Getting out into the hills, exploring a new trail, and making the most of a fine day, hiking is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However you choose to enjoy a day of walking, preparation is key. One of our favourite parts of prep is choosing our snacks for the journey ahead, but it can be difficult to ensure you’re picking the best fuel for your hike. We are not nutritionists or medical professionals here at Wilderness England, but we’ve used our extensive experience with food to round up our list of the best snacks to eat while you’re hiking.
What exactly is the perfect walking snack? That’s a question very open to opinion and taste preferences, but there are some key factors to consider:
The ideal snack combines both quick-release energy from sugar and slow-release energy from ingredients such as oats and cereals. This mix gives you an initial boost, followed by an extended power push.
Some great quick- and slow-release energy combinations and tasty snack options are available. Remember to consider how portable and accessible these are. For example, porridge is lovely, but a flapjack is much quicker to eat and easier to store on the move.
Precisely what fits into this category will depend on your walking conditions. Chocolate would not conventionally go off, but on a hot day, it will melt, and on an icy day, it might be too hard to enjoy. Hummus, tasty with some fresh veg, keeps for a matter of hours before it begins to go off. Wilderness office favourite, cheese, is also better left at home in the fridge awaiting your return.
Once you’ve found a great energy source that easily fits in your pack and will keep for the duration of your adventure, don’t forget to consider whether you will want to eat it. Many people find their tastes change during a long day out on the trail, and what tastes great at home might not seem so tasty once you’re out there.
From classic trail mix to the powerhouse banana, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth and fuel your adventures out in the hills.
No blog on hiking snacks could begin without talking about trail mix. This delicious blend of dried fruit and nuts is a great snack, no matter which side you choose regarding chocolate in your mix. Easily found in most larger supermarkets, make your own trail mix to use up pantry leftovers – it’s a great way to ensure you get plenty of your favourites in there too. Our favourite trail mix includes dry mixed nuts, granola, sunflower seeds, sultanas and chocolate chips. The joy of trail mix is that there is no set recipe, so have fun with different combinations – you could add different seeds, roasted beans and lentils, cereal, mixed dry fruit, coconut flakes and even popcorn!
While too much chocolate is likely to make you feel a bit queasy as you march up a hill, a small bar can be a significant boost. Better still, if that chocolate bar is fair trade, like Divine chocolate. From Kuapa Kokoo, a Ghana co-operative, this tasty chocolate has been palm oil free since 2015. The farmers in the co-operative grow their beans on small holdings, not plantations, reducing the impact on the land around them. The company, Divine, has been a Certified B Corporation since 2016. All of this comes together to make one seriously ‘good’ chocolate bar. That’s why you can enjoy a tasty selection of Divine chocolate bars as part of your snack selection on all of our guided trips.
Find out more about Divine on their website.
A quick warning if you’re planning on bringing chocolate on your hike. It seems obvious, but chocolate melts. If you’re hiking with chocolate on a hot day, or keep your snacks next to your body, think again about how much you need that chocolate hit.
Kendal Mint Cake is a classic hiking snack, and it was invented right here in England in 1869. This sugary peppermint treat accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and Sir Edmund Hillary brought it on the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. Numerous climbers and mountaineers have kept a trusty bar in their pocket over the last 150 years. Do as the pros do and keep a bar of Kendal Mint Cake close at hand for an energy boost during your hikes.
It was Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake (pictured) that Hilary took up Everest. Find out more about the story of this tasty treat here.
Another classic walking snack, a flapjack (oat bar), is a delightful blend of oats, butter, sugar, or golden syrup. The origins of this humble traybake have been lost to history. However, they are likely an English invention, perhaps from the 1600s AD. You can readily find flapjacks in supermarkets and local cafes. They’re also quick, simple and inexpensive to make at home – numerous recipes are available online. Those oats are a good source of slow-release energy. Combined with the quicker release of sugar, this is a winning recipe for a walking snack.
While the traditional recipe uses just three ingredients, try adding ground ginger, apricots, coconut and more to find your favourite combination. Another great thing about homemade flapjack is that it keeps in an airtight container for up to 10 days. These delicious squares are unlikely to hang around for that long, but it makes them ideal snacks for your walks.
Granola, or cereal, bars are often considered the successor to the flapjack. A sweet and crunchy bar, you’re unlikely to have undertaken an adventure without a store-bought pack of these close at hand.
Supermarket granola bars tend to have a shelf life of a few months. This means they’re perfect if you’re bulk buying or want a snack you can grab out of the cupboard for those spontaneous trips. Homemade granola bars are equally tasty, and they’re a quick bake too. You’ll need a few more ingredients than the classic flapjack above, but not many, and there’s so much potential for customisation.
Whether home-baked or fresh from the shop shelf, granola bars are a brilliant snack. They give you an energy boost while keeping hunger at bay out on the trail.
Stoats is a Scottish porridge company. Among their range of products are porridge oat bars. Made using Scottish oats and British butter, these local snacks come tucked into plastic-free packaging. Stoats aim to use recyclable and/or compostable wrappers by the end of 2022. Like regular flapjacks and granola bars, these tasty bars are a great energy source. The sugar gives you power then and there, and those lovely oats provide energy when you need it later.
Available in almost a dozen flavours, you can look forward to these bars as part of the snack box on our guided trips. Find out more about these t-oat-ally tasty treats on the Stoats website.
