Hiking Food Ideas – Packing for Taste and Nutrition

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Whenever you go hiking, you will always need food to fuel your day. Whether it is walking slowly along a stream or marching up a hill, everyone’s got to eat. As such, hiking food ideas are critical to having a great adventure. In this article, I will discuss many foods for preparing a meal for your day hike.

Ask Yourself Questions

Before anything else, you should ask yourself some questions. They provide a starting point for you to plan out your meals for a hiking trip. Questions are important because they spark your imagination. Otherwise, here they are:

  • How much food do you want to bring? This is a very important question. Each of us eats different amounts of food. I, for example, can plow through three pounds of food in a day if I am hiking. I have a high metabolism, so I have to eat a lot. Others eat less. Aim to bring 1.5 lbs – 2.5 lbs of food per person for a day hike, depending on varying physical factors.
  • What do you like? Personally, I really do not like olives. They are salty and disgusting to me, so there is no way I would bring them on a hike. I would just toss them. You, though, may love them. Each of us likes different foods. In short, bring something you would enjoy.
  • What is your meal plan? Each of us has a different agenda for the day. Some days I want a simple sandwich. Other days I prefer pizza. Every day during the week, though, I have a structured agenda for what I am going to eat. The same goes for hiking. From start to finish, lay out what you would like to eat.

Not every question that you could ask yourself about hiking food was listed here. As such, you should come up with your own questions and then answer them yourself. Write them down and come back to them later. Your future self will thank you. Questions are valuable.

Top Food Ideas

While you can bring nearly any food with you on a hike, I am only going to discuss the top food items to take with you on a hike. These foods form the foundation of a great trip.

  • Dried fruit, this is always a great option for you to enjoy. Packed full of delicious nutrients and lightweight, dried fruit tastes delicious and is inexpensive.
  • Jerky, this comes in many flavors and varieties. Some include chicken, beef, turkey, and pork. Jerky is a high protein snack that lasts forever, making it a wonderful addition to any day hike.
  • Chocolate, I am a big fan of chocolate. It melts in your mouth and is sweet to the tounge. Chocolate is a treat item though, not a nutrient rich food.
  • Flour tortillas, tortillas are a versatile carbohydrate for your day meal. It can take many spreads and ingredients or you can have an “air burrito,” eating nothing but the tortilla.
    They are a wonderful option.
  • Hummus, this works as a great spread for a sandwich, a dip for chips, or something you can stick your finger in for a quick lick. Often overlooked for other spreads, hummus is absolutely delicious, nutritious, and
    hearty.
  • Nuts, these are excellent hiking food. They provide you with protein and are a high calorie to ounce ratio, so they make great use of the limited space in your pack.
  • Trail mix, a trail hike would not be complete without trail mix! Packed full of a variety of foods such as raisins, nuts, M&Ms;, pretzels, and anything else you can imagine, trail mix is a superb hiking snack. On top of that, you can make it yourself. Find dry foods inside your home and you can be sure to make it from what you already have.
  • Raisins, known as dried out grapes, raisins provide plenty of sugar to energize you for your hike. On top of that, they will not go bad before you eat them.
  • Energy bars, from cliff bars to oatmega bars, energy bars provide a lot of energy packed into the palm of your hand. They are full of protein, good sugars, and carbs to jump start your hike. On top of that, there is a wide variety to choose from.

All of these items form a critical component of any hiking adventure. You can find them at your local grocery store or in your pantry cupboard. Pick what you like and pack it in your backpack.

Main Meals

In addition to the many snacks that you can bring with you on a trip, you will also have a main course packed with you. More than likely it will be a lunch, so that will be the primary focus of this section.

  1. Sandwich, this is my go to food for any hiking trip. Grab two slices of bread, meat, cheese, veggies, a condiment, and you are set to go. If you want more ingredients, just pile them on.
  2. Freeze dried food, while it requires a bit more luggage to cook (kitchen gear to boil water), freeze dried food is delicious. They can be a bit more expensive as they are entre dishes, but they are high quality.
  3. Ramen, while not the most healthy, it is easy to prepare and comes at a low price. If you want more in your ramen, you can throw in some meat or anything else you would like.
  4. Bagels, these are another great option for main meals. I love them. Fill them with cream cheese, egg, meat, and toast it beforehand. Then you are ready to go. They are absolutely delicious.

