Hikers may differ in their approach, some move briskly on the trails and some are more leisurely, but there’s one thing that all hikers share: they need the fuel to keep going – preferably in the form of snacks that are a breeze to make, lightweight to carry, and packed with nutrition – not just sugar.
Try these make-ahead portable options next time you set out. They’re packable, convenient, and tasty – and they’ll give you the energy to tackle the trails.
One key item that should always be on your list: water – an absolute must. For a day hike, hydrate before you set out and make sure you pack at least 2L of H2O per person (plus an extra liter for each 4-5 miles you’ll be hiking).
For a day hike, pack fruit for a healthy snack that will also provide some hydration. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes – any fresh fruit that can be eaten as finger food makes an easy, no-prep, handy, and healthy snack full of vitamins and nutrients. They may be heavier than dehydrated versions, but the extra weight will be worth carrying for the hydration they provide (and should be relatively insignificant for a short day-hike). Not to mention, you have to carry your garbage, so something that decomposes well or leaves no garbage is always a plus.
Spiced Nuts or Seeds
If your tastes are more savory than sweet, spiced nuts, seeds or legumes are a tasty and easy way to get protein on-the-go. This is definitely DIY territory; store-bought mixes are generally high in sodium, which can easily lead to dehydration, even on a shorter hike. For tons of flavor without the salt, try combining some raw nuts and seeds (i.e., almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds) with a variety of unsalted spices (i.e. cayenne, allspice, anise, dried rosemary), drizzle with raw honey and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 325 degrees F on a non-stick baking sheet until lightly toasted.
Fruit & Nut Bars or Protein Balls
Combining the vitamins, nutrients and natural sweetness of dried fruit with the power of protein, fruit and nut snacks (like this dark chocolate version) are an excellent choice for portable, nutritious energy. Be mindful of portion sizes though, and always be sure to hydrate.
It’s a classic for a reason! Homemade trail mixes are an excellent choice for refueling on a hike. Like fruit and nut bars, they’re a tasty way to get protein (for energy) and fiber (to keep you fuller, longer) without the added sugars of store-bought mixes. If you must include sweets, skip chocolate candies and opt for dark or bittersweet chocolate chips to get more of the nutritional benefits and to prevent a sugar-crash down the road.
Homemade Granola Bars
Yes, they’re a bit more work than store-bought – but so worth it. Not only can you customize them to feature your favorite flavors and ingredients, but you can control the sugar-content and avoid unnecessary additives and preservatives. Prepare them the night before and individually wrap them in parchment paper or waxed paper for simple snacking with minimal waste to carry back.
With the right snacks, prepping for a hike can be as easy and straightforward as the downhill trek home. Happy trails!