Stay Fueled: Best Backpacking Snacks for Your Outdoor Escapades

backpacking snacks

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Are you tired of struggling to find snacks for your multi-day backpacking trip?

It can be frustrating to carry snacks that don’t last, provide insufficient nutrition, or take up too much space in your backpack. Bland and monotonous snacks can dampen your spirits and leave you craving something more satisfying. Plus, constantly searching for suitable options can be time-consuming and stressful.

Introducing a range of carefully selected backpacking snacks will revolutionize your outdoor eating experience. Say goodbye to the hassle of choosing the right snacks and embrace these portable, durable, and nutritious options.

We will not be discussing your own backpacking meals or freeze-dried meals in this post since that is a whole subject on its own.

Shelf Stable Backpacking Snacks

Trail Mix

Backpacking snacks

Trail mix is a beloved and versatile snack for your backpacking trip, offering a delightful combination of flavors, textures, and nutrients that provide sustained energy throughout your outdoor endeavors. This mix typically includes a variety of nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and sweet treats, creating a balanced and delicious snacking option.

Nuts are a staple in a mix, providing a satisfying crunch, healthy fats, and protein. Popular nut choices include almonds, cashews, walnuts, and peanuts. Almonds offer a good dose of vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats.

Cashews provide a creamy texture and are rich in minerals like zinc and magnesium. Walnuts contribute omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain function and heart health. Peanuts are a budget-friendly option packed with protein, fiber, and folate. These nuts supply sustained energy, promote satiety, and deliver essential nutrients for optimal performance on the trail.

Dried fruit adds natural sweetness, chewiness, and flavor. Common dried fruits in trail mix include raisins, cranberries, apricots, and cherries. Raisins are a classic choice, providing a concentrated source of carbohydrates and antioxidants.

Cranberries offer a tangy taste and are known for their potential urinary tract health benefits. Apricots provide a delightful chewiness and are rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Cherries contribute antioxidants and a pleasant tartness.

Dried fruit enhances the flavor profile of trail mix and provides vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that support overall well-being.

Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, or chia seeds are often included for added nutritional value. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, iron, and zinc, while sunflower seeds offer a good source of vitamin E and healthy fats. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants.

These tiny powerhouses provide an extra crunch and deliver essential nutrients contributing to sustained energy and overall health.

To add a touch of sweetness and indulgence, trail mix often includes sweet treats like chocolate chips, yogurt-covered raisins, or dried coconut flakes. These treats contrast the other ingredients pleasantly, making the mix even more enticing and satisfying. However, it’s essential to consider the melting potential of chocolate in warmer climates and pack accordingly.

The beauty of trail mix lies in its versatility. You can customize the blend to your liking, adjusting the proportions of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and sweet treats according to your preferences and dietary needs.

Additionally, portioning your mix into resealable bags or containers allows easy and convenient snacking on the trail while minimizing waste.

Trail mix is an all-in-one snack that combines the benefits of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and a range of essential nutrients. Its portability, long shelf life, and ability to provide sustained energy make it a go-to snack for backpackers.

So, embrace the delightful medley of flavors and textures in your mix, knowing that it not only fuels your adventures but also adds an element of joy to your outdoor experience.

Here are some nuts that are generally good options for backpacking food


Almonds are popular for backpacking due to their high nutritional content and durability. They are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, providing sustained energy.


Peanuts are another excellent option. They are rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber and tend to be more affordable than other nuts.


Cashews are a tasty and nutritious choice. They contain healthy fats, protein, and minerals like magnesium and zinc.


Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties. They also provide protein and fiber.


Pecans are nutrient-dense nuts that offer healthy fats, fiber, and minerals like manganese and zinc.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are known for their high selenium content, an important antioxidant. They are also a good source of healthy fats and protein.


Pistachios are lower in calories than other nuts and offer a good combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

When packing nuts for backpacking, consider portioning them into small, resealable bags or containers to ensure convenient and easy access while on the trail. Additionally, be mindful of any nut allergies or personal preferences of yourself or your fellow backpackers.

High-Energy Bars

Backpacking snacks

High-energy bars designed specifically for outdoor activities are meticulously formulated to provide optimal nutrition for sustained performance and endurance during demanding adventures.

These bars are expertly crafted with a well-balanced combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, precisely tailored to meet the energy requirements of backpacking trips.

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for physical activity, and these bars contain a carefully selected blend of complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and oats, deliver a steady release of energy, while simple carbohydrates, often derived from dried fruits or honey, provide quick bursts of readily available fuel when needed.