An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but a banana on the trail will never fail. Most fresh fruit has a high water content and lots of vitamins and minerals that your body uses as part of its essential processes. Fruits like bananas are high in energy-releasing carbohydrates for your body to burn as energy, and they’re tasty too.
Fresh fruit is a good hiking snack, but dried fruit is on another level. You’re still getting those good natural sugars, but dried fruit is more compact in your bag. It is also less easily damaged and keeps longer than its fresh counterpart. Pack a pouch of dried mango or chewy banana to enjoy a boost of potassium and carbohydrates to fuel your adventure.
Veloforte bars are a range of all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, protein-packed energy bars made in the UK. These award-winning bars are a delicious treat to keep in your pack for when energy levels start to dip. Wrapped in recyclable packaging, these bars are another snack you can look forward to on our guided trips. If the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, these bars are designed for the cycling community. Don’t let that put you off – these are great for a long day in the hills too.
Find out more about this powerful pedal power bar on the Veloforte website.
While they aren’t recognised for their nutritional value, Jelly Babies are a bit of a trade secret amongst fell walkers and mountaineers. These soft jelly fruit sweets are a 19th century English invention. Today, they can be found in most supermarkets and grocery shops. Packing an impressive 5g of sugar per sweet, a small handful of Jelly Babies is the perfect weapon against flagging ascent energy.
Sometimes you just need your snacks to pack a bit more of a punch. Enter cured meat, crispy potatoes and crunchy veg.
Crisps are a great snack to have in the pantry, ready to go on your next walking adventure. Fatty, salty and crunchy potato crisps are just the thing to munch on when hunger threatens. Here at Wilderness HQ, we love Two Farmers crisps from Hertfordshire, England. Two Farmers grow, grade, store, fry and pack their potatoes on the farm and aim to locally source what they cannot produce themselves. They use renewable energy where possible and package their crisps in a plastic-free bag that will completely break down in your home compost.
They’re certainly some good crisps, and that’s why you’ll find them in your van’s snack box on our guided trips. Read up about this crisp story on the Two Farmers website.
The humble nut makes an excellent snack for hiking, from hazelnuts to almonds, cashew nuts to walnuts. Nuts are a good source of protein and fibre. Most also contain unsaturated fats, which are good for your heart health. They also contain lots of good nutrients while making a satisfying substitute for sugary snacks like chocolate.
Next time you head out for a hike, pack a pouch of your favourite dry nuts for a nutritious and filling snack.
Teetering on the line between snack and meal, pork pies are an English classic. Where you buy your pork pie, or whose recipe you follow if you’re making your own, will have an impact on the pie you eat. Generally, you can expect a cold pie with a roughly chopped and well-seasoned pork filling within a hot water crust pastry case. Melton Mowbray pork pies are the iconic option, being granted a protected designation of origin in 2008. Whichever pork pie you buy, always try and find a handmade pie over its mass-produced counterpart for a real treat.
Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray is a bit of an iconic sight amongst pork pie aficionados. Find their story here.
While the tasty package of a pork pie is a welcome sight on the trail, and the salty/carb combination is a good one, do remember that a pork pie is, well, pork. Due to the meat content, pork pies will start to go bad after 2-4 hours out of the fridge so are a treat best kept for shorter walks, and certainly only on cooler days.
Ritz crackers, Tuc biscuits, goldfish; the list of savoury crackers goes on and on! These are both dry and salty, which means they’re best enjoyed in moderation and should be consumed with plenty of water. The salt content of these snacks will help your body replace electrolytes. If you’re prone to feeling queasy on a walk, a few crackers eaten slowly are a great way to settle the stomach. For a filling snack, top your crackers with some nut butter.
Jerky might bring thoughts of the old Wild West to mind, but this dried meat option has been a popular choice of snack around the world for at least 500 years. Originally, jerky was a great way of preserving meat for winter. Today, it’s an increasingly popular snack, especially among cyclists and hikers, due to its high protein and low carb content. Jerky is also flavourful and compact, with a high salt content thanks to the drying process. This sodium is excellent for helping your body replenish electrolytes after intensive exercise, but it’s also why this snack is best enjoyed in moderation.
With a long shelf life and high protein content, jerky is the perfect walking snack. However, watch out for high salt levels, and always look for more natural store-bought options with fewer artificial ingredients.
Just as vitamin- and mineral-rich fruit makes a great walking snack for your sweet tooth, fresh vegetables are a great counterpart. Tasty and transportable savoury snacks are often high in salt. This might help your body replenish electrolytes after exercise, but sodium is best enjoyed in moderation – you don’t want to get your recommended daily intake in one go! Vegetable sticks, like carrots, cucumber, celery, and peppers, are your friend here. They offer the same satisfying crunch without the salt. They also keep reasonably well for a day hike and are a quick snack if cut into small batons and kept in a small bag.
So is there a perfect walking snack? It is a matter of personal preference and what you’ll want to snack on while hiking. Let our list inspire you, and remember the three key elements of the best hiking snacks:
Tick all three boxes, and you’ve found your perfect food to eat on the trail.
A final note: Snacks are a delicious part of hiking, but it is equally important to ensure you’re hydrated. A general rule of thumb is that you should bring approximately a litre of water every two hours you’ll be walking.
If you’re on one of our guided trips, your guide will have extra water available in the van. Regardless of when and with whom you’re walking, ensure that you have enough water in reusable bottles to keep you going on your planned trip.
Want to know more about the food and drink you can look forward to on your English holiday? Read on: