Looking for a little extra energy on your next hike? Check out these 6 healthy snack ideas that are portable as well as tasty!
Now that you’ve had an energizing breakfast and have started your trek into the forest, let’s talk about keeping your body properly fueled. Depending on how long your hike is, you may not even need any snacks. For a typical day hike that takes less than 2 hours to get to the top (or to the halfway point if you’re doing a loop), I find that a packed lunch – and lots of water – suffice. However, if you’re going out for an all-day expedition (looking at you Coloradans hiking 14’ers) and especially if you are on a multi-day backpacking trip, it’s a good idea to bring along a couple snacks that don’t require refrigeration.
In general, a good hiking snack should be around 100-250 calories, 15-30 grams of carbohydrate, and also pack in some healthy fat and protein for long-lasting energy. Any while sugar definitely provides energy, go with healthier sources of the sweet stuff like dates or dark chocolate.
- While trail mix is a classic hiker’s snack (we’ll talk more about it below), it can be difficult to keep your portions in check. Instead, date balls are a great pre-portioned way to get your sweet and salty fix. Plus there are tons of flavor combination possibilities, such as Oatmeal Cookie Dough, Matcha Green Tea, Snickerdoodle, or Brownie Batter.
- However, if you’re really craving trail mix, make it nutritious and not like a bag of Halloween candy. My go-to ingredients for a healthy trail mix are nuts (usually a combo of cashews, almonds, and peanuts – all unsalted), raisins and/or dried cherries, and popcorn. Yup, popcorn is the best trick to keeping trail mix from becoming overly caloric as it provides volume and texture with less calories. Looking for a little sweetness? I personally like to use Skinny Pop Kettle Corn, but you could also throw in dark chocolate (just be careful about it melting if you’re hiking somewhere warm!).
- Fruit can be tricky hiking as you don’t want anything that can bruise easily (I’m looking at you bananas). Take a note from soccer games and pack yourself an orange (or a couple of clementine’s) plus a round of laughing cow cheese, which is usually fine being unrefrigerated for a couple hours especially if it isn’t too hot out.
- While I never thought I would be recommending beef jerky as I always think of the stuff sold at gas stations, there are actually some good brands out there now. One in particular that I like is Tanka – they use a combination of bison meat and cranberries to provide a natural source of protein and sweetness. If you’re a jerky lover, be sure to read your nutrition label well – both for ingredients as well as to make sure you aren’t chewing on a sodium bomb.
- Revert back to your childhood and pack ½ a PB&J (or H). A peanut butter sandwich can be a healthy snack with some easy changes to the classic. First, start with a slice of whole grain or sprouted grain bread. Spread with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut or almond butter and 1 tablespoon of no-sugar added fruit jelly or a tablespoon of honey if you aren’t a jelly fan. Vola! Carbs, fiber, protein, and fat in a quick and easy package!
- If you have room in your pack for a small Tupperware container, a homemade, whole wheat muffin makes for a tasty, fiber-filled treat. Just be sure what you’re packing is a muffin and not a cupcake in disguise 😉 While there are a bunch of great healthy muffin recipes out there, I have a soft spot for my Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins as well as these Chocolate Banana Muffins (vegan friendly).
So here’s a toast to keeping it healthy on the hiking trails!