Day Hike Lunch Ideas: 21 Meals that Go Beyond PB&J Sandwiches

From sitting on the edge of a cliff watching a herd of elk in the valley below to lounging on boulders next to a 60-foot waterfall, lunch is the highlight of our hikes. And to be fair, we could be eating cardboard at that point and the lack of flavor in our food would be far offset by the beautiful setting. But why do that to yourself? Here are some day hike lunch ideas for nutritious and delicious lunches with flavors that match your gorgeous surroundings!

To take the menu beyond basic sandwiches, we reached out to fellow travel writers from all over the world and asked them to share their favorite hiking lunches. That means you are going to be amazed at the great hiking lunch ideas they are sharing with you. YUM! And there’s something for everyone, even the pickiest eater in your family.

Scroll down for all the details, including some amazing recipes! We have included links to where you can purchase some of these supplies to make it easier for you, in some cases we earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

How to Pack Your Hiking Lunch so it Doesn’t Get Smashed

Do you find yourself using your backpack as a pillow when resting against a rock only to later find your cookies in crumbles? Or perhaps you dig through the pack looking for a bandaid and your lunch gets tossed all over?

On the other hand, you don’t want a bulky lunch container in your pack. Here are our favorite lunch storage containers that manage to keep our lunch un-squished (is that a word?) AND take up very little space on your day hike.

First, I think you will really appreciate the Stasher Reusable Silicone Storage Bags. They are just enough heavier than a plastic baggie to keep your food protected. But what makes them remarkable is their versatility. Not only will it keep your sandwich safe, but you can also cook right in the bag.

And my favorite feature is that you can just toss them in the dishwasher when you get home for easy clean-up. Just think about how many plastic bags you are keeping out of landfills! There are dozens of sizes and colors so check them out on Amazon and at REI Co-opCollapsible Bowls filled with hiking lunch sitting on tree stump

And then there’s my obsession with lightweight, collapsible silicone bowls and containers. It might have started with saving space when camping but quickly expanded to storing my lunch when hiking.

When you finish lunch, you can compress the bowl to a smaller size, so it takes up less space in your pack. How cool is that! They do a fantastic job keeping lunch organized, fresh and free from getting smashed. An assortment of collapsible dish sizes works well for hiking, or if you prefer veggies and salads, a medium-size collapsible dish works well.

Best Day Hike Lunch Ideas

mediterranean couscous salad with dried tomatoes,feta,olives and basil
Couscous Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

#1 Couscous Salad

from Eloise at My Favourite Escapes

I like to have a couscous salad for lunch when I’m hiking. It’s easy to prepare, tasty and healthy. I like couscous because it is a good source of energy and vitamin, low in fat, and keeps me full for a long time. I usually cook the couscous the night before, with salt and olive oil. You just need to pour boiling water and wait for a few minutes to cook.

Once the couscous is ready, I simply add herbs and vegetables I like: parsley, mint, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, red onions and diced capsicums. I also like to mix it with a few raisins (some may prefer olives) and lemon juice to make it more interesting. I carry my couscous salad in a foldable container with a good seal so that it takes less space once it’s empty.

❤ Ladona’s note: Don’t you just love this incredibly simple day hike lunch idea. Move over sandwiches!

Summer Rolls with Rice and Veggies

#2 Summer Rolls

from Katja Mamacos of WanderCapeTown

After dozens of long hikes in Cape Town, I’ve found that my absolute favorite hiking lunch is summer rolls. They’re so simple and easy to make beforehand, and as long as you roll them tightly, they hold nicely. They’re also super adaptable to your tastes and diet.

I make mine with carrots, cucumber, mango, chicken and red cabbage, all thinly sliced and joined by rice vermicelli and fine-chopped mint and basil. You can also make or buy yourself a quick peanut butter dipping sauce, put it in its own little tub, and you have a perfect fresh-tasting meal (or snack, depending on how many you pack)! These rolls are bright and colorful, full of flavor and perfectly well suited to long hikes on warm days.

