One of the most important parts of planning a successful hike is making sure that you bring along the proper fuel. In addition to carrying plenty of water, you’ll want to pack some healthy, portable, and delicious snacks that will keep you satisfied and energized along the way.
What follows is a list of the best snacks to take on a hike. Regardless of your experience level or the length of your hike, these delicious snacks are perfect for throwing in your bag and enjoying during a well-deserved break.
1. Protein Bars
Protein bars are a classic staple enjoyed by amateur hikers and professional athletes alike. Compact, portable, and calorie-dense, this convenient treat is one of the easiest ways to re-up on much-needed protein, carbs, and sugar. Hikers can choose from a seemingly endless variety of brands and flavors, and even bars with the cleanest ingredient list will usually last years before spoiling. If you’re tight on space, protein bars are the perfect way to pack a ton of essential nutrition into the smallest compartment of your bag or even your pocket. Many varieties of high-calorie protein bars can also function as a meal replacement, making them one of the best snacks for long hikes. We’re big fans of Naked Nutrition’s Protein Bars. (The peanut butter flavor is our favorite!)
Aside from being one of the most satisfying snacks around, cheese is packed with protein, fat, vitamin D, and calcium, all of which are essential for taking care of your bones, muscles, and overall energy levels. Although we tend to refrigerate our cheese to prolong its shelf life, there are actually several delicious varieties that can last in your backpack for weeks, making it a great snack for hikers. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and parmesan, will typically last longer than soft cheeses and are usually less messy and easier to pack. Single-serving cheese products like cheese sticks and Babybel are perfect for enjoying this savory snack in moderation and also offer convenient packaging for throwing in your bag. For an even longer lasting cheese snack, consider bringing along some oven-baked cheese crisps.
Another great protein-rich hiking food is jerky. Classic beef jerky is a favorite among hikers because it is an easy and flavorful way to pack in the protein without sacrificing a ton of backpack space or weight. Jerky comes in a variety of tasty flavors and is even made with a wide variety of ingredients. Depending on your dietary needs and preferences, you may want to opt for a beef-alternative such as bacon jerky, turkey jerky, or even salmon jerky. There are also a few vegan versions available, including mushroom jerky. If you’re going for a meat alternative, just make sure that the jerky still packs enough protein and calories to sustain you on your hike.
Our favorite jerkies are:
4. Fresh Fruit
In addition to making a refreshing and delicious treat, fresh fruits are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for maximizing your hiking performance. Bananas, for example, are portable, filling, and rich in potassium, which is naturally lost from the muscles during physical activity. Replenishing your potassium is important for fighting off cramps and ensuring you can finish off the last leg of your hike. Apples and oranges also make great portable snacks and are good sources of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C.
5. Dried Fruit
In lieu of fresh fruit, dehydrated fruit and fruit snacks such as leathers or gummies are another great food to take on a hike. Dried fruit is often described as a nutritious alternative to candy, and its natural sugar makes it perfect for a quick energy boost. What’s more, dehydrated fruit products are lightweight and nonperishable, so you can grab a bunch for a longer hike without worrying about them rotting or bruising. Amazon has an incredible selection of different dried fruit. Our favorites are dried mangoes, figs, bananas, and pineapple.
Although they might not make it onto everyone’s list of favorite snacks, vegetables are healthy, hydrating, and jam-packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. They also help with digestion, which can prevent any stomach discomfort that might otherwise slow you down. Most vegetables will last in your backpack throughout a day of hiking, and hearty options like carrots and broccoli are especially portable. If you’re craving a little something extra and you have the space for it, pack a small container of hummus to add some healthy fats and protein to an already nutritious snack.
For a high calorie backpacking food, you can’t go wrong with the healthy fat and high protein content of nuts. As a traditional hiking snack, nuts can last in your backpack for several months at a time and consuming them intermittently along a hike is the perfect way to keep your energy up. They are also very compact and versatile and can be flavored with a variety of sweet or savory ingredients, depending on your preference.
8. Nut Butter
Whether you prefer it smooth or chunky, nut butter is definitely one of the best hiking snacks out there. With many of the nutritional benefits of raw nuts, nut butter packs in more calories per volume, which makes it an easy and effective way to refuel during your hike. Almost any nut can be made into butter, so you can enjoy your favorite variety whether you’re picking it up from the grocery store or making it yourself. If you’re concerned that it could be a bit messy to pack, consider checking out some of the single-serving packs of nut butter, which are available in most stores. While it makes a great snack on its own, pairing it with fruits like apples and bananas can make for a scrumptious treat with added nutritional value.
