33 Easy Hiking Lunches & Snack Ideas For Day Hikes

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Are you looking for easy hiking lunches for your next trek? These lunch ideas for day hikes are the perfect way to keep you energised and nourished on a long hike (or a short one).

We have also included a list of hiking snacks for when you just need a quick recharge instead of a lunch break. 

One of the common challenges faced during day hikes is planning the right hiking lunches.

The food you bring on a hike plays a crucial role in providing the energy and sustenance needed to conquer the trails. 

We’ll cover the best food choices for your day hike, foods to avoid, and provide a list of delicious hiking lunch ideas and snacks to keep you fueled throughout your journey.

four people preparing to unwrap foil wrapped sandwiches.

What Is The Best Food To Bring Hiking?

When it comes to packing lunches for your day hike, selecting foods that are lightweight, energy-rich, easy to carry, and won’t spoil quickly is essential. 

Opt for foods with a good balance of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels during the trek. 

Avoid greasy foods, sugary snacks, energy drinks or carbonated drinks, as these can cause discomfort and may not offer the lasting energy you need for your outdoor adventure.

Non-perishable foods and dehydrated meals are a great option for full-day hikes or multi-day hikes on a backpacking trip. 

Tips For Choosing The Right Hiking Lunches

drink bottle and hiking lunch in small green lunch box.

When it comes to planning your day hike lunch ideas, the most important thing to consider is how long your hike is, how much food you will need and the conditions for your hike.

Hiking meal planning is different for each type of hike.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right lunches for hiking. 

  • How long is your hike? Longer hikes require more food. A short 2-3 hour day hike will require far less than a 6-8 hour day hike where you may need to stop for more than one meal break. 
  • How much food do you need? This question ties into the length of the hike and the expected number of food breaks, but also with how many people are in your travelling party. If you are hiking with kids, you need to make sure you pack enough food for the whole family for lunch and snacks, to suit the length of your trail. 
  • What are the hiking conditions? If it’s a hot day, you will need to take extra precautions by packing food that won’t spoil or having adequate means to keep this chilled for the duration of your hiking trip. 
  • Will your food be chilled? If you are hiking in warm weather and not using an ice pack or similar, you will need to choose only foods that will not spoil. 
  • How much water do you need? This also ties into the length of your hike, the number of people and the weather. On a hot day, you will drink much more to stay hydrated. The larger your group, the more water you will need. Check out this guide for calculating how much water to take hiking

Expert Tip: If you are taking a shorter day hike but don’t want to carry a cooler or ice packs on your trek, freeze an extra water bottle and use that inside an insulated bag instead. This is a great way to keep your food chilled and also melt for extra drinking water later in your hike. 

Easy Hiking Lunch Ideas

Now that we’ve covered what makes for a good hiking lunch, it’s time to get into some delicious hiking food ideas to add to your meal plan. Here are some of the best hiking lunches for your next hike:

1. Tortilla Wraps:

Delicious and versatile, tortilla wraps are an excellent choice for your hiking lunch. Fill them with your favourite ingredients like lean meats, veggies, and hummus for a satisfying and easy-to-eat meal on the go.

Tuna packets or chicken packets and mini tins are easy to pack and add to a wrap and this means your wraps won’t get soggy from sitting in your bag for several hours first. 

eating sandwiches on a day hike.

2. Sandwiches:

Classic yet reliable, sandwiches can be easily prepared with whole-grain bread, lean proteins, and various fresh vegetables.

Use condiments in separate containers from your slices of bread to prevent your sandwiches from getting soggy during the hike. Whole-grain bread is a better choice than white bread too. 

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs:

A great source of lean protein, hard-boiled eggs are portable and nutritious. They are also easy to peel and can be enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

4. Pita Bread:

Pita pockets are ideal for holding your favourite fillings, such as falafel, fresh veggies, and tahini. They offer a balanced combination of flavours and nutrients.

5. Quinoa Salad:

Prep a quinoa salad with chopped vegetables, feta cheese, and a light vinaigrette dressing. Quinoa is a nutrient-packed grain that will keep you feeling full and energized.

6. Overnight Oats:

Perfect for early morning hikes, overnight oats are easy to prepare in advance. Mix rolled oats with your choice of milk and add toppings like nuts, dried fruits, and honey for a wholesome and hearty meal.

