A 160 pound adult burns an average of 430 to 440 calories an hour during a hike. Add in an uphill climb on one of Zion’s trails or during a hot day in Southern Utah, and that number climbs.
Keeping up with all of that calorie burning means packing a few snacks in your day pack. Whether you’re headed to Angels Landing or just for a stroll on the Riverside Walk, having a high-protein snack is a great way to help you stay energized and happy during your next hike. Keep reading to learn the best trail snacks to pack for your next national park hike.
While there are plenty of snack foods that are easy to eat on the trail, meal replacements are a bit tougher. Sandwiches are easy to crush in your day pack, while a warm meal means buying and packing backpacking stoves and pots, then taking time out of your hike to heat it up.
If you’re going to be a trail during lunch or dinner, but want a simple meal that will fill you up without getting crushed in your bag, jerky is a great alternative. High in protein and filling, you can eat on the trail without even stopping. Pair it with string cheese, crackers, or trail mix if you want some variety. You can also choose from a variety of meats, including classic beef, turkey, pork, or even salmon.
Tuna and Salmon
If salmon jerky isn’t your thing, but you still prefer fish over jerky or other meats, packaged tuna or salmon makes a great trail snack or meal. These can be eaten on their own or on top of crackers or bread for a quick and easy meal. Packed with protein and packaged to last, these are an inexpensive snack that’s great for your next hike.
Perhaps the most obvious trail snack are protein bars designed for just purpose. But while most bars will help you power through a shorter hike, beware of lofty promises from some companies. Many protein bars are packed with sugar that will give you a quick burst of energy, then leave you feeling even more sluggish than you were before your snack.
Look for protein bars that are low in sugar and high in protein and fiber to stay full and energized throughout your hike. Those who are hiking to get in shape or lose weight should also watch the calorie count of their protein bars. While you do need plenty of healthy fats to get through a long hike, some bars carry more calories than your average candy bar. Luckily, there are plenty of filling, healthy options out there. Kind, Epic, Primal Kitchen, and goMacro are just a few companies that offer protein bars that are low in sugar and processed ingredients.
Many protein bars get their high protein and fiber count from nut butters, especially peanut butter. But if you aren’t a fan of these bars, you can always bring a jar of your favorite spread instead. Whether you like eating it straight off a spoon or on crackers, nut butters are filling, tasty, and easy to pack. While peanut butter is certainly the old classic, almond, sunflower, cashew, and walnut butter have also become popular in recent years. You can even buy individual packages that make it easier to pack your favorite snack.
If you’re craving a fresh snack on the trails, you might want to bring along some fruit. Unfortunately, most varieties are the opposite of trail-friendly. But apples are easy to toss in your pack and enjoy while you walk.
Everyone hikes differently. Some people like to finish their lengthy hike, then head to lunch. Others prefer to nosh as they walk, helping them stay energized and full all day long. If you’re in the second category, trail mix might just be your perfect trail snack. You can add anything you like, from nuts to candies to dried fruits to cereal. Put it in a small baggie to stash in your pocket so that you can snack as you please during your hike.
It’s not just long hikes that require a pick-me-up snack. If you find yourself in need of a quick boost during a shorter hike, a little bit of dark chocolate might be just the ticket. With a little sugar, a little caffeine, and a little fat, it’s a tasty way to finish your hike.
Packing Your Trail Snack
Headed for an easy walk or a long trek? Packing a few trail snacks will help you stay full and keep your energy up. And with so many great options to choose from, there’s a great, protein-packed snack for everyone.