Ladona’s note: Doesn’t this sound delicious? Confession… I didn’t realize there was a difference between summer rolls and spring rolls. According to AllRecipes spring rolls have a flour-based wrapper, and summer rolls are served cold with a rice-based wrapper.

Bliss Ball photo by Jub at Chur New Zealand

#3 Bliss Balls: Super Simple Day Hike Lunch Ideas

from Jub at Chur New Zealand

As someone who isn’t a big fan of sitting around for lunch (unless there are insane views), I find bliss balls (a.k.a. energy balls) a great lunch on a long day of hiking. Their size makes them easy to eat on the move. Depending on how big you make the balls, each can contain 50-150 calories. You can buy them from shops, but it’s much cheaper to make your own. My goto mix is:

  • 7 Weetbix/Weetabix cereal bars
  • 5 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp of desiccated coconut
  • 36 dates
  • 32 pieces of dark chocolate
  • a handful of sunflower seed
  • 5 tbsp of maple syrup

You simply melt the dark chocolate, then put the ingredients together in a blender and make them into small balls (this makes enough for a few days of hiking). Leave them in the fridge overnight and you’ll be prepped for your hike the next day.

❤ Ladona’s note: You’re not alone if you are wondering what Weetbix might be. This is my first exposure to the cereal that is popular down under. The cool thing about bliss balls is the hundreds of ways to mix them to match your unique tastes. However, if you want to give Jub’s yummy recipe a try, you can easily purchase Weetbix on Amazon or in a lot of specialty groceries. 

#4 Chicken Salad Sandwich with Chips and Fruit

from Candice at CSGinger.com

One of the best hiking lunches to enjoy while hiking, especially in national parks like Yosemite National Park, is a chicken salad sandwich, chips, and fruit. It is a quick and easy lunch to make and doesn’t require much prep work.

You will need celery, grapes, chicken, and mayonnaise along with some seasoning. Lemon pepper, salt, and pepper really add to the sandwich. If you don’t have a way to cook your chicken breasts, you can use canned chicken. Simply shred your cooked chicken, slice your celery, cut your grapes in half, and mix with mayonnaise.

From there, you will need either slices of bread or a croissant to finish your sandwich. You can also add chopped cashews to give your sandwich more protein.

❤ Ladona’s note: Try packing a frozen water bottle or juice box with your chicken salad to keep it cool on your day hike. And then you’ll have an ice-cold drink for the afternoon too! 

#5 Bananas and Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Džangir at Dr Jam Travels

When I go out for a hike, I look for simplicity in my day hike lunch ideas. So most of the time, I will take 2 items: Bananas and Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies. They take little space, and there is no need for preparation. They are cheap items you can buy in a store. Also, you don’t need anything extra, no washing, no plates, no cutlery.

Bananas are a perfect food to eat on a hike as they provide healthy carbohydrates for the energy released steadily. They are rich in potassium (for your muscles) and vitamin B6 (metabolic processes). Cookies are similar, full of healthy carbs, and if you are into baking, you can prepare one to your liking.

❤ Ladona’s note: I suspect that Džangir makes his cookies a little healthier than I do… but I love the simple concept. Sometimes I get wrapped up in overplanning when simple hiking lunch ideas will do the trick. Make sure you throw a protein source into your backpack so you have a balanced meal.

A fully loaded wrap for a full day of hiking

#6 A Loaded Wrap

from Nikki of She Saves She Travels

One of my favorite hiking lunches is really simple and almost effortless to put together! There’s something so satisfying about reaching a summit to pull out a delicious wrap and taking a break at the top! Reminds me of these fabulous Oahu hikes and how rewarding they are.

Starting with a tomato basil tortilla, add mayo, avocado or schmear of choice. Then layer pieces of cold ham, turkey and provolone cheese. Top with lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Wrap it up like a burrito and put it in foil. Pack an apple on the side for a complete lunch.

