Why you need hiking snacks
What is hiking (or road tripping) without snacks for hiking? Not much right? 😉
If you go for a half day hike snacks are not essential but nice to have. On a day hike you should definitely bring a few snacks with you to refuel your body during the day. I know I get really hungry after a couple of hours, so I always bring lunch besides snacks. In summer fresh juicy fruits and veggies are great to get that extra water besides the water from your reusable bottle. (Calculate how much water you need for your day trip here.)
On longer hikes (multi day hikes) you need more than just snacks for hiking, but we will cover that topic another time.
But what are good hiking snacks that keep the energy flowing and don’t make you feel full and tired but helps to keep fit.
How to pick the best snacks for hiking
The three important macro nutrients we should cover are: carbs, protein and fat.
You need to fuel your machine-your body with good and healthy food/snacks. The wrong food is not helping you but could make you feel more tired, bloated and weak.
Great fuel for your body are power foods with healthy fats, natural sugar, healthy carbs or salty treats that can refill your energy resources quickly.
But remember: in summer your chocolate bar will melt, if you don’t pack fresh fruits the right way they will smush, so think about how to pack your food the right way, or maybe even leave the chocolate bar at home and bring some homemade power cocoa balls to cover the sweet tooth in summer.
Healthy/whole carbs are important because your body can convert carbs into blood sugar. This is where your immediate energy comes from to power your activities.
Healthy carbs like whole foods is better than refined because the body needs longer to convert it, quick carbs are getting converted into sugar quickly but also makes your body crave more after a shorter time.
Protein is essential for your brain but also for the repair and maintenance of your muscles. Especially on longer hikes you should get enough protein with you. This does not mean a lot of dairy products, you can also get protein from plant based food.
Great plant based protein sources are: beans, chickpeas, soy, tofu, hemp seeds. pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, lentils, almonds, peanuts and nut butter, tempeh…….
A lot of people still think that fat is the one bad guy who makes people fat, but it is the “bad” fat plus refined sugar plus way toooo many carbs that make peole fat. Not fat alone.
When I talk about fat I mean healthy fat. And healthy fat is very important for your brain, and keeps you full longer.
Healthy fat can easily be found from plant based sources like nuts, avocados, coconut oil, dark chocolate, olive oil, organic cheese, free-range organic eggs, organic yogurt….
Always try and bring some salty snacks along for any hike longer than an hour. You will eventually sweat after walking a while and salt is great to replenish electrolytes that get lost through sweat.
My top 13 best hiking snacks
These snacks are my all time favorite snacks for hiking.
What the personal right snack is for you is your own taste and priority thing.
From sweet so sour, from vegan to non-vegan, from fresh to dry. But always try to make your own, or chose the most natural or whole food snack if you can. This is always the healthiest and fittest choice.
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and protein. Try to find natural nuts without added palm-oil.
My favorite nuts are walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds and brazil nuts. If you like to eat more eco-friendly, choose the nuts that grow in your country or state.
Fresh fruits are awesome on trail. They include some water (that is always welcomed on a hike) and natural carbs.
I love juicy sour apples, my boyfriend likes bananas. Whatever is your favorite bring it along. But soft fruits can get smushy quickly, but when you reach the summit they taste better than if youd enjoy then not smushy on your couch 😉
Awesome because they don’t weigh much. They are a great source of nutrients, filled with minerals and vitamins and include lots of natural sugar. If you buy them in a store make sure there’s no refined sugar added.
You will find them often in bulk, or can make your own easily in the oven or with a dehydrator. This is much cheaper in the long run, than buying dried fruits in small packages regularly.
Veggie sticks with dip
In summer this is something I always have as snack with me. Fresh veggie sticks, filled with water and vitamins. I like cucumber, carrots, red pepper, celery, etc. and often I bring some homemade dip. My dips are mostly made with chickpeas, lentils or sunflower seeds.
Great protein source and sooo delicious. You can either bring them with a little salt, chili flakes and olive oil or you could roast them in the oven to snack on them while you hike.