Everyone likes a hearty meal. They fill your belly and provide a great amount of fuel for your hike. Take an extended break from the day’s journey and enjoy the scenery around you while you munch.

Tips for Packing Your Food

After you have selected your food to store in your pack, there are a number of things to remember to do when filling up your backpack to minimize space.

  1. Separate snacks and meals. If you are hiking, there are some foods you will want immediately and others you want to sit down and enjoy. Hikes can be long, so you will want to take the occassional short rest. Keep snacks in easily accessible places and meals in your main pouch.
  2. Take out the air. Air takes up space. I mean it is all around you! (That was supposed to be a joke…) As such, it can take up a lot of room in your pack. You can find it not just in food, but in gear and other items you bring.
  3. Use zip lock bags. These bags are a great way to store food. You can put your food in them and then suck out the air. If you are conscious about the environment like me, then you will want to reuse the bags. Just wash them out after you are done.
  4. Set aside a bag for trash. Pack out what you pack in. When you are not hiking, this is a good rule to have, but this is very true when it comes to hiking. You are a visitor to the natural world. Do right by those who come after you and leave it as it is for them to enjoy.

These tips are essential for a great hiking trip. They provide a framework for planning your day’s meal. Consider them when packing your food.

Final Thoughts

Food is important for every hiking trip. It provides the energy you need to make it over the hill and travel through our natural world. As such, choosing the right food to bring with you is critical for a happy trip. It is miserable to be hungry after hiking most of the day. Pack plenty of nutritious food and you will be sure to have an excellent adventure.

If you think that I missed anything, have a question, or a thought, please comment on this post below and I will be sure to get back to you.

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12 Comments on “Hiking Food Ideas – Packing for Taste and Nutrition”

  1. Hey you made a really good and interesting Article.
    But i Got a question: You are speaking of dried fruits and such stuff, so can i also take Freeze dried Astronaut meal with me?
    Have a Good Day and Good work Sir 😉

    1. I appreciate the compliment on the article. Yes, you are more than welcome to bring a freeze dried astronaut meal with you. Depending on what exactly the meal is, it may require some preparation. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. Good article, it gives me some good ideas for what to take along if I go hiking or even biking for a day or weekend.

    I will probably try out some freeze dried food just to see what I think of it. I know its more expensive, but if your sitting down to take a break you may as well cook something too.

    1. Yes, these are all great food options to take along with you for a day or weekend trip. Freeze dried food is a splendid choice. While it can be expensive (there are some exceptions), freeze dried food is a nice option if you want more of a meal on your adventure. Thank you for sharing Eric. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

  3. Alex,
    I am a leader for the local Boy Scouts. We do several day hikes during the year. Your list is much like the list we use to make up our snacks and lunch choices. Each scout will have different taste and each will have to make his own pack. We did do hot dogs on a fire in a dry creek bed this year.
    Planning is very important if you are out hiking and make sure you have enough water.

    1. John,
      It is wonderful to hear that you are a leader for Boy Scouts. I wish I had done it when I was growing up. It must be fulfilling to be a role model. You are right that everyone will want to eat different foods. It is essential, like you said, to plan. People get into trouble in the outdoors when they do not prepare. Thank you for sharing John and I hope you make it a great day!

  4. Some really great ideas on here that I always seem to forget or never think about in the first place like the dried fruit and hummus or jerky. I wish I got to go hiking more and I will one day explore a bit more because there are a lot of great places even where I am in NJ. I’ll definitely have to revisit your site for solid tips and advice. Thanks!

    1. Howie, you are right that all of these foods are great options. If you do end up hiking in NJ, I hope that you bring some of these foods with you. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  5. Ahh nothing better then some good ol’hiking food! Thanks for post Alex, I’m glad to see that you included Hummus in the mix haha. This looks like a hardy meal plan, fit for adventurers!

    I’m getting hungry now…

  6. Hey Alex! I really like your website! Enjoyed this post on foods to take hiking. There are so many good options that it It made me hungry. It’s always an adventure to go hiking, but since it can rev up the metabolism and increase hunger it’s important to pack enough food to stay energized. Thanks for giving us a nice variety of food options to take along.

    1. Colleen, it is nice to know that you enjoyed the article and my site. When hiking, it is important to have plenty of food to eat because you work up an appetite. On top of that, eating for nutrition is essential, so you need to give your body the proper foods. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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