Living full-time in our overland box truck, my husband and I have discovered trails across the U.S., giving us plenty of opportunities to test out healthy lunch ideas on our adventures.
This endless exploration from our mobile base has opened up a world of trails across the U.S. for my husband and me to explore.
But truth be told, we’re not exactly die-hard hikers. We absolutely love the outdoors and do hike, but mountain biking is our favorite way to experience our surrounding.
Despite biking being our preferred activity, we’ve had our share of epic hiking trips that left us depleted, learning the hard way the importance of proper nutrition.
To avoid future energy crashes, we’ve compiled a list of healthy hiking foods perfect for hiking (or biking) adventures.
Consider Your Energy and Caloric Needs Prior To Your Hike
When prepping for a hike, remember: energy is key. You’ll burn calories on the trail, so eating enough to stay energized is essential. Know your body’s needs to make sure you’ve got enough fuel for your adventure.
Remember to pack meals you’ll actually enjoy eating. Skip the stuff you don’t like, even if it’s calorie-dense. Mixing things up keeps meals interesting and helps maintain your energy for an enjoyable hike.
Variety is the spice of trail life!
Hiking Lunches Ideas That Include Meat
Explore meat-inclusive hiking lunch ideas like turkey wraps, beef jerky, or chicken salad sandwiches or wraps for a protein-packed trail meal.
1. Jerky Wrapped In A Tortilla Or Pita Bread
Jerky wrapped in a tortilla or pita bread is an easy and protein-packed lunch option for hikers. Add some fresh vegetables and spreads to your wrap the night before, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado slices, along with hummus or olive tapenade for a delicious and filling meal on the trail.
This non-perishable option provides a high-protein, energy-boosting snack that’s lightweight and easy to pack.
Plus, the minimal preparation required allows you to quickly refuel and continue exploring without the hassle of cooking on the trail.
2. Tortilla Chicken Wraps
What makes tortilla wraps a not-to-miss hiking lunch? Easy portability, simple preparation, and an unbeatable combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
These wraps are filled with juicy chicken, crisp veggies, and your choice of sauce, providing a perfect balance of protein, vitamins, and flavors to keep you energized on the trail. Their convenient, handheld nature means they’re easy to pack and eat on the go without any need for utensils or extra packaging.
As you savor each mouthwatering bite during your lunch break, you’ll appreciate how tortilla chicken wraps allow you to refuel while immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring surroundings of the great outdoors.
You May Also Enjoy:
- 45 Mouth Watering Dutch Oven Camping Recipes
- 15 Of The Best Foil Packet Recipes Perfect For Camping
- Road Trip in a Campervan (Tips for the Ultimate Road Trip)
- Camping Tips For Beginners: How To Have Fun And Survive Outdoors
- No Cook Backpacking and Camping Meal Recipes: Easy No Cook Food Ideas for Your Next Trip
Bringing pita pizzas as lunch for hiking is a great way to fuel up and enjoy a delicious meal on the trail. Pita pizzas are easy to make and can be packed in a lightweight, backpacker-friendly way.
To make your own pita pizza, start with a whole wheat pita and spread your favorite tomato sauce on it. Then add toppings such as mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives. They are a great combination of carbs, proteins, and fats, making them a balanced and satisfying lunch option for any hiker.
Kale Caesar Wraps With Chicken
Kale is one of the most nutrient-rich veggies around, and it’s an excellent choice for hikers due to its high levels of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K.
These wraps are incredibly easy to pack and eat on the go, making them ideal for a quick break on the trail. Also, the nutritious combo of kale and other veggies ensures you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals to keep your energy levels up.
Shepherd’s Pie in a Pita Pocket
A pita pocket is a perfect vessel for hearty and filling comfort food like shepherd’s pie. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with ground lamb or beef and vegetables, but you can also make it with mushrooms or other vegetables to make it vegetarian-friendly.
It’s a hassle-free meal solution that ensures you can focus on the scenery and fun rather than wrestling with food prep or a messy lunch.
Meaty Cold Pizza Slices
Who says you can’t enjoy pizza while you’re hiking? If you’re looking for a delicious, convenient lunch option for your next hike, why not try cold pizza slices?
This is an easy way to pack your favorite food on the go and a great way to fuel up before tackling challenging terrain.
