There is no end to the variety of trail treats available—bars, candy, GORP, etc.—but even many of the tried-and-true classics can get monotonous after eating them for multiple days. Or weeks. In this round of our Trail Food Taste-Off, our panel sampled some out-of-the-ordinary snack options that bring a refreshing, tasty and often much-desired change to trail snacking—including cheese! Here are a handful of our favorites.
“Light, crispy and sweet. These are really good!” — Freefall
On most long-distance hikes, fresh fruit is usually not an option. It’s heavy, due to its water content, and it’s easily smashable. Dried fruit is an alternative, but it, too, can be heavy and can get moldy fast in hot, humid conditions. Enter Alpine Aire’s Grape Escape. Here’s an all-natural, freeze-dried fruit option to enjoy on trail that can go the distance. These sweet, crunchy grapes were a definite crowd-pleaser and earned them the top spot on our treats menu—even from people who don’t like grapes!
SERVINGS: 2 CALORIES: 130 PROTEIN: 0g CARBS: 33g (GF, DF, V)
“Finally I can take cheese on the trail!” — Chris
Cheese on a backpacking trip? Yes you can. There are some hard cheeses that you can pack along that will last a few days, and then there’s all-natural, freeze-dried Moon Cheese. Our panel was skeptical at first, as eating these cheesy bits starts with a crunch. But then it turns into a delightful, real cheese snack bite, perfect to accompany your favorite meat snacks. Our favorite flavor was the spicy Pepper Jack, but it’s also available in creamy Gouda and tasty Cheddar. Plus, it’s ultralight!
SERVINGS: 4 CALORIES: 70 PROTEIN: 4g FATS: 5g (GF)
The second fruit entry—and third spot on our list—goes to these freeze-dried blueberries. We love the versatility these tart, tasty, crunchy berries offer: add them to your trail mix, spice up your oatmeal or mueslix, or just eat them right out of the bag. They’re so good, you’ll eat them like candy—but you can feel good about gorging on them because they’re whole, all-natural fruit. You can even make up a freeze-dried fruit mix by combining them with strawberries and raspberries.
SERVINGS: 1 CALORIES: 130 PROTEIN: 1g CARBS: 31g (GF, DF, V)
“This is dressed-up, tricked-out trail mix!” — Bright
There’s a ton of trail mixes out there, and it’s pretty easy to custom-make your own with all your favorite goodies. But here’s a pre-made mix we tried and loved. The Mango Fire Mix combines chili-spiced mango bits, banana chips, roasted peanuts and roasted chili-lime almonds—yum! There’s just the right amount of kick in this spicy fruit-and-nut mix to wake up your tastebuds, but without sending you diving for your water bottle. Plus, it’s packed with trail fuel for a great energy boost!
SERVINGS: 3 CALORIES: 280 PROTEIN: 6g FATS: 17g (GF, V)
We’re rounding out our list with these crunchy, salty popcorn snacks. We liked these as a lighter alternative to heavier nut and trail mixes. We also like that Halfpops are nut-, gluten- and GMO-free, aren’t fried and don’t use artificial flavors. Plus, each serving contains a decent dose of calories, fats, carbs and proteins so you’re actually getting some decent trail fuel as you’re snacking. Of the seven flavor varieties available, we liked the classic Butter & Sea Salt and spicy Angry Kettle Corn.
SERVINGS: 4 CALORIES: 140–150 PROTEIN: 3–4g CARBS: 19–20g (GF)
We’re throwing out an honorable mention for this creamy, spicy hummus spread. This one scored very high with panel members who like their food spicy, but was a little too spicy for the others. Super-easy to prepare (just add water and stir), this flavorful spread definitely has some kick to it. It goes great on tortillas and bagels and is a tasty alternative to nut butters. Made with all-natural ingredients, vegan and gluten-free, it makes an easy trailside snack or in-camp meal.
SERVINGS: 2 CALORIES: 360 PROTEIN: 14g FATS: 20g (GF, V)
What’s your favorite trail treat? Leave us a comment below.
Our Trail Food Taste-Off series continues next week with trail beverages. Stay tuned!
PCT: Oregon’s Trail Foods Taste-Off panel consists of a selection of seasoned Pacific Crest Trail section- and thru-hikers, each with years of on-trail experience. Selections and rankings are based on aggregated scoring of a variety of factors, including flavor, texture, ingredients and nutritional value.
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