Hiking food tips make it easier to plan the wilderness nutrition to match the length, intensity, and difficulty of the planned hike.

Hiking lunch ideas usually consist of more than a bottle of water and an energy bar.

Hiking food tips

Here are four food tips to keep the energy up and stay nourished for the duration of the hike:

Plan ahead

Hiking food for energy and hydration needs to take into account the intensity of the activity. A must-have need is enough water to last the duration of the hike (or at least to arrive at the next water source). Some of the issues to consider include:

  • Is it a day-hike or multi-day hike?
  • How you plan to eat and drink (hot or cold food for instance)
  • What are the preferred foods and drinks?

Are you planning to pack food-related tools?

A light load for a day trip is certainly achievable with the camping stove left behind. A wide variety of perishable and non-perishable foods are a practical choice for the hiking trails and certain to keep you nourished and the energy up.

Sandwiches are a common choice but it might also be necessary to pack an ice pack to make sure the food is kept chilled.

For those wishing to travel as light as possible, the non-perishable and non-cook foods are usually preferable. No cook hiking meals that are nutrient dense and lightweight include:

  • Ready-made salad pouches (tuna is a favorite)
  • Trail mix (store bought or home-made)
  • Nut-based bars, seeds, nuts, etc.
  • Energy bags, gels, or chews
  • Whole-grain snacks
  • Meat jerky
  • Dried fruit or vegetables

Staying well-hydrated on the hiking trails is a must-do requirement. Start the hydration process by drinking before setting off on the hike.

A basic guideline is 2 cups of liquid per hour – this will increase in high temperature or more difficult hikes.

What to take on a multi-day hike

Supplies for a multi-day trip need careful consideration to make sure none of the essential supplies are left behind. On the first day of the hike, perishable foods are a practical option, but for the days after the decisions are more challenging.

To keep the backpack at an acceptable weight it helps to pack a selection of easy-to-pack and shelf-stable meals, including:

  • Similar to day-trip supplies
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Pureed vegetables or fruits in a pouch
  • Single serving pouches of meat, poultry, or fish
  • Sauce packets

Plus, the stove-friendly hiking snacks include freeze-dried foods, dried soups, hot cereals, pancake mix, rice mix, and whole-grain pasta.

Other issues in need of consideration

Water purification tablets or portable water filters are a must-have tool for the longer hikes or those with limited water sources to stock up.

Extra supplies to pack for proper serving and handling include compostable trash bags; can opener, ice packs, cooking and eating utensils, cooking pot, plates, and bowls.

Plus, moist towelettes and disposable wipes can help cleanup and serve. If using stove cooking, a thermometer will help to determine the correct temperature for meat.