41 Good Hiking Snacks & Hiking Lunch Ideas for Your Next Day Hike

Good hiking snacks can make all the difference in maintaining your energy level, stamina, and fun. If you’re planning a day hike (or more), look to these healthy snacks and hiking lunch ideas.

You’ll find helpful tips, below, to help you plan the best food to bring on a hike!

Editor’s Note: This post was updated with fresh content in May of 2022.


This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission every time you make a qualifying purchase through one of my affiliate links (if applicable) at no additional cost to you.

CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn how to plan to say nourished during your day hike with good hiking snacks. You’ll discover delicious hiking lunch ideas too! Here are the highlights:

Before we get into those things, let’s first have a look at why it’s so important to plan your food out when you ‘re hiking. This is important even for long hikes and even if you’re planning a short hike.

Why It’s Important to Plan What to Eat on A Hike

Keep your energy up to ensure your are safe and nourished on your hike.

Everyone benefits by getting out in the fresh air and enjoying some exercise. That’s because taking some time out of a busy schedule to go for a day of hiking is great for your mental and physical health.  

However, you should never underestimate the importance of taking good hiking snacks with you.


Because a day hike isn’t the same as a nice walk in the countryside. You will need to keep your energy levels up to ensure you are safe and nourished throughout. Look to healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil, as well as natural sugar, like honey. Leave the junk food behind.

It’s even more important if you’re mountain biking. (If you want to take a bicycle on your day trip, you can book one here.)

Make sense?

Now, let’s get into the useful food tips and hiking lunch ideas for when you’re going for a day hike. 

Make Your Hiking Plan First

When you plan food for your day hike, consider the location, route, trail length, and other factors.

Planning your hike ahead of time is a great idea for several important reasons. 

  1. It will give you a better idea of how far you’re going to go and what you might see when you’re walking.
  2. You will be able to determine your food and water needs for your excursion.
  3. You can pass this plan on to a friend or loved one. Then, should something unexpected happen and you don’t return home as planned, they can let authorities know exactly where you had intended to be.

When you plan ahead, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • The location and route you’d like to take
  • Length of the hike in both time and distance
  • How much you’ll be able to carry (weight)
  • Equipment you’ll have with you (weight)
  • Tools you might want to invest in to make the day comfortable

Once you’ve determined and made a note of these factors, you can better plan for your nourishment.    

Be Sure You’ll Stay Hydrated 

Food is important, but making sure you have enough water is even more so.

It’s crucial that you can stay hydrated throughout your hike, You’ll want to plan this out first.

How much water you will need will vary. It all depends on the climate, level of exertion, and your individual needs.

And if you’re older, you will have on average 10% less fluid in your body than young adults.

For starters, you can use a simple formula: For every hour you are planning to hike, plan to have two cups (16 oz.) of water with you.

So, if you’ll be hiking for 8 hours, you’ll want to bring a gallon (16 cups) of water.

The exception is on a hot and humid hike. Then, the recommendation is four cups per hour.

If that sounds like too much to carry, you could invest in a hydration backpack like this one. That will ensure you have plenty of water and make it easier to carry.

You can also sip from it as you go, rather than having to stop and pull out water bottles from your napsack.

To get a head start on hydration, drink one or two cups of water before you set off. Pre-hydrated also means you’ll have less to carry on your trip. This is helpful, especially as you’ll need to carry food.

Also, avoid drinking alcohol the night before a hike. That’s because alcohol causes dehydration.

It’s a good idea to bring some toilet paper with you, too, when ‘nature calls.’

Bring Nourishing Snacks for Your Hike 

Water keeps you hydrated, but food will provide the sustenance you need in terms of energy and electrolytes (salt). 

You’ll get hungry mid-morning and mid-afternoon, so pack some trail snacks.

That’s because you’ll be spending a lot of energy when you are hiking, even if the terrain is relatively flat. 

21 Good Hiking Snacks

Your snacks for a day hike need to be energy-giving, with plenty of nutrients packed into them. Opt for natural ingredients with a high nutritional value whenever possible.

Here are a few of our favorites. Pick one or two of these delicious hiking snacks:

That’s because you’ll be spending a lot of energy when you are hiking, even if the terrain is relatively flat. 

  1. Energy bars – Clif bars, Kind bars, and other protein bars. Just watch out for the added sugar content
  2. Trail mix – which you can make yourself. It’s easy to make your own trail mix!
  3. Fresh whole fruits – such as apples, bananas, oranges
  4. Dried fruit – like raisins, dried apricots or Medjool dates
  5. Frozen fruit – like frozen grapes!
  6. Peanut butter pretzels
  7. Your favorite nuts and seeds, like macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds
  8. Raw vegetables – even better with a healthy hummus dip
  9. Homemade energy balls
  10. Tuna packets and crackers
  11. Popcorn
  12. Olive packs – yes, that’s a thing!
  13. Beef jerky or meat sticks 
  14. Applesauce squeeze packets
  15. Dark Chocolate-covered almonds
  16. Hard cheeses – be sure to bring along cold pack to keep it fresh
  17. Dried cheese – like Parmesan crisps
  18. Fruit leather – again, watch the sugar content
  19. Granola or homemade granola bars
  20. Whole-grain tortillas
  21. Banana chips or plantain chips

Make sure to store your hiking snacks where you can easily reach them. The side pocket of your backpack can be a great option. That way you have easy access to your favorite snacks.

