Hiking is an exhilarating outdoor activity! It is a way to reset from our fast-paced lifestyles and truly connect with the splendors of the natural world.
Whether you enjoy a leisurely hike on a well-worn trail or prefer to head deeper into the wilderness for a truly challenging adventure, you will need to bring along hiking snacks that can provide the proper nutrition when you need it the most.
But what exactly makes a good hiking snack? To help you determine the best snacks for your hike, we’ve put together this handy guide.
Here you will learn what makes a good hiking snack, how to pack for your hike, and 8 great snack ideas to fuel your fun!
What Makes a Good Hiking Snack?
When determining the best hiking snacks for your outdoor adventure, you need to consider a few things first.
For starters, ask yourself:
- How strenuous is the hike?
- What time do you expect to start and expect to finish?
- What is the distance of the hike?
- What is the elevation gain?
- What is the weather forecast?
Once you know the answers, you can start to think about the types of hiking snacks you will need to stay nourished and energized.
If you are going on a casual 60-minute hike on a crisp fall morning, it is likely that you won’t need to pack a smorgasbord of hiking snacks or worry too much about replacing electrolytes.
But, if you are hiking up a steep mountainside in the heat of a summer afternoon, you will need to think carefully about getting the proper nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids.
For long or remote hike:
- Pack more food than you will think you need. Depending on the difficulty of the hike and the weather conditions, you may find that your body needs more fuel to function.
- For very difficult and remote locations, bring extra, non-perishable hiking snacks in case you have an accident or come across another hiker that is in distress.
Consider timing and location:
- If you will be out over your typical mealtime, bring sandwiches or something more substantial than just snacks so you don’t find yourself distracted or derailed by hunger.
- When taking on well-trafficked hiking trails in or near a city or town, plan to grab something to eat when you are done and you will not need to bring as much. You will have burnt calories on the trail and can treat yourself to a nice sit-down meal. You may need to check the hours of the businesses in the town, especially in a remote location.
More than thinking about the quantity of snacks for hiking, you will need to think about the quality of your snacks. Finding the right foods with the right nutritional balance will make all the difference.
Think about waste:
No matter what hiking snacks you bring, you will inevitably produce some level of waste. Remember, we always want to respect our surroundings and leave no trace behind.
Pack an extra bag to hold your food scraps and wrappers. If you have lightweight reusable containers or silicone bags, you can repack and portion all of your snacks before you leave to cut down on the garbage you produce on the trail.
While there may be trash bins on accessible trails, avoid using them wherever possible. More often than not, they get filled beyond capacity creating a mess for park rangers and a gathering point for all sorts of animals and critters.
The Best Hiking Snacks: A Nutritional Breakdown
The best hiking snacks have some combination of carbohydrates (preferably complex carbohydrates), protein, fat, and sodium.
Carbohydrates will provide your body with necessary energy. Look for complex carbohydrates because they have a high fiber content. Fiber will slow the digestive process and create a more even and sustained release of energy.
And, fiber can help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Complex carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains and oats
- Legumes like green peas and lentils
- Vegetables like broccoli and carrots
- Fruits like apples and oranges
In some scenarios, you need a quick pick-me-up. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, for example, you will need a fast hit of sugar. This is where dried fruit or a sweetened granola bar can come in handy.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body. Including proteins in your hiking snacks will provide you with energy, help you feel full, and supply your muscles and tissues with what they need to rebuild after the hike.
As with fibers and proteins, healthy fats will keep you feeling full and provide your body with a steady energy source for the duration of your outdoor adventure.
While you should avoid excess sodium in your regular diet, adding some to your hiking snacks can be very useful. Sodium is an essential electrolyte, one we lose when we sweat excessively. Electrolytes regulate muscle contractions and support hydration.
To avoid muscle cramps and dangerous levels of dehydration, make sure to include salt in your snack choices, especially if you are going on a long or strenuous hike.
How Many Calories Do You Need in a Hiking Snack?
Giving you the exact number of calories you will need on your hike is impossible. Your ideal calorie needs will be based on several factors like your weight, height, and the type of hike you are doing.