To keep your wrap cold, freeze a bottle of water overnight and pack it right next to your wrap, putting both items together in a lightweight towel, extra shirt, etc. to keep them both insulated. Put them in a place in your backpack that’s closest to your body for the best results. The water bottle will slowly thaw out, and you’ll have ice-cold water, an apple and a refreshing wrap to enjoy while on the trail!

❤ Ladona’s note: Hey, if you are worried about mayo (or other condiments) spoiling on a hot day, grab a few individual packets of condiments to tuck into your hiking lunch. They’ll stay fresh until opened.

#7 Dried Sausages

from Allan at It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

This recommendation has a lot to do with convenience. There is no prep or special storage necessary. And availability is never a problem because you’ll never be far from some tasty dried sausages. Just grab a bag of them and pack them in your pockets.

Sausages also vary from place to place, with regional variations, meaning there’s always a bit of adventure in choosing to begin with. Otherwise, it’s hard to go wrong with Polish sausages, like Kielbasa (semi-dry) or Kabanos (dry). Normally they’ll be found in the deli section of any supermarket, and to make a meal of it, just pair them together with some local cheeses, olives, bread maybe, a glass of wine?

❤ Ladona’s note: We love dried sausages too! Check out this selection of exotic sausages from Jerk Dynasty if you want to try something a little different. And I’ll look forward to that glass of wine when I get back from the hike.

Mediterranean meal plate of Dolmas

#8 Premade Dolmas (a gluten-free hiking lunch)

from Ashlee of The Happiness Function

We are a husband-and-wife team that likes to hike and get out into the wild every chance we can get! I’m gluten-free, and one of our absolute favorite hiking lunches to bring is so easy to pack, transport, and eat. It requires zero prep and can be left outside without a cooler while hiking. What to Pack:

  • Premade canned dolmas – which are stuffed grape leaves with rice or quinoa (from Trader Joe’s)
  • String cheese
  • Gluten-free jerky

Be sure to purchase canned dolmas with an easy-open lid, so you don’t have to bring a can opener. Then, all you have to do is snack and share the delicious finger foods. Don’t forget to bring a wet wipe and a little trash baggie since the dolmas are packed in oil. This lunch is packed full of protein, good fats, and healthy carbs to fuel the day’s adventures! And, it’s gluten-free!

❤ Ladona’s note: The gluten-free mini snack sticks from FireCreek would be a great addition to this day hike lunch. 

#9 A Baguette with Avocados, Tomatoes and Limes

from Chris at Punta Cana Travel Blog

Our favorite day hike lunch idea is fresh bread from the bakery (preferably baguette-style), avocados, tomatoes and limes. It is easy to buy, super cheap, convenient to carry and quick to prepare. It is our preferred hiking lunch in all tropical places; it doesn’t matter if we are on a quick hike in Punta Cana, a full-day adventure in the Dominican Republic or traveling elsewhere in warm and avocado-filled countries.

We particularly love this combination for several reasons. First is the avocado. Particularly with lime and tomato, avocados taste like pure heaven. Second, the bread. There is hardly anything better than a fresh and crunchy baguette, especially when on the road. Combine both, and you have a perfect hiking lunch.

The avocados refill your energy level, and the crunchy bread will be very much welcomed by your taste buds. This hiking lunch is also a perfect option for traveling as it doesn’t require a kitchen. You just buy everything at a local market or in the supermarket, and you are ready to go. The only thing you need is a pocket knife to cut the avocado, the bread, the tomatoes and the limes during your hiking break.

❤ Ladona’s note: This lunch menu sounds so refreshing! Try it with gluten-free crackers if you need to watch your gluten.

Parker ready to hike – photo by Terri Markle at Female Solo Trek

#10 Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies… a day hike lunch with your furry hiking buddy

from Terri at FemaleSoloTrek.com

My 8-month-old puppy Parker (aka Spider Pup) will easily walk five to seven miles if I fill my backpack with canine snacks. We love to hike at the National Arboretum and Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. It may be best for doggos with tummy issues to bake homemade dog biscuits instead of buying store snacks.

