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Everything tastes better outdoors. We have heard this old saying a million times, and every time we must agree. There is something in the fresh air, untouched nature, and quiet starry nights that makes all food taste much better. We love eating our snacks for hiking, and we are not ashamed to admit it. After all, you are not taking a pizza or tuna casserole with you when you go hiking. Nah, hiking snacks are something different.
How to choose good snacks for hiking?
We are limited by our backpack capacity when choosing snacks for hiking. Also, we won’t be carrying a fridge or a cooler. So, all our snacks must be durable and easy to carry around in our pocket or a backpack. Also, every snack must be easy to eat while hiking, so we don’t take unnecessary breaks. But what are the properties of a good snack for hiking?
- Healthy carbs – to form your muscles. Usually found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Proteins – hikers need them more than regular people.
- Fats – the good kind, found in nuts, nut butter, olive oil, and cheese.
- Sugar – for an energy boost and brain food.
What snacks to pack for hiking?
Snacks for hiking in hot weather
Summer hiking has its fun sides. Also, it can be dangerous, so it’s best to choose a shadier hiking path. The most convenient choice would be a hiking path that goes near rivers, lakes, or waterfalls. That could give you a chance to cool off a little bit.
Hot weather hiking snacks shouldn’t melt that easily and should keep you hydrated. Here are some of the best choices:
Almost any fruit is a great choice. Pick the less squishy one, with a larger percentage of liquid. If you are bringing fresh fruit, make sure you put it on the top of your backpack. Or you can slice some apples and oranges and use your travel container kit for storing.
Summer is great for treating yourself to a batch of fresh vegetables that will keep you cool and hydrated. Cucumbers, baby carrots, and tomatoes are our first choice. Use the same modus operandi as with fruit – put them on the top of your backpack, or use plastic containers.
- Frozen fruit/veggie pouches
Maybe it sounds weird, but pouches make great snacks for hiking. Freeze them the day before, and they will keep your backpack cold and refresh you on the hiking breaks.
- Beef jerky
You can’t hike all day just eating fruits and veggies. You need a source of protein and sodium. Meat is the answer, and the best choice is beef jerky. Jerky is lightweight, indestructible, and full of nutrients. Alternatives are turkey, chicken, or vegan jerky.
- Trail mix
It is called trail mix for a reason. Although it might sound weird choice for a hot weather snack, you need the salt. In warm weather, you are excessively sweating and losing precious electrolytes. Trail mix will charge up your batteries.
Snacks for hiking in cold weather
Cold weather hiking takes a bit more preparation. If you are visiting snowy mountains, you need warm clothes, sunscreen, and sunglasses. There is no bad weather, just a bad choice of clothes.
As for the snack part, you should choose the snacks that won’t freeze. Also, they should give you plenty of energy. Besides timeless classics like trail mix, beef jerky, and bacon, here are some other options you might consider
- Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
None of these three choices will freeze in your backpack. Also, they are easy to consume while hiking and will give you a burst of energy.
- Salty crackers
Bland or with different flavors, they are an all-time favorite. Crackers won’t freeze and will provide you with enough salt to replenish the lost electrolytes.
- Smoked salmon
It might sound weird, but trust us on this one. Smoked salmon won’t take much of your backpack space, is easy to eat when hiking, and combined with crackers makes a full meal. Also, provides you with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
- Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
The standard choice for every meal in our lives, since childhood. Prepare your sandwiches the day before, and cut them smaller than usual, so they will be easier to bite. The fat content won’t let your sandwich freeze, but it might be harder to chew.
- Dried pineapple rings
You can find them in bulks in most of the grocery stores. These pineapple slices are low moisture, so they won’t freeze. But they will provide you with enough fruit sugar to keep you going.
How much water should you bring hiking?
Your need for hydrating will depend on many factors, including your body weight, season, temperature, and hiking intensity. However, here are some general rules to follow.
- Before you even start your hiking journey, it is advisable to drink 4 cups of water.
- For every hour spent hiking, you should drink 2 cups of water
- If you are hiking in high temperatures, consider drinking 4 cups of water for every hour of hiking
- When hiking near rivers or lakes, you can always bring a portable water purifier.
- Never drink water that hasn’t been purified, no matter how crystal clear it looks!
- Don’t forget to hydrate yourself even when hiking in cold weather.
What are the best energy bars for hiking?
Energy bars are an all-time favorite snack for hiking. They are a calorie bomb, easy to eat, and will give you a sudden energy boost. Well, those are the good ones. Sadly, but some of the energy bars on the market are full of sweeteners and chemicals and will cause your body more harm than good. If possible, always opt for natural ingredients in your energy bar. Some of the usual healthy ingredients are:
- Proteins – mostly plant-based or egg-based.
- Caffeine – the most used legal wake-up substance in the world.
- Dried fruit – a great source of fructose.
- Nuts – the source of good fats and electrolytes.
- Sweeteners – fructose and raw honey are the best choices.
- Flavor – natural sources are great.
If you don’t have the slightest idea what some of the ingredients on your energy bar should mean, we suggest you avoid buying that bar. The best energy bars have a small list of ingredients, and they are all easy to read.
What are the 10 essentials for hiking?
The famous “Ten essentials” were invented in the 1930s. It was a list of ten essential things that every outdoor explorer should have. The old list consisted of the map, compass, sun protection, extra clothes, light source, fire source, fire starter, first aid, knife, and extra food.
Over time, the list had some changes. Here is what the American Hiking Society suggests.