Our favorite nut butters are:
Another classic food for backpacking, granola is typically made from a tasty combination of oats, nuts, and seeds and makes for a delicious treat and a highly effective energy boost. Whether you prefer to enjoy it loose, in bar form, or in bite form, granola is packed with essential nutrients, including iron and fiber. Iron carries oxygen to your muscles and keeps you trekking onward, while fiber offers lasting energy and satisfaction. This versatile snack is super-easy to make at home or find in the store, and regardless of whether you prefer homemade or prepackaged, you’ll have an extensive variety of tasty flavors to choose from.
Our favorite granola brands are:
10. Trail Mix
As its name suggests, trail mix was originally created to be one of the best snacks for hiking. Crafted from varying combinations of nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and granola, this classic snack boasts all of the benefits of its individual components with the added perk of variety. Reaching for trail mix instead of a plain bag of nuts or dried fruits makes for a more balanced combination of fat, protein, carbs, and sugar. Importantly, the salty-sweet combinations are super-pleasing to the palate, and traditional store-bought mixtures often come with enticing pieces of chocolate.
Our favorite trail mixes are:
11. Tuna Pouches
Ready-made packets of tuna are a very efficient source of protein for a hike, and as long as they are unopened, they can last up to three years unrefrigerated. They can serve as both a quick snack or a more substantial meal, and their unrivaled nutritional value combined with their super-long shelf life makes packaged tuna one of the best backpacking foods available. With a variety of flavors to choose from, pouched tuna can be enjoyed completely on its own, or you can throw it into a wrap or onto some crackers for a more satisfying snack. Of course, you can also opt for canned tuna if you have it on hand, but this is a bit of a heavier option, especially if you’ll need to bring along a can-opener.
Our favorite tuna pouches are:
- StarKist Chunk Light Tuna Pouches
- Blue Harbor Fish Co. Wild Albacore Tuna Pouches
- BUMBLE BEE Premium Albacore Tuna Pouches
Cookies may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about healthy snacks for hiking, but depending on which ones you choose, they can actually make a very nutritious treat. Since cookies are one of the harder and denser desserts out there, they’re actually super-easy to pack with nutritious ingredients such as protein powder, nuts, seeds, oats, and dried fruits. There are several health food brands that sell a variety of protein cookies and power cookies, and they’re pretty easy to make at home if you feel like filling them with a custom selection of your favorite ingredients. The extra boost of sugar can also be great for some quick energy or as a reward for finishing up a tough hike. Tate’s Bake Shop makes some incredibly delicious cookies. Our favorite is the Butter Crunch.
If you’re planning on a longer hike, oatmeal could be just the thing you need to keep you going strong. For multiday hikes where you’ll have the opportunity to boil some water, instant oatmeal packets make a delicious hot breakfast or a quick and hearty snack. Packed with fiber and slow-burning carbs, oatmeal is a very effective snack for sustainable energy and is often hailed as one of the best foods for hiking. If you’re embarking on a shorter hike and you have the space to spare, you might also consider packing a thermos of hot water to whip up the oats on the go. Enjoy them plain or throw in some fruit, nuts, trail mix, or nut butter for a bit of added protein and flavor. Quaker is by far the most popular oatmeal brand and one of our favorites.
Although they’re great on their own, crackers have earned their spot on this list for being the perfect companion to some of the best hiking snacks around. Pair them with your pouched tuna, cheese, or nut butter for some extra crunch and added satisfaction. They’re easy to store, shelf-stable, and packed with carbs for some quick energy. You can also choose crackers that are made with whole grains, seeds, and nut flours for some added nutrition and sustainable energy.
15. Roasted Beans
Last but certainly not least, roasted beans make good hiking snacks for those looking for something savory, crunchy, and satisfying. Beans are rich in protein and high in fiber, which keeps you satisfied and sustained even through long hikes. Chickpeas, edamame, and cannellini beans are popular candidates for roasting and can be seasoned with just about anything you’d like. This delicious snack is simple, quick, and easy to make at home, and there are also several store-bought options for grabbing on the go.
There you have it, the best snacks to take on a hike. Whether you’re hiking along a beginner’s loop or taking on a strenuous mountain trek, any combination of these hiking foods is sure to keep you at your best while you’re on the trail.