fruit meats and cheeses for hiking snacks

23 of the Best Hiking Snacks for a Day on the Trails

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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.

Proteins like tuna, cheese, and beef jerky
Nuts and seeds that can eaten on their own or be added into a trail mix
Fruits, choosing either fresh or dried fruits
Veggies, dipped in hummus for extra protein
Homemade snacks, like apples with nut butters, ants on a log, granola bars and energy bites
Packaged options such as protein bars, pretzels and popcorn, yogurt in a tube

snack break by the lake on a day hike
We are always on the lookout for the perfect spot to stop for a hiking snack

The Best Healthy Snacks for Day Hiking

Hiking Foods that Pack in the Protein

1. Tuna

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.

2. Cheese

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!)

3. Jerky 

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.

Almonds are a quick, healthy, and easy hiking snack

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.

homemade energy bites are a versatile snack for hiking
The best hiking snacks are homemade! Make energy bites with your favorite ingredients.

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.

homemade potato chips make the best hiking snacks
Homemade potato chips make really easy hiking snacks. We pack them up in a Stasher bag.

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.

graham cracker sandwiches made with peanut butter
Graham cracker sandwiches are the perfect sweet treat for the trail

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 FreeKIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, 12g Protein, 12 Count, 21.12 OzALOHA 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
RXBAR, Chocolate Sea Salt, Protein Bar, 1.83 Oz (Pack of 12) High Protein Snack, Gluten FreeKIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, 12g Protein, 12 Count, 21.12 OzALOHA 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 AmazonBuy on AmazonBuy 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

We love the sweetness in Biena’s Honey Roasted Chickpeas, but they make savory flavors too. These are also easy to make at home.

23. Dry Cereal

Cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Mini-Wheats, and Crispix are easy to pack up for snacking on the trail.

best hiking snacks break with a canyon view
The best hiking snacks come with a view

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

So many options for reusing those plastic sandwich and snack bags have come out on the market lately. A few of our favorites are Stasher bags and (re)zip brand 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.

Carry water in a Nalgene bottle or easily carry it on your back in a hydration pack.

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.

Pre-warm your vacuum insulated bottle (like Hydro Flask or S’well) with hot water, then add your favorite tea or hot chocolate.

What are your favorite foods to bring hiking? We’d love to hear your ideas for the best hiking snacks in the comments!

Click below to save these ideas for easy hiking snacks on Pinterest!

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