When it comes to backpacking trips, you need to maintain your energy source with calorie-dense snacks. You should plan on having a few snacks per day spaced between your backpacking meals. Being properly hydrated and eating nutritious backpacking food are the two single most important factors when it comes to hiking.
Choosing food high in carbs and protein while low in sugar provide you the best energy. Here some of the better backpacking meals to enjoy on your next adventure.
Classic Trail Mix
The most common snack to carry for backpacking food is trail mix. Several varieties of premade mixtures are easily found in grocery stores. However, many people choose to make their own mix as it saves money and can be customized to your preference. It is also popular for hiking because it is portable and doesn’t matter if it melts as it molds back together once it cools.
The classic trail mix is typically a combination of raisins, peanuts, and M&Ms. Salty nuts are generally used in trail mix as they replenish electrolytes lost due to the sweating. Raisins are found in many combinations of mixes as they are packed with fiber and potassium. They are found to reduce blood sugar improving blood control as well as decrease inflammation. Also, M&Ms have found their way into most trail mixes because the candy shells prevent from melting.
Tropical Trail Mix
A tropical mix is a very common variation with an assortment of dried fruits and nuts. These normally include banana chips, papaya, raisins, pineapple, coconut, dates, Brazilian nuts, walnuts, soybeans and more. Dried fruit is packed with fibre, antioxidants, and micronutrients.
Also, they offer similar benefits as fresh fruits offer. however, unlike dried fruits, fresh fruits are heavier, bruises easily, and can spoil. Drink plenty of water, for it is needed to make up for the extracted water.
Cereal Trail Mix
Chex mix is one of the most common cereal mixes which include Chex, pretzels, granola, and dark chocolate. Though some avoid mixes which include chocolate as they tend to increase the sugar content, dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and helps lower blood pressure. However, other hard cereals are common when making trail-mix such as cheerios, life, and toasted oats. Trail mix is easily stored in small ziplock bags.
Easily digestible small chewy snacks gaining in popularity are energy chews. These take on the texture of gummy products but offer higher amounts of carbs. Also, similar to energy bars these chews are calorically dense providing energy for long periods of time. Along with energy bars, these are high in sugar content. Additionally, choosing between these and energy bars comes down to a person’s preference for texture and taste as they offer similar benefits.
Backpacking Food- Jerky
All dried meats are highly recommended for backpacking foods. They are high in protein, non-perishable, and easy to pack. Beef jerky was rated as the ideal hiking food from the U.S. administration of agriculture. Not to be confused with a slim jim found in convenient stores but sliced real beef jerky found in the deli. They are extremely lightweight and contain a good balance of fats and carbs.
Backpacking Food – Granola
Whether it be straight granola, granola bars, or a granola mixture found in trail mix, this is one of the greatest backpacking foods to include. Granola oats are calorie-dense and offer a high amount of iron and fibre. Granola by itself is one of the more savory snacks and goes well mixed with foods like oatmeal in the morning.
Some of the densest and most flavorful backpacking foods are energy bars. For the more athletic hikers who want to build muscle, protein bars cram as much protein into a bar as possible. Rx Bars, Cliff, and Pure Protein are common brands that make these bars. Cliff bars are some of the tastiest bars as they come in a variety of flavors with rolled oats. These bars focus on organic ingredients with a crunch granola texture.
The variety of flavors vary in nutrition with higher sugar content in like chocolate chip to nuttier options like an oatmeal raisin. Lara bars are organic and are said to be of the highest nutritional value as they contain less sugar than other bars. However, all energy bars contain a fairly high amount of sugar generally around 20 grams.
It isn’t far from your typical snickers bar. If it is simply energy you’re after, a snickers bar can be considered though you run the risk of the outside chocolate layer melting. Yogurt bars are a tasty less sugary option to consider as well.
Tuna or Salmon Pouches
One of the most nutritious backpacking food is fish. Adding a source of Omega-3s in your diet, you can snack on Tuna or Salmon from the pouch. Also, tuna adds all essential amino acids for the body’s growth and maintenance of lean muscle. It may be worth noting that it’s not recommended to eat more than two servings per week as it contains mercury harmful to the body.
Similarly, salmon has the same health benefits as tuna. However, it also includes a wider range of vitamins. It is a good source of potassium and loaded with selenium protecting bone health.
Backpacking Food – Nuts
For a simpler approach to trail mix, you can bring your favourite kind of nuts mixed with seeds for backpacking food. A concentration of nuts brings higher fat content sustaining energy for a long period of time. Gourmet nut mixes can be found in most general stores. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are some of the most nutrient-rich nuts.
Almonds are high in fibre, protein, antioxidants, and vitamin E. These stress-reducing agents help combat fatigue brought along the trail. Cashews are high in sodium and carbs and generally work best at the end of a hike to replenish your energy. Walnuts are filled with nutrients and antioxidants along with omega-3 fatty acids providing an anti-inflammatory.
Whole Fruit and Fresh Veggies
The obvious nutrient-rich backpacker meal is to simply bring whole fruits or vegetables. When it comes to fruit it is better to go with harder fruit like apples rather than bananas which will bruise easily.You can find hard carrying pouches to preserve fruit. Vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, radishes work well with hummus and are not damaged easily.
Backpacking Food – Seeds
Seeds go hand in hand with nut mixes or can be enjoyed on their own. The best seeds to consider for backpacking food are chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. Chia seeds are high in fiber, phosphorous, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acid. These seeds are convenient to carry as they are small and easy to combine with most backpacking meals.
Also, pumpkin seeds are considered a superfood as they contain high amounts of manganese, magnesium, zinc, and arginine. Magnesium is useful for breaking down glucose converting it to energy. Additionally, arginine relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation by producing nitric oxide.
Similar to protein bars you can find protein cookies in packages which are an appetizing alternative. Munk Pack protein cookies can be found at REI and some general stores. If you have a desire for baking there are a plethora of recipes online. Homemade protein cookies allow you to customize them as you like and are probably a cost-effective option for backpacking food.
For a low-cost item that works in combination with other backpacking food, peanut butter is a calorically dense snack that can be enjoyed with tortillas or veggies. It is high in fiber, fats, and proteins. It is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, B3, and B6 increasing energy production and metabolism in the body. Peanut butter is also known for improving heart health. The best way to pack it is with a wide screw-top jar or put into a secured container.
Cheese And Crackers
One of the best snacks to bring on the trail is cheese and crackers. Bricks of hard cheese are highly recommended to keep in the best condition. Keeping them in a brick makes moisture easier to manage as they sweat oil from the surface. Also, cheese is best stored in wax paper rather than plastic bags. Storing crackers also may appear to be more of a challenge than other harder backpacking food. Plastic containers or specific cylinders for crackers are likely of the most useful for packing.
Backpacking Food – Muesli
Similar to trail mix and granola blends you should also consider Muesli for backpacking meals. Additionally, combining nuts, seeds, rolled oats, and dried fruit can be eaten by itself or adding milk. Also, dehydrated whole milk is the best way to bring milk and can be added to muesli in advance which only requires added water to consume.
Muesli hiking balls can also be made if you like baking and then eaten along the trail much like an energy bar. There are several recipes that can be found online as well allowing you to customize protein content among other aspects if you choose.