The Very Best Hiking Snacks For Energy

Have you ever wondered which Trail food will give you the best bang for buck on your hikes? This is a question that to be raised a few times by friends and colleagues of mine. There are many onflicting views about which food they should be taking on the hikes? I’ve done a bit of research and combined the findings with my own personal experience garnered over the course of 30 years to produce this post is based on a combination of personal experience and research. Without further ado here is my top 20 list of the best hiking snacks you can cram into your backpack.

The core ideas we’re going to discuss in this post don’t exactly fit into the fitness. But carbs and proteins are essential to any expedition you embark on. Knowing how many calories are burned hiking is great. What’s more important is where those calories come from.

Before we leap into this post I would like to dispel a few crazy ideas about the kinds of foods some people think they should take hiking expeditions.

Sugar In Your Diet Is Bad For You

Could sugar be one of the best hiking snacks you can pack in your lunchbox?
Sugar! It’s the new Satan, or is it?

This ‘fact’ is something most us already know, particularly if, like me, you have a bit of a sugar craving. As you probably noticed that the more sugar you consume the more padding you tend to carry around your waist. Ironically, eating too much sugar can cause you to experience a small amount of weight loss – when your teeth fall out! This is not the kind of weight loss that vast majority of people are seeking!

Now shift focus back to the point of this post (hiking and nutrition) and it’s easy to argue that sugar can be useful in small quantities. As a source of immediate energy, or a quick hit, it’s a great way to give you a boost. If you looking for something that slowly releases energy over time, then sugar should never be considered. Sugar is not always the enemy of the fit.

Fat Is Not Bad For You

First let’s make a distinction between the types of fat we can eat: some fats, like mononsaturtates (the type that clog up your arteries), are very bad for you. That said they can be consumed in moderation. I found certain types of “bad “facts that should be rather useful as a source of energy on my longer expeditions.

Fatty products have been a precious source of energy for many people living at the fringes of normal society. Let me explain. Go to northern Canada, or Alaska, and look at the traditional diet of the Inuit people. Your find that the bulk of their nutritional requirements and sources of nutrition come from a mix of fat and protein. In my mind if it’s good enough for the Inuit it’s good enough for me. I’m not going to delve into the exact science of fat. If you want to know you can check out this factsheet

So here’s my ever growing list of food to add to your trail mix…

Nuts

Top of the list and for good reason to. Not so great source of nutrition and essential oils and fats which is why the number one on my list of the best snacks for your hikes. It’s true that eating too many nuts isn’t helpful if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, but this isn’t something that you should be so concerned about went hiking. You’re gonna be burning a lot of calories so you need to put a lot of calories in.

Cheese

I love cheese, what’s not to love about it (unless you’re a vegan)? Dairy products are full of fats, proteins and vitamin D. There is a poor part of our diets (I’m not gonna get into any arguments about vegetarian options, et cetera et cetera). Our children have been raised on dairy products, such as cheese spread and milk.

The vitamin D found in dairy products is an essential ingredient for strong healthy bones. You need that strength to support the muscles your body will need to make your hiking easy and efficient.

Salami

Salami is a relatively new addition to my list of the best trail rations. To be precise I first added meat to my snack bag about four years ago. This tip came from Eric Phillips, seasoned expedition leader and owner of Ice Treks. And I’m glad of his advice – I love salami, in particular the delicious and welcome break it gives from eating freeze dried food.

Salami is high in protein and fat. Like cheese it supplies the vital elements your need for any kind of arduous event. Again, don’t be too concerned about the fat content as your body will soon burn it off.

Dried fruit

More appealing to vegetarians, dried fruit is awesome and a great source of Vitamins B and C as well as being an excellent source of simple sugar. More nutrients can be derived from food such as cheese and salami, but only if they fit with you dietary preferences.

One of the real bonuses of adding dried fruit to your trail rations is that the energy is slowly. Unlike sugar which gives you an immediate hit and boost of energy, dried fruit drip feeds to the energy over a longer period of time. This is what I mean by slow release energy.

Chocolate

Yes, chocolate is full of sugar. It’s also a great way to boost your morale on a long hike. An important part of activities such as trekking and through hiking is knowing how to maintain your morale. I use chocolate sparingly… Okay, I eat a lot of chocolate on my trips, but it’s mixed in with a more than healthy dose of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

For me chocolate is pretty much a must have addition in my food bag. On those long, tiring legs of your route it’s reassuring to know that a morale booster is at the end of your fingertips. Nibbling on the chunks of fruit and nut chocolate bar in my trial rations when I crossed Greenland was a glorious experience.

