We’ve all been there, it’s mile three and half, you’re about to turn back and you’re starving. Maybe you remembered the GORP (Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts) and a water bottle, but what about something nutritious that will help you power up for the rest of way back to the trailhead? Here are some great options to help fight a fatigued palate and keep those legs moving on towards your goal.
Fruit: Fresh and Dried
Fruits can give you great natural sugars (fructose) and fresh fruit like apples, plums, oranges, and the like all pack well and have plenty of juice in them. Dried fruit is an excellent source of fiber, calories and energy, and since they weigh less, it means you can take more. With dried fruit, remember that you need to drink plenty of water to make up for the lack of those natural juices
Crackers and Cheese
There’s plenty of protein, fat, and carbs in cheese, and it’s recommended to bring a hard variety like sharp cheddar that can take the warm and humid environment of your daypack. Crackers, especially the whole-wheat types, are good sources of carbohydrates, and of salt, which you lose through sweat.
Every one has their favorite, be it Luna, Powerbar, or the REI brand, but all these versatile blocks of sustenance offer balanced nutrition, last forever, and are very lightweight. Most energy bars are made with a specific ratio of protein and carbs, though you can find ones richer in either depending on the activity you want to undertake.
Nuts and More
Nuts and seeds are full of carbs, protein, and fat. They make great snack while you are hiking and provide you with boost of energy to keep you moving. Mixed with dried fruit like raisins or cherries, and a few bit of chocolate, you have now taken GORP to the next level. Also, peanut butter is full of protein, so a bringing some squeeze containers or even the trusty PBJ would be a great idea.
Jerky, or dried salted meat, lasts, is ultra light, and contains a balance of fat, protein, salt, and carbohydrates. Jerky is even better if you make it yourself, you just need to slice the meat thin, let it sit in a marinade, and then use dehydrator or a few hours in your oven to dehydrate. Also think of salmon and turkey jerky as options for those not into red meat.
Not only does it make your mouth happy after a long day of hiking, but also the sugar in chocolate makes it a great energy food and means you can rapidly combat fatigue. There is also a bit of caffeine in cacao and some fat, which means it's great to replenish that fuel you’ve just burned through.
Eli Madrone is a health and science writer based in the Pacific Northwest. He learned about hiking foods from the fine folks at Cain Denture Centers who offer dentures in Portland, Oregon