variety and portability. Over time, we have found a lot of our favorite foods that are also the best hiking snacks for a day on the trails.
What are the Best Snacks for Hiking?
The best hiking snacks are nutrient-dense, with a balance of carbs, fats, and protein.
Choose hiking foods that are not too high in sugar. After delivering a spike in energy, they can lead you to crash soon after.
The best hiking snacks don’t need refrigeration, so you don’t need to worry about ice packs.
Avoid foods that are easily smushed or crushed, or are difficult to pack.
The Best Healthy Snacks for Day Hiking
Hiking Foods that Pack in the Protein
Pouches of tuna are trail friendly since they don’t need to be opened with a can opener or drained. Tuna sold by Safe Catch Elite is lower in mercury, making it a safer option for kids and pregnant women.
Add carbs by topping the tuna on crackers.
Cheese sticks, Mini Babybel, and blocks of cheese pack well for day hikes. Freeze the cheese sticks or chunks of cheese for about 30 min so they stay cold longer in your pack. Mini Babybel can last about 2-4 hours without refrigeration.
Sometimes we get fancy and eat cheese on a baguette (a crusty baguette travels beautifully!)
Beef and turkey jerkies are packed with protein and don’t require ice packs to keep cool. Jerky is also lightweight (easy to carry), and has sodium to regulate hydration.
Salami and turkey pepperoni are also sold in shelf stable packaging, but any leftovers will need to be refrigerated.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Pack up handfuls of protein-packed almonds, peanuts, or pistachios. If you prefer seeds, choose pumpkin or sunflower seeds. All of these options have 5.5g or more of protein per ounce.
Fruits and Veggies
5. Fresh Fruit
Apples, oranges, grapes, and berries in a container all travel well. Bananas are easy hiking snacks that are high in potassium, but can easily crush or brown in a backpack.
Pro tip: try freezing grapes ahead of time. Even if they haven’t thawed in time for your snack break, they are delicious frozen – especially on a hot day.
6. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits generally withstand backpacks better than fresh fruits. Pick up a bag of dried apricots, mango, figs, bananas, or apples.
7. Fresh Veggies and Hummus
Carrots, celery, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and sliced cucumbers make the best snacks for hiking because they all pack well.
Bring a container of hummus or ranch dressing for dipping.
Homemade Snacks for Hiking
With a little prep, your favorite foods can become easy hiking snacks on trail while controlling the ingredients. You can increase the protein, lower the sugar, and use your favorite flavors.
8. Homemade Trail Mix
The classic GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) is the perfect trail mix just as it is. It’s also fun to experiment with different ingredients like M&M’s, cereals, nuts, and other dried fruits.
Try a variety of ingredients that include crunchy, sweet, and salty foods.
9. Apples and Nut Butter
Partially slice apples ahead of time and use a rubber band or sandwich bag to keep it held in it’s apple shape. This helps to prevent browning, but also makes it much easier to eat on the trail – especially for little hands.
Grab a pouch of nut butter (try Justin’s nut butters) or pack a small container for dipping.
10. Ants on a Log
Like most people, I ate countless “ants on a log” as a kid. The classic peanut-butter-filled-celery stick, dotted with raisin “ants,” was a nostalgic snack to serve to my own kids. We soon added it to our best hiking snacks since it is easily portable.
11. Homemade Bars or Energy Bites
When you make your own, you can control the ingredients and make them just the way you like them.
Our favorite homemade hiking snack is Backpacker Bars. We eat these up even if we’re not hiking.
12. Pasta Salad
Larger pasta shapes are easy to eat on the trail. Try shapes like penne, rigatoni, and farfalle (bow ties) with a little bit of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
13. PB & J
This classic has everything: carbs, protein, fats, and a little sugar. It’s easy to pack up, is shelf-stable, and filling.
14. Bean and Cheese Burrito
We were skeptical, but we tried it and it worked. Longer hikes require a little more energy, and these were perfect.
To make: Heat a tortilla and fill with warmed refried beans and a sprinkle of cheese. Wrapping in foil will keep them warm for a few hours.
