When people hit the trail they don't give what they are going to eat a lot of thought. Day hikers are infamous for being under prepared, and proper nutrition is largely ignored. Having a good meal plan, even if your plans are just for an afternoon jaunt is critical to being safe and having a good experience in the outdoors. Not eating enough can lead to dizziness, cramps, nausea, and a feeling of malaise.
Our editorial staff came up with our top ten favorite foods for day hiking. When we made our list the factors we considered were weight, preparation time, trash generated, how durable the food is when stored, price, and finally taste. We strongly recommend carrying a variety of our top ten favorites to spice up your trip. So for your consideration, here is our top ten list of favorite foods to eat while out on a day hike.
Number Ten - tuna and crackers. Make sure you get one of the smaller cans of tuna that has a pull top to open, that way you won't need a can opener. If the thought of dry tuna makes you shudder, than you can bring a mayonnaise packet acquired at a local fast food restaurant to make it more palatable. To make things even more tasty consider smearing your tuna salad on a bagel (pre sliced) or into some pita bread. Nutritional pluses, tuna is almost pure protein while being balanced with carbohydrates from the crackers or bread.
Number Nine - hard cheese and crackers. Hard cheeses are robust enough to survive on the trail and can take a moderate amount of heat. Sharp cheddar stood out as a favorite among the editors, getting high marks for our durability requirements. Seasoned or whole-wheat crackers add flavor to the somewhat bland experience. Nutritional pluses include plenty of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Number Eight - peanut butter. If you bring peanut butter you will have a lot of options. We recommend repacking it into a squeeze tube; you can find them practically anywhere, even the camping supply section of most Wal-Marts. Not only can you just suck it out of the tube, you can lather peanut butter on crackers or a bagel. One of our favorites is smothering a bagel with peanut butter and sprinkling plump raisins on top. Nutritional pluses, plenty of protein, a good amount of fat balanced with the carbohydrates from the crackers or bread.
Number Seven - candy bars. If you are hiking in a moderate climate, candy bars can survive well on the trail. We don't recommend them in hotter conditions, thus the reason candy bars only made it to number seven on our list. Milky Way, Snickers, Pay Day, and Whatchamacallit scored high with our editors, one said he would, "kill on command for a Whatchamacallit" and yet another editor said she'd do the same for a Snickers, "in a heart beat!"
Pluses include lots of simple carbohydrates for a quick energy fix and great flavor that almost everyone loves, and of course almost no trash to pack out.
Number Six - fresh fruit. Nothing satisfies like a good apple, orange or pear. We recommend carrying fruit that can take rolling around in your backpack, you might find peaches, bananas, and plums less than desirable when you sit down to eat. The two reasons they didn't score higher with our editors was weight, trash that needs to be packed out, and caloric bang per ounce. However they get very high marks for a natural carbohydrate fix, and almost everyone has a favorite fruit they will eat. Every editor agreed that sitting on a scenic bluff eating cheese and crackers with apple slices was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
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