In addition to carbohydrates, these bars are fortified with high-quality proteins sourced from ingredients like whey, soy, or nuts. Proteins are crucial in repairing and building muscles, aiding recovery, and keeping you satisfied during prolonged exertion.

To enhance the overall nutritional profile, these bars also incorporate healthy fats. These fats, derived from sources like nuts, seeds, or nut butter, provide a concentrated energy source and help sustain energy levels over an extended period.

Furthermore, healthy fats support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and contribute to the feeling of satiety.

These bars are carefully portioned and conveniently packaged, making them easily accessible during breaks on the trail. Their durable composition ensures they withstand the rigors of backpacking without crumbling or melting, making them an ideal companion for long hikes, challenging terrains, or adverse weather conditions.

With their optimal balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, these high-energy bars are designed to keep you fueled, nourished, and energized during your backpacking journey, allowing you to enjoy the adventure while maintaining peak performance fully.

Protein-Rich Jerky

Backpacking snacks

Protein-rich jerky options such as beef, turkey, or salmon are exceptional choices that offer many benefits for backpacking enthusiasts. They provide a lightweight and long-lasting source of sustenance and deliver a range of essential nutrients vital for optimal performance in the great outdoors.

Starting with beef jerky, it is a classic and widely available option. It boasts a robust flavor and is packed with high-quality protein, crucial in muscle repair and recovery. Beef jerky is also rich in iron and B vitamins, aiding in oxygen transport and energy production.

Turkey jerky offers a leaner alternative while still delivering a substantial protein punch. It contains less fat than beef jerky, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a leaner protein source.

Turkey jerky also provides essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins and essential for various physiological functions.

For seafood enthusiasts, salmon jerky is a standout option. This protein-rich snack offers a unique and savory flavor and a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties, heart health benefits, and support for brain function, making salmon jerky a nutritional powerhouse.

These jerky options are carefully prepared and dehydrated, resulting in a lightweight and portable snack that can be conveniently packed for a backpacking trip. The dehydration process removes moisture, enhancing the jerky’s shelf life and ensuring it remains fresh and edible for extended periods.

This durability makes it ideal for outdoor adventures where refrigeration or delicate food handling is not always feasible.

In addition to their protein content, jerky options like beef, turkey, or salmon are typically low in carbohydrates, which can be advantageous for individuals following low-carb or ketogenic diets.

Their compact size and long shelf life make them a convenient choice for quick, on-the-go snacking, providing sustained energy and helping to stave off hunger pangs while navigating trails or conquering challenging terrain.

By incorporating protein-rich jerky options like beef, turkey, or salmon into your backpacking provisions, you’ll enjoy a light, durable, and nutrient-dense snack that fuels your body, promotes muscle recovery, and satisfies your taste buds, ensuring you’re ready to conquer whatever adventures lie ahead.

Single-Serving Nut Butter Packets

Convenient single-serving nut butter packets are an absolute game-changer when providing a versatile and nutritious snack option during your backpacking trip.

These handy packets are meticulously designed to offer the utmost convenience, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of nut butter without the need for bulky jars or utensils.

Whether you opt for classic peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or other nut butter varieties, these single-serving packets are perfectly portioned for on-the-go consumption.

The individual packets ensure freshness, prevent spoilage, and eliminate the hassle of carrying larger containers, making them an ideal companion for backpackers seeking lightweight and space-efficient options.

Nut butter’s smooth and creamy texture makes it incredibly easy to spread on crackers or pair with fresh fruits like apples, bananas, or berries. This pairing creates a delightful blend of flavors and textures while providing a balanced snack that combines healthy fats and protein.

Nut butter is renowned for its exceptional nutritional profile. It is an abundant source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which support heart health and sustain energy.

Additionally, nut butter offers a generous amount of protein, essential for muscle recovery and maintenance during physically demanding outdoor activities.

These single-serving packets also eliminate the need for utensils, allowing you to enjoy your snack directly from the packet, reducing waste and clean-up. This convenience is particularly valuable during backpacking, where carrying and cleaning utensils can be cumbersome and time-consuming.

The individual packets are typically made from durable and lightweight materials, ensuring they can withstand the rigors of backpacking without puncturing or leaking. They can be easily packed into pockets, compartments, or pouches, allowing for quick access whenever you need a boost of energy or a satisfying snack along the trail.

With their compact size, versatility, and nutritional benefits, these single-serving nut butter packets elevate the snacking experience during backpacking trips. They provide a delicious and nutritious combination of healthy fats and protein, promoting sustained energy levels and fueling you for the adventure ahead.