A short distance on a flat trail is going to require fewer calories than a long hike on steep, uneven terrain.
But, just so you have a ballpark idea, we have some estimates we can share. According to the experts at REI, a rough target should be 200-300 calories per hour hiking.
If you are going on a long and difficult hike, choose hiking snacks that will take you to the higher end of that estimate.
To determine your calorie range, calculate the number of hours you plan to hike and the level of difficulty. For a more difficult hike, you will want to be around 300 calories/hour. So, if you are hiking for 5 hours on difficult terrain, you will want your hiking snacks to total at least 1500 calories.
When determining calories and your hiking snacks, remember that you want a sustained energy level and there are a number of factors that can cause you to need more calories than anticipated.
Don’t be afraid to go a few hundred calories higher or pack extra snacks. You never know what might happen—food can spoil (think of those chocolate-covered granola bars on a hot day) or the packaging tears and you can’t eat it!
You want quality calories, not empty-sugar-laden calories. The best snacks for hiking will combine the nutritional factors mentioned above—carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, and sodium!
Do not forget to pack some water. Dehydration can be downright dangerous on a hike.
Dehydration can cause confusion and disorientation which can cause even the most experienced hikers to veer off course. Couple that with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness and you are asking for trouble.
Try, if possible, to slowly consume water in the hours leading up to your hike. Being hydrated before you hit the trail will go a long way to helping you maintain it during your physical exertion.
In general, try to pack at least a half-liter of water (16 ounces or 2 cups) for each hour you plan to hike.
Again, try to pack a little more than what you will need. You don’t always have access to running water on a trail (even if you have a filtration tab or pen). Running out of water is at best uncomfortable and at worst deadly. Do not take any unnecessary risks.
8 Best Hiking Snacks
Now that you know all of the ins and outs of planning, preparing, and packing snacks for hiking, it’s time to see our favorite picks for the best hiking snacks!
1) Tuna and Crackers
While tucking into a packet of tuna may not be top of your hiking snack to-do list, this option provides some valuable nutrition to fuel your activity!
Tuna is an excellent source of protein and crackers can give you necessary carbohydrates.
When shopping, look for low-mercury tuna in ready-to-eat cans with pull-tabs or resealable tuna packets.
If crackers aren’t your thing, substitute a tortilla, vegetable sticks, Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps, or whole-grain bread.
2) Beef Jerky
Jerky is a popular hiking snack and with good reason! An excellent source of protein, jerky is non-perishable and can stand up to extreme heat conditions. And because of how it is preserved, it contains the sodium that you need to stay balanced and hydrated.
But, be careful not to eat too much jerky as the added salt may see you run through your water supply in short order. Remember, it is all about balance.
If you don’t want to eat beef jerky, you can try turkey jerky. Explore brands and flavors to find the one that most speaks to your tastes.
3) Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps
Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps are lightweight, portable, non-perishable, and offer many of the nutritional elements you need on a hike.
Snack Crisps are made with green peas, red lentils, or black beans offering a plant-based hit of protein as well as complex carbohydrates and a dash of sodium.
With a range of delicious flavors like Tomato Basil, Mango Chile Lime, Caesar, Wasabi Ranch, Parmesan Roasted Garlic, and the classic Lightly Salted, you are sure to find one that will satisfy every snacking style!
Enjoy Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps on their own, or bring along some hummus for dipping (and for added plant-based protein!) or throw them in a trail mix.
4) Dried Fruit
While fresh fruit can fuel you on a hike, fresh fruit can be tough to pack without bruising or spoiling.
Dried fruit, on the other hand, makes an excellent hiking snack because it provides a quick hit of natural sugar, which is great when your energy levels start to drop dangerously low or you start feeling faint. And, dried fruit are lightweight and nutritionally dense, meaning they can support your outdoor adventure without taking up too much space in your pack.
Excellent dried fruit options are figs, apricots, cranberries, raisins, and apples.
5) Homemade Aussie Bites
Aussie Bites are a very popular hiking snack and when you take a look at the ingredients, it isn’t hard to see why. Available at Costco and Walmart, Aussie Bites pack a major nutritional punch in a small bite-sized treat.
