The Best Foods To Fuel A Day Hike

HikingThe crisp air of October can only mean one thing for me: it’s officially hiking season.

The crunch of sticks and pine needles beneath my boots, a rocky trail ahead of me, there’s no better time to take a hike and to drink in the gorgeous wonder of the natural world. Some of my oldest, most cherished memories are of hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire with my parents, exploring the seemingly distant peaks that made up our horizon line on a deeper, more personal level. Before I could even walk, I was placed in a fishing basket with a pile of blankets and allowed to jostle along down the trail on my mother’s back (I have the photo evidence to prove it). Yes, by now it’s in my bones. I feel like myself when I’m outside, away from the confines and containment of city life, where it’s just me and my hiking companions, a canopy of foliage above, and an incredible view awaiting our arrival at the peak. Hiking is exploration and discovery, excitement and serenity all rolled into one.

Of course, there’s always the question of what, exactly, to pack. And to eat for that matter. As a lover of food and all things snack-related, today I’m sharing a few healthy tips for packing the perfect snacks for your day hike, food that will keep you fueled and feeling healthy from the trailhead to the peak, and back again.HikingHiking

Coconut water – Along with your bottle of water, throw a small container of coconut water in your pack for extra hydration. Think of it as the natural — and way healthier — version of a sports drink, helping to replenish lost electrolytes and providing a healthy dose of potassium, which helps aid in muscle recovery.

Organic chocolate Chocolate is such a treat to have in your pack during a day on the trail, but one that also packs numerous benefits, especially for longer backpacking trips. One of the most energy dense foods, chocolate — especially dark chocolate — can give you a much needed boost if you’re feeling exhausted and help you recover at the end of the day.

Dried fruit & trail mix – Dried fruit and trail mix are great alternatives to processed energy bars. High in fiber and dense in nutrients and healthy fats, when paired together these foods are the perfect portable fuel for a day on the trail. Check out our trail mix recipes for your next go-to snack.

Homemade granola bars – I gave up on packing sandwiches for the trail long ago, as they always ended up flattened by the time I got hungry. Instead, I’ll toss a few homemade granola bars in my bag, the oats provide a healthy, gluten-free source of fiber and carbohydrates, and help satisfy hunger.

Personally, I don’t bother with fresh fruit and vegetables when I’m out in the woods, instead I make sure to include those things in my breakfast, along with plenty of protein, and as part of my dinner once I return home. While some fruits are highly portable — bananas and apples especially — they tend to not withstand the wear and tear put upon them throughout the day.

HikingHikingHikingWhat’s your favorite thing to pack for a day on the trail?

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9 years ago

It seems irresponsible to me to post a picture, showing that you would supposedly hike 5 miles in those pictured ankle boots who’s sole purpose is for style, not to hike terrain in.

9 years ago

Love these photos! What a wonderful post, now dying for a hike!

9 years ago

Granola bar recipe please?!?!?

9 years ago

Very pretty scenes – love your trail mix. I’ll definitely be considering coconut water instead of a gatorade.

Warm Regards,

9 years ago

I’ve been hiking a lot lately, and I’m planning on many more trips before the snow sets in next month. I’ve never brought coconut water along with me – I’ll be sure to bring some next time I go out!

northern rustication

9 years ago

Ok, it´s decided – I´m going on a hike this weekend! I´ve been needing some time by myself in nature – some crisp clean air and crunchy colorful leaves. This post is the inspiration I was waiting for :)

I have my own trail mix (which I also use to boost my brain and relieve stress):
almonds, wallnuts, cashew, brazil nut, macadamia, hazelnut and goji berry. Add some organic dark chocolate on the side, and I can happily hike for days!

I wrote an article about this mix and some other healthy energizing foods:

Anyways, thanks for the inspiration! Keep up the great work FP bloggers :)

9 years ago

Great article, i’m going to do a few works this week and i always prepare few sandwiches, a carrot and nuts to eat. thanks for all these precious informations :)

9 years ago

Organic chocolate? I’m in.
xoxo Kennedy
Northern Indigo

9 years ago

I love bringing veggies and hummus when I hike!

9 years ago

BORING! I’m pretty disappointed by this post.

My Dad could have thought of this.

Chocolate, trail mix, granola bars? That’s straight out of the 60s/70s, did you read this out of one of Jack Kerouac’s books? If you did, read further–his book Big Sur–then you’d bring large amounts of booze to the list, and then death by alcoholic poisoning. (but not to worry, i didn’t forget coconut water is on the list)
And not only that but you better bring a lot of water because the 4 things you listed really dehydrate you and while they might provide a lot of energy because they are literally calorie laden, it also takes a lot of energy and water for your body to digest. Also chocolate melt really easily.

I would have liked to see your own free people trail mix!
It’s so easy to create one — nuts (roasted, salted, plain, flavored, candied, chocolate covered, etc. and they are sooo many varieties), dried fruit (fun things like goji, blueberries, mango, coconut, anything!), yummy flavored chips (chocolate, white chocolate, peanut or even healthier–cocoa nibs), etc.
Just yesterday I made my own trail mix and then I elaborate further, and made peanut butter based cookies with trail mix instead of chocolate chips :)

I’ve back packed my whole life literally. I went on my first over night trip at 6 months old with a fanny pack (my dad carried everything else). Now when I backpack I prefer to bring something juicy like an apple, or some carrots, or a plum as snacks, and just a bit of nuts.

My go to lunch is always tortilla, a slice of cheese and an avocado. Don’t forget the bottle of hot sauce ;P
Just this last weekend I went on an impromtu weekend surf/hike trip to Big Sur by myself–I slept in my truck (with a shell!)–and this is pretty much the main meal I had.

I would have loved to write an article about this. In fact, Free People, I think you have just inspired me to possibly, just maybe create a blog :) So thank you.

Dear Free People, this post just highlighted your ignorance on this subject. Not your best post yet. I really look forward to your better posts.

9 years ago

Thanks Julie, but that wasn’t really my point (and I also provided a basic trail mix recipe). Its nice to see fashion companies/blogs foraying into the world of the wilderness and its ways, but as a wild girl whose grown up in the wilderness, and will go backpacking by myself into the deep wilderness on a whim… I guess I was expecting too much in terms of this particular post.

My point was that I thought this post lacked innovation. I reread your entry and see that you’ve grown up hiking as well! Maybe my love of avocados has forever skewed my view on suitable snacks… I eat them as a snack/meal pretty much … always haha! Still, I bet you could think of a view more interesting things the average person would think of as good snacks for hiking instead of your run-of-the-mill staples.

9 years ago

LOVE your pictures! :)
Much love from

9 years ago

Yum. I love a good hike, and yummy snacks make a walk through the mountains even better :)

9 years ago

Flapjacks work well for me! A million calories but they give me instant energy!