Hiking Snacks – Sweet

Food

Sweet snack for hiking

My wife Gill often accuses me of placing her as number three on my list of favourite things, after food and recreation. Without getting into that argument suffice to say food is pretty important to me. While I love cooking at home I hate cooking on the trail. For my main meals I tend to go stoveless or will at best rehydrate meals but I don’t do full on cooking. Apart from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, much of my food is carried in the form snacks, the tastier the better.

Whether you are just doing a short day hike of are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail food plays a big role and the longer the trip the more important it becomes as our tastes change over the duration of a trip. Over the past 12 years I have found that on any two week long hike I will loose on average 7-8 kg. Although I am not trying to lose weight, in my case this weight loss happens for three main reasons:

  1. I can’t just go to a store and buy junk food so my calorie intake is limited to what I am carrying/being fed
  2. I am exercising in a consistent manner and burning on average 5000 calories per day
  3. Lack of appetite brought on by exercise

It is perhaps the last reason that has the biggest impact on me so it is essential that the food I eat is high on the enjoyment scale. As a hiker trying to go ultralight. I also want to minimise the weight I am carrying and this includes food. Food has the potential on a long hike to form a fairly large component of the weight you will end up carrying.

In our day to day life we are often obsessed with avoiding high calorie foods, or at least minimising our intake to limit weight gain. For short hikes this is still a good practice. For longer hikes, say over 3-4 days in length, we need to shift our thinking. Conventional wisdom in the US long distance hiking fraternity considers hiking food as being ‘high calorie’ when they have over 100 calories per ounce which equates to 350 calories per 100 grams.

The following is what I tend to carry on a multi-day hikes. I find that on an extended hikes my taste buds vary greatly and what I crave at the start of the hike is different to the end so its important you have plenty of variety. On an average day I will carry:

  • 60 grams of nuts
  • 40 grams of dried fruit
  • 60 grams of peanut butter per day
  • 1 chocolate bar or Cliff Bar
  • Savoury snacks e.g. beef jerky, cheese

My favourites

The following ‘sweet’ snacks are what I currently carry on an extended hike. What it really comes down to is personal taste.

If you don’t like the taste don’t carry it.

On a recent hike I added walnuts into the mix to try to increase the variety but this was a mistake. I don’t dislike walnuts but they just didn’t do anything for me and I would much rather carry Brazil or Macadamia nuts.

Dried Pineapple Rings

Energy per 100 grams = 344 calories

Just borders on being high calorie but gives you instant energy

Sun Dried Mango

Energy per 100 grams = 296 calories

Make sure you get sun dried mango. It tastes better and also has a better texture. Again not really high calorie but I love this option on the trail

Macadamia Nuts

Energy per 100 grams = 718 calories

Macadamia nuts are about as good as its gets when it comes to high calorie food

Brazil Nuts

Energy per 100 grams = 656 calories

Another good option

Almonds

Energy per 100 grams = 576 calories

Lots of health benefits from almonds too

Dried Goji Berries

Energy per 100 grams = 320 calories

Not quite high calorie but adds to the variety

Dried Bananas

Energy per 100 grams = 308 calories

Like most other dried fruit, bananas are not quite up to being high calorie but I usually eat dried banana every day as I love the taste

Atkins Chocolate Coconut Bars

Energy per 100 grams = 448 calories

High in fibre for a chocolate bar and tastes great. Doesn’t hold its integrity in the heat

Atkins Caramel Nut Chew bars

Energy per 100 grams = 415 calories

High in fibre for a chocolate bar and tastes great. Doesn’t hold its integrity in the heat

Atkins Chocolate Raspberry Bars

Energy per 100 grams = 397 calories

Not as tasty as the other Atkins options. Doesn’t hold its integrity in the heat

Cliff Bar

Energy per 100 grams = 382 calories

A very popular snack on the trail but I can only manage one every three days

Kraft Crunchy Peanut Butter

Energy per 100 grams = 616 calories

This is a really versatile food that we use for breakfast and lunch, as well as a snack

Honourary mention

Trail Mix

Energy per 100 grams = 392 calories

Probably one of the most popular hiking snacks you will see on the trail however Gill and I are in the minority and don’t take this snack with us on any hike. Buy it from the health food store or supermarket already made or make your own by adding your favourite nibbles to the mix. It tends to be heavier than other snack options for the same calorie benefit

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