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I like my food, and no doubt that has helped contribute to my middle aged spread, especially as I will veer towards anything sweet – cakes, biscuits, chocolate. But of course I know that if I am out walking that maybe taking a sticky covered doughnut is not the best option.
So what are the best foods to take with me when out walking to help me keep going? Ideally I need to look for foods that give a long lasting supply of energy rather than a quick sugar rush. A trail mix of nuts and dried fruit, energy bars, and fruit are all perfect examples of food to take with you on a walk. Don’t forget to take plenty of water with you.
These suggestions are great for a walk for a couple of hours, up to a half day,, and will keep you going as you plod on.
What is trail mix?
A trail mix is a mixture of dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries or whatever suits your taste buds, mixed in with some nuts, maybe some granola and even small bits of chocolate.
- Dried fruit – raisins and sultanas are the most obvious choices here, but don’t be boring and stick to them. Why not try something a bit different – strawberries, apple, mango, pineapple, blueberries all make tasty additions. It’s quite easy to make your own by drying them in your oven, although obviously you can go to a good quality supermarket or even health food store to buy some ready packaged.
- Nuts – peanuts are the most obvious example of nuts you can add to your own trail mix, but again, be adventurous and try a few different examples. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and cashews make great alternatives. Try to keep to unsalted versions so that you are not making yourself thirstier. Nuts offer sustained energy for longer periods.
- Seeds – if you are allergic to nuts, or just like to add a bit of variety, then seeds can be great in a trail mix. Hemp seeds, pumpkin, chia, sesame and flax are all good providers of nutrients to help boost your energy.
- Grains – I mentioned quinoa before, but if you want to add something easily why not add a handful of your favourite cereal – corn flakes, bran flakes or Cheerios will add a bit of crunch to your mix.
- Sweet additions – there’s nothing wrong with adding a small portion of sweet things to your mix. Small chunks of dark chocolate, M&M’s, mini marshmallows, and yoghurt covered raisins all make a nice little treat in a handful of your trail mix.
Experiment with trail mixes and make a note of what ingredients you enjoy and what actually doesn’t hit the target for you. The great thing is that there is no limit to the number of different combinations you can have of your favourite ingredients.
Energy bars can be an easier option to take with you on your walk, as you won’t have to do any preparation, just remember to add them to your weekly shop. However, there is a wide variety of energy bars on the market, and some are not so healthy as others.
Take a good look at the ingredients before buying, and try to choose some that are high in fibre and protein. There are many energy bars that have lots of sugar and saturated fats. You can get so called energy bars that are covered in chocolate and sugary syrups which are little more than glorified sweets. Energy bars are perfect for a quick pick me up.
Fruit is a great addition to your rucksack, and most fruit that you would consider taking on a walk will require little if any preparation. They are full of nutrients that will not only keep you going but are also important for recovery from a long walk.
Take along an apple or pear for a snack half way through your walk and you will not only benefit from their vitamins but as they contain a high proportion of water you will aid your hydration.
Bananas are high in potassium which helps prevent muscle cramp – no wonder tennis players swear by them during games. Soft berries are a great option for flavour, but remember to keep them in a hard container so they don’t get bruised and ruined.
You may even want to consider creating a puree of mixed fruit which you can take in a pot with a lid, particularly if you are going on a multi-day hike. No-one wants squashed fruit at the bottom of their rucksack.
Just remember to take any fruit peel and cores back home with you to compost. Despite them being biodegradable you don’t want to be adding to the world’s litter problem.
Lunch on the go
If you are out for a long walk that spans either side of lunch, unless you have already planned a stop at a favourite cafe or pub, you will probably need to carry a packed lunch. This is something myself and Nicky are doing more and more.
But what do you want to take, that will give you the most benefit? You need to think carbohydrates which will give you the most energy to keep going through the miles. Why not make some wraps, or sandwiches, filled with chicken or cottage cheese, for example. Add some lovely fillings such as tomatoes or lettuce, maybe some sweetcorn, and you will also be adding to the fluids you are taking on.
Don’t forget to put them in a nice sturdy lunchbox though to keep them in one piece until lunchtime!
If sandwiches are not your thing, why not prepare a pasta salad first thing in the morning? Pasta is a great slow release product, perfect for a lunch that will keep you walking for hours. Add some sweetcorn, chop up some tomatoes, cucumber, maybe add some beans and a low fat mayonnaise, and you have a tasty energy filled lunch.
For those of you who like fish (not me!) tinned fish provides an excellent source of protein, and is easy for consumption out on the trail.
Nicky has however just introduced me to the delights of home-made cold porridge, which we took on our walk round Burwash this Easter weekend. Made with porridge oats, some dates which we chopped up and some walnut pieces, mixed together with almond milk, and served in a tupperware box.
Summary of foods to take hiking
|Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chunks, breakfast cereals
|Quick carbohydrates for energy boost, nuts provide sustained energy for long periods
|Nuts and Seeds
|Almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews
|Rich in fat and protein calories, fresh nuts are the healthiest option
|Ingredients for immediate lift and slow-releasing energy
|Ideal for quick pick-me-up, delicious and convenient for hiking
|Oats for iron and fibre, nuts for fat and protein
|Filling snack, provides sustained energy
|Fruit salad for single-day hike, pre-blended vegetables and fruit for multi-day hikes
|Excellent source of protein, tinned option for easy consumption while walking
|Protein boost during the hike, convenient and portable
|Essential for hydration, crucial to carry at all times during a hike
|Prevents dehydration, vital for overall health
|Homemade Power Cookies
|Customizable with preferred ingredients, free from preservatives
|Personalized energy source, healthier alternative to store-bought bars
|Instant, sustained, substantial energy boost
|Quick energy, but challenges with transportation and quick spoilage
|Treat for evening campfires, toast for a delightful experience
|Enjoyable for campfire activities, adds a pleasant touch to the hiking experience
If you are going on a walk that is going to last several hours, you need to eat something to keep you going, otherwise you will be using up all your body’s resources. Homemade snacks give you more control over the ingredients.
So whatever you choose, remember that small meals or snacks will keep you going. But also important is that you remain hydrated, so whatever you do don’t forget to take plenty of water with you.
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