One of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the easy access to amazing hikes, walks, strolls and paddles in our forests and waterways.
Whether you’re taking the kids on a short jaunt through the local woods, or attempting to summit Mount Rainier, make sure you load up on snacks that will keep you going strong before, during and after your trip.
When loading up your backpack, choose options that are healthy, delicious and best served cold. Load up on energy, but be careful not to load your bag. Lightweight and easy-to-pack options and are a good bet, unless you want to spend extra calories carrying heavy snacks.
There are plenty of homemade and store-bought choices to take on the trail. Save money by making your own trail mixes and energy bars, or save time and select some great choices from the grocery shelves. Whether you make it or buy it, read ingredient labels to avoid items that are loaded with added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
Ready to get your engine going? Reach for these healthy and tasty options:
Loaded with antioxidants and vitamin B, chocolate is easy to digest, a great source of protein and fat, and makes you feel good. Go with dark chocolate, which has less added sugars. Pick your favorite bar from the shelf or make your own toasted coconut chocolate cookies.
Easily digestible carbohydrates will fuel your muscles without making you feel heavy and sluggish, plus they’re packed with fiber. Reach for whole wheat bread or pasta, oats, brown rice or vegetables.
If you’re headed out for a short trip, pick up some pre-made brown rice vegetarian sushi for an on-the-trail lunch. Or make your own granola with oats, nuts and fruit for a power-packed snack or homemade cereal bars, using whole-grain cereal, peanut butter and honey as a natural sweetener.
Nuts and seeds
The perfect combination of fat and protein, nuts and seeds give your body an energy boost (and also help to rebuild and repair muscle after the hike). Plus they are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fat (helping you feel full) and a great vegetarian protein option. Buy a handful of your favorites in bulk and make your own mix or whip together nut bars or trail mix to take on the trail.
Packed with a high water content that helps you restore water lost through sweat, fresh fruit satisfies thirst. Choose durable fruit, like apples, oranges and grapes, that won’t get squished in your backpack.
Nutritionally dense and lightweight, dried fruit is a great alternative to fresh, if you’re looking to save space in your pack. Remember to drink plenty of water when eating dried fruit, as your stomach re-hydrates the fruit to digest it. Baked cinnamon apple chips are lightly spiced or swap out for some veggies with krispy kale chips.
If you’re looking for something a little more robust, pack cheese, jerky or other proteins. Ready-to-eat chicken and tuna can be found in sealed pouches. Pack hard cheese, like chunks of Parmesan, which will last without refrigeration. There are a lot of great jerkies to choose from, or try making your own homemade beef jerky.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2019, and updated in May 2021.