Peanut or almond butter is a great energy snack for hiking with a good portion of protein and fat. Make sure the nut butter is made with nuts only and no added sugar or palm-oil. They are also easy to make at home with a great blender.
I love to eat peanut butter with carrot or apple sticks or on a banana.
Homemade Muesli bars
Convenience muesli bars are often made with loads of refined sugar, artery clogging trans fats. Even so called “healthy” store bought bars have ingredients in there you mostly don’t want if you like to eat healthy, so always check the ingredients list.
Müsli bars can easily be made in the oven at home.
The base is always: oats, nuts or seeds that you like (grated coconut, chia, pumpkin, almond, etc..), dried fruits like cranberries, dates, apricots, etc. and any kind of extras: cocoa, dark chocolate nips, cinnamon.. Mix it all together and add a hot “thickener” a mix of sweetener and fat (maple syrup/honey and coconut oil or rape seed oil). I will have a recipe for my favorite bars online soon!
Homemade Spicy Cashews
Oh there is nothing better than spicy cashews…. You just need to preheat the oven to 350F, mix 2 cups nuts, 0.5 tsp chili flakes, a pinch of paprika powder and salt, 2 tsp maple syrup or honey, 1 tbsp lime juice and 1 tsp coconut or rapeseed/olive oil together and spread on a baking tray. Bake them until golden (20 minutes) and turn them after 10min.
No brainer 😉 Good chocolate is a great hiking snack to have. At least during the colder months. I don’t carry chocolate with me in summer… it will be a mess to eat.
I prefer dark chocolate with nuts and with less sugar, and no palm-oil. I always grab the brand with aluminum foil and paper if I can’t find chocolate in bulk.
(Recycling tip: collect all your aluminum foil until you have a tennis ball sized ball before you put it into the recycling bin, to make sure the recycling machine can detect it and it won’t get lost.)
A great snack for hiking can also be crunchy granola. But full of refined sugar if store bought.
Like most of the above it is also easy to make your own. Choose your favorite oats, and nuts/seeds and dried fruits, mix with honey or maple syrup and coconut or rapeseed oil and roast in the oven.
I had these with me when I walked the 100 k walk. Nice and fresh and energizing food.
I made my own with chickpeas, herbs and spices and some buckwheat flour.
If I have access to a bulk store with wasabi nuts I go for it! I love spicy snacks when I am out, so yes to wasabi nuts! 🙂 Some stores have them in cans. And while Aluminum is endlessly recyclable and plastic is not (and greasy plastic is mostly not recycled at all) I would choose the can if I wish to get some nuts from the store.
Why not snack single use plastic free?
When I scroll through social media and blog posts about hiking snacks there are two things that makes my stomach cramp… All the convenience food with loads of bad fats, palm-oil (learn more about the problems with palm-oil) or sugar and most of all, the huge amounts of plastic trash!!
Most of you might have joined a trail or beach clean up already, and what is it you found? Single use plastic? Snack wrapper? Single use plastic bottles and coffee cups? Cigarette butts? Well that is what I find on trails on a regular basis…
Energy bars, chocolate bars, tiny granola or porridge sachets, prepackaged sachets for cooking on trail, small packets of juice, single plastic packaged portions of nuts and sandwiches wrapped in plastic foil, it goes on and on an on… This is easy to get convenience food. But it is actually not positive fuel for your body. Full of refined sugar and bad fat.
How to hike low waste?
- Bring a reusable bottle or filter bottle for refill
- Buy your snacks in bulk with your own reusable bags or make your own snacks.
- Refuse the tiny single portioned nut or granola sachets/packs! Too much plastic for too little food.
- If you still buy prepackaged snacks try to buy the biggest bag and remember to unwrap them at home and put them into a reusable beeswax wrap, a stasher bag or a reusable collapsible silicone container. This way no wrapper can accidentally end up in nature.
- If you eat cheese and like to bring cheese sticks, don’t buy these single plastic wrapped tiny sticks but buy a bigger block and cut down the pieces you like to bring for a hike. If you have a deli or cheese store around ask if you can bring your own container.