Say goodbye to messy and cumbersome jarred nut butter, and embrace the convenience and flavor-packed goodness of single-serving nut butter packets during your next backpacking excursion.

Crackers or Rice Cakes

Backpacking snacks

Sturdy crackers or rice cakes are a reliable and versatile choice for backpacking, offering a satisfying crunch and a convenient vehicle for a range of delectable toppings. These durable snacks are designed to withstand the rigors of backpacking, ensuring they remain intact and uncrushed throughout your journey.

When paired with complementary toppings like cheese, nut butter, summer sausage, or tuna pouches, these crackers or rice cakes transform into a flavor-packed treat that satiates hunger and provides essential nutrients for sustained energy.

Cheese, with its rich and creamy texture, adds a delightful savory component to the crackers or rice cakes. Hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda are particularly suitable for backpacking as they are less prone to melting or spoiling without refrigeration.

They provide a source of protein, calcium, and healthy fats, enhancing the snack’s flavor and nutritional profile.

Backpacking snacks

Nut butter, whether peanut butter, almond butter, or another variety, serves as a satisfying and nutritious topping for crackers or rice cakes. The creamy and indulgent nature of nut butter pairs perfectly with the crunch of the crackers or rice cakes, creating a balanced blend of textures.

Nut butter is an excellent source of healthy fats, proteins, and essential nutrients, contributing to sustained energy levels and overall satiety.

For seafood enthusiasts, tuna pouches are a convenient and protein-rich option that pairs well with crackers or rice cakes. Tuna pouches are easy to pack, lightweight, and require no refrigeration. They provide a source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals.

Adding tuna to the crackers or rice cakes enhances the taste and boosts the snack’s nutritional value. And pack a little bottle of hot sauce for an added kick. We love the Yellowbird Organic flavors.

Combining sturdy crackers or rice cakes with complementary toppings offers a range of flavors and textures to suit your preferences. These snacks can be portioned and packed in resealable bags to ensure freshness and prevent crushing.

Whether enjoyed as a quick energy-boosting bite or a more substantial mini-meal during breaks along the trail, these flavorful combinations provide a satisfying and nourishing treat to keep you going during your backpacking adventure.

With their resilience, versatility, and potential for customization, sturdy crackers or rice cakes, when complemented with cheese, nut butter, or tuna pouches, become the perfect go-to snack that satisfies your taste buds and replenishes your energy stores, allowing you to enjoy the journey ahead fully.

Dehydrated Fruit

Backpacking snacks

Dehydrated fruit is an exceptional choice for backpackers seeking a lightweight, compact, and nutritious snack that bursts with natural sugars and refreshing flavors. Through a careful dehydration process, the water content of the fruit is removed, resulting in a light and concentrated snack that retains its natural sweetness and flavor.

Various dehydrated fruits, including mangoes, apples, berries, and bananas, are available. These fruits offer a range of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, making them a valuable addition to your backpacking provisions.

Mangoes, when dehydrated, retain their vibrant tropical taste and chewy texture. Packed with vitamins A and C and antioxidants, they provide a refreshing and nutrient-rich snack that boosts immune function and promotes overall well-being.

Dehydrated apples maintain their signature tartness and satisfying crunch. Apples are a great source of dietary fiber, aiding digestion and providing a feeling of fullness. They also offer a range of antioxidants and vitamins, making them ideal for sustaining energy levels during long hikes or strenuous activities.

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, transform into delightful and concentrated morsels of flavor. Bursting with antioxidants, these dehydrated fruits provide a natural sweetness that satisfies cravings while contributing to overall health and well-being.

Bananas, when dehydrated, become chewy and slightly caramelized, creating a unique snacking experience. Dehydrated bananas are rich in potassium, which supports proper muscle function and hydration, making them an excellent choice for replenishing electrolytes during physical exertion.

Dehydrated fruit’s lightweight and compact nature makes it an ideal choice for backpackers looking to minimize weight and maximize nutrition. These snacks can be easily packed into small resealable bags, occupying minimal space in your backpack while providing a quick and convenient source of natural sugars and energy.

Dehydrated fruit is a versatile snack for a customized blend of flavors, textures, and other mixes components like nuts, seeds, or chocolate. It offers a refreshing respite from savory snacks and adds a touch of natural sweetness to your backpacking journey.

By incorporating dehydrated fruit into your backpacking provisions, you’ll relish its lightweight, compact, and naturally flavorful benefits. These portable bites of nature’s goodness supply you with natural sugars, essential nutrients, and a taste of refreshment amidst your outdoor escapades.

