Satisfy Your Hiking-Induced Hunger With 8 of Our Favorite Trail Snacks
From salty treats to semi-sweets, stay energized on the trail with our favorite adventure-worthy eats
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Strip away the backpacks, water bottles, hiking boots and gear, and all that’s left is you. When it comes to spending time on the trail, your body requires a constant supply of calories that only the best trail snacks can provide. But ‘trail snacks’ is such an arbitrary term. Some of us (myself included) would argue a slice of leftover birthday cake is a snack. Others prefer foods that don’t transition well from the pantry to the path ahead.
The foods you choose to bring on the trail will vary. From taste preferences to dietary restrictions, only you understand your body’s wants and needs. But despite our physiological differences, your trail food should meet a list of criteria. It should be high in nutritional value, calorie-dense, easy to prepare and damn tasty.
After hiking (and eating) for miles on end, we’ve rounded up the best trail snacks available today. Some cater to vegans and others satisfy a sweet tooth for moments when a pick-me-up is necessary. To find your soon-to-be favorite source of nourishment, read on.
The Best Trail Snacks
Former ski bum Kate Schade was always on the move between long days on the slopes and late nights waiting tables. After searching far and wide for a healthy energy bar, she surrendered only to form Kate’s Real Food. Among the Idaho-based brand’s many bars and bites, our favorite is the Grizzly Bar — a peanut butter and dark chocolate bar with raisins, almonds, apricots and seeds. Kate’s bars are organic and feature only nine ingredients, with enough energy to support a few more miles on the trail (each bar contains two servings). Pick up a bar, or grab a pack.
Good To-Go’s dehydrated foods are some of our favorite in an industry that’s prone to preparing dull fare. Though the Maine-based company is known for creating meal-worthy portions, we love the simplicity of the single-serving granola. Featuring whole grains, figs and blueberries, all you need is some water (hot or cold) to prepare this snack for the trail. Other yummy fillers include raw pumpkin seeds, pecans, flax seeds and honey to give this dish a hint of sweetness. Crafted by award-winning chef Jennifer Scism, you won’t find tastier dehydrated granola in such a hiker-friendly form.
When you put a professional triathlete, U.S. runner and marathoner together, you get Picky Bars. Designed to bridge the gap between performance bars and real food bars, Lauren’s Mega Nuts Bar was the flavor that started it all for this Oregon-based brand. Featuring six grams of plant protein, the bar’s 190 calories are more than enough to provide a boost of energy. Ingredients include dates, peanuts, apricots, semisweet chips, pumpkin seeds and far too many others to list here. For those with dietary restrictions, the bar is also gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and GMO-free.
Once upon a time, the best trail snacks were nothing more than homemade fruit bars, but these days we can add the same fuel to our drinks for on-the-go energy. With flavors like Tropical Buzz and Mandarin Orange, Tailwind builds replenishing fuel packs that combine with water in seconds. The flavors are light and easy on your stomach, making them a perfect option in the midst of activity. Each pack contains 200 calories alongside essential electrolytes and sugars. To find a flavor that suits you, we recommend picking up a variety pack.
If we’re being honest, Clif Bars aren’t a great source of energy for activity despite what you see on the wrappers. But because the brand is synonymous with the outdoors, we feel compelled to recommend at least one bar as part of our roundup. Among the five Clif Bars nutritionists actually recommend, the peanut butter-filled Nut Bar is our preferred choice. In addition to seven grams of protein, there’s no soy and low levels of carbs and sugar. It also boasts whole ingredients (rolled oats, oat flour, peanut butter) as its first three ingredients on the list, which is always a great sign when searching for a healthy trail snack.
GoMacro bars are some of the highest quality breakfast bars on the market today. They contain fewer than ten ingredients, all of which are recognizable and organic, not to mention vegan, gluten- and soy-free. The only real downside is the price, but it’s nice to know there’s a tasty breakfast bar in this world that isn’t filled with unknown ingredients. For a sweet treat on the trail, we recommend the peanut butter chocolate chip flavor that’s high in protein and iron. Snag them in a pack to pay less per bar.
Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix
If you’re the type of person who can’t decide what you want to eat until you’ve seen it, head to the snack aisle at the nearest Trader Joe’s. There you’ll find an assortment of trail-worthy snacks for the adventure ahead, including our favorite trail mix, Omega Trek Mix. The mix includes a blend of omega-rich nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios, as well as dried cranberries to add some additional flavor. Trader Joe’s sells this healthy snack in individual bags for countless outdoor occasions, but we recommend picking up a large 12-ounce bag to bring wherever you go.
Time and again, oats return as one of the best trail snacks, but homemade oat recipes aren’t always easy to follow. When all we need is a simple serving, we reach for Bobo’s Original Oat Bar. It actually tastes homemade and features very few ingredients, some of which are organic. It’s also vegan, gluten-free and low in sugar, so you’re not digesting a large serving of artificial sweeteners on the trail. The only downside is the lack of protein — with only three grams per serving it can’t really satiate your hunger, but the bar is technically divided into two servings, and it’s not like you’re only going to eat half.
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