The recipe for pumpkin dog cookies only requires four ingredients—whole wheat flour, eggs, old-fashioned peanut butter (no sugar), and pumpkin. Mix in enough flour that the dough rolls easily. Roll the dough out and then use dog cookie cutters to make bone-shaped treats. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350F.

Your dog will love you. These snacks can be easily packed in a plastic bag to carry in your pack. For myself, I pack easy snack food to consume on a bench. Triscuits, hummus, fresh or dried fruits, and nuts make an easy lunch for the trails. Plus, you can share your bottle of water with your pup.

❤ Ladona’s note: When I discovered that Terri and I both have 8-month-old Goldens, I had to try her puppy cookie recipe. I didn’t have any dog bone-shaped cookie cutters, but that didn’t seem to matter. A massive hit in our house! Be careful when selecting sugar-free peanut butter for your dog. Some have artificial sweeteners, which are bad for dogs’ digestive systems.

#11 Savory Muffins… a great way to sneak healthy foods into kids lunches

from Annabel at Smudged Postcard

It’s easy to feed children lots of sweet treats to get them to walk a bit further, so I like finding ways to get my kids to enjoy savory (and healthy) snacks when we’re doing a family walk. Savory muffins are a brilliant snack – or sandwich alternative – for families.

You can make simple cheese muffins or, if your children aren’t good with vegetables, you can sneak all manner of things into muffins – courgette, leek, red pepper – whatever you think you can get away with!

If your children aren’t keen on the concept of savory muffins, it’s also easy to add an unassuming vegetable such as courgette or sweet potato into a sweet muffin without your children being any the wiser.

The muffins can be made ahead and frozen, so they’re versatile for families – just grab a few out of the freezer when you’re heading out the door.

❤ Ladona’s notes: Here’s are 600 savory muffin recipes that I can’t wait to try out. What a great idea for hiking to pack in a lot of energy foods.

#12 Smoked Oysters and Cheese

from Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

In my 50 years of climbing mountains, I’ve always enjoyed a special lunch on the summit. There’s something joyous about having a celebration meal on the top after a hard climb. My favorite lunch spread to enjoy as I take in the views starts with a tin of smoked oysters and a good hard cheese such as Manchego or sharp cheddar.

Pile these morals on a stoned wheat cracker and top with a slice of avocado. You will need a knife for cheese and avocado slicing.

I also bring a bag of cut-up veggies. In the summer, I take whatever is ripe in the garden—snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes, or kohlrabi. I bring a Ranch dressing packet for dipping. I love this lunch because it is a fun tradition on my summits. It also provides plenty of energy for a long hike out.

❤ Ladona’s note: Oh yeah! The best hiking lunch ideas start with a fantastic destination. Karen has nailed that! 

#13 Tangy Vegan Wraps

from Linn Haglund of Andalucia Hiking

One of my absolute favorite vegan hiking lunches to bring is whole wheat wraps with a tangy chickpea filling. Before heading out in the morning, I put chickpeas, mushrooms, broccoli, and garlic in a pan and fry it lightly with salt, chili, coriander, and freshly squeezed lemon or lime. If I have leftover rice, I throw it in too.

I usually go solo hiking, but the few times I’ve had hiking buddies taste it, they’ve loved it just as much as I do! It is a nutrient-rich energy food that tastes amazing in the mountain with a good view after any hard climb. Together with the wraps, I always make sure to have enough nuts, dates, fruit, and the odd energy bar to top up my energy throughout the hike.

❤ Ladona’s note: Packages of nuts and dried fruit are one of our “go-to” snacks too. We love the energy boost you can get from a small package.

Traditional Indian Peanut Jaggery Bar

#14 Quinoa Salad and a Lot of Snacks

from Urvi at Urvi’s Travel Journal

I prefer a quick lunch and healthy snacks for my hiking trips, which give enough energy, but don’t feel heavy on my stomach. I pack quinoa salad, homemade peanut jaggery bar, cheese sticks or cubes, whatever is available, apple slices, peanut butter, and homemade trail mix.