But why buy them when you can make a similar version right at home?
- 1 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa for a softer texture but uncooked quinoa works too
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350℉ and lightly grease a 24 count mini muffin pan
- Put 1 cup of rolled oats into a food processor and grind until oats reach a flour-like consistency (about 1 minute)
- Add the rest of the oats, sugar, dried apricots, raisins, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, coconut, quinoa, chia seeds, and baking soda to the processor. Pulse until apricots and raisins appear as small chunks
- Pour in honey, melted butter, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Pulse until mixture is combined
- Divide mixture into prepared muffin tin
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack
- When completely cooled, remove from pan and store in an airtight container for 4-5 days
6) Crispy Chickpeas
When it comes to healthy hiking snacks, you don’t get much better than chickpeas. Chickpeas are full of protein and carbohydrates without any processed sugars. They will provide a good, sustained energy source. And, they are tasty!
There are many varieties of store-bought crispy chickpeas but we love to make our own. It’s the only way to play with the flavors and find the fit that’s perfect for you!
- 1 15oz can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and well dried
- 1 tbsp of avocado oil
- ½ tsp of sea salt
- 1 tsp of seasoning of your choice. Smoked paprika or chili powder are excellent choices
- Preheat oven to 350℉
- Drain chickpeas, rinse well (until water runs clear), and then spread on a clean, absorbent towel. Using your hands, gently roll the chickpeas in the towel to dry. Discard any skins that come off in the process
- Transfer dried chickpeas to a bowl and drizzle in oil and salt. Mix well so all chickpeas are coated
- Pour chickpeas onto a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown and dry to the touch. For best results, give the baking sheet a little shake and turn the sheet halfway through bake time
- Remove from oven and toss with seasonings while still warm
- Let cool 5-10 minutes. Chickpeas will continue to crisp up while they cool
- Once cool, transfer to a jar or storage container
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, consider replacing the savory spices with 2 tbsp of granulated white sugar or packed brown sugar and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon!
7) Trail Mix
Trail mix is the perfect hiking snack. Nutritious, delicious, portable, and easy to make.
Find the ingredients you like and toss them together in whatever quantity fits your desired tastes and textures. Here are just a few of our favorite trail mix combinations:
Spicy Savory Trail Mix
Combine mini pretzels, salted cashews or sunflower seeds, roasted almonds or pepitas, Harvest Snaps Snack Crisps Wasabi Ranch.
Sunrise Trail Mix
Chocolate-covered espresso beans, raisins, banana chips, almonds or roasted chickpeas, and cereal of your choice like Cheerios or Shreddies.
Cherry Bliss Trail Mix
Dried cherries, dark chocolate chunks of cacao nibs, dried coconut, almonds or mini pretzels, pepitas.
8) Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Fresh produce is loaded with proper nutrients and can provide quick calories when you need them most.
Think carefully about what you bring, however. In some cases, strategic packing will be the key. Bananas are wonderful, but not necessarily when they are banana mush!
Veggies that make the best hiking snacks include carrots, celery sticks, snap peas, and sliced peppers. Bring along some hummus and you’ve got a hearty and healthy snack.
For fruit, we like apples, oranges, and grapes. If you are hiking on warm days, consider freezing some fruit. This can help keep some of your other foods chilled and can also help cool you down while on the trail.
Consider freezing grapes, watermelon chunks, mango slices, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Just be sure to pack soft fruits in hard-sided containers so you don’t have a mess to go along with your now inedible hiking snack.
Perfect Your Hiking Snacks with Harvest Snaps
Enjoying your hike, no matter the length or difficulty, is much easier when you have the right snack options.
The best hiking snacks are ones that will leave you feeling energized and engaged in your activity.
With a broad range of irresistible flavors, plant-based protein, and compact, lightweight packaging, Harvest Snaps will be a versatile hiking snack.
Enjoy them on their own, with a side of hummus, or as part of a creative trail mix. The options are truly wide open!
So, grab yourself a bag and get out there and enjoy the true beauty of nature!