Need lunch ideas for hiking? I’ve got some easy and delicious hiking lunch ideas that are perfect for a day hike or even a short half-day hike.
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Trail hiking is one of my favorite things to do in spring and fall. Especially in the fall when the colors are absolutely beautiful. But I never leave home without high-energy-boosting foods.
Lucky for you, I’ve put together a list of the best hiking lunch ideas to keep you pushing on for miles!
Before you hit the trails, be sure to pack hiking lunches and hiking snacks that will sustain the weather and hold up well throughout the day. The last thing you want is spoiled food when you’re hungry and ready to eat after hiking for hours.
One thing I like to do is pack a small cooler with reusable ice packs to keep my food cold, typically a nutrient-dense smoothie and fruit depending on the weather temps. I leave it in the car so that I have it ready for refueling after a long day of hiking.
In addition to my after-hiking fuel, I like to pack a hiking lunch and trail snacks to keep my energy up throughout my hike. I highly encourage you to do the same.
Below are some day hiking lunch ideas I would recommend to give you a variety of options you can use to pack for your backpacking trip.
Easy Hiking Lunch Ideas
With a little meal planning before your trip and the following day hike lunch ideas, you’ll be ready to tackle even the most challenging trails!
The best trail food is those that include complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to keep you moving without fail.
So be sure you pack a good lunch jam-packed with plenty of complex carbs such as whole fruits and starchy vegetables.
These will give you the fuel you need to continue on after lunch.
Include lean protein meals or snacks that include flax, hemp, or chia seeds to keep you full longer and fuel your muscles. You can also eat a tasty meal that includes lean protein like legumes if you prefer that.
Keep in mind that not all complex carbs or lean protein travel well so prepare accordingly.
Don’t worry though if you’re not sure what to pack, I’ll be sharing the best hiking lunch ideas to ensure you get the right food packed up!
Let’s start out with a few ideas for your morning boost before taking off.
Vegan Bagel and Lox Sandwich
Take your favorite bagel, the everything bagel is a good one, toast it, spread vegan cream cheese on it, and add carrot slices for the lox or “smoked salmon.”
Here’s an easy recipe you can follow.
You can also add some spinach over the cream cheese for a bed of greens before layering the carrot layers, tomato slices, and onion if you follow the recipe.
The recipe mentions baking the carrots but another suggestion would be to marinade the carrot slices overnight and add them to your cream cheese bagel sandwich raw.
Bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter
Another easy lunch idea or more so an early carb fuel up, is to add nut butter to your bagel. Peanut butter is a good option for protein.
You can also just keep it simple with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, and tomato to add in some complex carbs before hitting the trails.
Preparing overnight oats is an easy morning meal idea to keep you full and energy-fueled for your hike. It can also serve as a mid-morning pick-me-up to keep you going.
Just simply soak rolled oats with your favorite nut milk in a mason jar overnight and it’ll be ready to go before you leave in the morning!
Here’s an easy vegan overnight oats recipe.
In addition to the recipe’s topping suggestions, you can also stir in some raisins or other dried fruit for the overnight process or use them as a topping.
Chai Tea Chia Pudding
This is one of my favorite mid-morning fuel-ups when I’m on the road or on a morning sunrise hike. It’s perfect for a protein and energy boost. It will also keep you full longer.
Chai Tea Chia Add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to a 12-oz mason jar, 1-1/2 cups of almond mylk, 1 teaspoon of coconut aminos (this is great over salad or in salad dressings too), 1 pitted Medjool date in pieces, and 1/2 teaspoon of loose-leaf chai tea.
Stir until fully blended, and leave in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, top off with 1/2 banana thinly sliced, 1 Medjool date in pieces, and a squeeze of date syrup or maple syrup for added sweetener.
You can thank me later!
Vegan Dehydrated Meals
Dehydrated meals are great pack-and-go options for hiking trips and make a great hiking lunch idea if you prefer a hot meal.
And while you can’t really find vegan dehydrated meals in grocery stores, you can find them online. For example, this Mushroom Risotto can be found on Amazon and would make a delicious meal on the trail.
The only thing about dehydrated meals though, is that you would need to add boiling hot water to stir it up. So if you opt for this lunch idea, you will need a backpacking stove to heat up the water.
You can find backpacking stove options on Amazon.
Freeze Dried Meals
Freeze-dried meals are among the best hiking food ideas if you don’t feel like making anything and want something that is ready to eat.
There are plenty of vegan freeze-dried meals on Amazon to choose from as these are always a fast and easy alternative for hiking lunches.
The best part about these types of meals is that they don’t take up space, are easy to throw in your backpack, and make great day-hike lunch ideas.
Healthy Plant-Based Sandwiches
A hiking lunch should consist of enough carbs and protein to keep your energy and strength up throughout your day hike if you plan on taking on challenging and strenuous trails.