Lox (Bagels with Cream Cheese + Smoked Salmon)
Lox is a great lunch option for day hikes, requiring only a bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, onion, capers (optional), and lemon slices.
Chop the onion and slice the lemon the night before and transfer the salmon and cream cheese to small containers.
Toast the bagel on the morning of your hike, and assemble the sandwich with the ingredients when you stop for lunch. This meal is both delicious and nutritious, providing the energy needed for a day of hiking.
Over the Top Stacked Sandwiches
Upgrade your sandwich game on your next hike with a protein-packed, meaty sandwich. Layers of roasted turkey, ham, bacon, and cheese topped with crispy lettuce, juicy tomato, and tangy spread make for a hearty and flavorful lunch. Served on whole grain bread or a sturdy roll, it’s easy to pack and carry on the trail.
Healthy Asian Spring Roll Wrap
Bringing Asian spring roll wraps on a hiking trip is an excellent lunch option that will give you a burst of energy with plenty of flavor. Spring rolls are light, easy to pack, and require no cooking, making them ideal for the trail.
The great thing about Asian spring roll wraps is that you can customize them to your taste. You can add your favorite vegetables, proteins, and herbs to make them as flavorful as you like. You can also adjust the spiciness to your preference.
Spicy Curry Wrap With Chicken
Taking a Spicy Curry Wrap with Chicken as lunch while hiking is an excellent way to energize and fuel your body during a long hike. This delicious wrap packs all the flavor and nutrients needed for a satisfying meal. It’s easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time for easy lunch packing.
Buffalo Chicken Wrap
If you’re looking for a delicious and protein-packed lunch to take on a hike, try making a buffalo chicken wrap. All you need is some cooked chicken, buffalo sauce, a tortilla, celery, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing.
Simply mix the chicken and buffalo sauce together, spread it in the center of the tortilla, and top it with celery, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing. Then, roll it up and wrap it in tin foil.
Chicken Bacon And Ranch Wrap
A Chicken Bacon Ranch Wrap is a flavorful and energizing lunch for hikers. With cooked chicken, bacon, ranch dressing, and shredded cheese on a tortilla, it’s easy to prepare and pack for the trail.
This wrap is packed with healthy fats, protein, and carbs, making it a great option for an energy-boosting meal. You can also add bacon jerky for an extra crunch. Simply wrap it up, place it in a zip-lock bag, and enjoy on the go.
Beef Brisket Tortilla Wrap
Beef brisket is a great lunch option for a long hike. It’s hearty, full of protein, and packed with flavor. Plus, it’s an easy-to-pack lunch that won’t take too much time to prepare.
All you need is some thinly sliced beef brisket, a tortilla, pepper jack cheese, cream cheese, and spinach. Then, you just need to assemble all the ingredients in the tortilla and enjoy your delicious lunch on the go.
Vegetarian Hiking Food ideas For Lunch
Tuna Avocado Boats
Tuna avocado boats are a delicious and nutritious lunch idea that’s perfect for hikers. Not only do they taste amazing, but they’re also packed with healthy fats and protein to provide you with the energy you need to conquer the trails.
The creamy texture of the avocado pairs perfectly with the flavorful tuna, creating a combination that’s both satisfying and nourishing.
Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Summer rolls are light, satisfying wraps filled with fresh vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, and carrots. Add cooked shrimp or tofu for protein and serve with homemade peanut sauce made by mixing peanut butter with soy sauce and garlic powder. Assembling the rolls is quick and easy.
Tuna Egg Salad
Tuna egg salad is a protein-packed and hearty meal that’s perfect for long hikes. The combination of tuna and eggs provides a rich source of healthy fats and protein, making it an excellent source of energy for the trail.
It’s easy to transport and enjoy without any fuss or mess, so you can quickly refuel and get back to your adventure.
Egg and Avocado Sandwich
Nothing beats a hearty sandwich that satiates your hunger and tastes amazing. An egg and avocado sandwich is packed with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that will give you the energy to make it up those steep hills.
This sandwich checks all the right boxes! Packed with protein and healthy fats, this combo will keep you fueled for hours.
The eggs supply sustained energy, while avocados offer essential nutrients that support your body during physical activity. Plus, it’s easily portable and doesn’t require any fancy preparation. So you can savor your sandwich and enjoy the stunning views without fuss.
What beats a delicious and heart-warming pasta salad bowl? Not only is it hearty and filling, but it’s also incredibly versatile—you can add whichever vegetables or proteins you like. You can even choose different types of pasta for variety!
