Did you ever notice that healthy snacks for hiking, or any outdoor adventure, are also great for traveling? I often bring the same snacks with me on the plane as I do when I’m out on the trail. They’re convenient for most kinds of traveling, in a car, an airplane or while off adventuring in another country.
Let’s face it though, truly healthy snacks for hiking, or anywhere else for that matter, are hard to find. I’m all about convenience, but I’m also all about exchanging the high salt and saturated fats typical of commercially prepared snacks for something that is healthier and tastes even better.
Healthy Snacks for Hiking and On the Go
Here’s an ever-growing list of the best energy food for hiking. To make this list, they must taste good and provide nutrition without too much salt, sugar or fat. They’re also mostly vegetarian, because that’s how I roll.
Healthy Snacks You Can Buy
I’m always looking out for easy snacks that are truly healthy. That actually qualify as good hiking snacks. Here are a few.
1. Fruits & Vegetables
Apples, oranges, grapes, pears, Asian pears, snap peas, carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, etc. These are loaded with the vitamins and minerals you need to keep going, on the trail and in life.
If traveling, make the local market your first stop when you arrive in a new city, to make the most of your health and give you the energy you need for your stay. Your digestive system, and the rest of you, will be grateful.
2. Nuts & Seeds
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), low salt sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, etc. These are full of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron and protein, to name just a few. Mix them up in any combination that works for you.
3. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit takes second place to fresh because it’s not fresh but it does last longer. A lot longer.
Mangoes, pineapples or other fruits. It seems the more citrusy they are, the better they turn out. It’s important to get your daily servings of fruit every day because your body can’t store many of the nutrients they contain. Plus, they taste great.
Finding dried fruit without a lot of added sugar is becoming much easier than it used to be, and is also easier in countries outside of the United States.
4. Trader Joe’s Manzanilla Olives
These are nicely packaged for convenience, not so much for the environment. You can also buy them in jars however, and put them in your own containers. Trader Joe’s sells Kalamata Olives with the same options, also fantastic.
5. Trader Joe’s Inner Peas
These are pretty popular and you can find them at many different stores. The ones at Trader Joe’s are a little salty, but not too much given the salt your body probably needs when hiking.
6. Taos Bakes Snack Bar
Proof that if you don’t give up, if you just keep looking, you will find a snack bar that works for you. This one is filling, completely healthy and absolutely delicious. They’re one of the best snacks for energy out there.
7. BIENA Chickpea Snacks
These roasted chickpeas are incredible in so many ways – nut-free, gluten-free, and hassle-free. They also have the most satisfying crunch, better than chips any day.
8. Peeled Snacks Dried Fruit
Delicious, healthy and portable. What more can you ask? They come in a variety of flavors but the mango is my personal favorite.
9. Justin’s Almond Butter
Healthy, portable and really quite the combination on fresh vegetables such as celery or carrots.
10. Honey Mama’s Cherry Hazelnut Truffle Bar
One of the healthier chocolate bars you can find and worth every penny.
Munchables to Make Head
11. Ann’s Jam Drop Cookies
- 2 c dry, toasted, slivered almonds
- 4 c oats (quick cooking or regular)
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 s Almond Flour
- 1 c grape Seed Oil
- 1 c maple Syrup
- jam of your choice (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment.
Coarsely chop 3/4 cup of the almonds with a knife so they are about 1/3 original. In a food processor or blender, grind 2 cups of the oats and the 1/4 tsp salt into a fine meal.
Combine with the chopped almonds in a mixing bowl. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups almonds, 2 cups oats and the 1 1/2 cups almond flour into the bowl. Whisk together.
Measure 1 cup oil and pour into bowl, followed by 1 cup maple syrup. (Doing this in order in the same cup will cause the syrup to glide our easily). Mix until combined. Dough should be thick, soft, and sticky. Let dough sit in refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
Spoon out rough balls of the dough and roll into a ball in your hand and place on the cookie sheet. Press an indentation into the top of each ball. It may crack on the edges so pinch it back together with your fingers.
The cookies spread a lot when cooking, so make a ball about 1 inch in diameter and allow space between. Fill the indentation with jam of your choice, about 1-1.5 teaspoon.
Bake about 15-16 minutes until slightly brown. When finished baking, let cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.
This is one of the more messy healthy snacks for hiking, which makes it more suitable for waterfall hikes. I hesitate to suggest leaving the jam out, because the jam makes all the difference, but you can if you want to.
12. Sweet Potato Cookies
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup almond or regular flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp pure ground vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup mashed sweet potato
- 1/2 grade B maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
I bake sweet potatoes at 350 for an hour, peel it and mash it to use in recipe.
Preheat oven to 350oF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with spoon. Mix the wet ingredients thoroughly with spoon or whisk. Combine wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.
Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure each cookie. Roll into a ball and place 1 inch apart on sheet. Use fork to gently flatten evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. The perfect sweet treat that freezes well.
13. Ben’s Breakfast Bars
- 5 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 ½ cups peanut butter
- ¾ cup honey
- ¾ cup raisins or craisins
This is not just for breakfast, but it does make a good one. We use it mostly for snacks in our house and on the road.
Mix all ingredients together and press flat into dish. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, cut into bars and enjoy. They’re a little addictive, and a lot sticky, so use caution on both. I keep the bar in its’ bag when I’m eating it on the trail.
14. Apple Crisps
- 1 T Sesame oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 2 apples, sliced
Combine ingredients and mix well to coat the slices. Preheat your air fryer to 350 and cook for 4 minutes. Shake and separate them and repeat for another 4 minutes. Time will vary depending on how thick you’ve sliced your apples.
15. Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup peanut (or almond) butter
- 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flour (almond flour is also okay)
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
Heat oven to 350oF. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Using a regular spoon, scoop a heaping spoonful and roll it into a ball with your hands to compact it well and smooth. Place on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
Flatten each cookie evenly by making a crisscross pattern with a fork in two different directions. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Healthy Recipes for Backpacking
16. Savory and Satisfying Sandwich
- sliced avocado
- diced tomato
- diced celery
- sliced green olives
- tuna fish (optional)
- dash of oregano, salt and pepper
- whole grain bread
Because bread is a comfort food for me. If you’re not keen on tuna, it’s okay to be happy with just the remaining ingredients on their own. Or substitute chicken if that’s your thing. You really can’t go wrong.
I combine all the ingredients together ahead of time, minus the bread. Then make my sandwich when I’m ready to scarf it down. Warning, one is sometimes not enough for this one. As far as healthy snacks for hiking goes, it’s really that good.
17. Thai Peanut Salad
- 1 ½ c red cabbage, shredded
- ¾ shredded carrot
- 1 diced bell pepper
- 1 cup cooked edamame (shelled) or peas
- 2 medium scallions
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons sesame seed rice vinegar
- juice from one lime
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger, pinch of sea salt, dash of crushed red pepper flakes
- roasted peanuts
Modify the ingredients to your liking, as always. I combine the dressing ingredients and keep them separate from the salad ingredients until it is time to eat them.
Durable salads, sometimes called sturdy salads, are the kind you can make the day ahead and bring with you on a camping trip. They’re full of crunch and taste great.
18. Better than Cup O’ Noodles
- Karen’s Naturals Freeze-dried Just Veggies
- Lotus Organic Brown Rice Ramen, broken up for easier rehydration
- spice combination to your liking (hint: the key is in the spices)
- dash of olive oil
This one was inspired by Cup O’ Noodles, one of my favorite although extremely unhealthy rewards for being on the trail. It’s warm, creamy, slightly salty and has pasta. What’s better than all that?
Combine all ingredients together, add boiling hot water, cover and wait 10 minutes before enjoying without guilt. It’s all good, but the best part might be the warm, leftover broth.
19. Crunchy Veggie Wrap
- Trader Joe’s Jicama wraps or whole grain toast
- Cucumber, carrots, avocado and red cabbage, thinly sliced or grated
- black pepper, basil, a little salt
- squeeze of lemon and dash of olive oil
Thinly slice vegetables and layer them on wrap. Decorate with remaining ingredients and enjoy. The wraps are supposed to be refrigerated, but I have kept them out for hours and they served quite well.
For backpacking, I like to mix the vegetables and spices together with the lemon and olive oil and keep it in a container separate from the wraps until it’s time to enjoy.
Healthy Eating While Away From Home
Why healthier food everywhere?
The body breaks down simple carbs quickly, which can lead to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. The more complex your carbs, the more your body will benefit and the fuller you will feel. The harder the hike, the more you need nutritious foods.
Long-term Benefits of Healthy Eating
- Reduced inflammation (can you say knee pain?)
- Fuel for whatever adventures you have planned
- Easier weight management
- It’s easier to return to normal healthy habits when you get home
- You feel better physically and emotionally
- You recover more quickly from any bugs you catch
- You’re more likely to live longer, healthier and happier
- You don’t want to end up with stomach issues while away from home. If you’ve never experienced this, believe me when I say that it is NOT a pleasant experience
- If you do a lot of hiking, backpacking or traveling, how you eat on out there becomes more of a dietary lifestyle than a temporary detour from your regular habits.
What to Look for in Travel Snacks
- Is it allowed in the country you’re visiting?
- Can it affect the others around you, in terms of allergies or odors?
- Can it get through security’s maximum liquids regulation?
- Is it perishable?
- Is it heavy? If so, do you really want to be carrying it around?
- Is it easily squished? If so, consider a plastic container for travel.
FAQs About Food
Some questions that people often ask about eating healthy food on the go.
A healthy snack on the road could be a combination of fresh fruits, such as apples or berries, paired with nuts or seeds for added protein and crunch. Other options include pre-cut vegetables with hummus, yogurt cups, or granola bars with natural ingredients and low sugar content.
The best food to eat while traveling is generally lightweight, easily portable options like sandwiches, salads, fruits, nuts, and energy bars. It’s also essential to stay hydrated and choose foods that won’t spoil quickly.
When craving junk food, consider healthier alternatives like air-popped popcorn, baked sweet potato fries, veggie sticks with hummus, roasted chickpeas, frozen grapes or homemade baked chips. Choosing whole-food snacks, opting for lower-fat versions, and practicing portion control can help satisfy cravings while maintaining a healthier diet.
For hiking, pack lightweight, energy-boosting snacks like trail mix (with nuts, dried fruits, and seeds), protein bars, jerky, fresh fruits (apples, bananas), whole-grain crackers with nut butter, and granola. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during your hike.
Yes, bringing snacks on a hike is highly recommended. Snacks are a convenient and nourishing energy source during the hike, helping to sustain stamina and prevent fatigue. They also serve as a backup in case of unexpected delays or emergencies, ensuring you stay fueled on your adventure.
Final Thoughts: Healthy Eating on the Go
Establish a good routine. Relax a little, in food and everywhere, but try to listen to logic over emotions when it comes to your food choices.
I will add to this list as I find more ideas, as I’m always looking for more nutritious snacks for my adventures. Happy travels!