Hard Cheeses

Backpacking snacks

Hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda are exceptional choices for backpacking due to their remarkable resilience without refrigeration. These cheeses offer a delightful and satisfying snack option that adds richness, flavor, and nutrients to your outdoor adventure.

Cheddar cheese is a classic favorite among cheese enthusiasts with its robust and tangy flavor. It is known for its firm texture, which makes it less prone to melting or spoiling in varying temperatures.

Cheddar cheese is typically aged, allowing it to develop complex flavors and a slightly crumbly texture. It pairs exceptionally well with crackers and bread or is even eaten on its own, providing a savory and indulgent snack that satisfies the taste buds.

Gouda cheese, originating from the Netherlands, is a semi-hard cheese renowned for its creamy, buttery flavor. This cheese is notable for maintaining its texture and taste even in non-refrigerated conditions.

Gouda cheese boasts a smooth and supple texture, making it easy to slice or cube for convenient snacking. It complements crackers, fruit, or nuts, offering a satisfying blend of flavors and textures.

The resilience of hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda stems from their low moisture content and the aging process. These factors contribute to their extended shelf life and make them well-suited for your backpacking trip, where refrigeration may not be readily available.

Their firm texture and protective rinds help preserve the cheese, ensuring it remains intact and ready to enjoy throughout your journey.

In addition to their delightful taste, hard cheeses offer nutritional benefits. They are a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins, including vitamin B12. Protein is essential for muscle recovery and maintenance during physically demanding activities, while calcium supports bone health.

Hard cheeses also provide a dose of healthy fats, aiding energy production and satiety.

Packaging hard cheeses for backpacking is recommended to portion them into individually wrapped or sealed packages, such as wax paper or ziplock bags. This helps maintain freshness, prevent odor transfer, and minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

These portable cheese portions can be easily stowed in your backpack, making them a convenient and delicious snack option for whenever hunger strikes on the trail.

With their resilience, rich flavors, and nutritional benefits, hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda elevate your backpacking experience by providing a delicious and satisfying snack that withstands the journey’s demands.

So, savor these cheeses’ taste and convenience, knowing they are ready to enhance your outdoor adventure with every delectable bite.

Energy Gels or Chews

Energy gels or chews are a game-changer for backpackers seeking a quick and efficient energy source during intense activities. These compact and portable fuel options are specifically designed to provide an instant energy boost, ensuring you stay fueled and perform at your best while on the go.

Energy gels are gelatinous packets containing a concentrated blend of carbohydrates, usually maltodextrin or glucose. The body rapidly absorbs these simple sugars, providing a readily available fuel source to sustain energy levels during strenuous activities.

The gels are conveniently packaged in single-serving sachets, allowing for easy consumption without needing utensils or additional water.

Energy chews, on the other hand, are bite-sized pieces of chewy candy-like snacks. Like energy gels, they are formulated with a high carbohydrate content to provide quick energy.

The chews are typically made with ingredients like brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, or honey, offering a blend of simple and complex carbohydrates for a sustained release of energy.

One notable advantage of energy gels and chews is their addition of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium essential for maintaining proper hydration, muscle function, and overall performance.

During intense activities, electrolytes are lost through sweat; replenishing them is crucial to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps. These electrolytes often fortify energy gels and chews, making them a comprehensive and convenient fueling option.

The compact size of energy gels and chews allows for easy storage in pockets, pouches, or backpack compartments, ensuring quick access when needed. They are ideal for on-the-go consumption, whether tackling a steep ascent, pushing through a challenging trail, or simply needing extra energy during your backpacking adventure.

It’s important to note that energy gels and chews should be consumed with adequate water to aid digestion and maximize their effectiveness. Hydration is critical in optimizing the benefits of these fueling options, as it supports nutrient absorption and helps maintain overall performance.

Whether you prefer the convenience of energy gels or the chewable texture of energy chews, these on-the-go snacks provide a concentrated and easily digestible source of quick energy during intense activities.

Their inclusion of electrolytes enhances hydration and helps you maintain peak performance throughout your backpacking journey.

So, keep a few energy gels or chews in your pack, and enjoy the rapid and efficient fuel they provide, giving you the edge you need to conquer challenging terrains and make the most of your outdoor pursuits.

Granola or Cereal Bars

Backpacking snacks

Granola or cereal bars with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruit are excellent for backpackers seeking a well-rounded and energizing snack. These bars are thoughtfully crafted to perfectly balance carbohydrates and proteins, ensuring sustained energy and nourishment during outdoor adventures.