7. Couscous Salad:

Couscous is a quick-cooking grain that makes an excellent base for a refreshing salad with chopped cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a lemon-herb dressing.

This is a good energy-boosting meal with complex carbohydrates to keep you energised for longer. 

8. Pasta Salad

A cold pasta salad is a good option for complex carbs and if you avoid using any cream-based sauces or meat, it is less likely to spoil during your hike too. 

9. Beef Jerky

For longer hikes or hot weather hikes, dehydrated foods are the best hiking lunch ideas and jerky is a top choice. You can get lots of different types of jerky – not just beef! You can even get vegan jerky to add some different flavours to your meal. 

10. Ramen Noodles

If you are hiking in cold weather and want a warm meal, pack a thermos of hot water and use it to make instant ramen noodles.

The instant noodles that come in their own bowl and just need to add water are perfect for day hikes as the meal itself is very lightweight. It is only your thermos that adds the extra weight to your hiking pack. 

11. Freeze-Dried Meals

Many camping and outdoor stores offer a range of freeze-dried meals for hiking and backpacking. These are a good idea for longer day hikes as they are lightweight yet hearty and make for a surprisingly delicious meal usually.

Some supermarkets may also stock a small range of these meals, but often they will include meat, vegetables and flavoursome sauces. 

12. Sausage Rolls

While nothing quite compares to a hot, straight out of the oven, homemade sausage roll, you can definitely eat them cold!

Just make sure you consider the ingredients of your sausage rolls and are keeping them chilled if required to avoid meats spoiling. 

13. Pizza Scrolls

We love making these 2 ingredient pizza scrolls. I say 2 ingredients, but that is just for the dough. The dough is made of Greek yogurt and flour.

Then you roll it out and add all your favourite pizza toppings – sauce, cheese, bacon, herbs, etc. Pineapple if you’re in that camp!

We make them for lunchboxes usually but you can definitely make these with ingredients that are perfect for day hike lunches and they are super easy to make and lightweight to pack.

As Aussies, we often make a Vegemite and cheese version for the kids for school. 

14. Muffins

There are so many different varieties of muffins you can make, including both sweet and savoury.

Savoury muffins are especially perfect for hiking lunches and are easy to pack and store, mostly without needing to be chilled.

15. Bagels 

Bagels are a great option as they make a filling meal and are light to carry. You can fill them with whatever you like – cream cheese, tinned smoked salmon, tuna and even just classic peanut butter (and jelly if you hail from the USA). 

16. Meal Bars

If you are doing a shorter day hike and don’t want to carry too much, meal bars are a great idea. There are so many different types available. Look for ones with natural ingredients and fewer preservatives for the healthiest option.

The key is choosing ones that will keep you full for a long time because you don’t want to end up hungry 30 minutes later! 

17. Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a light yet satisfying meal that’s perfect for taking along on shorter hikes on warmer days when you want something refreshing – plus it’s easy to make!

You might want to steer clear of fruits that brown excessively after chopping but adding a squeeze of lemon juice over the top can reduce this issue. 

18. Vegetable Soup

Pack your favourite homemade soup into a thermos to enjoy at lunchtime. This is a good comfort food in cooler weather where warm meals can be a great lunch option.

Minestrone with pasta mixed in is a great option for a hot meal! 

19. Hummus & Vegetable Sticks 

Whip up a batch of hummus or bean dip that’s packed full of nutritional value and dip your pre-cut veggie sticks in it for a simple lunch. Celery, carrot, and cucumber are all good choices. 

hard cheeses sitting on log during a day hike.

20. Cheese & Crackers

Cheese and crackers are a great combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and flavour. Add some dried fruit, cured meats or nuts to the mix for a balanced meal that won’t take up too much space in your day pack.

Hard cheeses are the best option for travel lunches

21. Cheese & Bacon Rolls

I don’t know if this is an Australian thing, but if you ask my husband, I always get a packet of these when we do our travel grocery shop for day trips or even while staying somewhere.

They have a room temperature shelf life of a couple of days, so long as they aren’t stored in really hot weather so they are a great room-temperature, no-fuss lunch idea for travel.

Essentially slightly sweet bread rolls with cheese and bacon pieces on top in case it is an Aussie thing. 

22. Burritos

If you are after something a bit more substantial, pre-made burritos are great. Whip up a batch of burrito filling before you go, fill your wrap or tortilla with it, roll it up and seal it in foil to keep the goodness in!