Biscuits

To be precise, oaty biscuits. But pick your choice of biscuit with care as many brands are little more than densely packed sugar bomb! And brand with a high percentage of foods such as oatmeal will supply you with the slow energy release you’ll need to power your body through the day.

My favourite biscuits are McVities Hobnobs, which are both delicious and absolutely crammed full of oats. Other options include Bixit biscuits. I haven’t tried the latter of these two although they do come highly recommended by international polar guide Audun Tholfoson.

Porridge oats

But not just pull any old porridge oats, these come with a twist. Fact: porridge is an amazing source a slow release energy. And you can ramp up the calories and nutrition from each bowl by adding a few simple ingredients. Some of the ingredients might make you want to dash for the toilet bowl, but give them a chance. I’ve eaten all of the below with porridge and loved every spoonful.

Here’s a selection of goodies you can throw in with your porridge oats to give your morning meal some extra bang: chocolate powder (an obvious one), cheese (don’t vomit, you’ll never tasted if you put enough chocolate powder on top), salami (you’re really need lots of chocolate powder on top of it for this to hide the taste of this)… Basically, you can add as much extra ingredients as you want in order to ramp up the energy available from your porridge breakfast. Then add a huge quantity of chocolate powder to mask the tase.

And I never said it would look good!

Bacon

Good old strips of fried pig! Bacon, especially the streaky type, is amazing source of both protein and fats. Cooking it on the go might not be an option for you so I recommend frying up a batch before you leave and carrying it in an airtight container.

This option works better in cold environments, not recommended for the tropics or anywhere where food might perish really quickly and make you incredibly ill.

Honey

Another amazing source of energy, honey releases energy slowly over time. Unlike sugar, you don’t get an initial hit from honey. I like to add it to both my breakfast and into my hot drinks at the end of the day. If nothing else it’s a great pick me up and tastes delicious. Honey has to be one of the very best hiking snacks nature every devised.

Condensed Milk

This one is a bit of an acquired taste, if you like it you like it. If not, don’t go there. Condensed milk has many virtues which make it a great source of nutrition for hikers. It has a high fat content. It’s also that means it is stacked full of carbohydrates, the energy source you need for your long walks.

It’s also high in sugar content. I know that kind of trail foods you’re after release energy slowly over time, but it’s good to have the extra bit of sweetness in your coffee at the end of the day.

Another useful feature of condensed milk is that it doesn’t go off… Well, it does eventually, after about 400 years! What I mean is that this type of milk has a very long life. If you’re feeling brave it can also be drunk on its own. I recommend dunking a whole load of chocolate powder in there before you do you drink it. 

Snack And Trek Bars

Breakfast and cereal bars of been around for years and years. The earliest incarnations were quite simply another form of candy or sweetie bar packed full of sugar which, the manufacturers told us, would fuel a ninja on a thousand missions! Sadly this is rubbish. They were nothing more than a fast track to toothless future i.e you would become your dentists new best friend!

In more recent times those breakfast bars morphed into products that could reasonably claim to be a good option for hikers needing a decent amount of protein and carbs from a snack. The problem with most offerings is they don’t taste so great.

In most cases I tend to break up my snack bar and mix it with something that will disguise the taste… like chocolate. There are a few companies making great tasting trail bars. One example, Trek bar made by Natural Balance Foodshas been my go to snack for the past few years.

Noodles (Ramen to Some)

Pot Noodle - foul invention, or candidate for the best hiking snack?
Pot Noodle – foul invention, or candidate for the best hiking snack?

Noodles are the ultimate hiking food! The great thing about Ramen, or noodles as we call them in the UK, is that you can eat them in camp and on the go. Preparing your noodles and a campsite is pretty easy: heat thewater, tip the noodles in and cook until ready. Serve with a delicious sauce, or bacon. Yummy

If you fancy eating noodles on the trail you could use this simple trick I learned a few years ago. You need a cup that retains the heat and can be sealed efficiently. I recommend something like the Primus Relags food container. Before you set off on your hike put your noodles into the cup and pour in a very small amount of boiling water. This will soften the noodles over the course of the day. I like to eat my noodles at lunchtime which is when I pause for a long break. Pour some boiling water from a flask onto your noodles, wait10 minutes and then eat. Delicious and great boost halfway through your hike.

Help Make This The Very Best Hiking Snacks Guide

They have it, 13 foods you can add to your trail rations. I’d like to make the best hiking snacks guide on the web. The food you see on this list is based on my personal experience. I’m sure that many of you out there also have some amazing ideas and recipes it could be added to the mix, quite literally. So please do add your thoughts in the comments below, or email me, and I’ll add them to this list. Thank you and until next time, happy trails.