Plus, you can get a quick energy boost at any moment on your backpacking trip.

Hiking Lunch Ideas to Pack for Your Hike

If you’re planning to be out for the whole day, you’ll need something that you can eat for lunch. This would be a larger meal than the hiking snacks you’ve packed.

As with the snacks, make choices that are light-weight, nutrient rich, and will travel well.

Check out the Eatwith platform to find tons of great recipes and useful cooking workshops.

When you are thinking about what food to take with you for lunch, it’s important to consider the weather and choose accordingly.

For instance, if it’s hot, one of the easiest hiking lunch ideas might be light sandwiches.

Here are some delicious, nutritious sandwich ideas for hiking.

20 Great Sandwiches for Hiking

  1. Peanut Butter, Jelly, Banana & Honey on Wheat Bread
  2. Nutella, Sliced Almond, and Golden Raisins or Dried Cranberries in a Whole-grain tortillas
  3. Turkey, Swiss, Apple, and Honey Mustard in a Pocket 
  4. Ham, Cheddar, Olives, Whole Grain Mustard in a Roll-ups
  5. Hummus, Peppers, and Cucumber in a Pita
  6. Chicken Breast, Lettuce, Pickles, and Avocado on Rye
  7. Roast Beef and Chives Cream Cheese on a Sesame Bagel
  8. Brie Cheese, Apricot Jam, Apple on a Baguette
  9. Bacon, Romaine Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado on Country White (add mayo packet)
  10. Fresh Vegetables & Pesto in a Folio Parmesan Cheese Wrap
  11. Nutella on an English Muffin with a Chopped Peanuts and drizzle of Honey
  12. Spring Wrap with Carrots, Lettuce, Cucumber, Vermicilli, Basil, and a smear of Peanut Butter
  13. Salad Mix with sunflower seeds in a Whole Wheat Pita, dressing on the side
  14. Caprese Sandwich with Sliced Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, Basil on a hearty Ciabatta
  15. Grilled chicken, peppers, and onions in a Corn Tortilla Wrap
  16. Cheddar Cheese on Buttered Bread – it may melt along the way, like a Grilled Cheese!
  17. Buffalo Chicken with Shredded Carrots, Thinly Sliced Celery, Blue Cheese in a Tomato Wrap
  18. Meatballs and Provolone Cheese in a Sub Roll with a side of Marinara Sauce
  19. Almond Butter and Sliced Strawberries on Multigrain Bread
  20. Fresh Spinach, Feta, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts in a Spinach Wrap

Once you decide on your lunch for a hike, you’ll want to keep them contained. You can wrap them in plastic wrap or paper and foil.

Even so, t’s likely that your sandwich will get squished to a certain degree. But that’s okay! They will just be a bit like panini!

To avoid a mess, bring any sides in a in a well-sealed condiment container, like this one.

Finally, pack your lunch along with an ice-pack so they’ll stay cool until lunch time.

Or, you can get this compact freezable lunch pack. You simply freeze the entire bag overnight it take care of keeping your lunch cool by itself. You can fold it up after you eat.

That way, your sandwiches will be as fresh as possible.

Otherwise, you’ll have a sticky, unappetizing mess on your hands and in your backpack.


Food for Cold Weather Hikes

If the weather is cold, a good option is a thermos of a hearty kind of food. Think: white bean and kale soup [recipe here]. 

Invest in a good thermos to keep your soup, chili, or other meal nice and hot. This insulated THERMOS even comes with a spoon. And, it’s stainless steel, so clean-up will be a breeze.

Hiking Food Tips For a Day of Hiking

Remember to take an ice pack if you’re taking perishable food with you, especially if it’s a hot day. The last thing you’ll want is to get sick from food poisoning partway through your hike. 

And, before eating, be sure to clean your hands with soap and water or clean wipes.

Please, take any trash with you. For that, bring a zip-lock bag. I recommend these reseallable SmellyProof Bags.

Final Thoughts on the Best Snacks to Bring on a Hike

Once you have your plan, your lunch, plenty to drink, and enough snacks to see you through, it’s easy to have a wonderful day hiking in the wilderness.

There’s nothing better than getting back to nature

That’s especially when you’re well-prepared for your next adventure with these popular hiking snacks!

Going Beyond The Day Hike 

If you love day hiking and have been thinking about extending the adventure to tent camping, you can begin by camping close to home.

Here are some tips to get started:

Tip 1: You’ll want to choose your camp site wisely.

Tip 2: It’s important to select a good quality tent.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about these and the other Important Tips for Tent Camping Close to Home.

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This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

Photo credits: Mountnaineer – Hermann Traub, PB&J – Muhammad Ragab, Trail Mix – Thomas B., Trail Map – USA-Reiseblogger, Soup in Thermos – StockSnap (Pixabay); Roll-up – Nishant Aneja, Granola Bars, Annelies Brouw (Pexels).

Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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