Great views, fresh air filling your lungs, the mind and body-boost of exercise…hiking offers amazing benefits. Whether you’re planning a day-long adventure on the coast, a fast ascent of your nearest peak, or a multi-day hike through a spectacular national park, getting your hiking nutrition right can make or break a hiking or backpacking trip.
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It’s also a great excuse to enjoy a picnic with your favourite foods. Depending on the terrain you’re tackling and how long you’re on your feet, hikers can burn as much as 5,000 calories a day.
Choosing the best foods for hiking is a balancing act. You need energy packed foods that are nutritional and tasty but also lightweight and practical. Unlike running and cycling, you’re not just thinking about fuelling your effort either. For day-long treks you might need to consider lunches and even post-hike dinners while you’re still out in the wild.
Luckily, devising the optimal fuelling strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, and Veloforte is here to help. We live and breathe natural nutrition, and we’ll use our expertise to serve up a helping of hiking food ideas. We’ll also share some basic fuelling principles to ensure your walks are well-fuelled. And delicious.
From Veloforte, here’s how to stay energised wherever the hike takes you, plus a range of foods to support your post-trail recovery so you can bounce back for your next big excursion.
Read on for your complete guide to bullet-proof hiking food prep.
Best food for hiking and backpacking
Fuelling hikes is all about finding calorie-dense foods. Tasty eats that deliver big hits of energy for every extra gram you add to your pack. Packability, practicality and enjoyment also come into the equation. The best hiking foods are easy to carry, can withstand the elements – including bumping around in your bag – and are things you’ll actually look forward to eating.
Because you’re often moving at lower intensity and slower paces, the list of food to take hiking is longer and more varied than it might be for runners and cyclists who work at much higher heart rates.
You’re likely to be less reliant on carbohydrates, and fat and protein can be a bigger part of the mix than if you were running a marathon or cycling a stage of the Tour de France.
Beyond day hiking food ideas, if you’re planning multi-day adventures with overnight camps, you’ll also want to consider backpacking meals that are as easy to cook as they are to carry.
Energy bars are a brilliantly versatile source of portable, snackable energy. They can be used as an alternative breakfast if you’ve camped overnight, for on-the-go glycogen tank top ups, and even convenient recovery-boosting hits of post-hike protein.
The Veloforte Energy Bars range covers all your bases with tasty options for energy, extra protein for recovery and even natural caffeine when you need a little extra kick. All our pack-friendly bars use energy sources like dried fruit and nuts to boost your energy levels and provide the perfect balance of nutrients that keep you at your best.
Nuts & Nut butters
A survival food for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, snacks don’t come much more energy-dense than nuts. Macadamias, walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds pack the most calories and they also deliver recovery-supporting protein, fibre, healthy fats and important vitamins and minerals. You could fill a sandwich bag with mixed nuts but nut butter pouches also make excellent portable fuel.
Go for nut combinations for the best balance of nutrients and keep an eye for nut butters that add extra nutrients like calming Ashwagandha.
If you take the little and often approach to hiking fuel, energy chews like Veloforte Energy Chews are perfect. Unlike jamming a bag of jelly sweets into your backpack, these delicious bite-size bumps of energy have been carefully created to offer the optimum balance of fast-acting carbs to keep you topped-up and fatigue-free. They also contain electrolytes to support hydration.
Each pack of Chews delivers around 40g carbs in six melt-in-the-mouth bites. They also come in citrus and ginger, lime and menthol and sour cherry and guarana, so you can mix and match to avoid taste fatigue on longer days on the trails.
A classic go-to hiking snack, trail mix combines the natural sugar of dried fruit with the energy dense healthy fats and protein found in nuts. When eaten together, this savoury and sweet combination can modulate energy absorption and improve insulin response.
You can buy pre-mixed packs, but we prefer creating our own combinations that are tailored to taste and nutrient needs.