Calorie Dense Foods for Hiking

People tend to cringe when they hear words like “fats”, “carbs”, and “calories”. They associate foods high in calories, fats, and carbohydrate with muffin tops and love handles. If you lead an active lifestyle, or if you are doing a physically demanding activity such as backpacking or hiking, you need calories to maintain performance and keep that pep in your step. Hiking and backpacking requires a lot of energy, and you need to replenish macronutrients. This means carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

It doesn’t mean Twinkies and Red Bull. Your body needs calories and nutrients, not empty calories and energy-sapping sweets.

Here’s a list of healthy calorie dense foods for hiking:


100 grams of cashews contain:

  • 553 calories
  • 44g fat
  • 18g protein
  • 30g carbohydrate


100 grams of almonds contain:

  • 576 calories
  • 49g fat
  • 21g protein
  • 22g carbohydrate


The trickiest legume. 100 grams of peanuts contain:

  • 567 calories
  • 49g fat
  • 26g protein
  • 16g carbohydrate

Peanut Butter

100 grams of smooth peanut butter contain:

  • 588 calories
  • 50g fat
  • 25g protein
  • 20g carbohydrate

Olive oil

Most people won’t be keen on slugging straight olive oil, but adding it to your meals can provide extra calories while hiking. 100 grams of olive oil contain:

  • 884 calories
  • 100g fat

No one is going to consume, or even carry, 100 grams of olive oil on the trail. Tablespoons are an easier way to gauge how many calories you can add to your food while hiking. One tablespoon of olive oil contains:

  • 119 calories
  • 14g fat


Resilient and portable, salami or other cured meats are great calorie dense foods for hiking. 100 grams of salami contain:

  • 336 calories
  • 26g fat
  • 22g protein
  • 2.4g carbohydrate

Dark chocolate

A bar of dark chocolate is a great and tasty way to add some extra calories to your hiking diet. Here’s some nutritional info for a fairly common type of dark chocolate. One Lindt 85% Cocoa EXCELLENCE Bar (100g) contains:

  • 575 calories
  • 45g fat
  • 12.5g protein
  • 37.5g carbohydrate

Epic bar

Epic bars aren’t the most calorie dense food, but they’re lightweight and taste great, they travel well, and they offer a bit of variety to your diet. One bison Epic bar contains:

  • 140 calories
  • 8g fat
  • 8g protein
  • 10g carbohydrate

This roughly translates to 322 calories, 18.4g fat, 18.4g protein, 20.3g carbohydrate per 100 grams.

Clif bar

A tried and true stand-by for hikers, Clif bars are convenient and nutritious food options for the trail. One Sierra Trail Mix Clif Bar contains:

  • 260 calories
  • 8g fat
  • 10g protein
  • 41g carbohydrate

This roughly translates to 364 calories, 11.2g fat, 14g protein, 57.4 carbohydrate per 100 grams.


Of course, fat, calories, protein, and carbs aren’t the only nutrients you need on the trail, but they’re certainly important. Remember, hiking nutrition isn’t all about calories. You also need a good variety of textures and flavors that you enjoy. We carry Epic bars, Clif bars, and many other great hiking foods at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Stop by and check out our selection before your next hike!

One Comment

  1. […] in mind that you want lightweight backpacking foods, but you also want calorie-dense foods. Rice cakes are super light, but they don’t offer enough nutrients to pack for the trail. […]

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