This colorful, versatile dish is filled with energy-boosting carbohydrates, and you can easily tailor it to your preferences by adding vegetables, protein, or cheese. Packing it up for the trail is a breeze, as it fits nicely into a container without making a mess in your backpack.
When you’re ready to eat, simply pop the lid off and dig in – no need for any extra hassle. As you enjoy your pasta salad, you’ll find it to be a scrumptious and satisfying way to refuel while you appreciate the natural beauty around you.
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Spread peanut butter on whole-grain bread and add sliced bananas for a simple and energy-packed sandwich.
Tofu Scramble Wrap
Tofu scramble wrap is a tasty and convenient option for vegetarian hikers. Just wrap a tortilla with cheese, scrambled tofu, veggies, and condiments. Heat it up or eat it cold. Serve with sausages and veggies for extra protein.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito
A Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito makes an excellent and filling hiking lunch. Start by baking a few sweet potatoes until they are soft. Combine the sweet potatoes with black beans, some taco spice, and any other desired ingredients.
Place the mixture in a tortilla and wrap it up. You can make several of these burritos the night before so they are ready to go when you head off on your hike.
Bagel with Cream Cheese and Veggies
Bagels are the perfect packable food for day hikes, especially when you’re looking for a nutritious meal to fuel your journey. Start by toasting a bagel, then spread on some cream cheese and top with vegetables such as red onion, capers, and even cucumber. Lastly, finish off the meal with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a hint of citrusy flavor.
Vegan Hiking and Backpacking Lunch Ideas
Quesadillas may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a healthy hiking lunch option, but hear us out! Hummus quesadillas are just as delicious as their cheesy counterparts but without all the extra fat and calories.
They’re super portable – just slip them in your backpack, and you’re good to go. Plus, they pack a punch in the nutrition department.
You’ve got protein from the hummus, keeping you energized for all those uphill climbs, while the veggies add a splash of color and extra vitamins. The fact that they’re deliciously satisfying and filling is just the cherry on top of an already perfect hiking day lunch.
A falafel wrap is an amazing option for a hiking lunch. It’s packed with protein, it’s easy to make, and it tastes amazing! The great thing about this wrap is that it can be prepared ahead of time and taken along with you on your hike. All you’ll need is some falafel mix, a few veggies, and a tortilla.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, you can also add some cooked quinoa to the mix. This will give the wrap substance and will help keep you full longer.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check out our top picks for camping cocktails, perfect for toasting to your hiking adventures.
Chickpea Salad Wrap
Chickpeas are packed with protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium. These nutrient-dense properties make chickpeas ideal for hikers who need long-lasting energy to get through their hike.
Chickpeas are loaded with protein and fiber, giving you the sustained energy you need for those steep inclines. And let’s not forget, they’re super tasty and satisfying, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on a gourmet meal.
Since these wraps are versatile, you can switch up the ingredients to match your taste buds.
Power Bowls with Quinoa & Veggies
The combination of quinoa and veggies tastes amazing and provides quick energy boosts. You know, when you’re hiking, your body needs fuel that’s both nutritious and energizing.
That’s where this bowl comes in – it’s packed with protein-rich quinoa and fiber-filled veggies.
Oh, and it’s a versatile option too! You can mix and match the ingredients based on your preferences. Making this meal is super convenient – just prep ahead, toss it in your backpack, and you’re good to go.
Trail Mix Salad
Don’t want to miss your vegetables out in nature? Mix a salad bowl, then. A trail mix salad will combine multiple sources of nutrition into one filling and flavorful meal.
Packed with a diverse assortment of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and perhaps some chocolate bits, it offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures.
Trail mix salad serves up a powerful punch of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, giving you the sustenance you need to conquer those trails. And the best part? It’s incredibly portable, making it a breeze to snack on as you venture onward.
Soup in a Thermos
Soup is a hearty meal that will keep you full throughout your hike. It’s best to prepare it the night before so it has time to cool completely before putting it into the thermos. Choose soup recipes that contain protein and vegetables, such as minestrone or split pea soup.
Healthy Snacks For Hikers
If your hikes aren’t that long and you only need a pick-me-up energy dose, you don’t have to pack a whole meal. Energy bites will do. These bites are incredibly customizable.
