By Kim Pierce, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
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Depending on the duration and difficulty of your hike, you’ll want to consider two different types of hiking snacks: slow burning energy and quick energy snacks.
Slow Burning Energy Snacks
Slow burning energy snacks for hiking consist of carbohydrate, fiber and protein. This type of snack will help to curb your hunger for a several hours as well as help you achieve your daily calorie, carbohydrate and protein goals.
Examples of carbohydrate-rich hiking snacks:
- Bars – Belvita, Kind, Kashi, Bear Naked
- Cereal – Kashi, Cheerios, Chex
- Crackers – Goldfish, Triscuits, Kashi
- Honey wheat pretzels
- Applesauce pouches
- Dried fruit
Examples of protein-rich hiking snacks:
- Organic jerky
- Tuna and salmon packets
- Nut butter pouches/packets – peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter
- Cheese sticks
- Nut bars – Kind, Kashi
Examples of combination hiking snacks:
- Homemade trail mix – dried fruit, shaved coconut, assortment of nuts and cereal
- Store bought trail mix – PowerUp
- Fruit and nut bars – Larabar
- Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter) sandwich
Tips for Creating Your Own Long Burning Energy Snack Combinations:
Combine sources of carbohydrate and protein from the lists above –
- Kind fruit bar and a packet of nuts such as cocoa almonds
- Belvita bar topped with nut butter
- Triscuits with a tuna or salmon packet
- Goldfish crackers and a cheese stick
- Dried fruit and a handful of nuts or several pieces of jerky
- Applesauce pouch and a nut bar
Quick Energy Snacks
Quick energy snacks for hiking will help prevent you from “hitting the wall”, “bonking”, or “crashing”. Most hikers have experienced this at some point in their hiking careers and it’s not a pleasant experience. These snacks provide a source of simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) and can oftentimes contain electrolytes. Quick energy snacks help you continue at optimal performance while maintaining blood sugars for hikes greater than one hour. Note: Be aware that some quick energy snacks contain caffeine. It is up to the individual to determine if caffeine is beneficial while hiking.
Examples of Quick Energy Snacks:
Examples of Kid Friendly Quick Energy Snacks:
For loads of snack recipes, check out our Pinterest board
Putting it all together
Personally, I like to bring a combination of snacks from both the long burning energy and quick energy snack options listed above. For times when I do not plan on stopping to eat a meal, I may grab an energy chew or fruit snack that I can easily consume while hiking. I typically bring a bar, trail mix and a sandwich for longer hikes when we do plan on making a few stops. Additionally, consider the amount of space you have when packing a snack. Storage space available may also play a role in which snacks to bring as well as the quantity.
To determine which snacks fuel your body best while hiking, try different snacks on various hikes to see how your body feels after consuming each snack. The type and duration of the hike will help you decide which snacks to choose.
There’s one more thing not to forget – Proper Hydration
Proper hydration while hiking is just as important as consuming proper snacks. I always carry a water bottle, hydration bladder such as a Camelbak, or both with me depending on how long I’ll be out. Check out dietitian Marisa Michael’s post about hydration at altitude and dietitian Briana Bruinoodge’s post about what to drink in hot weather for additional tips for staying hydrated.
New to our blog?
Here are a few more posts that you might find helpful while preparing for hiking adventures.
Disclaimer: This is general nutrition advice and you should talk with your physician before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes. Always check nutrition labels and ingredient lists to make sure food items will work for you.
About the Author:
Kim Pierce, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, The Outdoors Dietitian, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. She counsels individuals and athletes on proper nutrition to fuel their bodies for outdoor activities. Kim is a lifelong ice hockey player, cyclist, hiker, and lover of the outdoors. You can follow Kim on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at Outdoors Dietitian.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN). (2016). Fact Sheet: Eating During Exercise