Healthy Trail Mix Recipes for Backpacking and Hiking

The best trail mix recipes are those that provide you with lots of calories and steady energy, are easy to eat as you are hiking, and also contain some of your favorite flavors.

Because of its ability to feed your body in a high-energy, concentrated way, one of the most important foods you need to take on your next backpacking or hiking trip is an ample supply of a healthy trail mix snack.

You may have heard people refer to "GORP" -- it simply means "Good Old Raisins and Peanuts" -- but if you don't like raisins or peanuts, you certainly don't want to include them in your recipes.

In addition, if you are considering recipes to prepare a batch of trail mix to share with several people, you need to find out if anyone doesn't like certain ingredients and especially if anyone is allergic to peanuts or other items that are common in hiking snack recipes.

Let's consider several possible trail mix recipes.

Basic Hiking Trail Mix Recipes

While raisins and peanuts are a good foundation for trail snack recipes, you need to add many more ingredients to make it interesting. In fact, you'll probably want to consider developing two or more trail mix recipes if you are planning food for a trek or hiking trip lasting more than 2 days, just so you have some variety.

Here is one of our favorite basic homemade trail mix snack recipes:

• 2 cups salted peanuts

• 1 cup whole pecans

• 1 cup sunflower kernels

• 1 cup dark raisins

• 1 cup light raisins


Let's analyze the above recipe to see what's important about the combination of ingredients.

1. The peanuts are salted because your body will lose salt through perspiration while hiking and you need to replace it.

2. The whole pecans add lots of nutrition, but are not salty like the peanuts, so they balance out the flavors. Also, the pecans should be whole and not chopped, because as you are walking, you need to be able to easily grab some of the mixture from its ziplock bag without dropping it on the hiking trail. Stay away from finely chopped nuts.

3. The sunflower kernels (without shells) add an even different flavor and texture and pack a big punch in energy generation.

4. To round out the flavor with some sweetness, add 1 cup each of dark raisins and light raisins. These each add their own distinctive flavors and textures and provide natural sugars and a concentration of fruity flavors.

Variations of Trail Mix Recipes

If you don't like the combination suggested above, simply mix and match (or add) some of the following ingredients to create multiple custom hiking snack recipes to suit your taste:


• Cashew nuts

• Slivered Almonds

• Whole Almonds

• Whole Walnuts

• Pumpkin seeds

• Macadamia nut pieces


• Craisins (dried cranberries)

• Dried diced pineapple

• Dried diced mango

• Dried diced papaya

• Dried apricots (cut in smaller pieces)

• Dried apples (cut in smaller pieces)

• Dried peaches (cut in smaller pieces)

• Banana chips


• M&M's chocolate candies

• Chocolate chips (or carob chips) -- not recommended for hot weather

• Honey-roasted nuts

(See trail mix recipe alternatives for a discussion of dried fruit and other variations on snack recipes for the hiking trail.)

Partially Homemade Trail Mix Recipes

If you can find a good price on pre-made trail mix in the grocery store or in your local wholesale club, you can customize it to your liking by adding your own ingredients before starting your backpacking or hiking trip.

DAVE: I discovered this "slap my forehead and wonder why I didn't think of it before" tip by accident recently, after returning from a weekend backpacking trip. We had used some pre-packaged trail mix with nuts and raisins, but had also taken along some "Craisins" (dried cranberries, like raisins) in ziplock baggies as a separate snack. After the trip, my wife took the leftovers and combined them together. Suddenly, the plain trail mix had extra zest and zing from the cranberries. I wish I'd thought of that BEFORE I went hiking!

The best advice for customizing pre-packaged trail mix is to look carefully at the mix, think about what you really enjoy, then add it! In fact, you could gather several of your favorite items and make lots of different hiking snack recipes very easily in just a few minutes!

What about pretzels and cereals?

Is it a good idea to include pretzels and cereals like Chex or Cheerios in your recipes? Trail mix should be concentrated with lots of calories and energy-producing foods, so don't go too heavy in the direction of cereals or bread items.

With that said, you could put salty pretzels to good use if you aren't including salty nuts, and a light mixture of crunchy cereal like Chex can add some interesting textures and extra flavors. Just don't try to create trail mix recipes completely out of those ingredients because they just won't provide the energy kick you'll need on an extended backpacking or hiking trek.

Save that type of mix for your next party.

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