Staying fueled and energized while on a hike isn’t easy. Hiking through the mountains burns a lot of calories, so it’s important that you get the right nutrients in your body to help you crush those uphill climbs.
But if you’ve recently found that your standard selection of hiking snacks just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to 10 of our favorite trail snacks of all time so you know exactly what food to take on a hike as you plan your next adventure.
10 Amazing Hiking Snacks to Fuel Your Next Hike
There are countless hiking food that you can bring with you into the mountains, but not all of them are both tasty and nutritious. Here are 10 amazing food options to consider as you meal prep for your next trip into the mountains.
1. Homemade Trail Mix
First up on our list is an absolute hiking classic: trail mix!
As its name suggests, trail mix is the perfect thing to have with you on the trail. This dried fruit and nut-packed snack comes with a great blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to fuel you throughout your adventures.
But while you could just buy pre-made trail mix at the grocery store, you might find that making it at home is both more nutritious, more affordable and customized to your preferences. Many store-bought trail mixes are made with a surprisingly large amount of salt and additives. They also tend to be much more expensive than if you had simply bought and mixed together all their ingredients.
Making your own trail mix is pretty darn simple, as it’s all about mixing together your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and seeds (oh, and some chocolate, of course if you want to zhuzh things up a bit).
Personally, we make our homemade trail mix with the following ingredients:
However, you can substitute any nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to suit your personal tastes. Just keep in mind that unsalted nuts and seeds usually work best in trail mix so you don’t get too much salt in each bite. If necessary, you can add some table salt to your mix, but it’s best if you have control over what flavors you’re adding to your snacks.
Also, if you’d rather avoid chocolate, you can add in pretzels or even popcorn to keep things fun and exciting. Or if you need to stick to a nut-free mix, consider adding in more seeds for protein and then swapping some of the nuts out for crackers or even Chex Mix. The options are truly limitless!
2. Dried Fruit & Fruit Leathers
Hiking with large amounts of fresh fruit can be a bit of a pain as fruit tends to be quite heavy in your backpack. But if you still want the nutrition of fruit and the fast carbs that come with it, opting for dried fruit and fruit leathers can be a great option on the trail.
You can easily get dozens of different dried fruits at most grocery stores, though things like apple rings, banana chips, dried mangoes, and dried pineapple are usually our favorites. Alternatively, if you have a dehydrator at home, you can make your own dried fruit from the comfort of your kitchen for just a fraction of the price.
With dried fruit, you can pack each fruit that you bring into its own reusable Ziploc bag or tupperware and snack on them individually while you hike. Or you can make a dried fruit mix and even add in some dried coconut flakes for some extra flavor.
Alternatively, if you want something that’s even easier to eat on the trail, you can buy or make fruit leathers.
Fruit leathers are a fun and tasty way to get a natural sugar boost as you hike and there are plenty of companies out there that sell individually-wrapped leathers for your on-trail enjoyment. You can also make fruit leathers in an oven or a dehydrator by puréeing your fruits of choice and combining them with some water and lemon juice. It’s as easy as that!
3. Veggies & Hummus
If you’re looking for nutrition on the trail but you want something that’s not quite as sweet as dried fruit, consider bringing some veggies and hummus on your next day trip.
Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, snap peas, and baby carrots all hold up well in a backpack during a day trip. You can easily stash these nutritious goodies in a tupperware container to help them stay fresh in your backpack.
Of course, most vegetables don’t have very much protein, so combining them with hummus can be a great move.
Fresh and store-bought hummus generally keeps well in your backpack for a day (be sure to re-pack it into a secure tupperware container) so long as it’s not too hot outside during your adventure.
If you’re heading out for an overnight backpacking trip, you could also bring hummus powder. But we wouldn’t recommend bringing sliced fresh vegetables if you’re venturing outside for more than a day or two at a time.
As an added bonus, you can also pack some pita bread or crackers for your veggies and hummus. These savory snacks can add a bit of texture and flavor, so they’re perfect for quick rest stops on the trail.
4. Sandwiches & Wraps
Eating snacks is a time-honored tradition on the trail, but sometimes, you just want something that’s a bit more substantial for lunch. If that’s the case, consider packing yourself some sandwiches or wraps for your next hike.
Your sandwiches and wraps can be as simple or gourmet as you’d like, so you can have fun with your recipes. We personally find that tortillas hold up better on the trail than bread does, but you can do some testing on your adventures to see which option works best for you.
For the omnivores among us, a combination of meats, cheeses, veggies, and spreads often works well for a hiking sandwich. If you want to get fancy, you could opt for a chicken sandwich with some brie, spinach, and cherry tomatoes on a more robust bread like focaccia.
Alternatively, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you could put a mix of veggies, hummus, and cheese (or vegan cheese) in a wrap for a good blend of nutrition and flavor.
A classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich is always a nice choice, too. But peanut butter and jelly can quickly make your bread soggy. So you may want to pack little containers of each topping and make your sandwich while you’re on the trail for maximum freshness.
