What Do I Eat When I Hike?

Trail mix and bacon. Nom.

This one is (almost) purely personal taste, but I have learned some valuable tips and tricks regarding eating and what to bring to eat on a hike.  First tip, it doesn’t have to JUST be trail mix.  Second tip, bring a few different things as you never know what you’ll feel like eating.  Third tip, bring more than you think you’ll need.

Salty foods are great to replace those electrolytes you’ll likely be sweating out.

  • I like Cheez-its because they’re salty, crunchy, and generally don’t get crushed like potato chips would.
  • Bacon.  Yep, bacon.  I cook it til it’s crisp and break it up right into a ziplock for snacking.
  • Pickles.  Because salt.
  • Cheese, Pepperoni, Pizza, and really anything else you don’t mind either not being hot or not being particularly cold.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan LeMay

High calorie foods to replace all those calories you are burning.  Skip the diet food on a hike, you need fat, carbs, and protein to keep you going.

  • GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), or any trail mix you like.  Easy to eat on the go.
  • Candy.  Watch out for chocolate in summer (it melts) or candy like Skittles in winter (it freezes).
  • Energy balls.  Homemade or store bought, sort of like bite-sized healthy brownies?
  • Cheese, pepperoni, pizza, and really anything you’d like to eat in real life, but it’s too high calorie for sitting on the couch watching TV.

Winter tips:

  • Cut food into small bites.  A whole frozen candy bar is pretty useless.  A candy bar cut into small chunks will still freeze, but you can melt the bite sized pieces in your mouth.
  • Use hand warmers with your food and water.
  • Use water bottles like Nalgene, rather than water bladders.  The bladder tubes freeze.  Bonus tip: don’t have a water bottle insulator?  Make one out of those leftover Amazon Prime mailers (see photo at the end).
  • Store water bottles upside down so when they start to freeze, it’s the end that doesn’t open.
  • Store food in easy to open containers that you can open with your gloves on.  Bring food that’s easy to just toss in your mouth from a gloved hand.  As in the photo, I re-use Talenti ice cream containers for my winter snacks.
  • Pre-heat your thermos with really hot water, then put in your hot beverage.  Close tightly.  And I throw these in a ziplock just in case it leaks.

Summer tips:

  • Chocolate melts.  Quickly.  Eat it before you get out of the air conditioned car.  Definitely DO NOT leave it in your car.
Amazon Prime mailer and some duct tape, and you can  make your own water bottle insulator!

One comment

  1. […] So how much do you need?  Lots of guidelines abound, mostly for multi-day hikes and meal planning.  On short hikes, I plan roughly 100 calories per mile, plus some extras in case I don’t feel like something.  But again, no need to bring 10 powerbars for a 3-mile hike.  Bring something salty, and something sweet.  Here is my post on what I eat when I hike. […]


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