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The Best Trail Treats For Any Adventure

All The Food You'll Need...From Snacks To Meals

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Adventure Feet First - Food On The Trail - Snacks

Mmmm, Trail Treats...

If you’re like us, no matter how fun and exciting your adventure plans, sometimes the snacks you pack is anything but fun and exciting. Often, we plan an adventure at the last minute, grab a couple of the same pre-packaged bars that we always keep in the kitchen, and eventually ingest a mostly tasteless cube of calories for strictly functional reasons, to prevent bonking. 

But on our better days, we plan slightly ahead, think creatively, and actually enjoy delicious trail snacks that make a fun adventure even better. We know that bars get old, and so many pre-packaged options are unappealingly sugary and all taste the same after a while. So we offer below a multitude of ideas for better trail treats. 

Tips For Choosing The Snacks You Pack

For most adventures, but especially for long (all-day or longer) outings and outings in hot conditions, it’s important to eat a mix of salty and sweet food. Sufficient salt intake is important for preventing the dangerous condition known as hyponatremia [learn more about how to avoid dehydration and other heat illnesses]. In addition to the medical importance of mixing in salty foods, we’ve found from experience that packing a variety of snacks is the best way to eat enough to adventure safely. Sometimes, once an adventure is underway, certain foods lack appeal despite how good they looked in the store. Bringing a variety increases the odds of having something appetizing to eat when you’re working hard and need calories.

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Food To Make At Home For The Trail

Sometimes, packing better trail food simply requires a paradigm shift as to what constitutes “trail food.” Many foods we tend to make only for at-home meals work well as trail food, too!

  • Brownies: Dense brownies hold up well on the trail, especially in a storage container. A mix we love for anyone with food allergies or intolerance is the brownie almond flour mix by Simple Mills.
  • Pizza Bagels: Break out of a boring sandwich rut by preparing a pizza bagel ahead of time. Spread a thin layer of red sauce on each half, sprinkle on some shredded cheese or add thin cheese slices, top with some pepperoni, and toast in the oven. Let your creation cool, then pack it up for a delicious trail meal.
  • Quesadillas: Another great way to change up a sandwich routine. We like adding salt when we know we’ll be working up a sweat and chili powder for extra yum.
  • Any meal that can be stored in a container: Pack a spoon or fork, and suddenly your trail food options for a day hike expand dramatically, especially in cool weather when prepared food can be stored safely. Pasta salad, broccoli slaw, and quinoa or rice dishes all make great trailside meals. Dishes that incorporate a few different colors of veggies, an herb like cilantro or mint, and a splash of citrus really hit the spot.
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Food To Dehydrate For The Trail

A dehydrator is a fantastic tool for preparing delicious and balanced trail meals or snacks. These home appliances are available in models ranging from budget to super fancy. With an accurate oven thermometer, you can also use your oven to dehydrate. Here are some of our favorite dehydrated trail snacks.

  • Fruit Leather: Simply blend most any fruits you like to an even consistency, pour the pureé on a dehydrator try, and dry according to your dehydrator’s instructions. Fruits are best dried at 135-145 degrees, and drying time depends on humidity. We like to set aside fruit as it ripens, storing it in the freezer until we’re ready to make fruit leather. That way, we can have fruit leather made of delicious, ripe stone fruit or summer berries anytime of the year. Try adding a pinch of cinnamon or even cayenne for extra delicious results. You may want to try this before you need to fruit leather on the trail as it is easy to over dehydrate and create “fruit chips” that quickly become “fruit dust” if not handled delicately.
  • Tofu Jerky: This snack is especially great for plant-based eaters looking for some easy-to-pack protein, but with the right marinade, carnivores too will enjoy this yummy, crunchy snack. Slice a block of tofu into uniformly thin slices, about ¼-inch thick. Soak the slices overnight in your favorite marinade or sauce; we love a lemongrass marinade below. Spread the slices in a single layer on a dehydrator tray, and dry until uniformly crispy.
  • Fruit: Drying your own fruit saves money and means you can get just that—fruit—without any added unnecessary ingredients. Our favorite unexpectedly delicious homemade dried fruit? Oranges! Peel an orange, slice it into discs along lines of latitude, and dry on the fruit setting. Plenty of other fruits taste delicious (and generally fresher and more flavorful than their store-bought counterparts): try apples, bananas, and peaches. Prep fruit by slicing it into pieces of uniform size and dehydrate until it has a bit of crunch (usually 4-8 hours depending upon size).
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Salty + Savory Snacks For The Trail

If you’re used to purchasing your trail snacks you’re probably used to finding a LOT of sugar in the options available to you. This is especially true for food geared toward trail running or hiking. While sugar can provide a quick boost you may find you’re craving salt more often.