5. Cheese & Crackers
Cheese and crackers might sound more appropriate for a trendy dinner party than a mid-hike snack, but we assure you that they make the perfect treat on the trail.
Crackers are normally full of carbs, which provide quick energy for your hike while cheese contains a good mix of protein and fats that can help you stay fueled throughout the day. If you’re a meat eater, you can also add some prosciutto to your cheese board or, for the veg heads among us, some grapes and nuts can also add some extra flavor.
Cheese-wise, it’s generally best to stick to slices of harder cheeses, like cheddar, gruyère, manchego, or gouda. That’s because harder cheeses are less likely to go off during a day of hiking, even in relatively warm conditions.
As far as crackers go, you can go wild and get whatever snacks you prefer. You could also toast some slices of baguette to add to your cheese platter if you’re feeling particularly fancy.
Transporting crackers and cheese might seem like an insurmountable feat, but a secure tupperware container is normally your best bet. Be sure to pack the cheese and crackers tightly into your chosen tupperware to help prevent the crackers from breaking apart en route.
6. Fruits & Nut Butters
We generally don’t like to bring whole fruit with us into the mountains because it’s relatively heavy, but if you’re heading out for a short day trip, some fruit and nut butter can be the perfect snack.
Despite the extra weight that fruit and nut butters might add to your pack, they are great foods to take on a hike. That’s because the fruit provides fast carbs and nutrients while the nut butters give you plenty of protein and fats.
As far as fruit goes, consider bringing something that can withstand bumps and bruises on the trail, like apples or pears. Bananas are okay for short day hikes, but you may want to place them in a tupperware container to help them stay relatively bruise-free.
With nut butters, you can keep things classic and opt for peanut butter. Or you can try almond butter or cashew butter instead. For those of us who need to stay nut-free, consider using sunflower seed butter on the trail.
7. Granola Bars
Granola bars are a staple of many hiking menus, so we’d be remiss if we left them off our list.
However, store-bought granola bars tend to come with lots of additives and preservatives. They’re also generally jam-packed with refined sugars, and some protein bars have much more protein in them than you can possibly digest in one sitting.
To be clear, we’re not trying to warn you away from granola bars, because they can be just the right pick-me-up after a steep uphill climb. But it is worth considering what’s actually in a store-bought granola bar before you toss it in your pack.
If you want more control over your on-trail nutrition, you can also make your own granola bars (there are thousands of recipes online, so just find the one that works for you!).
Another option is to make homemade energy bites out of your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and nut butter. These energy chews normally just have to be blended together in a food processor and tossed into your pack before your next hike. The key here is to find the right combination of flavors and nutrients to keep you cruising down the trail.
8. Pretzels & Chips
Many classic hiking snacks are sugary and sweet, but sometimes you want something that’s a bit more savory. If that’s the case, consider packing a selection of pretzels and chips for your next outing.
You can keep things simple and pack a selection of your favorite potato chips, tortilla chips, and pretzels, or you could make a savory snack mix.
For a savory snack mix, you can simply combine your favorite snacks, like goldfish, Chex, mini pretzels, Bugles, and potato chips. Adding in some salted dry roasted peanuts can give you a bit of extra protein, too. For flavor, you can keep things au naturel or you can spice things up with the seasoning of your choice.
9. Pasta Salad
Most of the suggestions on our list are quick snack-sized bites that you can enjoy on the trail, but if you want a nice, hearty meal to have during a lunchtime hiking break, consider packing yourself some homemade pasta salad.
Pasta salad gives you a chance to enjoy something that’s savory, nutritious, and relatively easy to digest. You can create your pasta salad according to any recipe you choose, but adding a variety of vegetables and even pine nuts can ensure that your meal is packed with nutrients.
Many pasta salads are also made with cheese. But for hiking, it might be worth skipping the traditional mozzarella and opting for a harder cheese like parmesan, instead, as it will hold up better on the trail.
One of the best parts about pasta salad as a trail food is that you can customize it to suit your dietary needs.
You can easily substitute the pasta for a gluten-free version or you can nix the cheese if you want to go dairy-free. If you prefer to have some meat in your meals, you can also bring a pouch of cooked chicken or bacon bits with you and then add it to your pasta salad before you dig in.
10. Jerky & Summer Sausage
One of the biggest complaints that we hear from hikers is that they wish they could eat more meat while on longer backpacking trips. With jerky and summer sausage, you can!
There are countless companies out there that make jerky out of nearly any meat imaginable, so there’s likely something out there that suits your unique tastes. Alternatively, you could opt for some quality summer sausage, but just ensure that whatever you buy comes fully cooked so you don’t have to light up your stove in the middle of your hiking day.
For pescatarians that want a little bit of extra protein, consider bringing tuna or salmon packets on the trail. These packets normally come pre-cooked, so they’re a quick and easy snack in their own right, or you could add them to your sandwich for a bit of pizzazz.
Oh, and for the vegetarians among us, fret not—we haven’t forgotten about you! If you’re craving more protein during your hikes, there are now plenty of vegan jerky and summer sausage options for you to enjoy, too.