What Are the Best Trail Snacks?

Peanut ButterFood is a very important part of hiking. Staying nourished while on the trail will help keep your spirits high, and it will also give you the energy that you need to keep hiking strong. The three big meals are important, of course, but when you’re burning through calories like you do when you’re hiking, you need even more nutrients than you need on a normal day.

That’s why it’s important to bring the right trail snacks. Obviously, you can bring whatever foods you please while hiking, but there are certain foods that lend themselves to hiking better than other foods.

So what are the best trail foods? The best trail snacks:

  • Have high nutritional value. You typically want to steer clear of simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. Sure, candy bars and Ho Hos might keep you going, but you typically want to stick with healthier options with ample proteins, calories, complex carbohydrates, and good fats.
  • Are fairly small or compact. Don’t pack hero sandwiches and a watermelon. Food and water can take up a lot of pack space. The more compact your food choices, the better.
  • Are portable. This means foods that are easy to carry, but it also means foods that do not spoil easily. Greek yogurt is a no-go because it fails miserably in both of these categories.
  • Do not generate a lot of trash. A banana that’s wrapped in cling wrap and placed in a brown paper bag generates a lot of trash. Even a banana that isn’t wrapped in cling wrap or placed in a bag generates trash. You’re supposed to pack out what you pack in, which means that even though that banana peel is biodegradable, you should not leave it sitting in the middle of the trail. To help reduce the amount of trash you generate on the trail, remove foods from their packaging, and place them in reusable, resealable bags or containers (this, unfortunately, does not apply to bananas).

Those are the characteristics of great trail foods. Now here are some specific examples of great trail snacks.

  • Jerky has lots of protein and will certainly help replenish the sodium your body loses when you sweat.
  • Nuts are healthy, nutritious, packable, and they generate virtually no trash. Nuts are also boring. If you want to spice them up a bit, add some spices… There are plenty of recipes online.
  • Dried fruit or fruit leather allow you to get your fruit fix with having to tote an apple core or banana peel around with you for days.
  • Peanut butter should be a staple for any hiker. Fats, calories, protein, carbs, peanut butter has it all.
  • The food bar market is borderline absurd right now. You can opt for the classic honey and oat bars, or choose from a selection of grass-fed bison bars.
  • Summer sausage is heavy and the casing generates plenty of trash. It’s still portable and delicious.
  • Muffins can get squashed, but if you can protect them, they are great. If you forget about them, however, be prepared for a very disappointing muffin.
  • Granola is a hiking classic and a great trail snack.
  • Baby carrots are crisp, refreshing, and perfect for a pack.
  • GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) or any other trail mix variety is perfect for hiking. It does have trail in the name after all.
  • Nourishment balls? Energy bites maybe? There’s got to be a better name for this trail food, but there are plenty of recipes for this snack that resembles a healthy no-bake cookie.

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