For sweetness, you’ll need nut butter, oats, dried fruit, chia, honey, or maple syrup. And whatever else you want to put in them (cocoa powder, coconut flakes).
These bite-sized snacks are packed with nutrients and energy-boosting ingredients, making them the perfect fuel for your adventure. They’re compact and lightweight, so you won’t have to worry about lugging around a heavy meal.
Summer Sausage Crackers And Apples
Summer sausage, crackers, and apples make a perfect hiking snack for multi-day backpacking trips. The lightweight and non-perishable nature of summer sausage makes it easy to carry without refrigeration.
Apples provide essential nutrients and energy, while crackers offer a filling source of energy. Together, they make a delicious and nutritious snack for any hiking adventure.
Trailside charcuterie is a great snack while hiking. Pack hard cheeses, cured meats, olives, and crackers for a tasty and protein-packed snack. Add trail mix for a sweet and salty combo.
This snack provides the energy you need to keep hiking.
Olives are a fantastic snack to bring with you on a hike. Not only do they offer a high amount of calories, but they also provide a savory burst of flavor that will instantly boost your morale.
Consider buying pre-packaged sachets of olives in marinades for a tasty fat source at lunchtime. You can also repackage store-bought trail mixes into smaller trail-sized bags for a convenient snack.
Dried Fruit /Fruit Leather
Taking dried fruit or fruit leathers as a snack while hiking is a great way to fuel up and stay energized on the trail. Dried fruit is an excellent source of natural sugars and nutrients, and can keep you going for hours.
Dates are a great snack to bring along on a hike. Not only are they tasty and easy to eat on the go, but they also have one of the highest glycemic indexes of any natural food. This means dates will quickly spike your blood sugar and provide you with the energy you need to keep going.
Nuts /Seeds or Trail Mix
Having the right snacks on hand while hiking or backpacking is essential for keeping your energy levels up and staying on the move. Nuts and seeds, as well as trail mix, are perfect snacks for a hike.
Not only are they lightweight and easy to carry, but they also provide a great source of energy and protein. Plus, they’re tasty and easy to eat on the go.
Hard Cheese and Crackers
Of course, you won’t always want to cook before going for a hike. That’s when cheese and crackers will save the day. Pre-sliced cheese is easy to pack and eat on the go, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always bring a block of cheese and slice it as needed.
When it comes to crackers, whole-grain crackers provide a good balance of complex carbohydrates that will keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Another option is bringing along trail mix or nuts for an added dose of protein.
All these items are lightweight, portable, and will keep well throughout the day, so they’re ideal for taking out into nature!
Protein powder is a convenient and nutrient-packed supplement for hiking. Look for high-nutrient, low-calorie options and mix with oats and dried fruit for variety. Store in resealable containers away from stove fuel for safety. Packing protein powder is a great way to ensure you’re getting the energy you need for your hike.
Dehydrated And Packet Meals For Lunch While Hiking
Mountain House Meals
Mountain House meals are a convenient and tasty lunch option for hikers and campers. With a variety of meals to choose from, they are high in calories and nutrients, making them ideal for refueling.
Freeze-dried for freshness and easy to store, they are perfect for any adventure. Try out the Lasagna or Chili Mac with Beef during your next hike.
Tuna packets are a great option for hiking foods. Not only are they packed with protein, but they are also shelf-stable and easy to transport.
They come in a variety of flavors, like Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Salad, Deli Style Tuna Salad, and Lemon Pepper Tuna, and can be combined with other ingredients like crackers, cheese, and peanut butter to create a protein-rich and filling snack.
Chicken packets are a nutritious and compact meal for hiking. Eat them plain or add to other meals like soups, stews, and salads.
They also make hearty sandwiches. Packing extra packets for extended trips provides essential nutrients and energy.
Tips and Tricks For The Best Hiking Meals
1.Add Seasonings And Spice To Your Food
Adding spice to your hiking meals is a great way to make them more exciting and flavourful. There are plenty of spices and seasonings that you can use to add flavors, such as salt and pepper, lemon pepper seasoning, onion powder, and more.
You can also mix your own custom spice blends and seasonings that best suit your tastes.
2. Bring a Variety of Food Options
When packing food for a hike, it’s important to consider a variety of food options to ensure you have enough energy and nutrition along the way.
Additionally, make sure to get a variety of textures and flavors to keep your meals satisfying. Repackage all of your food and store it wisely in your backpack, preferably towards the top and in the middle, to maximize weight distribution.
