There are tons of articles out there detailing the best gear for hikes and the best tips for hikes, but for a good hike, though, you also need healthy hiking snacks.When you’re out there on the trail, your body exerts a lot of energy. It’s crucial to keep it fueled so that you can keep yourself energized and moving, no matter how far the winding path takes you. Now’s not the time to skimp on healthy fats, complex carbs and salt.
When you find that perfect spot to stop in, to catch your breath, to take in the view and to feed your rumbling tummy, having the perfect snack makes it all worthwhile. I made the terrible mistake one too many times thinking that basic trail mix would suffice. Mainly because I didn’t want to carry anything heavy and didn’t realize how hungry you can get after a few hours in the heat heading uphill.
If you’re looking for a few good healthy snacks for hikers to take along on your next hike and you’re unsure what to pack for your next outdoor escapade, than here are some of the best hiking snacks to bring along that will make your snack breaks almost as enjoyable as the trail.
We can’t leave vegetables off this list. They may be the thing you avoided on your plate when you were a kid, but Vegetables have great health benefits that boost immunity and help digestion. When packing your veggies, choose heartier ones like carrots, celery and broccoli that can withstand long periods without refrigeration. You can also bring along cucumbers, which are mostly water and will help keep you hydrated. Add a little hummus for added protein to any of these options, and you’ve got a powerhouse snack for your hike.
The bottom line. Granola is a nutritious, filling cereal. Rolled oats, nuts and a little bit of sweetness — there are so many things to love about granola. It’s easy to find, full of flavor and won’t go bad no matter how long your hike lasts. Store-bought granola tends to hold a lot of extra ingredients you don’t need. Make your own granola at home by toasting rolled oats and mixing with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Use brown sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup to sweeten.
This protein-packed treat has been a favorite among hikers for years. Not only is it delicious and easy to pack, but it also helps refuel the muscles that you’ve been using and the protein can help to keep your blood sugar at healthy levels during your trip. It’s got tons of flavor, but it’s also got lots of dehydrating sodium. So a small serving is fine, but don’t over-pack. You’ll end up wasting all of your water on replenishing yourself from your snack.
Tuna & Goldfish
Tuna is one of those magical non-perishable miracle snacks. I can guess what you’re thinking. Fish on the trail? But bring a can of easy open unsalted tuna and a bag of Goldfish and yes, eat them together. Pretend you’re an adult and that the tuna is caviar and the Goldfish is a fancy cracker. Period!
Fresh or Dried Fruits
Fruit, with its naturally occurring sugars and an extra dose of hydration, will always make the perfect snack for any occasion. Fruit, especially dried fruit, they are a good source of natural carbs and taste good. You can always opt for energy-dense dried fruit like raisins, craisins, banana chips or apple chips.
If you are going to bring fresh fruit on a hike I would recommend something like an apple or orange because they will hold up better in a backpack than something like strawberries or grapes. May I suggest cutting up your favorite fruit and mixing it with a little cinnamon or cayenne pepper for an added kick?
It should come as no surprise, but proper eating and drinking the day of, and even a couple of days before, a hike can impact whether you have an enjoyable time or whether you hit a wall on the trail.
Not all calories are created equal. According to the American Heart Association, the main fuel for your muscles comes from carbohydrates. Select easily digestible carbohydrates to eat before exercise so you don’t feel sluggish. The act of hiking can suppress your appetite, so plan to feed yourself anyway as calories play an important role in regulating body temperature.
What To Eat Before a Hike
Carbs are key. For a short morning hike, fuel yourself with a light breakfast like eggs, whole grain non-sugary cereal or oatmeal. Other pre-day hike food ideas include whole-wheat toast, low-fat yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.
What To Eat After a Hike
When picking your after-hike meal, look for options with protein and complex sugars. It could be a quick energy bar snack in the car, a packed meal left in a car cooler or a meal at your favorite restaurant on the way home. No matter the source, it’s advised to refuel within one hour of your hike.
From maple bacon chocolate bars to oat and fruit squeezes to crunch popcorn, food technology has increased over the last few years, resulting in many new snack options.
Pre-hike, try to drink about 20-32 ounces of water. Avoid hitting the trail if you haven’t pre-hydrated. Once your hike has begun, plan to drink another 32 ounces for every two miles hiked, give or take. Take frequent, small sips—even before you feel thirsty. And don’t forget about your furry friend! If you hike with man’s best friend, make sure to bring along a second supply of water and container for your pup to drink from.
As a simple rule, if you’re only drinking water when you’re thirsty, you’re already behind.
As appealing as a summit beer may sound, save any alcohol consumption (or sodas, tea, coffee, etc.) until after you’ve finished the hike and have replenished food and water levels. To replenish your water levels, drink at least 8 ounces immediately after your hike. Alcohol and beverages with high caffeine levels can have adverse effects when trying to stay hydrated.