If you’re planning on going hiking, you’re going to want to make sure you bring the proper gear and provisions along with you. If you’re going on a short day hike, you can get away with nothing but a water bottle and a pair of athletic shoes, but if your hike is going to last you half a day, a full day, or overnight, you’re going to want to really think and prepare properly for your outing.
Not only are you going to want to be outfitted with proper gear, but you’re also going to want to bring enough food and water to make sure your needs are properly met during the hike.
Keep in mind this post is aimed mostly at day hikers. If you’re planning on a longer-term, multi-day backpacking excursion, there are other considerations you’ll need to think about before you go on a hike, so I would suggest putting some research in. If you’re going on a longer day hike, however, then this post is for you.
When it comes to water, you definitely want to make sure you bring enough for the hike. There is some debate among hikers about how much is the proper amount. My advice is to bring as much water as you comfortably can take. Often, people don’t bring enough water with them on a hike, and dehydration can be a real issue when you’re out on the trail. How much exactly you’ll need will depend on the length of the hike, the difficulty of the trail, the weather, and of course your level of fitness. Often when I go on day hikes, I’ll carry as much water with me as I am able to, and I’ll also leave some extra water in the car. That way, I can drink all my water on the trail knowing I have some more waiting for me when I get to the car, which is great. If you’re worried about being able to carry enough water, you might want to look into a hydration pack, which allows you to carry your water on your back. If you feel you need even more, your hands will still be free to carry extra water bottles. Remember: hydration, hydration, hydration. It’s so important.
That being said, what this post is really about is food. When you’re hiking, you are going to want to make sure you have enough calories to get through the hike. Proper nutrition will help your performance and power you through what can often be quite challenging. When planning what kinds of snacks you’re going to bring along with you, you need to make sure you’re bringing the right foods. Not only do they need to travel well in often hot, smashed conditions, but they also need to provide your body with what it needs to keep going. Here are a few suggestions I have for things to pack for the trail:
- Granola Bars and protein bars
- Crackers with peanut butter
- Trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
- Canned tuna or chicken and cracker snack pack
- peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Hard cheese and crackers (hard cheese will survive on the trail-soft cheese won’t)
- fresh fruit
- Beans and rice
- Fig newton cookies
- coconut water (to replace electrolytes)
- Cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and pepperoni
- Snickers bars (yeah, they are candy, but they taste good and actually provide decent enough nutrition and energy to keep you going)
You can bring anything you want, really, but the key is you want to make sure you’re bringing food that will survive well in your backpack and has a good mix of protein, carbs, and fat to keep your body performing well along the trail. Also, the longer the hike, the more robust and survivable your food should be. I’ve often packed a turkey and cheese sandwich for shorter day hikes, but on longer hikes, the sandwich gets pretty smashed and disgusting by the time it’s time to eat, so something a little more survivable usually works better. Also keep in mind if the trail is difficult, you might get hungrier than if it’s a relatively easy, flat trail. Plan accordingly. My best rule of thumb is that more is better when it comes to food and water on the trial. You might bring too much, but that’s better than not bringing enough and needing it out on the trail.
Also, make sure you pack out any garbage (including biodegradable items like apple cores and banana peels).