For the organized hikers out there, you can use a Stuff Stack to keep snacks and meals categorized.
Tips For Choosing The Right Food To Take On Your Hiking Trip
Pack Foods That Are Easy to Eat on the Go
Packing foods that are easy to eat on the go is an important part of any successful backpacking trip. The key is to pick nutritious, calorie-dense foods that are lightweight and won’t take up too much space in your pack.
Repackaging your food in resealable bags before your trip will help you save space and ensure that your food won’t come open in your pack.
When packing, try to put the crunchy, less dense items at the top of your pack and the denser foods closer to the middle.
Tips For The Best Hiking Lunches
When preparing your meals, it’s essential to balance carbs, protein, and fats. Carbs can be easily managed with options like instant rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, couscous, or the sugars in trail mixes.
For fats, choose from a variety of sources like canned tuna in olive oil, your favorite nut butter with healthy fats, or even some hard cheese.
Protein is key for its amino acids, which help your body recover and rebuild muscles. Opt for convenient proteins like tuna, ham slices, smoked salmon, or cooked sausages.
Vegetarians can go for hummus paired with bell peppers for their protein fix.
Pack Food That Will Stay Fresh for Long Periods of Time
If you’re a backpacker, it’s important to find a way to pack food that will stay fresh for long periods of time. Fortunately, there are a few tips that can help you keep your food fresh and delicious for days on the trail.
- Prioritize nutritional density: pack hiking food with at least 100 calories per oz.
- Get a variety of textures and flavors.
- Repackage food in resealable bags to save space and keep food secure.
- Pack food wisely for weight distribution. Crunchy foods should go towards the top, while denser foods go more in the middle. It’s also wise to throw a couple of snacks in your hip pockets or other easily accessible areas.
- Use a stuff stack to stay organized and protect food.
Use Odor-Proof Backpacking Food Storage
When it comes to backpacking, one of the most important considerations is keeping your food safe and secure.
Unwanted company like bears and mice can easily be attracted to the smell of your food if not properly masked. That’s why it’s important to use odor-proof food storage when heading into the backcountry.
A great way to mask food scent is with lightweight odor-proof bags. These are perfect for storing food on a multi-day hiking trip. Bear canisters are also an excellent way to keep wildlife at bay and provide an airtight seal that odor-proof bags might not.
What are The Best Healthy Hiking Lunch Ideas?
2. Hummus and veggies
3. Trail mix
4. Tuna salad
What are Some Easy-To-Pack Lunch Ideas For Hikers?
1. Nut butter and jelly sandwich
2. Crackers and cheese
3. Energy bars
4. Tortilla wrap
5. Trail mix
6. Beef jerky
7. Tuna pouches
8. Hummus and veggies
What Are Some Tips For Packing a Lunch For a Hike?
1. Choose lightweight, non-perishable foods
2. Opt for nutrient and energy-dense options like protein bars and jerky
3. Bring plenty of water and electrolyte drinks
4. Pack according to weather: dried fruit for hot weather, hot soup for cold
5. Repackage foods in sealable bags/containers
6. Plan for snacks and small meals throughout the day
What Are Some Protein-Rich Hiking Lunch Ideas?
Protein is key for hikers, and finding protein-rich lunch ideas is important for long days on the trail.
For vegans, try a tofu or tempeh sandwich or a quinoa salad with beans and tahini dressing.
Vegan jerky, roasted chickpeas, or a protein bar make for great on-the-go snacks.
Meat-eaters can opt for chicken, tuna, or roast beef sandwiches on whole-grain bread or hard-boiled eggs.
How Much Food Should You Pack For Backpacking?
The amount of food you should pack for backpacking depends on several factors, including the length of your trip, your body weight, activity level, and personal preferences.
A general rule of thumb is to pack 1.5 to 2 pounds (2,500 to 4,500 calories) of food per person per day.
Additionally, you should plan for snacks and small meals throughout the day to maintain energy levels. It’s always better to pack a little extra food than to run out on the trail.
Get Out Explore The Best Hiking Lunch Ideas
The best lunch hiking meals are those that are nutritious, easy to pack, and satisfying. With a little creativity and planning, hikers can enjoy a variety of options, from sandwiches and wraps to trail mix and energy bars, that will provide the necessary fuel for their outdoor adventures.