One of our favorite family camping activities is hiking, particularly in the mountains where the elevation provides a welcome relief from the valley heat. Whether we are hiking one mile or five, we never leave camp without the backcountry essentials, including trail snacks for everybody. The kids all have their favorite trail snacks and we bring a variety of different types with us, to help keep the kids (okay, parents, too!) motivated. Have you ever wondered how the various trail snacks compare, from a nutritional standpoint?
Snack bars, like Nature Valley® Sweet & Salty Bars and Granola Bars, are one of our staples on shorter hikes and even for the kids, on longer hikes. These bars taste great and are more substantial than lighter snacks.
In cold weather and on longer hikes, I like the extra substance of an energy bar. These hearty bars, like Clif®, Luna® and PowerBar® Performance® are a bit much for kids, but sometimes I will share a bite, or two.
Trail mix is a popular trail snack for the kids, although we have to keep an eagle-eye on them, or they will pick out all of the M&Ms. Of course, trail mix doesn’t have to have M&Ms. Dried fruit also mixes well with the traditional peanuts, raisins, almonds and cashews.
Dried fruit is tasty and really easy to pack, so it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular trail snacks, for many people. From tart cranberries to super-sweet mangoes, there are dried fruits to suit every taste.
It may not pack quite as easily as dried fruit, but fresh fruit is a wholesome and juicy trail snack, that is particularly welcome on warm days. Just remember to pack out the peels!
Clif Bar & Company
Cliff Bars and the Nut Medley are my staples. I have turned my cliff bar habitat from camping and hiking into everyday use. Now between meals and about everyday I have a cliff bar. It has save me numerous times when I have been out in the woods or city and had to have a quick snack.
Thanks for the comparisons! I am a HUGE fan of Nature Valley’s Sweet & Salty Almond bars… they taste better than many candy bars out there! (oh yes, and they’re a bit more nutritious LOL)
And like others, we also make our own “trail mix” by combining mixed nuts, dried fruits, unsweetened coconut flakes, etc. We usually leave out the M&M’s only because they have a tendancy to get soft in the heat.
Thanks again, now I’m off to catch up with some other blogs! 🙂
That is very true about the M&Ms, Alicia. Sometimes we include Reese’s peanut butter chips, too – but those are even worse in the heat.
Those Nature Valley granola bars are a staple at our house too. We take them everywhere in case hunger strikes our 2 y/o daughter resulting in a meltdown. We also take a huge bag of the Kirkland Trail Mix on hikes and camping and just picked up their dried fruit and nut combo to try out.
I don’t miss those 2 year-old days, Kim. Of course, now I’m dealing with 9 year-old meltdowns 🙂
Great post, and I shared it on my twitter feed…
I normally make trail mix from scratch but I usually base it off of chex mix, so I now wonder how that compares to other trail mixes.
Thanks, Scott – we occasionally do some Chex Mix, too. I like some of the new varieties that they have, particularly the spicy one. Check the CalorieKing link – they have data for a number of the different Chex mixes.
Don’t go too far with reducing sodium in trail food. If you are really exercising on the trail, you need some extra salt in your diet. It might be through electrolytes in Gatorade or salt in your trail food, but you need it.
If you aren’t working that hard, you probably don’t need the extra calories from peanuts and chocolate, and should go with fruit, like raisins or a Larabar.
I love the “Nature Valley” bars! I pack a few of those on every hiking trip I go.
I’ve recently started to make my own trail mix. I buy the individual ingredients in bulk and then make my own “custom blend” of trail mix. I’m not sure on the nutritional facts, but when you’re hiking you need energy so who cares!
We make our own too, Jason. We get a can of mixed nuts and mix it with some raisins, M&Ms and whatever else we have around. I figure it is similar in nutritional value to the commercial stuff, maybe with less sodium.
I just recently found mini-Clif bars with only 100 calories each. They worked pretty good for shorter hikes. (And, as a fellow blogger, I must comment that I fully appreciate the headache-inducing graphics. How did you do it and survive?)
Thanks, Michele 🙂 The graphics were not nearly as much trouble as trying to get the tables to look right – ugh! I started this article on Saturday morning and did not finish until Sunday night!
You left out my favorite cheap-o energy bar, a Payday candy bar. Peanuts, caramel, salt, just like the $2 bars, but at half the price.
It’s way better than a Nature Valley Sweet & Salty.
It has a lot more fat than a Clif bar, but fat has more calories per gram, important for backpackers.
I didn’t think about that, Walter, but it is pretty good – kind of a cross between a snack bar and an energy bar. Less salt than a Clif Bar, which is a real plus.