Snaaaaaacks! I love snacks. Morning snacks, work snacks, and especially hiking snacks. I love hiking snacks because you can get away with a little extra in the name of ‘energy’. Salty, sugar, caffeine, these are all things you don’t normally cheer for, but when it comes to the best snacks for hiking you should be including at least one of these in your hiking snack repertoire.
The purpose of your hiking snacks is to keep you fueled up and give you the energy you need to keep pushing forward on the trail. Quick note– I definitely consider your mid-hike lunch part of this, so don’t worry, I’ll get there. So finding that blend of sodium, protein and carbohydrates. These will all serve an important purpose.
One thing that gets lost on a lot of fad diets, or just diets in general, is that food is fuel. Calories are fuel. Carbohydrates are fuel. Sugars are fuel. It’s all meant to keep your body going, but when you’re hiking one must consider how much, and when, you take in those calories. It’s also important to note that the salts and sugars will also serve different purposes.
And in terms of protein– this can be a great tool for recovery mid-hike or after the hike to help with muscle tissue. Especially if you’re crushing some hefty peaks. So that’s where your mid-hike lunch can come into play. I’ll usually have my protein here in the form of a turkey sandwich or tuna.
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Day Hikes & Thru Hikes
So for the purposes of this post it’s assumed that one would have already done research on how much food is necessary for the various lengths of hikes. For shorter day hikes you can bring smaller amounts of food. For longer thru-hikes and backpacking trips you’ll want to consider more food, bigger meals, etc.
You’ll want to keep in mind your own body digestion as well. If you have a really high metabolism you’ll probably take more food than normal on even shorter hikes. But if you remember your 10 Essentials list, it’s always better to have a little extra.
Salty Snacks & Protein
Salty snacks are something I recommend enjoying earlier in the hike. The salt will help you retain fluids in your body and prevent early dehydration. You can click the link to learn more about staying hydrated in the heat, but snacks like pretzels, trail mix with nuts, and granola bars will have a good amount of sodium that will help maintain fluids in your body.
Protein-filled snacks typically fit into this category. Salty snacks with protein and good fats are even better. Think tuna, peanut butter ( or any nut butter really), and remember, it’s all about the energy. So calorie-dense foods are key. If you’ve ever heard the term, ’empty calories’, this is the opposite. Foods that pack that energy in every bite are what is going to keep you going.
Even on shorter hikes, that little morsel of energy can be what makes a short hike go from a good day to a bad one.
While salty snacks are used as a way to help with hydration, sugar and caffeine are used for giving you that boost of energy to knock out those extra miles. Remember- these are all options that you can curate to your own body requirements.
I used to keep a pack of Harbro gummy bears in my pack because they are made with the good sugars, and on a 10+ mile day-hike they have been a great source of energy.
As I’ve been hitting the bike more, and going for more intense trips, I’ve discovered gel packs as a great way to get the sucrose my body needs for a boost of energy. I’ve been using these Stinger Energy Gels, and I’ve been really happy with the post squeeze boost. The sugar from these comes from honey, but there are plenty of options on the market to try.
Caffeine is a little trickier. I usually drink coffee in the morning, but it’s also a diuretic, so it’s important to be mindful of your fluids before you head out. Especially if it’s going to be hot.
A lot of the energy gels on the market also have caffeinated varieties. I usually opt for sugar only, but ginseng is what you can look for for that added boost. B vitamins are also essential for an additional energy boost.
Energy Boost Featured Item:
Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans
From the makers of Jelly Belly, Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans will give you a great balance of carbs, electrolytes and vitamins to help you perform at a high level
According to this article from Medical News Today, “An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. They are essential for a number of bodily functions”.
Those functions mainly include getting your nutrients throughout your body. A lot of common foods contain electrolytes, but sometimes adding additional are essential to ensuring your body is getting all of the proper requirements when it’s put into an intense workout.
Electrolyte imbalance shares a lot of the same side effects of dehydration. Irregular heartbeat, nausea, irritability, confusion, so it’s another reason to not only stay hydrated, but ensure you’re replenishing those nutrients as well. In my July Cairn Unboxing I was excited to see this Buoy Easy Squeezy Electrolyte bottle to add to my water.