Knowing what food is best to take on a hike isn’t always straightforward and hiking food isn’t necessarily the same food you’d take camping or eat in your daily life. We’ve curated a list of the hiking foods, so you can spend less time planning and more time in nature.

Hiking is one of the best ways to see Australia’s most beautiful landscapes, but it’s also a demanding activity that requires proper preparation – especially when it comes to food.

The food and drink you pack for each trip will not only influence you physically, it will also affect how you feel emotionally and mentally during your trip.

Read more: 5 Key Tips to Good Nutrition on a Big Adventure

The food you bring needs to be lightweight and easy to prepare, as you don’t want to be weighed down or worry about keeping it fresh.

While it might be tempting to choose from the many prepared packet meals on offer, we advise making your own food where possible. There are a number of immediate benefits, including being able to monitor sugar intake and cutting down on the amount of packaging you carry back out with you.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top 14 foods for hiking, so you can fill your tummy and not over-fill your pack.

 1. Fresh Fruit (Apple)


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Approx nutrients per 170g serving:

  • Calories: 95
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin C
  • Carbohydrates: 25 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams

Apples are among the most durable fresh fruits you can take on a hike. They don’t bruise easily and can withstand getting jostled around in a backpack.
Plus, they’re lightweight and full of nutrients like fibre and Vitamin C. Neurologists recommend eating at least one before midday so that the body has time to digest it before you need the energy.

 2. Dried Fruit


Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 359
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin C
  • Protein: 2.64 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 83 grams
  • Fat: 2.7 grams

Dried fruit makes for a great breakfast when hiking because it’s lightweight and easy to eat on the go. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and fibre. As the water is removed from dried food, it concentrates sugar and calories in less quantities. However, dried food is still rich in sugar and calories. So, try choosing options that are lower in sugar for the healthiest option, like dried mulberries.

 3. Preserved Fish


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Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 100
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B12
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams

Preserved fish is an excellent option for a protein-rich snack. It makes for a quick and nutritious meal that doesn’t require refrigeration, and can be eaten cold or heated over a campfire. Plus, it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health. Having preserved fish as a meal on a break can be a great way to re-energize and refuel.

Opt for fish in a sachet over cans for a more compact, lightweight, and packable version.

 4. Mountain Bread

Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 130
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin A
  • Carbohydrates: 52 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 1.5 grams

Having this bread in your backpack is perfect for a quick snack or sandwich on the go. Considered a healthier alternative to traditional bread, mountain bread is less doughy and is made with wholewheat flour. It doesn’t get spongy when wet like other breads and doesn’t spoil easily, which makes it ideal for hikes.

5. Granola Bars


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Granola bars are a favourite among hikers because they’re easy to carry, quick to eat and full of energy-boosting ingredients like oats, nuts, and dried fruit. Plus, they come in various flavours, so you’re sure to find a flavour combo you like.

When making your hiking meal plan, don’t forget these must-have bars! They’ll help you quickly recover some of the energy you’ll be expending on your hike.

The nutritional value of a granola bar will differ drastically between brands and flavour combinations, so make sure to read the nutritional information on the back before purchasing to see if it fits with what you need!

More nuts = more protein!

 6. Instant Oatmeal


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Approx nutrients per 28g serving:

  • Calories: 100
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B6
  • Carbohydrates: 19 grams
  • Protein: 2.4 grams
  • Fat: 2 grams

Oatmeal is perfect for helping you recover some of the energy you’ll be spending on your hike. Instant oatmeal is normally eaten for breakfast, but it can also make a great snack while hiking. Carry one or more small packs with you, and make a delicious and filling meal or snack by adding some hot water.

 7. Almond Butter



Approx nutrients per 16g serving:

  • Calories: 98
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B6
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Protein: 3.4 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams

Although peanut butter is more popular, almond butter is a healthier option with the same amount of protein. Almonds are a good source of fibre, magnesium, and healthy fats. Combined with the protein from the butter, this makes for a perfect hiking snack that’ll give you long-lasting energy.

Plus, almonds don’t need to be refrigerated, so just throw the jar of almond butter in your backpack and get going! To reduce the amount of weight you’re carrying, portion the amount of almond butter you want to bring into a smaller container or doubled zip-lock bag.

 8. Jerky



Approx nutrients per 28g serving:

  • Calories: 116
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B12
  • Carbohydrates: 3.1 grams
  • Protein: 9.4 grams
  • Fat: 7.3 grams

Jerky is a high-protein, low-fat snack that’s perfect for taking on hiking trips. It’s hands down the best way to bring meat on your hike, and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. While beef is the most popular jerky, create a mix for some variety.

