14 of the Best Trail Foods for Mountain Adventures
Author: Grace Plant for Expeditions Connect – She is a UK-based freelance writer with a passion for travel and adventure
When you’re up a mountain exploring mother nature’s wilder side, you need plenty of energy to sustain yourself. So, having access to nutritious trail foods is essential.
But not all good food is suitable for carrying into the great outdoors. So, below I’ll share a few things to consider when you’re planning meals for your trip. Plus, I’ll include a list of 14 trail-friendly foods for mountain adventures.
Is it lightweight and compact?
To keep the weight of your backpack to a minimum, your lunch should be as light as possible. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice calories. The main contributor to the weight of food is usually water, so high energy dry foods such as dried fruits and nuts are a good way to get the most out of every gram you carry.
Space is another concern when it comes to packing, so avoid “fluffy” foods like popcorn or crisps. Unnecessary packaging can also take up room and add grams to your pack. So, where possible, remove bulky wrappers or boxes and repack items into a more compact size.
Is it nutritious?
You burn a lot of energy while hiking or trekking in the mountains, so it’s essential to feed your body with plenty of high-quality calories and replenish what you’ve lost. Include a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber that will fill you up and keep you full for longer. Try to avoid processed sugar; it’ll give you a boost of energy to begin with, but it’ll soon lead to a crash, which is the last thing you need when you’re hiking at altitude.
Is it ready to eat?
Unless you’re settled down at camp for the evening, you probably won’t have the time or inclination to set up a camping stove to cook a hot meal. So, focus on ready-to-eat, no-fuss food, especially if you’re only on a day hike.
This gives you more time to explore your surroundings and doesn’t require you to carry any cooking equipment.
Will it last in your pack?
If you’re planning a multi-day adventure, consider the shelf life and perishability of your meals and snacks. This is especially important in fluctuating warm and cold temperatures.
Dried meats like jerky sticks, as well as nuts, nut butter, and vacuum-sealed tuna, all work well since they don’t need to be refrigerated. Dehydrated foods are also a sensible choice; they can last for years unopened, and they’re extremely lightweight too.
14 of The Best Trail Foods for Mountain Adventures
Nuts are packed with protein, fats and calories, which is just what you need when you’re hiking at altitude.
Just like nuts, seeds are full of healthy protein and fats. They can accompany other foods such as instant oatmeal, but they also make a great standalone snack.
Dense dried fruits like dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, and dates all provide an energy boost when you’re craving something sweet.
Granola bars have a little bit of everything you need for a balanced breakfast or a quick pick-me-up snack between meals.
It’s non-perishable and packed with energy, making it an ideal trail food.
These are quick, simple, and healthy, plus there’s no washing up required. Just add hot water and stir.
Meal replacement powders give you everything you need for a healthy, balanced meal in a simple shake. Simply add water, stir, and go. They might not be the most delicious way to eat, but they’re quick, easy, and effective.
Both eggs and milk contain essential protein, vitamins, and minerals that our body needs to thrive in the mountains, but packing the pure form of these foods isn’t practical for a multi day mountain adventure. Thankfully, they both come in a powdered form that can be prepared instantly.
Cheese is another dense, calorie-rich protein source that adds a delicious and nutritious element to meals. It also works well as a standalone snack.
Beef jerky and cured meats
Beef jerky sticks and cured meats like salami and pepperoni are loaded with protein and essential sodium.
Canned fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are a great source of protein. Stick to the small cans unless you’re planning to feed more than one person, as once they’re open, there’s no way of closing them back up again.
Bread is generally bulky and filled with air, but bagels are a denser alternative that will satisfy a carb craving and provide the extra calories your body needs.
Crackers are non-perishable and a good base for things like peanut butter, salami, tuna, or cheese.
These are a lifesaver at the end of a long day. Once you’ve set up camp, just-add-hot-water meals are fast, easy, and warming, and some of them are surprisingly tasty.
You can find options like instant noodles, instant rice, instant pasta pots, instant soup, and couscous at a regular supermarket. There are also specialist freeze-dried meals tailored to outdoor adventures. These offer more choice and variety, and they’re more nutritionally balanced, too.
Make sure Trail foods Feed Your Adventures
The main things to consider when packing food for a mountain adventure are nutrition, weight, perishability, and convenience. The rest is down to your own tastes and preferences.
While your mountain meals might not be the most delectable thing you’ve ever eaten, things generally taste better when you’re tired and hungry. So, you might be surprised how satisfying some of these snacks and meals can be. If you are interested in booking your next mountain adventure with us, check out what we offer here, and get in touch to learn more.