  • I buy a ready-made salad mix for the quinoa salad, but cook my quinoa and add chopped walnuts, almonds, and ranch dressing sachets. Add dressing at the time of consumption.
  • For peanut jaggery bars, you need to melt clarified butter jaggery (a healthy alternative to sugar) in a pan and add roasted peanut halves, giving that crunch to it.
  • Take roasted almonds, roasted fox nuts, dried cranberries, cashews, and pecans for homemade trail mix.
  • As we are vegetarian, nuts and cheese are our go-to source for protein, and my family is a big fan of them.

❤ Ladona’s notes: Another new food that sounds good for hiking lunch ideas! I probably won’t make the Indian traditional peanut jaggery bars myself, but I did find them on Amazon, so I’m ready to give them a try. Just another way to love peanuts!

#15 Black Bean Taco Bowl

from Disha at Disha Discovers

Black bean taco bowls are a delicious and easy hiking lunch. This is my go-to hiking meal because it’s customizable, and it keeps me full. Plus, black bean taco bowls are bursting with flavor. The ingredients are black beans, cheese, rice, salsa, taco seasoning, lime, shredded lettuce, premade guacamole minis, and tortilla chips. You can also add cilantro and diced jalapenos.

The night before, rinse the beans thoroughly and cook the rice. Once the rice is finished cooking, combine it with the beans and a dash of taco seasoning in a container. Top the mixture with cheese, lettuce, lime juice, salsa, jalapenos, and cilantro. Pack the tortilla chips and the guacamole separately, and add them to the bowl at lunch.

Family resting outdoors after hiking with their lunch of hot soup

#16 Warm Soups for Cold Days

from Asha at Home Travel Guide

During our winter hikes, we like to pack warm lunches in our Thermos. Each of us has a small Thermos specially made to pack food. Our kids tend to go for whole wheat tomato pasta with broccoli and cheese, while we enjoy a homemade bean soup with plenty of vegetables.

We also carry some healthy little treats, including dried apricots, nuts, sweet popcorn and fruit bars to give us plenty of energy. We discover and explore many places during our hikes, but the lunch stop is always a wonderful family moment. The whole family enjoys the warm and delicious food we carry in our backpacks.

❤ Ladona’s notes: There’s nothing like a hot meal on a cold hike! You’ll need a good thermos to keep your soup warm. Check out Hydro Flask Food Jars. They have a double-wall vacuum to keep your food warm. I like that they come in various sizes and colors and are totally spillproof. You can find them at REI Coop or take a look on Amazon.

#17 Curried Beef Ramen

from Natasha of Planes, Trains and Karcz

One of my easiest go-to hiking meals is curried beef ramen. It can be prepped at home in a matter of minutes and packed in a thermos or can be made directly on the trail with a small backpacking stove. Packed with tons of flavor, veggies, and protein to keep you energized, you’ll be glad you gave this one a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet instant ramen noodles
  • 1 single-serve package of beef jerky – teriyaki is best, but any flavor will do – cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp dehydrated mirepoix (diced veggies)

Directions:

  • Add 2 cups of water and all ingredients into your cooking vessel
  • Bring water to a boil over your backpacking stove or fire, then leave to simmer, stirring occasionally

Once noodles and beef jerky have softened, eat up!

#18 Tofu Veggie Wrap… the perfect vegan lunch idea for your hike

from Jessica at Uprooted Traveler

As a vegan hiker, I’ve had so much fun trying different foods and flavor combinations to take along when I go hiking. And I think I found a winner! Before a backpacking trip in the mountains, I will cube tofu, toss them in various sauces and spices (think barbecue sauce, sriracha, peanut butter or really whatever I have laying around!), and bake them.

The morning before I head out, I’ll use the tofu in a tortilla wrap stuffed with fresh veggies, like avocados, tomatoes, kale, and mushrooms. To finish it off, I add a hearty dollop of fresh hummus and some sauce, like mustard, to add some juiciness. I then wrap it up in aluminum foil, and I’m ready to hit the trail- and have a tasty lunch!