Energy and strength are everything to keep you moving so be sure to use some of the day hike lunch ideas I list below to pack some of the best hiking lunches!
Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly
You can’t go wrong with this peanut butter and jelly on Ezekiel bread. In my opinion, though, this is more of a snack.
If you’re going on a day hike, peanut butter and jelly is just not enough food to fill you up but definitely pack it up if you want for an afternoon snack.
Vegan Deli Meat Sandwich
A vegan deli meat sandwich is an easy hiking lunch idea you can add to your lunchbox for your hiking food stash.
Vegan deli meats can be found in most grocery stores and make a great hiking lunch.
Pack it up in a reusable sandwich bag and you are ready to go!
Vegan Chicken Sandwich
A vegan chicken sandwich is another great hiking lunch idea if you want something even more filling. Just add Abbot’s Plant-Based Chopped Chicken as your “chicken” and anything else you’d like to add to your sandwich such as leafy green lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.
I recently learned about the Abbot brand when I was searching for a healthy version of plant-based taco meat for a friend and came across their plant-based chorizo. It was amazing!
Be sure to use reusable sandwich bags to pack your sandwiches and snacks for an environmentally-friendly option.
Vegan chicken salad
To make a vegan chicken salad, simply replace the shredded chicken with shredded jackfruit and add it to your sandwich bread with leafy green lettuce or romaine leaves.
Mix in some vegan shredded cheese if you desire and voila!
Violife Mozzarella Shreds is a good shredded cheese option and can even serve as a hiking snack for a cheese lover alternative. It actually comes close to the real thing when you eat it raw.
While this isn’t exactly a “chicken” salad, it’s way better with no harm done to animals.
Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich
If you opt for packing a vegan tuna salad sandwich as your hiking lunch, you can also easily make it with chickpeas for a harmless lunch option.
I’ve made tuna salad out of chickpeas several times and I love it!
Just add vegan mayo, chopped celery, vegan shredded cheese, lemon juice, and all those yummy tuna salad ingredients you would normally add that are animal-free.
Here’s a good recipe to explore.
Another option is making vegan tuna sandwiches using Good Catch tuna and whole-grain crackers which can also serve as a hiking snack.
Cold Pasta Salad with Chickpeas
Along with your tuna salad, you can pack up a side of cold pasta salad with chickpeas. This is a good day hike lunch idea if you don’t want to worry about warming it up on a backpacking stove.
And if you like cheese, add in some vegan feta cheese for a tastier pasta salad option. The Violife feta cheese is the best and comes the closest to the real thing!
Nutritious Hiking Lunch Ideas
For a nutritious day hike lunch idea, my top pick would be fresh fruit like watermelon, bananas, grapes, apricots, or mangos.
They’re high in carbs for energy fuel and will keep your body hydrated throughout the day – perfect for a hot weather hike.
The downside is, you’ll end up having to pee quite a bit!
This is one of my faves and a fan favorite!
If you feel up to it, you can prepare a batch of spring rolls with a delicious almond butter dip to take with you. This makes a great lunch option.
I made spring rolls with fresh veggies to take on our mountain biking trip down the Virginia Creeper Trail once before and it was the best and most refreshing. I made enough to fill us up for lunch so it was perfect.
These are great for any outdoor adventure.
Use rice paper to wrap up leafy green lettuce, avocado slices, julienned carrots, julienned cucumber, red cabbage, cilantro (or basil leaves), and sprouts or microgreens.
For the almond butter dip:
1 garlic clove
1 small thumb size chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbsp of Bragg liquid aminos
2 tbsp of maple syrup
2 tbsp lime juice
chili powder to taste
1/3 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/3 cup water (more or less as needed)
Blend in your food processor and pack it up in a small reusable glass container.
Avocado and Cucumber Sandwich
For a refreshing, hydrating sandwich hiking lunch, mash up an avocado with lemon (or lime), and a sprinkle of Himalayan salt. Spread it on cucumber slices to make a cucumber sandwich.
Make enough to fill you up. This is a great lunch idea for energy and hydration.
Hummus Veggie Wrap
A healthy hummus veggie wrap makes a great day hike lunch and can be made the night before. Just spread your whole grain wrap with hummus (a vegan lean protein) and add your favorite fresh veggies, sprouts, and microgreens, for a jam-packed nutrient-rich, high-carb lunch.
The complex carbs from the veggies will recharge your engine and get your energy juices pumping for more trail time!
Hiking Snack Ideas
Aside from the day hike lunch ideas, packing up good hiking snacks is also a good idea. Especially if you’re on a roll hiking and don’t want to make a full stop for lunch yet.
That’s when hiking snacks come in handy! It’s a quick energy fuel-up. And I’m referring to healthy snacks versus the junk stuff that does nothing for you.
Below are some of the best hiking snack ideas to consider when packing up your food.
