Tired of eating nothing but a granola bar during your hiking adventures?
We are, too.
A power bar or energy gel here or there is a great little pick-me-up. But real adventures require real food to keep you energized on the trail.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to 5 of the best real food hiking snacks to bring with you on your next trip into the mountains. Let’s get started!
1. Apples & Nut Butter
Perfect for a quick day trip in the great outdoors, apples and nut butter provide you with a mix of quick sugars and proteins to power through steep climbs on the trail.
Since apples don’t keep very well in a backpack, we’d only recommend this snack for day-long or weekend adventures. If you’re hiking in colder climates, apples tend to stay better for longer, but you need to be careful with how you pack them into your bag.
It’s generally best to toss a whole apple in your pack, rather than pre-slice it before you start hiking. However, if you’d rather eat apple slices, give the apple slices a quick spritz of some lemon juice and place them in an air-tight container to prevent browning. This technique only works for about a day or so, but it’s surprisingly effective.
For nut butters, you can choose between peanut, almond, cashew, or whatever else strikes your fancy. If you need to keep things nut-free, consider sun butter, instead. You can get individual self-serve packets of nut butters to cut weight in your pack. Or you can fill a mini tupperware container up with your nut butter of choice to reduce your plastic consumption.
2. Veggies & Hummus
Delicious and nutritious, veggies and hummus are the perfect things to keep in a hiking backpack for quick energy throughout your adventures.
For veggies, we’d recommend some hearty options like chopped carrots and celery. You can opt for bell pepper slices and tomatoes, too, but these tend to spoil quickly in high temperatures (they’re also fruits, but we won’t tell if you don’t).
As far as the hummus goes, this delectable chickpea-based spread keeps surprisingly well in the backcountry. We prefer roasted red pepper hummus, but feel free to go for whatever flavors your heart desires.
But, doesn’t hummus need to be refrigerated, you might ask?
So long as you pack it in a spill-proof container (we recommend tupperware with a locking lid) and avoid extreme desert heat, your hummus should be a-okay for a day or two to keep you energized as you hike.
3. Cheese & Crackers
Oh la la, some cheese and crackers on the trail. What could be fancier than that?
We know it might sound a bit over the top, but a small container of cheese and crackers is a surprisingly excellent treat during any hiking day. The complex carbs in crackers tend to pack lots of fiber and nutrients (though this depends on the crackers you choose) while cheese is high in fat and protein to keep you full as you hike.
To pack cheese and crackers on the trail, we recommend slicing or cubing your favorite cheese into bite-sized pieces. We recommend a sharp cheddar and some smoked gouda. (You can thank us later.)
Then, pack this cheese into a tupperware container with your crackers of choice. To stop everything from shaking around and breaking in your pack as you hike, use a crumpled-up paper towel to take up extra space in the tupperware container.
For extra nutrition (and fanciness), you can pack some cured or smoked meats, like salami. Or you can bring some dried figs and apricots to turn your cheese and crackers into a full-on charcuterie board.
4. DIY Fruit & Nut Trail Mix
Trail mix is a time-honored hiking snack, but many of the pre-made mixes you can get are jam-packed with processed sugars. Pre-made trail mixes that you can buy in the store also tend to be super expensive, which isn’t ideal if you like to adventure on a regular basis.
Thankfully, you can cut costs and processed sugars just by making your own fruit and nut-based trail mix.
When it comes to trail mix, the world is your oyster. You can pick and choose whatever ingredients you’d like for your mix, but we’d recommend opting for either savory or sweet instead of trying to mix both flavors in the same bag. We enjoy both savory and sweet trail mixes, so we often bring two different mixes on longer hiking trips.
For trail mixes, we recommend a blend of nuts and seeds, like almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, and even pistachios. When it comes to dried fruit, consider raisins, dates, cherries, craisins, and dried blueberries.
To make a sweet trail mix, you can add a small amount of high-quality chocolate chips or chocolate-covered peanuts. To edge toward the savory side of things, consider mixing some seasoning with tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds, edamame, and the like, and tossing that all in the oven for a few minutes to bring out those savory flavors.
5. Sandwiches & Wraps
Finally, consider making some sandwiches and wraps for a bigger snack while you hike.
If you’re not the type to take a long lunch break during your adventures, then having an assortment of sandwiches and wraps can give you a quick boost of energy without the need for a lengthy on-trail pit-stop.
Your sandwiches and wraps can have whatever flavors you’d like. Potential options include a fancy turkey sandwich on brioche with mango chutney, thinly sliced apples, and smoked gouda or a focaccia sandwich with provolone, pesto, and tomato. You could also pack a sweet sandwich with nutella and banana as a dessert.
For hiking trips in hot and humid environments, you might find that using tortilla wraps works better than bread. That said, if tortillas aren’t really your thing, consider making your wrap and lightly frying it with some oil on a pan before packing it away to help bring out some of the tortilla’s flavors.
To pack sandwiches and wraps, we highly recommend using a hard-sided container like tupperware to avoid smushed food at snack time. You might even want to wrap up your sandwich in a beeswax wrapper or paper towel to stop it from falling apart inside your tupperware.