Last updated: November 30, 2023
Did you ever notice that healthy snacks for hiking, or any outdoor adventure, are also great for traveling? I often bring the same trail 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. I look for convenience in just about everything, but especially when it comes to hiking snacks. Let’s face it though, truly healthy snacks 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 Travel
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.
THE Best High Energy Snacks for Hiking
It’s important to choose snacks that are not only high in energy but also provide essential nutrients to keep you fueled and energized throughout your adventure. These are my favorite go-to high protein snacks for hiking.
- Mixed nuts, Roasted soy nuts, or Sunflower seeds
- Tuna or salmon packets on a tortilla, with mustard convenience packet
- Peanut butter, banana and honey on a tortilla
- Peanut butter and apples or Hummus with carrots
More Store-Bought Hiking Snacks for on the Go
I’m always looking out for easy, day hike snacks that are truly healthy. That actually qualify as good hiking snacks. Here are a few.
1. Fresh Fruits
Apples, oranges, grapes and pears transport well and are loaded with the vitamins and minerals you need to keep going, on the trail and in life. They make the best hiking snacks for health and are perfect for those sweets cravings that can only come from a good hike.
2. Fresh Vegetables
Snap peas, carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli provide crunch, fiber and nutrition in every bite. Bring along some almond butter, below, for a tasty dip. Your digestive system, and the rest of you, will be grateful.
Pro Tip: 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.
Cashews, almonds, and walnuts, to name just a few. Nuts make fantastic snacks for a hike because they are packed with energy and because there’s such a huge variety to choose from. Try them roasted or plain, with spices or without.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), low salt sunflower seeds, pine nuts or pomegranate seeds. These are full of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron protein, and more. Mix them up in any combination that works for you.
5. Dried Fruit
Mangoes and pineapples are my favorites, but strawberries and apples are rather remarkable as well. Dried fruit takes second place to fresh because it’s not fresh but it does last longer. A lot longer. They’re also very high energy snacks for walking.
Pro Tip: 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.
6. Trader Joe’s Manzanilla Olives
These are nicely packaged hiker snacks loaded with flavor. They’re convenient for the hiker, 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.
7. Trader Joe’s Inner Peas
These are the best hiking snacks Trader Joe’s has to offer in my opinion. They’re 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.
Pro Tip: Combine your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruit to make a custom trail mix, quite possibly the best snacks for long hikes.
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, and one of the best snacks for traveling too.
These roasted chickpeas are incredible in so many ways – nut-free, gluten-free, and hassle-free. The best trail snacks really. They also have the most satisfying crunch, better than chips any day.
Delicious, healthy and portable. What more can you ask? They come in a variety of flavors but the mango is my personal favorite. These are some of the best snacks for hikes of long distance especially.
Healthy, portable and really quite the winning combination on fresh vegetables such as celery or carrots. One of my favorite traveling snacks.
Pro Tip: Try to pack a combination of sweets, salty snacks and savory hiking snacks to account for whatever cravings you might have.
Looking for tasty, healthy hiking snacks that feel like a reward? Look no further! One of the healthier chocolate bars you can find and worth every penny.
Hiking Snack for Hiking
Here are few hiking snack ideas that require advanced preparation. You can make them right before your hike if you like for maximum freshness. I prefer to make them well ahead of time and freeze them, taking them out only as needed.
13. 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 cups Almond Flour
1 c grape Seed Oil and 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.
14. 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 each pure ground vanilla, baking powder and fine sea salt
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 c 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.
These make absolutely fantastic snacks for hiking trips or as healthy airplane snacks.
15. 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.
16. 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.
Note: These do not freeze well. But they also don’t last long enough to need freezing, they’re just that tasty.
17. Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut (or almond) butter
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
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.
18. Savory and Satisfying Sandwich
sliced green olives
dash of oregano, dill and pepper
whole grain bread
tuna fish or chicken (optional)
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.
19. 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
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. A healthy lunch idea that tastes great!
18. Better than Cup O’ Noodles
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.
20. 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.
21. Banana or Apple Waffles
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 large bananas or 1 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanuts
peanut butter (optional)
Combine ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture onto greased waffle maker and follow directions. Use quarters to make a sandwich with peanut butter.
22. Healthy AI Cookies
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup protein powder, vanilla flavored
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Believe it or not, I asked ChatGPT to come up with this recipe. They’re my favorite so far for traveling cookies. Super easy to make and freeze well too.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, olive oil, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the rolled oats, whole wheat flour, protein powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until well combined.
Fold in the chopped walnuts. Scoop tablespoon-sized portions of the cookie dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between each cookie.
Flatten each cookie slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers if you need to. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
These cookies are a healthier alternative to traditional cookies, as they are sweetened with natural sugars from the ripe bananas and maple syrup. The oats provide fiber, while walnuts add healthy fats add a satisfying crunch.
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.
Healthy snacks for travel set you up for a more nourishing vacation and healthier lifestyle habit. Whether it’s a quick plane trip, a long flight, or a weekend backpacking trip, good food will take you farther.
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 makes a healthy hiking or travel snack?
- 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.
What foods to avoid on the trail?
It’s important to choose foods that are lightweight, portable, and provide the necessary energy and nutrients to sustain your activity. On the other hand, there are some foods you should avoid or minimize to ensure a pleasant and safe hiking experience. Here are some foods to avoid.
- Stay away from foods that are heavy or take up a lot of space in your backpack. These can be burdensome to carry over long distances and challenging terrain.
- Avoid bringing perishable foods like dairy products, as they may spoil quickly and pose a risk of foodborne illnesses.
- While sugary treats can provide a quick energy boost, they can lead to a crash later on.
- Avoid consuming too many salty foods, as they can lead to dehydration. Processed snacks like chips and salty trail mixes may contribute to increased thirst on the trail.
- Foods high in fat and grease can be difficult to digest while hiking and may lead to discomfort or digestive issues.
- Drinking alcohol while hiking can lead to dehydration and impaired judgment, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Some people may experience discomfort while hiking after consuming spicy foods, especially in hot weather.
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.
Pack lightweight, energy-boosting snacks for hikes 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.
Cashews are an excellent savory snack for hiking. It’s a lightweight and protein-packed option, providing sustained energy and satisfying your taste buds. Its long shelf life makes it convenient for extended outdoor journeys.
Nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews), dried fruits (like raisins and apricots), and energy bars with nuts and seeds are among the most energy-dense foods for hiking. They offer a mix of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein, providing a sustained energy source for your outdoor activities.
Final Thoughts: Healthy Snacks for Hiking
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!