If you have taken kids hiking before, you know that snacks are a must! Especially small children. It can be a great way to help them stay fueled, excited about the hike and motivated to keep going! This is our list of some of our all-time favorite healthy hiking snacks for kids. These are:
- Easy to prep
- Taste great on the trail
- Need no refrigeration
- Travel well (meaning they don’t crumble to pieces or totally melt when tossed in a backpack)
- Best of all, your kids will love them!
Homemade trail mix: One of our favorite things to take hiking is homemade trail mix. I let each of my kids pick something at the store and then they get to make their own individual bags of trail mix when I get home. We love ALL kinds of things in trail mix. Here’s a list of things that you can include: cashews, almonds (the smoked almonds are so great for a salty addition), peanuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips (skip these if you are hiking where it’s really warm, they make a mess), any and every kind of dried or freeze
dried fruit, dried coconut or coconut chips, small animal crackers or cereals, the ever popular Gold Fish crackers, and candy coated sunflower seeds (these look great but don’t have as much sugar as lots of candies). Pro Tip: Put all of the “ingredients” for your trail mix into muffin tins so that little eyes can see all of the options and little fingers can easily fill their own bag.
Larabars: One of our very favorite packaged treats that travels well and has very few ingredients. Larabars are made from dates, nuts, dried fruit, and not much else. I’ll take it! When traveling it’s nice to have a ready-made snack to grab.
Homemade Date Ball/Energy Bites/snack bars: there are all kinds of recipes for these awesome homemade treats on the internet. My favorite are these simple snack bars, these blueberry muffin bites, and these cherry pie date balls. These are a favorite because the sweet, fat, and protein are perfect on the trail for a little afternoon pick me up. They are all no-bake which makes prep a snap, and they travel pretty well.
Fruit leather: You can make your own or you can buy the Stretch Island Fruit Leather from Costco (these don’t have any added sugar), both are great options. Fruit leather travels well but can get a little sticky with toddlers.
Dried fruit: Look for dried fruits that have a short ingredient list and bonus points for finding dried fruits with no added sugar. I have lots of luck shopping online and at Trader Joe’s for dried fruit. Break out of raisin/craisin rut and try something new! We love dried sour cherries, peaches, pineapple, and mangos. These can get sticky when very hot but it’s nothing a wet wipe can’t handle.
Fresh Fruit: Fresh fruit is not as convenient as dried fruit but my kids always like a piece of fresh fruit. Good hiking fruits include clementine, tangerines, oranges, small snack apples. I don’t cut or peel anything ahead of time and the fruit tends to last better in a pack that way. Packing out an apple core or some orange peel isn’t a big deal, just make sure you keep a little trash baggy with you in your bag.
Freeze-dried fruit: Freeze dried fruit can be expensive but it is awesome on the trail! It keeps super well, isn’t sticky, doesn’t really change when hot, and doesn’t get squished together. I found little individual packs of freeze dried apples, pineapples, grapes, and strawberries at Costco last summer but haven’t been able to find them again. Once in a while you’ll be able to find a large number 10 can of freeze dried fruit in the bulk/food storage/emergency preparedness section of the grocery store. When I can find these big cans they are always the most economical way to buy freeze dried fruit. We think of freeze-dried fruit as a treat and really enjoy it while we are hiking.
Veggie Sticks: Another great hiking snack idea is to cut carrots, peppers, celery into sticks for munching along the trail. I feel like these vegetables taste fine warm and their texture isn’t ruined by a lack of refrigeration.
Nuts: You can buy nuts that you like in any shape or size. We happen to love pistachios on the trail because they are fun to open and eat. Any kind will work great and the fat and protein from nuts can help keep your kids from getting “hangry” mid-trail (hangry: so hungry you get angry)
I live in the gorgeous Southern Utah just outside of Zion National Park; we do lots and lots of hiking with our little people! As a mom of five who hikes regularly with my kids I’ve definitely packed a few hiking snacks. If you are headed on the trail you are going to find all kinds of success with these snacks in your bag. Don’t forget your water, take it slow, and enjoy the little people as much as the hike!
Melissa cooks, confesses, and corrals chickens and children at Bless this Mess, where you can find healthy recipes (with some simple desserts included), a peek at her hobby farm, and the joys of raising five little ones, eight years old and younger. She’s got a whole lot of mess to bless!