15. Homemade Potato Chips
A much healthier alternative to store-bought chips, and just as good. We think they’re better, actually.
How to make homemade chips:
Use a mandoline (or a very steady hand) to slice a potato into very thin slices. Spray a microwave-safe plate with cooking spray and lay slices on the plate, making sure they don’t overlap. Coat potato slices with more cooking spray, salt, and any other seasonings.
Cook in the microwave for about 7 minutes. All microwaves are different, so cooking times may vary.
16. High Protein Muffins
Kodiak Cake’s Flapjack & Waffle mixes make a great high-protein muffin mix. Our favorite is dark chocolate.
How to make homemade protein muffins:
Mix 2 mashed bananas, 2 eggs, 1/4 c nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 c unsweetened vanilla (or chocolate) almond milk, and 2 c Kodiak Cakes Protein Pancake Power Cakes, Flapjack & Waffle Baking Mix, Dark Chocolate. Pour into a muffin tin. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
17. Graham Crackers and Peanut Butter
This is one of the best hiking snacks for a sweet treat on the trail.
Mix 1/4 c creamy peanut butter with 2 Tbsp powdered sugar. Spread about 1 Tbsp of the mixture on each of 4 graham cracker halves and top each with another graham cracker half.
Packaged Foods for Easy Hiking Snacks
These (mostly) grab-and-go options make quick and easy hiking snacks.
18. Protein Bars
Packaged bars are so easy to throw into your backpack, but some can be loaded with more bad things than good. – especially sugar. Check the nutrition label before buying to make sure it’s reasonably low in sugar. We like bars from RXBAR, KIND (Protein), and ALOHA.
|RXBAR, Chocolate Sea Salt, Protein Bar, 1.83 Oz (Pack of 12) High Protein Snack, Gluten Free||KIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, 12g Protein, 12 Count, 21.12 Oz||ALOHA Organic Plant Based Protein Bars - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - 12 Count, 1.9oz Bars - Vegan Snacks, Low Sugar, Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Paleo, Non-GMO, Stevia-Free, No Sugar Alcohols|
|Buy on Amazon||Buy on Amazon||Buy on Amazon|
19. Bagel with Cream Cheese
This mostly grab-and-go snack is quick to pull together. Toss a whole wheat mini bagel in your pack, with low-fat cream cheese packed in a small container or on the bagel. Keep the cream cheese (whether it’s on the bagel or packed separately) next to cold bottles of water or away from the sides of your pack to keep it from getting too warm.
20. Pretzels or Popcorn
Crunchy, salty pretzels and popcorn are low in fat but deliver energy from carbs. Toss a few handfuls into a hard-sided container to prevent your snacks from getting crushed in your pack.
21. Yogurt Tubes
They’re not just for kids anymore. Pop a yogurt tube into the freezer the night before it goes into your pack and it will be thawed by the time you break for a hiking snack.
22. Roasted Chickpeas
23. Dry Cereal
Cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Mini-Wheats, and Crispix are easy to pack up for snacking on the trail.
How to Pack Snacks for Hiking
Reuse Plastic Containers
Save a few of the plastic containers for packing up hiking snacks. Talenti Gelato is the perfect size for pasta salads and crushable foods like chips and grapes.
Silicone or Other Reuseable Bags
How Much Water to Bring On a Hike
At a minimum, have 8 oz of water, per person, for every hour of hiking. That’s the equivalent of a regular size bottle of water but opt for a reusable container whenever possible.
Increase the amount of water for strenuous hikes or when hiking in hot weather.
Insulated bottles will keep water cold for hours, but they can be heavier to carry. In really hot weather, bring one bottle with ice water to add to other bottles with water that has gotten warm.
If hiking longer distances and concerned about running out, carry a LifeStraw to safely get more water from natural sources on the trail.
What to Drink in Cold Weather
Stay warm and hydrated in cold weather with tea or hot chocolate in addition to water.
What are your favorite foods to bring hiking? We’d love to hear your ideas for the best hiking snacks in the comments!
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