Vogel State Park Hiking

Healthy Food for Hiking that Will Boost Your Energy on Trail

Isabella Adams
Latest posts by Isabella Adams (see all)

Nothing excites one like the breathtaking views and cool, refreshing air filling your lungs on a hike. There are so many benefits in store if you love hitting the trails.

Still, there is one thing you must remember – you must properly fuel up to get the best possible experience out of a hike!

It’s important to choose food for hiking that will energize you, whether for a single or multi-day adventure. Making the right food choice makes all the difference.

Read on to learn how.

What Kind of Food Should I Take to Eat on a Day Hike?

You could burn as many as thousands of calories on a single day’s hike, based on how straining the trail is and how long you take. This could easily leave you tired and dehydrated, so carrying high-energy food goes a long way.

Before listing the best options to go for, you should first know the qualities of the finest food for hiking:

  1. High calories – The hours of hiking mean that you will burn a lot of calories, so consider replenishing them with high-calorie foods. Calorically dense carbs and proteins, for instance, will keep you going.
  2. Rich in nutrients – While calories are important for hiking, it is still crucial to go for healthy, nutrient-rich options filled with vitamins, fibers, and minerals.
  3. Lightweight – You know how long hiking could take. Imagine carrying heavy foods the whole time and how that would derail you. To be safe, you should go for snacks and other food options that are easy to carry; this way, they won’t take up too much space and won’t slow you down.
  4. Taste – You can still enjoy tasty and flavorful food as much as the goal is to get an energy boost from nutritional options. Some treat the hike as a picnic where they can enjoy tasty foods that are easy to eat, giving them something to look forward to.

What are the Best Hiking Foods for Multi-Day Trips?

Perhaps you’re not packing for a day’s hike but going for a while longer?

The rules are almost the same. Ensure you carry light foods that are calorie-dense, nutritious, and appetizing.

The only additional consideration when it comes to multi-day trips is that you have to pick options that are easy to cook if you want warm meals for dinner, and while at it, make sure that you won’t have to carry too many kitchen utensils and tools.

👉 Click here for tips on quality cooking gear for multi-day trips.

The Best Food You Can Eat Before Your Hike

Did you know making proper food choices before a hiking trip also matters?

Whether you go out for a single day or longer, fueling up with enough carbohydrates and protein is crucial. These will give you the stamina you need to overcome the most demanding of terrains.

One popular option is oatmeal, not only because of how nutrient-rich it is but also how convenient it is for packing.

Eggs are also at the top of the list before you take on any adventure. This famous food is not only tasty but also calorie and nutrient-dense.

Fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are also perfect to help boost your energy.

The Best Energy-Boosting Snacks for Trail Hiking

Now that you know what to look for in energy-boosting foods, it is easy to narrow down to the best ones. Remember that you are going for tasty, high-calorie snacks that are rich in nutrients and are easy to carry.

So, what choices tick all the boxes?

  • Energy bites/ energy bars – Ask an avid backpacker or hiker, and they will tell you that these snacks are a must-have. Energy bars contain caffeine and protein that you need and are highly nutritious.
  • Energy chews – Carry energy chews to help you fuel up on yummy bites instantly. They also generally contain electrolytes that will help rehydrate you.
  • Nuts or nut butter – Nuts are a must-have for any adventurous person. You can carry them along on any outdoor activity, whole or in butter form. You can eat different nut mixes or spread the butter on your dried snacks or fruits, such as apples or crackers, for an extra creamy flavor.
  • Dried fruits – Speaking of foods that are easy to bring along on a hike, dried foods are easy choices. They tick the boxes when it comes to being nutritious, tasty, and rich in fiber and sugars. Popular options in this category include raisins, dates, figs, and apricots.
  • Trail mix – This is a classic and should be a must if you plan a hike for a day or even longer. You can choose pre-prepared mixes from stores or make your own using nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate. You can even go ahead to personalize it for your nutritional needs.
  • Meat sticks/ bacon strips/ pepperoni slices/ jerky – Do you like meat and how savory it is? Then, you will love packing these tasty options, which will help you stock up on more proteins and boost your energy. Remember to store them in sealed containers to keep them fresh for longer.

The Best Lunches for Day or Multi-Day Hiking Trips

Barrett making a wrap on trail while hiking

Apart from the classic hiking snack options, there are also perfect options for lunch.

It is helpful to have quick lunch options to avoid the hassle of having to stop and unpack to cook, like the following:

  1. Veggies & Hummus – Everyone knows how great hummus is when spread on crackers, bagels, and tortillas. Thanks to its versatility, you can also add it to fresh veggies like cucumbers and other salads.
  2. Meat & Cheese – They are known to be an accompaniment for virtually any meal. Not only are they both packed with excellent flavors, but they are also perfect protein sources. Additionally, they are ideal for charcuterie alongside other fruits and snacks.
  3. Sandwiches/ Wraps – One versatile lunchable is the sandwich or wrap. Whichever you go for depends on your likes and nutritional requirements. For instance, you can opt to spread peanut butter, Nutella, jelly, pepperoni, or even cheese, and also include your favorite vegetables.
  4. Salads – There’s no way you can go wrong with carrying packed salads or making a fresh one during your day trips. Simply include your favorite proteins and vegetables. For instance, you can make salmon, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or pasta salad and use fresh veggies and fruits like raspberries for their nutritional value.
packets of tuna in a shop being sold as food for hiking options

The Best Dinners For Hiking During Multi-Day Trips

The exciting part about an extended hiking trip is that each day ends outdoors.

