Day Hiking: Snack Essentials

by  Autumn — May 28, 2018

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend day is on a hike. My husband and I really got into day hiking while living in northern California, and would spend every single weekend out somewhere new, exploring the beautiful trails and mountains of the west coast. Now back east in North Carolina, it continues to be a great way to spend time together, get some joyful movement for our bodies, and enjoy this amazing planet.

Each new trail adventure brings an opportunity to iterate your fuel and snacking strategy. What started as simple PB&J sandwiches in our packs has evolved into foods with sustenance, texture and taste variety, hydration, and excellent flavor. Here are some of our very favorite foods to pack for a day hike, to keep you going strong even into hours 6 or 7. I’ve broken them into two main categories: fresh and non-perishable.


  • Snap peas or snow peas – great crunch, super sweet (if in season).
  • Carrot sticks – same crunch factor and sweetness.
  • Mini-cucumbers – these are a GAME CHANGER. You can eat them whole, and they are so incredibly refreshing at the top of a big climb. Trust me, you want to pack these.
  • Cuties/Mandarin oranges – while perhaps slightly more messy to peel/eat, they are juicy, hydrating and so delicious at the top of the peak.
  • Apples – I prefer to cut mine into slices in advance and eat as I go, rather than having to eat the whole thing in one sitting.
  • Bananas – come in their own package, and the perfect fuel for an active day.


  • Trail mix – make your own with a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, even popcorn, or buy it pre-made. Trader Joe’s has some of the best pre-made varieties in my opinion.
  • Bars – with so many available, take your pick! I like KIND bars, RX bars if I need a little more protein, or Fig Bars for a better carb option.
  • PB&J (or PB & banana) – still a standard for a reason. It is the perfect sustaining fueling blend of carbs, protein and a bit of fat. Best of all, it always tastes good (even if it gets smooshed in your pack).

Other considerations:

  • WATER!  This is a no brainer, but always bring more water than you think you will need. There is nothing worse than running out. Plus, keep a cooler in your car with extra water on ice packs in case you need more after the hike. This is a great place to keep some other extra goodies too, like strawberries (great after a long jaunt), or even a cheese stick or yogurt if your ice packs will stay cold long enough.

I hope this helps you plan for your next hike, or just encourages you to get out there and explore!