Hiking in the Alps can be an excellent way to explore nature and find some quiet from the hustle
and bustle of city life. It can also be a great form of exercise that – as we all know – can prove to
be hungry work. A common question when preparing for a hike is what snacks should I bring?
Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Author : Lauren is a BANT-Registered Nutritional Therapist 1
Are snacks necessary?
Whilst a regular day at home might not require much snacking between meals, hiking all day
requires a lot of energy! Therefore, it is important to have snacks at the ready to keep our
energy levels stable and to help avoid feeling fatigued and hangry. Alongside plenty of water for
hydration, we encourage packing snacks that provide sufficient fuel and enjoyment for the trails
ahead. When it comes to choosing a snack, everyone has their different likes and dislikes. It almost
goes without saying that we want to find our snack delicious and full of flavour. Apart from that,
we like to focus mainly on the nutritional content, the ability to transport it and how long it will
Firstly, we want to choose a snack that is energy dense to help replenish the energy we are
using, and to help us avoid hitting the wall. This is why carbohydrates such as bananas and oat
bars are so popular – they can provide us with a long-lasting, slow and steady release of energy.
Pairing these types of food with a protein and / or fat source is even better, as these combinations
balance our blood sugar levels, which can help us stay fuelled and fuller for longer.
Different flavours, colours and textures can not only be more nutritious, but they can also help to
make a snack more interesting, appealing and enjoyable – because after all, who wants their hiking snacks to be dull and bland? Enjoying your snack can actually help with digestion!2
Try pairing a banana with some almonds, or an apple with a nut butter pouch. Try pairing a handful of trail mix with some squares of cheese. Nut allergy? Vegan? No worries – try pairing roasted chickpeas with some squares of dark chocolate, or a seed bar with some dried fruit!
You want snacks that are easy and lightweight, fit neatly into your backpack, and can be eaten on the move. It’s best to avoid big, heavy, and complicated snacks that require a lot of preparation. Try to keep it simple and faff-free!
Avoid sticky hands and unwanted mess in your bag by making sure your snacks are packaged well and easy to open / close.
Choose lightweight snacks, such as cracker, dried fruit and trail mix, but make sure that they don’t get squished! Pack them at the top of your bag, where you can easily get to them.
Try to avoid individually packaged snacks, such as sweets, as you don’t want your pockets filling up with wrappers, and you could accidentally drop some litter. Plus, a more environmentally-friendly approach to packaging is always better! Another tip about packaging is to re-pack certain items, such as trail mix, if you don’t think you’ll need it all. This saves you carrying extra weight, and helps to keep your bag organised by illuminating bulk. You can re-pack items in ziplock freezer bags, but try to re-use an old package, such as a bread bread or a plastic vegetable bag.
Some snacks sound great but actually end up being more of a hindrance than a help. For
example, hummus is a popular picnic item and a great source of protein and fat but it can go off
within a few hours if left unrefrigerated – making it an unwanted weight to carry. Try to pack
snacks that you know will last at least a few days unrefrigerated to err on the side of caution.
Keeping snacks air-tight can also be a great way to maintain freshness and flavour.
How often should I snack?
Large snacks can sometimes make us feel tired and ready for a siesta. Depending on your
energy levels and the difficulty of the hike, a good general rule of thumb is to snack on smaller
amounts every 1-2 hours. This tends to be the best hiking approach to maintain good energy
levels whilst on the go.
Snacks for long-distance
If you’re planning a multi-day, long-distance trek, such as the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) or the Haute Route, it’s especially important to bring snacks that are energy dense. Mountainous treks over technical trail require more energy, especially if you’re doing a lot of extra ascent. You might find that on multi-day treks, you’ll need more food on the last days than you did on the first days. This is because multi-day trekking uses some of your stored energy reserves. Unless you snack regularly, you might have a slight energy deficit by the end of your trek.
Check-in with yourself every few hours by asking yourself how you feel. We recommend that you carry a little more food than you think you might need, just in case the route takes you longer than expected. Pack an emergency ration of energy dense food (e.g. a cereal bar, a snack bar, a packet of sweets, or an energy gel). This will mean that you’ll have something in your back pocket to boost your energy levels if you start to “hit the wall”.
Happy Tracks Recipe :
Peanut and cocoa energy balls
Peanut and cocoa energy balls
- 8 pitted dates
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 30g roasted peanuts
- 3 tablespoons of oats
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- Splash of water
- Desiccated coconut (optional)