In a world of constant notifications, emails, texts, and phone calls, a camping trip can do wonders to help you disconnect. From hiking to spending quality time with friends and family, a single camping trip can be the perfect mind and body reset to help you feel relaxed, refreshed, and recharged.
But a health-boosting camping trip goes far beyond the planned activities—what you eat matters too! In this article, I’m sharing our favorite healthy camping snacks to help you come back from your outdoor adventure feeling better than ever.
The summer months are great for hiking, biking, backpacking, kayaking, camping, and many other outdoor activities. You’ll need the right attire and equipment but it’s also always good to pack water and a snack even on short excursions. And not just any snack but something that will give you the energy and strength to keep going. Here are the 17 best portable snacks to fuel your outdoor adventure. (And please remember to carry out whatever you carry in!)
You’ll want protein to power your outdoor activities and cheese is a great way to get some on the go. Prepackaged cheese like those little Babybel wheels are easy to pack and unwrap anywhere and anytime or you could go with the stick varieties—they’re not just for kids’ lunches anymore! Want to get classy while camping? You can safely pack a hard cheese like aged cheddar, gouda, or Gruyère in a resealable container.
No need to worry about your bananas getting brown or your peach getting bruised when you pack a stash of dried fruit. Plenty of options—from raisins and cranberries to mango, apricots, and berries—are available at the grocery store and they contain the same amount of nutrients as the fresh kind.
CLIF, RXBAR, Larabar, and numerous other brands all make energy or protein bars that are specifically designed to fuel you with various levels and combinations of protein, carbs, calories, and nutrients. When browsing the bar aisle, be sure to read the ingredient list; the more ingredients you recognize, the better.
Well of course I’m not against fresh fruit. Dried fruit may be a little more portable but there’s no reason you shouldn’t pack a fresh apple, orange, watermelon (pieces, not a whole one), grapes (try freezing them!), or other juicy fruit for your outing. Even more delicate fruit would work—just pack it tightly in an airtight container.
I’m not talking ultra-processed, chemical-packed “jerky” like Slim Jims but quality jerky that’s high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s meat without the heat and most jerky varieties have a long shelf life and come in resealable packages that are perfect for on-the-go snacking. If you have a food dehydrator you can even make your jerky out of everything from beef, turkey, and venison to wild boar, ostrich, and alligator.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are both high in protein and easy to pack in your pack. Peanuts and almonds have the most protein in the nut category (9.5 grams and 7 grams, respectively, per ¼-cup serving) and pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds (9 grams and 6 grams, respectively, per 1-ounce serving) have the highest amounts among snackable seeds.
This isn’t just my crazy idea—eating olives on outdoor adventures really is a thing. In fact, some recreation stores (and grocery stores!) even sell bagged olives for bites on the go. Olives contain antioxidants and healthy fats and if you pair them with cheese, you can really class up your excursion.
Popcorn contains some protein (3 grams per ounce) and fiber (3.5 grams) and it will satisfy your hunger cravings without filling you up or slowing you down. Don’t go for the bagged varieties containing artificial ingredients—pop your own at home and put it in an airtight container to protect it from getting squished. Or pop it over a campfire!
For a quick dose of carbs without a lot of calories pull out the pretzels and snack away. The bit of sprinkled salt will also help replace your body’s sodium which is a critical electrolyte lost when sweating. You can even use pretzels to scoop hummus and other healthy dips.
Raw Sliced Roots
Thinly sliced raw root veggies—like sweet potato, kohlrabi, broccoli, and carrots, to name a few—can be a nice, hydrating change of pace. They provide way more nutritional value than most snacks plus they are refreshing and tasty. Another take: Cut a variety into matchsticks and mixed for a veggie trail mix. And add in some raw sweet onion slices which have the added benefit of warding off yellow-spotted lizards.
Tortillas are a very versatile trail food with numerous advantages. They pack easily and don’t get smashed up like bread. Wraps are less messy than sandwiches. They pair well with dips like hummus or peanut butter. Heck, you can even eat them by themselves for some quick carbs.
How do you maintain carb intake without carting around a loaf of squished bread? Tortillas, my friend! They’re flat, delicious, and also flat—perfect for knapsack packing. Premade wraps—PB&J, ham and cheese, smoked salmon, whatever. In a pinch, tear off pieces of tortilla to eat plain as you go. But I’d recommend taking some refried beans along to slather—it’s a great trail-side comfort food.
Okay, technically I’m cheating here as my list already contains the trail mix ingredients of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and candy. But how could I leave off trail mix which is the quintessential on-the-go source of energy? I can’t, because I love my trail mix.
While not creative inherently, trail mixes have taken an evolutionary leap from former camping days. No longer simply peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms; oh no, we’re talking pecans, pistachios, hemp hearts, dried pineapple, and pumpkin seeds. It’s not just filler anymore, folks. These days you can make a whole meal out of this once-humble offering.
Low in calories but high in protein (not to mention heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), tuna can be a fantastic food for the trail, mountain, and water adventures. Not only is it good for you but it also has a long shelf life. And if opening a can and mixing up some tuna sounds like too much work on the go, you can even buy pre-mixed pouches in the store.
Celery, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes…they’re all full of vitamins, minerals, and water which you’ll definitely want a lot of. Most veggies are about 90 percent water so you might want to put a damp paper towel in the bag or container. If you’ve brought a bunch and don’t want them crunched, try packing them in your cooking gear.
There are two factors that limit outdoor foods: perishability and space. Fortunately, nearly every food out there can be dehydrated and though it doesn’t always improve the food it does negate those two elements. It can also be done cheaply without a professional-grade dehydrator if you’re crafty and willing to put the work in.
Pepperoni starts out as ground pork, beef, or a mixture of the two. Producers then add paprika which helps give the sausage its characteristic deep red hue as well as garlic and other aromatics like fennel seeds to up the flavor factor. Once it’s packaged into sausages, the mixture is aged for several days before being smoked and dried.
This versatile ingredient presents a whole world of possibilities just waiting to be discovered.
Fruit and Veggie Chips
The chip is a perfect vessel for trail snacking—non-perishable, delicious, and simple. But greasy chips mid-hike is asking for trouble. There are healthy alternatives with all those benefits; try dried or baked fruit and veggie chips. Countless recipes are available in hundreds of creative flavorings and varieties.
Truthfully, staying on top of your diet can be life or death, so carefully consider what you’re taking along. If you’re used to hiking with potato chips and oreos, try some of these alternatives instead — you may be surprised how much it improves your adventure.
I hope you dance because…
Time is a wheel.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along.
Tell me, who wants to look back on their years and wonder where their years have gone.
—Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, I Hope You Dance