 9. Parmesan Cheese


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Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 431
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin D
  • Carbohydrates: 4.1 grams
  • Proteins: 38 grams
  • Fats: 29 grams

This hard Italian cheese will last for days in your backpack without refrigeration. It’s perfect for a pre-hike snack or to add to pasta dishes at camp. Parmesan is also a great source of protein and fat that’ll keep you feeling full and energetic on the trail. Pack parmesan in small wedges or slices for easy snacking.

10. Instant Noodles



Approx nutrients per 43g serving:

  • Calories: 385
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B
  • Carbohydrates: 27 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams

Another quick meal you can prepare easily is instant noodles. These ready-made packaged meals are lightweight, easy to cook, and require little cleanup. Just place the dried noodles in your hiking bowl, add boiling water and flavour sachets, wait a few minutes, give it a stir, and enjoy.

Many instant noodle brands also offer varieties with meat or vegetables already included. Choose your favourite flavour and add it to your hiking food list.

11. Nuts



Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 607
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin B6
  • Carbohydrates: 21 grams
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 54 grams

Nuts always make for a good snack as they’re high in protein and calories and will help keep you feeling full for a long time after you eat them.

Pack a variety of nuts, like almonds, peanuts, and cashews, for a well-rounded snack. You can eat them as they are, or add them to your trail mix.

12. Vegetables



Nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 65
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamin C and B6
  • Carbohydrates: 13 grams
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

If you want to replace freeze-dried meals with fresh foods when hiking, veggies can make a great addition to your menu. However, not every vegetable is suitable for hiking. Any veggie that has a high water content, like cucumber and tomatoes, will only add water weight to what you’re carrying and can squish easily, making a mess in your backpack.

Instead, focus on packing vegetables that are more sturdy and high in calories and nutrients, like carrots and beetroot. These will help you stay energised on the trail.

13. Powdered Milk



Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 496
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamins C, B6, D
  • Carbohydrates: 38g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Fat: 27g

Powdered milk is a super-lightweight hiking food that can be used in multiple ways. You can use it to make oatmeal or pancakes more creamy or if you’re really brave (read: desperate) simply mix it with water.

For those that love hot drinks, powdered milk can also be used to make rich hot chocolates and creamy coffees on the go.

Powdered milk is high in calories and protein, and is an excellent choice for hikers who need an energy boost. It’s also an easy way to get your daily dose of calcium while on the trail.

14. Dark Chocolate


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Approx nutrients per 100g:

  • Calories: 546
  • Vitamins: Good source of vitamins B and E
  • Carbohydrates: 61g
  • Protein: 4.9g
  • Fat: 31g

Hiking can be tough stuff, so you’ll need some sweet sweet motivation and a reward for when it’s all over. Chocolate provides a quick blast of energy to help you power through the last few kilometres and is a surefire way to boost morale. Store the chocolate in a Ziploc bag to keep it from staining your gear if it melts. Dark chocolate is the better alternative if you’re avoiding sugar. You can also break it up into small pieces to scatter through your trail mix.

Best Hiking Foods FAQs

What foods should you eat on a multi-day hike?

Multi-day hikes require more planning than shorter hikes, as you need to ensure you have enough food to last the entire trip but don’t weigh you down.

When choosing foods for a multi-day hike, aim for items that are high in calories and protein, and are easy to carry and store.

To help you choose, here’s a list of food ideas for your next multi-day hike.


Classic Pre-Hike Breakfast Menu

As most breakfast foods are nutritious and quick to prepare, your hiking breakfast may not significantly differ from the breakfast you usually have at home.

You’ll still need some protein-rich foods to help charge your batteries, as well as complex carbs for sustained energy. Don’t forget to pack some fruits and veggies for vitamins and minerals.

A typical pre-hike breakfast menu can include:

  • Overnight oats
  • Granola bars
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Cheese
  • Fruit
  • Bread
  • Peanut butter


Carbs for Hiking Dinners

For dinner, you’ll want to focus on foods rich in complex carbs, as these will help replenish your glycogen reserves and give you energy for the next day.If you’re on the trail for a while, plan on cooking warm food for yourself.

You can always settle for the no-cook option, packing cold foods like salads or sandwiches, but it’s not something we’d recommend for more than a night or two. Instead, it’s better to travel with a hiking stove and cook your own meals for a more delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meal.

Some complex carb options for your hiking dinner include:

  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Lentils


Drinks for Chilly Hiking Evenings

Just as with dinner, we’d recommend a warm drink before going to bed, as this will help you stay hydrated and warm after a long day of hiking.

The best beverage after a long day on the trail is a cup of hot green tea to relax and rehydrate. That’s not your only option, of course: powdered milk can be used to make some hot milk to enjoy.