  • Cheese: Hard cheeses can hold up in a pack for multiple days, especially in cool weather. String cheese is also a great option as it is already individually packaged for a snack on the go and it will withstand not-too-hot days on the trail. We also love products like Moon Cheese and other generic versions of the same concept, like the one available at Sprouts.  The only ingredient in this stuff is cheese, but it’s dehydrated into a crisp disc that is savory, salty, and crunchy. It makes a great ingredient in a savory trail mix.
  • Fritos: Yes, really. Have you tried a Frito lately? Just corn, oil, and salt make a totally delicious salty snack when you’re working hard… and, somewhat concerning, also when you’re not.
  • Plantain Chips: One of our favorite ways to add salt and crunch to our trail menu. 
  • Fancy Chips: There are many chip options made of black beans, quinoa, root vegetables, and other non-potato ingredients are fun ways to change things up.
  • Good Ol’ Chips and Salsa: Bring along a can of salsa as your luxury item (or snag the four packs of individually packaged salsa), and pack some delicious tortilla chips. If you really want to overachieve, pack a knife, chili powder, and an avocado, too. Protect the avocado in a lidded container that can also function as your guacamole bowl. 
  • Sturdy crackers: They pair well with the cheese and dried fruit. Triscuits, Nut Thins and Wheat Thins (as well as their generic counterparts) survive well in packs. Lots of rice crackers come in their own protective sleeve.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Available in bulk at some health food stores, these are a unique way to add variety.
  • Sesame Sticks: These are great either as their own snack or in the salty trail mixes that contain sesame sticks, especially ones with spicy seasoning.
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              Bonus Treats For The Trail

              We can all pare down the stash of food in our packs, but let’s be honest…we’re all out there earning that view to go along with our meal or snack. With that in mind, treat your self! Allow yourself a little extra weight or room in your pack for some of these bonus treats.

              • A Hot Drink: In the winter, pack a thermos of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Or pack a backpacking stove and fuel to brew your drink on the spot. A treat of a steaming hot chocolate on a cold day can provide a major physical and mental boost. 
              • Chocolate: This may be our desert island food. But caution! It melts! Candy coating can help. This makes almond, caramel, peanut and pretzel M&M’s a great option (trust us!). Otherwise, consider chocolate only for cool-weather adventures. Chocolate-covered nuts are especially great.
              • Banana Chips and Nutella: These two make a great combo and are easy to pack to eat on the go. This is especially true if you branch out in flavor and acquire the single serving nut butter packets like Justin’s Nut Butter.
              • Candied Ginger: Ginger is a refreshing treat, especially in hot weather. It has a dual purpose as a stomach settler if you’re having a rough day on the trails.
              • Cold Brew Tea: This can be a nice change of pace from drinking water. Use powdered tea mixes or tea bags specifically for cold brewing for tea in minutes, or just use any tea bag you want, and let it soak for a few hours.
              • Nut Butters: You’ll find they come in seemingly endless varieties now, including many blends of multiple types of nuts and ones with added chocolate. We like spreading nut butter on tortillas and sturdy crackers.
              • Rice Krispie Treats: Yes, sugary…but if you make your own rice krispie treats you can add extra butter for extra flavor as well as extra fat to burn on your adventure.

                          Try out some of these options on your next adventure to ensure that no matter how the day goes, you’ll at least be eating well! Having the right snacks, or even full meals, can make or break an adventure — so plan ahead and pack snacks! Adventure Feet First is here to help you find your way to trails as great as your treats; contact us to learn more about our adventure planning options.

                          Erica Rackley

                          Erica lives, works, and plays in the Mountain West. She is an avid trail runner and hiker who loves exploring new places on foot. An instructor and guide, she enjoys showing others the beauty of the special places she loves. Find her teaching a ski lesson, running longer than is probably sane, making (or, preferably, eating) good food, or learning a new plant name.

                          “So long as you have food in your mouth you have solved all problems for the time being.”

                          - Franz Kafka

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