So you're planning to hit the trails all day. It will require every drop of energy you have. You need to be properly fueled. On the other hand, you don't want to lug around a grocery store's inventory worth of food. So what are the best snacks for a day hike?
Hiking can require a ton of energy. And it burns a ton of energy, too. That energy needs to be properly replenished as efficiently as possible.
Maybe you're pressed for time. Perhaps you're not the iron chef of homemade cooking. No worries. This list is just for you.
If you want a quick answer, these are my picks for the best snacks for a day hike:
|PB & Banana Sandwich||1 Sandwich||431||18.2g||57g||16.5g|
|Dry Roasted Peas||1/4 cup||120||3g||18g||7g|
|Beef Jerky||1 cup||369||23g||10g||30g|
|Turkey Jerky||1 cup||281||2.7g||18g||47g|
|Trail Mix||1 cup||706||46.6g||65.6g||20.7g|
How To Pick The Best Snacks For A Day Hike
Since a day hike typically involves being out for at least a few hours, it's important to make sure you bring the right types of snacks.
Foods that are easily perishable when not refrigerated just won't do. The best option for hiking snacks is going to be foods that are dry and don't need to be chilled.
In essence, you can bring perishable food. The downside to this is you're going to have to haul around a cooler, which will add some more weight to your adventure. And added, unneeded weight is like doing extra work for no extra credit.
Planning Calorie Needs
For an average adult weighing 160 lbs (~72.5kg), hiking typically burns around 430 calories per hour. That's a pretty hefty energy requirement.
If you are hiking for three hours, you will quickly torch through roughly 1,290 calories. If you're a lean eater, that's at least a couple of dishes of food. But a couple of dishes crammed into your backpack just won't do. We want to travel light and still fulfill our energy requirements whilst ensuring we're consuming the right nutrients.
Likewise, taking high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like potato chips and similar foods is one way of fulfilling calorie needs, it's a terrible idea to through a bunch of un-balanced foods into your system for such a physically demanding hike.
Before you jump into the list of snacks, take a second to consider how long you plan on hiking and the calories you'll need.
Trust me, the last thing you want to do is make the beginner hiking mistakes I did and go through a hike utterly drained.
For the sake of cleanliness, these day-hike snacks will each have a calorie count and macronutrient information, too.
Remember: it's important to not only eat during a day hike but eat right.
Now, let's take a look at the snacks needed for a long hike. This list is meant to be light and compact, saving you food prep-time and backpack space for your journey, while still effectively delivering energy for those long day hikes.
Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich
A peanut butter & banana sandwich is an absolute staple in my hiking snack pantry.
You get a healthy dishing of good fats, a killer boost of energy from the carbs, and the essential muscle-building blocks of protein.
My favorite thing about this snack, perhaps, is it's compact and carries about 431 calories—that's enough for an entire hour of heavy hiking.
Tiny but mighty, raisins pack all kinds of healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They're like sweet energy capsules and they're very easy to bring along. For example, 1 small box of raisins pack 129 calories.
What makes raisins a great hiking snack, too, is that they're pretty carb-heavy (34g per serving), which is a great energy source for long hikes. Seriously, how do those tiny things contain that many carbs!?
Raisins do, however, contain quite a bit of sugar, so it's best to use them in moderation.
Dry Roasted Peas
I'll come clean: there's a big, personal reason why I put dried roasted peas on this list of hiking snacks. Years ago I was on a particularly challenging hike and got to the point where I thought I was going to have to call it quits.
My buddy had a package of these and told me to eat some. "Nonsense," I thought. "How are peas going to help me?".
Needless to say, within about 20 minutes I was spry and alert and subsequently conquered the hike with no issues.
They're bite-sized, easy to pack, and contain a decent amount of carbs to keep you going. Dry roasted peanuts are also a great hiking snack because you can munch on 'em as you go. No need to sit down or make special preparations.
Beef or Turkey Jerky
Jerky is the epitome of a hiking snack. And it's nice to know that not all enjoyable snacks are bad for you. It's chewy, salty, and tasty. Fun to eat, and easy to snack on.
Whether you prefer beef or turkey, each is a rich source of protein and low in carbs, perfect for balancing out the other items on this list.
If you're looking to eat a little more lean, turkey jerky is a good alternative to beef jerky. It has slightly fewer calories, far less fat, slightly higher carbs, and tons more protein.
There are several store-bought brands of jerky you can stuff into your backpack for a hiking trip, which makes it easily accessible before you hit the road for your trail.
This crunchy and salty delight is another go-to hiking snack of mine.
Unfortunately, pretzels aren't the best if you're looking to eat lean. They do, however, contain a lot of salt, which is great for aiding the replenishment of electrolytes.
Who can resist crunching down on a snack that's also satisfying to taste?
Almonds are a must-have for me. Not only are they a great hiking snack, but they're also awesome if you're looking to use hiking to build muscle.
Scooping out 1/4 of a cup of almonds hits you with a lot of healthy fat, and some pretty balanced carbs and protein.
Another great thing about almonds is they pack a ton of calories for their size. A couple of cups of almonds is great to bring for an extended hike. Don't let their small size fool you, though: almonds are quite filling, and that's what makes them a great choice for a hiking snack.
Trail Mix — The King Of Snacks For A Day Hike
Trail mix continues to be a pillar in hiking snacks for a very good reason: it's heavy in calories and is fairly balanced in nutrients.
Easily acquired, trail mix is a pretty common item to find in most places. And, if you fancy a DIY approach, it's very easy to make homemade trail mix, too.
Trail mix is typically composed of nuts, chocolate, granola, and dried fruit.
Packing a whopping 700+ calories per cup, trail mix is sure to keep you going for those long hiking journeys.
If you expect to lose a lot of sweat on your hike, trail mix also contains a huge amount of potassium, magnesium, and sodium, too, which is excellent for replenishing electrolytes and fighting off hydration issues that water alone won't fix.
Best Snacks For A Day Hike
Regardless of what snacks you choose, be sure to always plan your nutrition needs accordingly.
Be sure you know how much water to bring for a day hike, and always make sure you're listening to your body. If you feel hungry, dizzy, or faint then stop to take a break and fill yourself up.
Proper nutrition on a hike isn't just important for energy, it's important for growth and recovery, too.
Eating the right foods during and after a hike is a surefire way to aid your body's recovery and muscle growth, ensuring you adapt properly and make those future hikes easier.