- Appropriate footwear
Choose footwear that is comfortable, protective, and supportive. If you don’t have appropriate footwear, don’t go hiking.
GPS and smartphones are cool and modern, but they can run out of battery. A paper map and a compass are a must in your backpack.
Always carry enough water with you, and learn how to purify water from lakes or rivers when possible.
Or, as we would say, snacks for hiking. Always carry a little bit more food than you need.
- Rain gear and extra clothes
The weatherman can also make a mistake. Don’t let a little bit of rain ruin your hike.
- Safety items
Items needed to signal for help. Lighter or matches to start a fire, whistle to give sound signals, and light source to help you see your map in the dark. (read this post on packing the best survival kit)
- First aid kit
A standard kit to treat usual hiking cuts and bruises. Or, worse things when there is no doctor around.
- Survival knife, usual knife or multitool
Used for everything, from opening a can of beans to splitting the firewood. Read our post to see our family favorites and what we carry.
- Sun protection
Sunglasses, sunscreen, and sun-protective clothes. You must carry this trinity in every season.
Any means of protection from the elements. Sleeping bag, space bag, or a nice tent that can fit in your backpack.
What if you don’t bring snacks for hiking?
After all, it’s just a trip through nature. What could go wrong? Well, we have a list of things.
After days of intense hiking, your legs are becoming smaller and smaller. Also, you don’t have any strength left in you. How could that happen? Well, you didn’t eat enough protein-rich food. So, your extreme hiking didn’t just burn your fat but also reduce your muscle mass.
When you are hiking, your body breaks down the muscles and rebuilds them again. It’s the basis of every exercise. But, you need protein for muscle growth. When hiking, you should take one gram of proteins per kilo of your body mass. And the right snacks for that purpose are beans, nuts, seeds, jerky, cheese, and powdered milk.
Also known as hitting the wall, or running out of energy. You walked too long and too hard, and your glycogen levels are running out. You are also probably out of shape, as trained muscles store much more glycogen than the untrained ones.
To stop bonking, the first thing you should do is get in shape. Happened again? OK, take smaller doses of carbohydrates every hour of hiking. So, every hour or so, take cca 20 grams of carbs.
Also known as the fatty stool. Problem? You are a human trash can. You can eat everything, including $50 worth of fast food, and it all goes right through you. Pretty great, right? Until you went hiking, and the sudden stress altered your digestive enzymes. Now, your stomach doesn’t digest the food, and your stool is full of fat.
From now on to the end of the trail, you are limited to smaller hiking snacks. You will take your meal every two to three hours until your stomach gets back to normal. After that, try to get your eating habits in order.
What snacks to avoid when hiking?
Fizzy drinks are one of your worst choices. They will constantly make you feel thirsty. Sure, they will fill you up with sugar and caffeine, but when those effects perish, your body will be in a state of a crash. Similar to that, avoid unhealthy sweets.
They are full of sugar and will cause your body more harm than good.
Canned food is also out of the question. Although they are easy to prepare on a campfire, your canned goods are heavy as rocks in your backpack. And if you are following the No Trace Rule (and we know you are), you are doomed to carrying a lot of empty cans during the whole trip.
Snacks for multi-day hiking
If you are going to spend just one-day hiking, you almost can’t go wrong with the choice of snacks. However, if you plan to go on a multi-day hiking trip, you should be more careful. All your snacks must be lightweight and compact. Every additional ounce of weight in your backpack can be an issue. Also, your multi-day hiking snacks have to be healthy and easy to eat. So here are our top suggestions for your multi-day hiking trip.
- No complicated food
You want to travel light, not to carry pots and pans. So plan ahead, and let your diet consist of food that’s easy to prepare. One sharp knife and one multi-use pot should be enough. So, arm yourself with dehydrated meals, instant soups, instant coffee, and all the other groceries that are simple to prepare.
- Pick nutrient-dense food
You need to carry food that is high in calories and doesn’t take much space.
- Carry the necessary amount of food and a bit more
Before going on your hiking trip, calculate how many calories you will spend every day. Include your weight, your backpack weight, estimated daily route, and the terrain toughness into that equation. As a rule of thumb, you should always carry a little more food than you need, just in case.
- No junk food
Days of hiking will wear out your body. And you need a good source of protein, fibers, carbs, and electrolytes. You can’t hike eating just junk food. Of course, you should reward yourself with an unhealthy snack every now and then. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.
- Pack food worth packing
Hiking can be tiresome. And at the end of the day, you want to enjoy tasty food, not something that will make you regret going on a trip in the first place. Luckily, with today’s possibilities of choice, everyone can find their favorite tasty food for hiking.
Snacks after hiking
Hiking can be serious stress for your body. And no matter if you are in great shape or just started your first hiking steps, your body will need a rest after your hiking trip. Your glycogen reserves will be empty, your muscles will need proteins to grow stronger, and you will need a lot of water. The best meal after hiking should be full of carbs and proteins. Resist the urge to go to the nearest fast food and wreak havoc through the menu. No sirree, Bob! Your healthy meal after a hiking trip should be some of our recommended dishes:
- Lean meat with leafy greens
- Cheese or Greek yogurt
First-time hikers often neglect the importance of good snacks for hiking. However, when you find yourself miles from the nearest grocery store, with nothing but water to calm your hunger, you will learn your lesson in a glance. Or, you could read our articles, and never go on hiking or camping unprepared. And be sure you always bring your favorite little guilty snack pleasure as a reward for the successful end of another hiking adventure.
Ready to go camping and need to know which foods you can pack that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or kept cool? Read this post.