7 best hiking snacks to boost energy and keep you full, according to an expert

Hiking can be hungry work, so make sure you're prepared with these expert-approved snacks

A woman sitting on a hill mid hike eating a energy bar
(Image credit: Getty Images)

No one likes being hangry, especially on a hike, which is why it’s key to make sure you head out prepared with the best hiking snacks. After all, hiking is hungry work! With the weight of your hiking backpack and different terrain, your body will be using a lot more energy than it would just walking, which means it will need fuel (food).

The best hiking are those that are portable, lightweight and with good nutritional value. You'll want to consider the weather conditions too (no one enjoys reaching for a melted bar of chocolate at the bottom of their bag). 

So, what are the best hiking snacks to take out on the trails? Below, Dr. Suzanne Hackenmiller, Chief Medical Advisor at AllTrails, shares her top seven snacks that will not only give you that all-important energy boost, but will help keep you feeling full too. 

1. Trail mix

hiking snack trail mix

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A blend of nuts and fruit is undoubtedly one of the most popular hiking snacks, because it's easy to pack, doesn't spoil and has great nutritional value. "Trail mix provides sustained energy through healthy unsaturated fats, proteins, and carbohydrates," says Dr. Hackenmiller. "The dried fruits are also a good source of quick-digesting carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores."

2. Energy bars and gels

Energy bars and gels offer a concentrated source of calories and nutrients, making them ideal for energy boosts for when on the trail. "Gels are especially easy to digest and deliver some electrolytes to replace those lost while out hiking," says Dr. Hackenmiller. "I recommend consuming a gel or a bar at least every hour while exerting and, in high heat, you might need to replenish even more frequently." She also recommends following these up with a large swig of water.

3. Jerky

Beef jerky

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"High in protein and often low in fat, jerky helps maintain energy levels and supports muscle repair without adding excessive weight to your pack," says Dr. Hackenmiller. It's also lightweight and won't take up a lot of room in your hiking backpack (you can even stuff a pack in your waterproof jacket pocket and eat on the go).

4. Dried and fresh fruits

Sugars provide a quick, simple source of energy and while sweets may be the tastier option, fruit is obviously going to be better for you as it's natural sugars. "Dried and fresh fruits is also rich in vitamins and fibre, will can help increase your hiking performance," adds Dr. Hackenmiller. 

5. Nut butter packets

"Nut butter packets aren't just portable, but they provide a concentrated source of healthy fats, protein, and calories, which are great for sustained energy through a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream," says Dr. Hackenmiller. Eat straight from the pack or spread on enjoy a rice cake.

6. Veggie sticks

Hiking snack carrot sticks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Think carrots, cumber, celery and peppers. "Not only will they provide hydration, fibre, and essential vitamins, but veggie sticks are also refreshing and nutritious," says Dr. Hackenmiller. They'll give you a light and energising boost on the trail, but just make sure to wrap them up carefully and that they don't get squashed.

7. Electrolytes

Ok, so this may not be a snack as such, but it's still something you should add to your snack list, especially when doing longer hikes. "If you intend to be out on the trail for more than 30 minutes, especially during the heat of summer, consider adding electrolytes to your water," says Dr. Hackenmiller. Electrolytes will help replenish the salts that you lose during excessive sweating, preventing dehydration.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.