Don’t forget to take a large reusable water bottle to ensure you have plenty of water to go with your snacks. You’ll need to stay fully hydrated on the trails as dehydration can creep up when you least expect it.
Matcha Energy Balls
Trail snacks like superfood energy balls make amazing hiking snacks. These are some of my favorite snacks to pack and they are so easy to make.
You can buy them already made at a health food store or you can make them yourself.
Simply add about –
1-1/2 cups raw walnuts
1 cup pitted Medjool dates (make sure they are plump and soft. If not, you will need to soak them to soften them up)
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 scoop of Matcha or raw vegan protein powder (1/2 scoop)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Blend it all in your food processor. When done, scoop out onto a baking sheet and roll into balls. If the batter is too sticky, add some water.
You can also roll them in coconut, matcha, hemp seeds, or cacao if you’d like.
Put them in an airtight container in the fridge and let them sit overnight. They’ll be ready to go in the morning!
Coconut Wrap with Nutella, Peanut Butter, and Banana
Another delicious hiking snack idea is to pack a coconut wrap with vegan Nutella, peanut butter, and banana.
Peanut butter provides the protein and bananas the complex carbs. You can’t go wrong with this deliciousness!
Coconut wraps can be found at your local health food store.
Almond Butter and Fruit
Almond butter is another good source of protein and goes well with fruit. Just pack some fruit in a reusable snack bag and a small container of almond butter and you’re good to go!
Macadamia or cashew nut butter are also good options. All are great protein and energy sources so you can’t go wrong as long as you keep it clean.
You can also turn this into a coconut wrap snack just the same as the previous snack option if you desire.
Fresh veggies make perfect energy-boosting trail snacks and can be stashed in your backpack pocket for easy access.
Fresh veggies like raw bell peppers, carrots, and celery sticks make a perfect hiking snack. They are also great for hydration.
Make your own trail mix with cashew nuts, raisins (or your favorite dried fruit), coconut flakes, and Go Raw Organic Simple Seed Mix which comes with sprouted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
This healthy trail mix with dried fruits is a good source of protein and clean energy fuel to keep you moving throughout the day.
Just be sure the dried fruits you choose, are 100% fruit with no added sugars or any other junkie ingredients. Your dried fruit should be just fruit and nothing more.
Larabars make great trail snacks if you have a sweet tooth and crave something sugary. These are a healthier version of snack bars and are perfect for a quick bite on the trails.
Some have chocolate chips, and others are made with dried fruits. Whichever you choose, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.
They’re my favorite go-to hiking snack bars!
Other hiking snack ideas are protein bars like those from GoMacro to hold you over until you’re ready for lunch.
Protein meal bars come in handy for a quick meal supplement but they are not all created equal. Some are just pure JUNK so be sure to read the ingredients.
GoMacro has a great variety to choose from on Amazon but they can also be found at your local health food store.
Vegan Beef Jerky
Another way to add protein to your hiking adventures is by snacking on vegan beef jerky. Nowadays there are a lot of great vegan beef jerky options to choose from so it’s just a matter of finding the brand you like best.
Why it’s Important to Pack a Variety of Snacks
Packing a variety of snacks for your hiking trip is essential to keep you energized on the trails. They provide you with something to eat that’s not super filling but just enough to keep you going until you’re ready to stop for a full lunch.
How much water do you need for a day hike?
Water is probably going to be the most important on a day hike. You need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Especially in hot weather when you’re prone to sweating more than usual and can easily become dehydrated.
Staying hydrated will allow you to fully maximize and enjoy your hike as well as keep your energy juices flowing.
I would suggest packing a reusable UV water bottle which you can use anytime or a LifeStraw personal filter straw. I bought this one for my dad when he went on a hiking adventure in Argentina not long ago and he said it was the best thing ever.
Hydration is not something you want to gamble with in general but even less, when you’re out in the woods.
What Foods Should I Not Bring on a Hike?
For starters, you want to avoid any kind of sugary snacks, carbonated drinks, or dairy products on hiking trips.
Avoid bringing foods that might stink up your backpack or spoil like egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, or smoked salmon which I don’t recommend you eat anyway.
Bottom line, stay away from unhealthy foods while you’re out hiking. You want to boost your energy, not deplete it.
Here are some other foods to avoid:
greasy or fatty foods
junky sugary snacks
candy or chocolate bars
FAQs About Hiking Lunches
What should I eat to prepare for hiking?
A simple healthy snack like apples in nut butter, a fruit or smoothie bowl with chia seeds, or a protein smoothie to boost hydration and jumpstart your energy.
Be sure to eat 1-3 hours before your hike so you can let the food digest before hitting the trails. Otherwise, you’ll develop cramps and potential bloating which in turn will slow you down.
What food and snacks for hiking?
The best food and snacks for hiking are going to be healthy options that include raw fruit and fresh veggies. This is where all the nutrients are and when you’re hiking challenging trails, you need all the energy you can get!