You should find a way to prepare nutrient-rich and calorie-packed dinners. You can still enjoy cooked meals like the following, even with limited options.

instant potatoes being eaten on trail
  1. Instant noodles/ instant rice/ instant potatoes/ couscous – These are common for every backpacking trip. They are quick to make and rich in carbs. They taste great and pair well with vegetables, tuna, or chicken packets.
  2. Lentils/ dried beans – Looking for a protein to accompany rice and other carbohydrates? Dried legumes are perfect because you can make them quickly in boiling water.
  3. Soup mixes – There are so many flavors to choose from regarding soup mixes. With only boiled water, you can have a supply of tasty protein-rich accompaniments for your dry meals.
  4. Freeze-dried backpacker meals – Although they are slightly more expensive than other standard options, they are becoming popular thanks to their convenience and the availability of various flavors.
backpacking meals in a shop being sold as food for hiking options

How to Stay Hydrated While Hiking

Food and water are crucial when packing for a hike.

Without fluids, the body has to work harder to pump blood, making you easily tired and more vulnerable to cramps. You also don’t want to be stranded in the wild without water, which could be life-threatening.

During a day’s hike, you need at least a liter and a half of water to stay hydrated, and you should consider adding electrolytes for an energy boost.

sign about filtering water while hiking

If you are going on a multi-day trip where you cannot carry that much water, you should invest in a portable water filter.

Popular Water Purification Filter Options:
🚰 Platypus QuickDraw Microfilter
🚰 Sawyer Squeeze
🚰 Katadyn BeFree

Platypus Quickdraw Microfilter,Blue,1L
  • Easy, fast, reliable and highly adaptable water filter that will improve your adventure water filtration experience

Popular Water Bladder Container Option:
🚰 CNOC 28mm Vecto Water Container

Cnoc Outdoors VECTO 3L Water Container, 28mm Thread, Blue
  • Dual opening design - slider sealed wide opening and standard 28mm soda bottle-style screw neck

How to Best Pack Out Your Trash and Leave No Trace

Utilizing trash cans along trails is the best way to clean up after yourself. But what if you are hiking deep in the woods with none of them in sight?

In that case, carrying a garbage bag when out for days or a ziplock bag for day hikes is crucial. You can put all the trash from food wrappers and containers or used toiletries in one place to make them easier to dispose of.

Be sure to follow the principles of Leave No Trace while out hiking.


How Much Food Should You Plan on Eating for a Multi-Day Trip?

Since you will spend more days outdoors on a multi-day trip, you will have to pack more food.

You will likely consume around 1.5 pounds in a day, depending on the intensity of the activity, so be sure to account for the amount of time you’ll be on your endeavor.

Still, you want to reduce the weight you carry, so go for more dried foods and light snacks.

What Foods Are Not Optimal to Bring on a Hike?

Plenty of food choices are perfect for hiking. However, avoiding foods that quickly go bad or are too heavy to carry in your backpack is crucial. It can get hot outdoors, and since you don’t have a fridge, you must go for foods that don’t need preservation.

Choices like meat, soft cheeses, bread, and other dairy products are best for a one-day hike instead of multi-day trips.

Secondly, it is recommended to limit the amount of alcohol or caffeine you carry. The drinks make you more dehydrated and derail you.

How Much Food Should You Plan on Packing and Eating for a Day Hike?

The amount of food to pack for a day out hiking depends on several factors.

  • How intense will the activity be?
  • How many calories will you burn?
  • What is your weight or size?

The bottom line is the more calories you will need, the more food you will have to pack. However, an individual typically consumes around 1.5 pounds in a single day.

What are the Best Ways to Pack and Store Food When Hiking?

One important thing when carrying food for hiking is keeping it safe for consumption. That means ensuring that it stays fresh.

If you’ll be out in the heat, investing in freezer bags and a small pack that functions as a cooler is wise.

For one, the bags will help prevent spills, while the cooler will keep meat, fruits, and vegetables fresh longer.

Also, cold water after a long day out will be pretty refreshing.

Where Do I Buy Food For Hiking?

Warehouse Stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco

These stores are a great option when you find something you enjoy eating that is individually packaged, such as KIND bars, or something you can buy in bulk and then split up into smaller servings, such as Instant Potatoes.

Bulk Food Section of Grocery Stores

The bulk food section is excellent for creating your own trail mix or stocking up on individual snack items such as nuts, seeds, or chocolates.


With an Amazon Prime account, you can get snack items delivered quickly and free without ever having to leave the house!

Conclusion: Eating Healthy Food When Hiking Will Boost Your Energy on the Trail

Is your next adventure calling?

Whether this is your first time hiking or not, you should know that the food choice is crucial.

You will want to pack something to eat and drink along the way that will adequately replenish and fuel you up because hiking burns up a lot of calories.

Ensure that whatever you carry is calorie-dense, nutrient-rich, light in weight, and appetizing.

If you do this, trekking will be more fun, and you will have something to look forward to and have the stamina to keep going.

You May Also Enjoy:
👉 Hiking for Beginners 101: A Clear-Cut Guide for Newbies
👉 AT Thru-Hike: How Long Does It Take to Hike The Appalachian Trail?
👉 A Complete Appalachian Trail Gear List: Realistic Packing for an AT Thru-Hike in 2024

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