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:
- Why it’s Important to Plan Food on a Day Hike
- Make Your Hiking Plan First
- Be Sure You’ll Stay Hydrated
- Bring Nourishing Hiking Snacks
- Pack a Healthy Lunch – Hiking Lunch Ideas
- Hiking Food Tips to Remember
- Final Thoughts on Good Hiking Snacks
- Going Beyond the Day Hike (Tent Camping)
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
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.
If you’re in a hurry, grab ready meals from Ideal Nutrition or similar delivery that offers healthy foods to keep you fueled for long.
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.)
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
Planning your hike ahead of time is a great idea for several important reasons.
- It will give you a better idea of how far you’re going to go and what you might see when you’re walking.
- You will be able to determine your food and water needs for your excursion.
- 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.
- Energy bars – Clif bars, Kind bars, and other protein bars. Just watch out for the added sugar content
- Trail mix – which you can make yourself. It’s easy to make your own trail mix!
- Fresh whole fruits – such as apples, bananas, oranges
- Dried fruit – like raisins, dried apricots or Medjool dates
- Frozen fruit – like frozen grapes!
- Peanut butter pretzels
- Your favorite nuts and seeds, like macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds
- Raw vegetables – even better with a healthy hummus dip
- Homemade energy balls
- Tuna packets and crackers
- Olive packs – yes, that’s a thing!
- Beef jerky or meat sticks
- Applesauce squeeze packets
- Dark Chocolate-covered almonds
- Hard cheeses – be sure to bring along cold pack to keep it fresh
- Dried cheese – like Parmesan crisps
- Fruit leather – again, watch the sugar content
- Granola or homemade granola bars
- Whole-grain tortillas
- 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
- Peanut Butter, Jelly, Banana & Honey on Wheat Bread
- Nutella, Sliced Almond, and Golden Raisins or Dried Cranberries in a Whole-grain tortillas
- Turkey, Swiss, Apple, and Honey Mustard in a Pocket
- Ham, Cheddar, Olives, Whole Grain Mustard in a Roll-ups
- Hummus, Peppers, and Cucumber in a Pita
- Chicken Breast, Lettuce, Pickles, and Avocado on Rye
- Roast Beef and Chives Cream Cheese on a Sesame Bagel
- Brie Cheese, Apricot Jam, Apple on a Baguette
- Bacon, Romaine Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado on Country White (add mayo packet)
- Fresh Vegetables & Pesto in a Folio Parmesan Cheese Wrap
- Nutella on an English Muffin with a Chopped Peanuts and drizzle of Honey
- Spring Wrap with Carrots, Lettuce, Cucumber, Vermicilli, Basil, and a smear of Peanut Butter
- Salad Mix with sunflower seeds in a Whole Wheat Pita, dressing on the side
- Caprese Sandwich with Sliced Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, Basil on a hearty Ciabatta
- Grilled chicken, peppers, and onions in a Corn Tortilla Wrap
- Cheddar Cheese on Buttered Bread – it may melt along the way, like a Grilled Cheese!
- Buffalo Chicken with Shredded Carrots, Thinly Sliced Celery, Blue Cheese in a Tomato Wrap
- Meatballs and Provolone Cheese in a Sub Roll with a side of Marinara Sauce
- Almond Butter and Sliced Strawberries on Multigrain Bread
- 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 awesome 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 resealable 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.
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).
18 thoughts on “41 Good Hiking Snacks & Hiking Lunch Ideas for Your Next Day Hike”
Wow what a great list and such wonderful tips. Not too much into hiking I do believe these tips are equally useful when you ever explore a new city where a lot of walk is involved. Thanks very useful piece of ideas on snacks, energy bars and sandwiches and love it being a foodie.
Yes, these snacks would be perfect for a city break, too! Glad you found these ideas helpful. 🙂
These are great and practical tips. I agree with you that it is important that we keep ourselves hydrated. I had no idea how to determine how much water I need so super appreciate the simple formula you shared. Love the snack ideas too — I usually just pack energy bars.
It’s incredible how much water you can lose hiking! Glad the formula will help you and you liked the snack ideas. Energy bars are so convenient to bring, too.
I wouldn’t have thought of creating a blog post on hiking snack ideas, but it’s a great idea. You have so many wonderful snack ideas, as well as delicious sandwich options. I usually do pack my own food and snacks when hiking so that we don’t have to be restricted to leaving in time to find a restaurant. Thanks for the great tips!
You are very welcome, Tami! Glad you found some good snack ideas here for your next hiking adventure!
These are some really thoughtful ideas. Lunch is something I always look forward to during my hikes/treks. I mostly pack myself fruits, granola bars, veg sandwiches, water bottle. A lot of interesting sandwich ideas!
Sounds like you’ve got snack-packing down! Sandwiches are so under-rated, and don’t have to be boring at all.
Good to know for every hour I hike I need two cups of water, I have definitely not followed that guideline in the past. I usually do bring trail mix, and I love the idea of frozen grapes
It is amazing how quickly you can get dehydrated when hiking. The frozen grapes are fun to try!
I completely agree with you, great snacks make great hikes 🙂 I always take granola bars with some kind of chocolate as I love it and small fresh veggies and pesto sandwiches but loved all those new ideas you gave here!
I’m so glad to hear, Amalia! Thanks for your suggestions, too.
Nice ideas. For snacks, I would carry nuts and dried fruits and veggies. For lunch, I would have bread and cheese pimiento. Those would be the lightest and simplest.
I have not tried cheese pimiento – sounds yummy! Great idea, and light and simple is a must.
This is such a complete and useful guide for hiking eating ideas. I really like your tip on how much water to bring per hiking hour, as I usually forget to bring enough water on my solo hikes. The pesto with fresh vegetables and parmesan cheese wrap and the chicken with pepper sandwich ideas sound really tasty to me. Thanks for sharing these useful tips!
Thank you, Pilar. Happy you found some good ideas here!
I love to hike so all these snack items are what I also bring along since I’m a snacking kinda guy and love eating while walking. I haven’t thought about bringing frozen fruit and I think that’s a great idea for something icy cold as a nice alternative especially on very hot days.
I’m glad to offer a new idea to an experienced hiker like you. Frozen fruit can be such a refreshing treat!
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