They make for tasty meals that travel well. And if you are doing a shorter day hike, they might still be warm in a couple of hours when kept in foil. 

23. Sushi Rolls

Sushi rolls make for an excellent lunch on hikes.

You can make them in advance and they travel well, plus you could even put different fillings inside to add variety to your meals, such as vegetables and meats that don’t spoil quickly or even just plain rice with some seasoning. They are light and easy to carry. 

24. Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers are a great option for those who want a vegetarian meal or just something with different flavours.

Pre-make your veggie burger patty (or purchase some to cook up) then either eat them on their own or by adding them onto burger rolls with pre-prepared salad and ketchup. 

25. Salads In Jars

Salads in jars are a great way to keep your lunch fresh and tasty. Layer any combination of leafy greens, proteins such as tuna or egg, diced cheese, nuts, seeds and dressings in a jar. Make sure you use something that seals tightly so nothing spills out.

Carrying jars can add a bit of weight to your bag though so this is best for shorter hikes since even after you eat your lunch, you still have to lug that weight to the end. 

Best Snacks To Pack For Day Hikes & Backpacking

While having nutritious hiking lunch ideas is going to keep you fueled on the hiking trail, every avid hiker knows the importance of snacks too!

Your day hike food should definitely include some easy-reach hiking snacks for between meal stops. 

Here are some perfect trail snacks for hiking trips:

  • Trail Mix: Create your own trail mix with a mix of nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips for a delicious and energizing snack. 
  • Granola Bars: Look for granola bars with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits, or make your own at home for a healthier alternative.
  • Fresh Fruits: Whole fruit such as apples, oranges, and bananas are excellent choices for quick and refreshing snacks on the trail.
  • Protein Bars: Choose protein bars with natural ingredients and a good balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep you going.
  • Nut Butter Packs: Single-serve nut butter packs paired with rice cakes or apple slices make for a tasty and satisfying snack.
  • Veggie chips: Skip the junk food variety of potato chips and choose crisps made out of veggies such as sweet potatoes, beetroot, zucchini and other varieties of root veggies. 
  • Homemade energy bites: Roll your own energy bites with nut butter, oats, seeds and dried fruits for a flavourful snack that will keep you going. 
  • Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn is a great whole-grain snack option that’s low in calories and high in fibre – just make sure to skip the butter and salt. Salt will only dehydrate you faster. 

Choosing Hiking Food For Kids

three kids stopping on a hike to have a drink of water.

When you hike with kids, there’s a chance some of the healthy foods on this list aren’t going to be their preference for food items. The reality of travel with kids! 

You may need to adapt these hiking meals to suit their taste buds.

This sometimes means providing blander options or finding different ways to serve those same meals and snacks in a way they will enjoy. 

Sometimes this does mean adding a few less than ideal snack options too. A homemade cookie or brownie can be a great snack reward for your child’s hiking efforts.

Chocolate chip muesli bars might be more appealing for a blood sugar boost than a healthy granola bar or trail mix. 

But try to balance these little treats with fresh foods that will fuel their bodies and lots of water to keep them hydrated! 

How to Pack Your Day Hiking Lunches And Snacks

Packing your hiking lunches and snacks effectively is crucial to ensure they stay fresh, intact, and within easy reach within your hiking pack.

Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Use Durable Containers: Invest in leak-proof and durable containers to store your food securely.
  • Pack Smart: Place heavier items at the bottom of your backpack and ensure delicate items are cushioned to avoid crushing.
  • Use Reusable Bags: Opt for reusable silicone bags to store snacks and sandwiches, reducing waste and weight during your hike.
  • Keep Cold Items Cold: If you plan to bring perishable items, use an insulated cooler bag with ice packs or frozen drink bottles to maintain their freshness.
  • Hydration is Key: Don’t forget to pack enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike.
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Conclusion: Best Hiking Lunches

With the right planning and preparation, packing easy hiking lunches and snacks for your day hike can be a breeze. Choose nourishing foods that provide sustained energy and avoid items that may spoil quickly. By following our tips and trying out our suggested hiking lunch ideas and snacks, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a delightful and satisfying outdoor adventure with your family.

Remember, it’s all about staying nourished, energized, and making wonderful memories while exploring the great outdoors together. Happy hiking!