backpacking food ideas

Ranking the best 6 backpacking snacks

Everyone loves a good snack while backpacking. Considering I just returned from a trip into the Washington Cascades, I figured a backpacking food idea ranking list would be a fun article.

Everyone has their own style and cravings for a long day on the trail. I hope that, at worst, you enjoy this listicle and, at best, you can take away a few backpacking food ideas.

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Ranking the best backpacking food ideas – snack time edition

backpacking snacks

What Snacks To Take Backpacking

Below are some of my favorite backpacking snacks that help propel me through my trips and keep me from getting hangry!

Dried Fruit

My all-time favorite backpacking snack. While this is cheating a bit because it encompasses a wide swath of food, I’m still running with it. Yes, it may be more expensive than ordinary fruit, but this lasts longer, and you don’t have the risk of the fruit being bruised. My favorites are dried mangos, apples, and bananas. I could live off of dried mangos and die a happy man.

Beef Jerky

A staple of any backpacking trip, beef jerky replenishes your salt and provides the necessary protein to help you crush miles. The only downside to beef jerky is how doggone expensive it is. However, having it at the top of a pass is excellent.

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Cheese, Salami, and Crackers for backpacking

This is luxury for sure, but damn, is it tasty. While beef jerky has salt, something about how crackers taste gets my mouth watering. If you do this, find hard cheese that won’t melt for backpacking. Don’t worry about it going bad – it can last three days.

Next, I’d suggest crackers that have some durability (think Triscuits vs. Saltines). Then, salami or summer sausage is good. Of course, you’ll get a better price point if you buy the entire uncut stick, but the precut ones also work.

Trail Mix

Another backpacking snack staple! I don’t think there’s a person alive who dislikes trail mix – though we all dislike how expensive it is premade. If you aren’t in a time crunch, I recommend making your own versus buying it premade in-store. This also means you can use fewer peanuts and other better-tasting nuts. Try macadamia nuts – they have the best fat-to-weight ratio.


Whether it’s to keep from bonking or the perfect way to celebrate a long day on the trail, there’s nothing better than some M&M’s or other sugary sweets. There are no wrong backpacking food ideas here, but remember the chance of your candy melting. That could cause a few tears!

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Protein/Energy Bars

Last but surely not least, these are quick and tasty ways to get calories without stopping for extended periods. Whatever your favorite brand, I pack at least one per day to keep my energy levels up. Additionally, the higher protein bars and oatmeal make for a great breakfast.

PS: Backpacking Snacks Bonus Tip

Pack a breakfast burrito or sandwich from a local deli to make day one on the trail as magical as possible. I’ve done this a few times, and I’m always stoked about it!

Other commonly asked questions about trail snacks

How many snacks to pack for backpacking?

This all depends on how many days you’re going on your trip, how much you eat, and how many calories you anticipate burning. I’m a notorious over-packer regarding food, as I’d rather have leftovers than be hungry. (It’s also wise to have some leftovers just in case you get stranded and must stay an extra night.)

I honestly eyeball it and pack what I think will give me enough food, coupled with my dehydrated backpacking meals for dinner and breakfast.

How to eat cheap while backpacking?

The cheapest way to eat while backpacking is to avoid pre-packaged dehydrated meals. These cost around $10 per bag. If you use 7-8 meals, there’s $80. Dehydrated meals are perfect when considering how many calories you get for the weight.

To be more budget conscience, bring in your food. Here are a few ideas:

  • A big cup of noodles or ramen, tuna/chicken packet
  • Tortilla, tuna/chicken packet, avocado

What foods to avoid backpacking?

You want to avoid foods with a very short shelf life that will melt and smell terrible. While most of you are not doing long expeditions, most of the food you bring won’t go bad in the sense you’ll get sick. But something like a banana, getting hot a mushy, is not an ideal backpacking food. Instead, get dried bananas. They’re delicious.

Additionally, some cheeses do not do well in warmer weather. Avoid these, or else you’ll be cleaning up cheese post-trip.

Where to buy your snacks while backpacking?

I buy all of my backpacking snacks at the grocery store. This allows me to purchase in bulk (if possible), keeping the cost down.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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