backpacker bar hiking snack

Backpacker Bars: A Recipe for Healthy Snack Bars

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The more you hike with your kids, the more you learn about what motivates them on the trail. We know our kids don’t hike well when they are hungry. And even if they are not, stopping for water and a snack is a quick distraction to get them going again. One of our go-to trails snacks is granola bars (what’s more iconic than eating those crunchy Nature Valley granola bars in the woods??), but I wanted to change it up for something different – healthy snack bars that we could make at home. That’s when I pulled out this recipe for Backpacker Bars.

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A Throwback Recipe

I’m not really sure where the recipe came from, but I remember my mom making them when I was a kid. The trail mix-like topping isn’t as messy as trail mix (seriously, trail mix seems to spill everywhere). The crust is packed with good-for-you whole wheat flour and wheat germ.

Make Them with the Kids

Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe. I’m more of a 5 ingredients or fewer kind of girl. So when we whip up a batch of Backpacker Bars for the trail, the kids jump right in to help.

Related Reading: The Best Snacks to Bring on a Day Hike

One calls out the ingredients while another collects them all. The oldest does the chopping, and we all do the measuring and mixing – and maybe even a little lesson in fractions thrown in there too (there were a few close calls with 1/2 vs. 1 1/2, but we got through it!)

These bars will come together before you know it.

Just Mix, Bake, and pack them up!

The crust is like a cookie meets pie, with orange zest mixed in. Just a little bit of orange zest brightens the flavor of the dense crust so much.

Whole wheat flour, oats, and wheat germ are sweetened with a little brown sugar

After mixing the crust, pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan (I’m in love with my stoneware baking dish from Pampered Chef). Make sure to press firmly on the crust to pack it down well so it doesn’t get too crumbly after baking.

Pack the crust down in the pan to prevent crumbly bars

The dried fruits and nuts in the topping are like a trail mix baked right in. The perfect snack for camping and hiking.

Dried fruits and nuts make a trail mix topping

The chocolate will be really gooey after baking, so don’t skip the cooling. Once cooled, cut into small bars. These are thick and they are rich, so I cut them pretty small.  One inch squares are the perfect size to grab 1 or 2 for a snack.  Make them extra-portable by individually wrapping the cut squares and drop into lunch boxes, picnic baskets, or backpacks.

Cut into small squares once cooled and pack for camping, picnics, or school lunches

These healthy snack bars are great for breakfast – and even dessert!

The Recipe for Backpacker Bars

Backpacker Bars


1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (divided into 1 C and 1/2 C)

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

4 tsp orange zest

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups whole almonds

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup flaked coconut


1) Preheat oven to 350° F

2) Mix the butter and 1 cup of brown sugar in a large bowl, until well blended

3) Add the flours, oats, wheat germ, and orange zest, and stir until well mixed.

4) Spread mixture into 9×13 pan and press with your hands or flat-bottomed glass until well packed down. If not well packed down, the bars will be a bit crumbly.

5) Mix the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and spread evenly over the crust.

6) Bake bars for 30-35 minutes, until browned

7) Let cool, then cut into bars.

Have you tried this recipe for Backpacker Bars? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

Click below to save these ideas for easy and healthy snack bars on Pinterest!

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62 thoughts on “Backpacker Bars: A Recipe for Healthy Snack Bars”

  1. These look super tasty! Have you ever tried this with other kinds of dried fruit? My kids aren’t huge fans of dried apricots and coconut. Maybe I should just use more chocolate chips!

    1. You can definitely swap out the fruits based on preference. We love apricots, so I almost always use them. My husband doesn’t like coconut either, but it took him a long time to realize it’s in there 🙂 I haven’t omitted it before, but it’s worth a shot!

  2. These sound so good, and I love the idea of wrapping them up individually so they are ready to go wherever you need them! I am thinking post-sports snack when you don’t want them eating junk late in the evening!

  3. These look great! I don’t really like to cook either. I think it’s because I have no patience! I will have to try these, though. I think I can handle these!

  4. I was telling my kids we have to change our eating habits. Looks like we have a candidate to start with.

    1. This would be a good one! I do call them healthy because there is lots of good stuff in them, but there is a bit of butter too, and that will make for a good transition. Enjoy!

  5. Wow, those look delicious! I think I might even be motivated to backpack for one. ;-D I have to share this with my son (22). He will Love them.

    1. I haven’t tried to do substitutions with the crust, but I’m sure it would work well – as long as the amount of dry ingredients is the same. On the topping, I’ve switched up the types of nuts and dried fruit and it still works out great!

  6. I’ve been looking for some alternative snack ideas for my daughter. Next time I go shopping, I think I’ll get the ingredients. Hopefully, I won’t eat them all before my daughter gets any!

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