#19 Wilderness Charcuterie Board

from Thomas at Out and Across

If you’re like me, meal planning isn’t always your favorite thing to do. But a long day of hiking requires a decent lunch. So, I’ll often bring a quick and easy wilderness charcuterie board! Did you know the word “charcuterie” dates back to 15th century France? It essentially translates to mean fancy pork products.

Charcuterie usually includes meats, cheeses, crackers, and other sweet and savory accompaniments. Pack your favorite meats (like salami or prosciutto), slices of gouda or cheddar cheese (or whatever you enjoy!), and some crackers. Sometimes I’ll bring veggies or fruit as well. If you want something easy to pack, why not give wilderness charcuterie a try?

❤  Ladona’s note: A mini version of the hiking charcuterie also makes for delicious hiking snacks. We love to mix some dried fruit with cheese, beef sticks and whole-grain crackers in a small bag to munch on. 

#20 Street Food is a Great Plan B

from Caroline at Veggie Wayfarer

One early day in spring, the sun was out and my Sicilian partner and I decided to go on a hike in Sicily. There is virtually no hiking culture on the island, locals instead much prefer the comfort of the beach where the lunch of choice is a delicious Arancina or Sfincione – respectively the king and queen of Palermitan street food.

And so on that faithful day, we set out with a backpack brimming with these delicious delights carefully wrapped in grease-free paper. As an avid hiker, I was very skeptical of this ever-so-slightly less healthy form of hiking fuel. Yet to my utter delight my doubts were proven wrong and we managed to hike in half the time that was initially forecasted.

Let’s not tell everyone, but secretly I think the Sicilians might be on to something with their street food.

❤  Ladona’s note: It’s so true that when you are on a road trip, sometimes you get inspired to head out hiking without your normal food available. What a great solution!

#21 Pasta Salad is super easy

from me!

For hiking, my pasta salad is a little lighter on pasta and heavier on vegetables to ensure we have a lot of complex carbohydrates for a busy day. Slightly undercooked pasta will hold up better. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and add in the fresh vegetables.

I like to throw in sundried tomatoes for the rich flavor as they hold up much better than fresh tomatoes. I place a layer of wax paper on top, then place shredded cheese on top of the wax paper so it doesn’t get soggy before lunchtime.

 

And Not to Be Ignored: the Perfect Hiking Sandwich

Sandwiches top the list for nutritious hiking lunch ideas because they are so easy. They are easy to make, travel well, and don’t need any utensils to eat. Add in fresh fruit, and you have a lovely quick lunch. Here are our favorites:

  • Peanut butter & jelly is our go-to sandwich for a lot of energy. Or substitute any nut butter.
  • Cheese & salami with mustard. This sandwich is a great choice when it’s warm outside if you use a hard cheese, like cheddar, which will hold up without refrigeration. Cured meats, like salami, also are better if you can’t keep them cool. If you want to add lettuce or tomatoes, bag them separately until ready for lunch. A small collapsable bowl works great for the tomato to keep it from becoming ketchup!
  • Tuna, Chicken or Egg Salad Sandwiches are easy to make on-site when you reach your destination with very little effort. That way you can keep the mayo in individual packages that won’t spoil. Pack canned tuna or tuna pouches, chicken pouches or hard-boiled eggs that will hold up well without refrigeration.

Let’s take a look at the components of a great sandwich.

The Best Bread for Hiking Sandwiches

Don’t you hate a smooshed sandwich? Well, that’s the problem with a lot of bread. After your sandwich has been tossed around your backpack all day, it is smooshed. Avoid soft bread for your sandwiches.

Our favorite types of bread, because they stand up to a lot of abuse, are bagels, pita pockets and Brownberry sandwich thins. Sturdy bread like rye and sour-dough also holds up well. If it is rainy, we’ve found bagels are surprisingly water-resistant. Yes, we “tested it”, perhaps by accident, but our bagel sandwiches survived a bag filled with water.