Regarding whole grains, popular choices for granola or cereal bars include oats, quinoa, or brown rice. These grains offer a rich source of complex carbohydrates, which are digested more slowly, providing a steady release of energy over time. Complex carbohydrates are essential for maintaining endurance and keeping you fueled during long days of hiking or backpacking.

In addition to whole grains, these bars often feature an assortment of nuts. Almonds, walnuts, or cashews are commonly included for their abundance of healthy fats, proteins, and essential nutrients.

Nuts provide sustained energy, contribute to feelings of fullness, and offer a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Combining whole grains and nuts ensures a balanced blend of macronutrients for enhanced performance and satisfaction.

Dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, or apricots, is another key ingredient in these bars. Dried fruit adds natural sweetness and flavor to the bars while providing additional carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

They are packed with essential nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium, which help replenish electrolytes and support overall well-being during physically demanding activities.

Furthermore, granola or cereal bars may include other nutritious ingredients such as seeds (e.g., chia, flax, or pumpkin seeds), honey or natural sweeteners, and spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for added taste and variety.

These bars are not only nutritionally dense but also highly convenient for backpacking. They can be individually wrapped, making them easy to grab and enjoy on the trail without additional preparation or utensils. Their compact size allows for effortless storage in your backpack, pocket, or hip belt pouch, making them readily accessible whenever hunger strikes.

Whether you opt for a granola bar with a chewy texture or a crunchy cereal bar, these wholesome snacks are designed to provide a satisfying combination of carbohydrates and proteins. They offer sustained energy release, helping to sustain your endurance and keep you going during long treks or strenuous outdoor activities.

Incorporating granola or cereal bars with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits into your backpacking provisions ensure a nourishing and convenient snack that fuels your body and supports optimal performance throughout your adventure. So, savor the flavors, appreciate the nutrition, and enjoy the sustained energy these bars provide as you embrace the great outdoors.

How how much food/snacks do you pack?

Determining the amount of backpacking food to take on a multiday trip can vary depending on several factors, such as the length of the trip, the intensity of physical activity, individual nutritional needs, and personal preferences.

However, as a general guideline, planning for approximately 1.5 to 2 pounds (0.7 to 0.9 kilograms) of food per person per day is recommended.

When packing snacks for a multiday backpacking trip, consider the following factors:

Caloric intake

Backpacking snacks

Aim for a daily caloric intake that meets your energy needs based on the duration and intensity of your hike. On average, backpackers require between 2,500 and 4,500 calories per day, depending on factors like body weight, metabolism, and terrain.

Nutritional balance

Backpacking snacks

Ensure your snacks balance carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide quick energy, proteins aid muscle repair and recovery, and fats provide sustained energy.

Meal replacement

Depending on your itinerary and preferences, some backpackers opt for meal replacement bars or dehydrated backpacking meals that require minimal preparation. These can help reduce the weight and volume of your food pack.

Snack variety

Backpacking snacks

Choose a variety of snacks to prevent flavor fatigue and keep your taste buds engaged. Include nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, jerky, crackers, trail mix, and granola bars.

Packability and weight

Opt for lightweight, compact snacks that won’t take up too much space in your backpack. Consider packaging snacks in resealable bags or containers to minimize waste and keep them fresh.

Consider local regulations

If you’re backpacking in areas with specific and proper food storage regulations, follow those guidelines to prevent attracting wildlife.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual needs may vary. It’s always a good idea to consult with a nutritionist or experienced backpackers to customize your snack or meal planning based on your specific requirements and the conditions of your trip.

Additionally, consider adjusting your snack quantities based on your appetite and personal preferences during the trip.

Final Thoughts

When choosing snacks for your multi-day backpacking trip, a wide range of options keep you fueled, energized, and satisfied along the way. From high-energy bars and protein-rich jerky to single-serving nut butter packets and sturdy crackers or rice cakes, you can find a variety of snacks that cater to your taste preferences and nutritional needs.

Dehydrated fruit, hard cheeses, energy gels or chews, and trail mix provide a mix of natural sugars, healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, ensuring a well-rounded and convenient snacking experience.

These snacks are designed to withstand the rigors of backpacking, offer compact and lightweight packaging, and provide the necessary sustenance to support your physical activities. If you need fresh foods, do not be discouraged; some you can take with you but would need to consume in the first couple of days.

So, whether you’re conquering steep trails, enjoying scenic views, or simply refueling between adventures, these snack options are your reliable companions to nourish and energize throughout your multi-day backpacking journey.

See you on the trails!

Backpacking snacks

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