If you’re going to relax around the campfire, hot chocolate is also a great drink before bed. Plan your water supply for the whole trip to avoid running out.

Here are several options for drinks you can take with you on your next hike: 

  • Water
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Juice
  • Soda

What foods should you avoid on a hike?

Only Sugary Food

Eating only sugary snacks isn’t a good idea, as you’ll quickly become tired and hungry. Then you’ll start craving salty flavours to balance it out.

Create a balanced mix of sweet and savoury snacks when hiking. Pick some of your favourite nuts or seeds and add them to your menu for a delicious crunchy power boost.


Heavy Meals

Heavy meals are meals that take a long time to digest and include foods like burgers, pizza and any other food that’s rich in butter, oil, and eggs.

In the best-case scenario, you’ll feel good for the first hour after eating a heavy meal, but you’re soon likely to experience a big energy drop.



A beer or two in the evening around the campfire may seem like a nice idea, but drinking alcohol before or on a hike is a big no-no.

Not only will alcohol dehydrate you, it’ll also make you feel tired and dull your reflexes. If you’re hiking on dangerous trails where you need to be fully focused on every step, the last thing you want to be is intoxicated. Save the alcohol for a celebratory tipple once you reach camp.

How should you pack your meals for hiking?

The short answer is: sealed compactly. Here’s what it means in practice:

Use Lightweight Options Whenever Possible

Not every food can be replaced with a lighter version, but there are definitely some that can.

For example, opt for energy bars or gels instead of a heavy bag of trail food. You can also ditch canned food for food in compressible packets and sachets. Dried food can replace fresh fruits. These small changes will make a big difference in your backpack’s weight.


Remove Excess Packaging

Marketing makes food manufacturers use packaging that isn’t always conducive for a light backpack. Once you’ve prepared the food you want to take with you, transfer it to a more compact container, or remove any of the unnecessary packaging.

For example, just pack the muesli bars singularly, not the entire box. Divvy out portions of what you’ll need from larger containers, like powdered milk and nuts rather than taking the entire bag.

What’s best to drink while hiking?

Water, water and more water. This is the most important thing to remember when packing your drinks for hiking. You’ll sweat on the hike and will need to replenish fluids constantly. Make sure you have enough water and drink regularly.

What else can you drink when hiking?

Powerade or Gatorade

These drinks are designed to replenish the electrolytes you lose when sweating. They can be helpful, but aren’t vital if you’re hiking for a short time and/or aren’t sweating a lot.


Water Enhancers

Water enhancers can add flavour and nutrients to your water. They can be helpful, but make sure to read the label carefully. Some of them have a lot of sugar, which is not what you need when hiking.


Coconut/Lemon Water

If you like your water to be flavoured, try these options. Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated on the hike as it has electrolytes and is low in sugar.

Lemon water is also a good option, as it can help you stay hydrated and give you a bit of an energy boost as well.

How much weight should you allow for food each day of the hike?

Your hiking food should weigh between 700g and a kilo  

Of course, this is just a general guideline. If you’re hiking for a longer period of time or in hot weather, you may need to carry more food with you. However, this estimation is for an optimal backpack weight that’ll prevent you from over-straining yourself.

Where can you find lightweight hiking food?

Specialised shops for hiking gear, or special sections in grocery stores

If you have a specialised store for hiking gear in your area, it’s likely to have some lightweight hiking food options or at least some lightweight packing ideas.

Also, many grocery stores now have a section with lightweight and healthy foods that are perfect for hiking. Use them to stock up on energy bars, nuts, dried fruit and other snacks.

What fruit is good for hiking?

Apple, oranges, and bananas are the most popular choices

These fruits are easy to carry and will give you a boost of energy when hiking. They’re also high in water content, which will help you stay hydrated.

What makes a good breakfast before hiking?

Oatmeal with dried fruit, yoghurt and granola

A light but filling breakfast is perfect before hitting the trail. Eat an hour or so before you start hiking to have time to digest.

Oatmeal with dried fruit and yoghurt is a great option, as it’ll give you complex carbs and protein to fuel your hike. If you’re short on time, you can also just grab a granola bar or an energy gel. Try to avoid processed foods of any kind.

Hiking Food Final Thoughts

If you’re carrying the food, you might as well take some kitchen utensils with you for basic cooking, cleaning and food preparation. There are practical ways to do this, explained in our guide about packing a clean-up kit.

When hiking you’re mostly focused on the fascinating scenery and don’t want to focus much on food or packing meals. We hope this guide makes your mealtime decisions simpler and your hike even more enjoyable!


Feature photo by @zac_desilva