Look for Safe Condiments for Hiking Sandwiches

We all know that mayo will quickly spoil in the heat, but what about other condiments? A dry sandwich can be pretty uninspiring. According to the Today’s Show, ketchup, mustard and hot sauce are safe at average room temperature, so they would be good to use for most day hikes.

And if you know it’s going to get hot (or you can’t live without your mayo), why not use individual condiment packets that don’t need refrigeration until opened. I hate creating that extra packaging waste, but I hate getting sick on the trail even more. Amazon offers a box of assorted individually packaged condiments.

What Meats and Proteins work well for Hiking Sandwiches?

Cured and dried meats will hold up without refrigeration much longer than regular lunch meat. Also, use hard cheeses on your sandwiches. That old fashioned
If the sun hits your pack, American Cheese will be pretty unappetizing by lunchtime.

Pack a Variety of Hiking Snacks Too

Hiking snacks are an important part of your backpacking food. Keep small snacks readily available so you can munch on them throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Treats that don’t take up much space are ideal when on a backpacking trip. A few suggestions for easy to pack hiking snacks are:

  • Banana Chips
  • Dried Fruit
  • Fruit Leather
  • Granola Bars
  • Protein Energy Bars
  • Peanut Butter Pretzels
  • Nuts

Hiking snacks also are perfect when you are out on the trail longer than expected because they give you energy to keep going.

Best Hiking Lunch Ideas for Hot Weather Hikes

Hiking in hot weather burns a lot of calories. And because of the heat, you might be apt to skip lunch. Don’t! Stuff your bag with lots of tasty snacks to keep you going. You need to stay hydrated when it’s hot, so tucking in a juicy fruit like an orange is a great choice.

For a hiking lunch idea, reach for the foods that can withstand the heat. A peanut butter and bagel sandwich an apple is refreshing on a warm day. Add in some trail mix for dessert, and you have a well-balanced meal.

On a hot day, you can enjoy a diverse lunch if you have access to a freezer the night before. Freeze a juice box or one of your water bottles and pack it in with your lunch. You’ll be happy for the cold on a long hike, and you’ll enjoy a lunch of cool fresh foods.

Delicious Hiking Lunch Ideas for Kids

When hiking with kids, the last thing you want is a child with the hangries. And it can be harder to entice kids to eat when they are hot and tired. So bringing food that your kids love will make all the difference in the success of your day hike.

Try letting your kids pick out their own snacks before you go. The more involved they are in the selection, the more likely they will eat.

We love to make our own Custom Trail Mix. Before you go, fill bowls with all the family favorites for trail mix. Then let each person create their personal blend. Bag them separately, and everyone is happy!

Backpacking Lunch Ideas for Longer Trips

Many of these hiking lunch ideas work great for a weekend backpacking trip and the fresh food will provide more variety than dehydrated meals. However, for a longer trip, freeze-dried meals will take a lot less space in your backpack while supporting the energy levels you need for the miles.

Why You Need a Healthy Lunch when Hiking

Your body burns more energy than you realize when hiking. For example, an average 150 lb guy burns about

  • 100 calories per hour in the office,
  • 200 calories per hour casually walking and
  • 400 calories per hour hiking uphill

If you don’t put enough calories into your body during your day hike, your energy levels will drop, which could make it an unpleasant day at best. Some people get brain fog when there is an energy deficit. Others have a more severe blood sugar bounce, with either a hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic reaction.

Hiking is one of the healthiest activities for your mind and body, there is no better time to ensure you are fueling your body with healthy foods!

A healthy lunch will be a mix of healthy fats, complex carbs and lean protein. Always pack more food than you think you’ll need. It’s hard to predict the amount of energy your body will burn on a hike. Every day hike is a little bit different. And most importantly, in an emergency, you might need extra food to hold you over until rescue arrives.

I hope you found a couple of new suggestions to add variety to your travels in this list of day hike lunch ideas. Most of these ideas will work just as well for longer backpacking trips.