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Updated Jul 27, 2022 4:58 PM

Snacking is an essential activity for any car camping trip—snacking on hikes, snacking at camp, snacking while making dinner over an open fire, snacking when you should be eating an actual meal. But, too often, we overly focus on elaborate plans for the best camping meals, and the snacks end up being a bit of an afterthought. To help you choose some that are both fun and healthy (and better yet, everyone will actually eat), I narrowed the list to six of the best camping snacks for your next trip: 

Things to Consider Before Buying Camping Snacks

Purpose

Not all camping trips are the same—some are high-octane adventurous outings with trail runs, mountain biking, or all-day lake play, while others involve nothing more than occasionally tossing a log onto the fire from morning on. If you’re planning on the latter, you can get away with fairly involved camping snacks, even some that require a bit of prep work, while the snack that you’re taking out on a hike needs to pack down small and require nothing more than peeling open the packaging and, perhaps most importantly, be gentle on your stomach (think plain pretzels instead of wasabi-flavored ones).

Shelf-Stable Groceries

Unless you have an oversized cooler and are confident in your ice supply, choose shelf-stable snacks over those that require refrigeration when you’re out shopping. And don’t worry about the loss of flavor. The outdoors has a way of making the best camping meals, even ones that might taste a bit bland in your home kitchen, special enough for the moment. 

Salt

Food for the outdoors tends to be quite salty for good reason. Not only is salt the original preservative, it’s also important to replace electrolytes you sweat out when the temperatures rise. Unless you are on a low-salt diet, I’d let concerns about salt go just this once.

Taste

Only you know your own preferences, so if a particular snack recommended below doesn’t speak to you, then it may be better to spend some time perusing the shelves of your local grocery store to find what does. At the end of the day, the best camping snacks should make you and your camping companions smile. 

Best Overall: Daelmans Stroopwafels Minis

Daelman’s

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: wheat flour, glucose syrup, sugar, palm oil, butter, molasses, soy flour, canola oil, wheat dextrin, salt, soy lecithin, baking soda, cinnamon, citric acid, vanilla bean, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids
  • 135 calories per serving (four stroopwafels)
  • No refrigeration required

Why It Made the Cut

The perfect blend of fat and sweet that is the stroopwafel not only provides the energy I need for outdoor activity but also pairs perfectly with a smoky campfire.

Pros

  • Delicious
  • Works well for hikes and other high-octane activities
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Theoretically you should share the bag with the rest of the group

Product Description

Whatever activities you have planned for your next camping trip, the stroopwafel is the ideal snack. The simple ingredients means that your body will have an easy time digesting them, no matter your activity level. Their perfect blend of fat and sweet and savory means that they could pass for a dessert as easily as a midday snack. They’re somehow both special and affordable. Did I mention kids love them? Everyone loves stroopwafels. 

While there are seemingly innumerable stroopwafel brands available for sale today, including ones that are targeted at outdoorsmen and women, my favorite (assuming I’m not in Holland) are these minis from Daelmans. The smaller size makes them easier to snack on while on the go, while their low price means that I won’t catch myself making the mistake of only purchasing one bag for a weeklong trip. 

Best Adventure Fuel: Trail Butter Almond Butter Blend 

Trail Butter

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: almonds, sunflower seeds, organic coconut oil, dried cranberries, honey, semi-sweet chocolate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, ground vanilla
  • 200 calories per serving (1 packet)
  • No refrigeration required

Why It Made the Cut

Whether paired with a cracker or on its own, Trail Butter Almond Butter Blend will help you reach peak performance on your next trail run or summit hike.

Pros

  • Great for long-term energy
  • Contains dietary fiber
  • Designed to be eaten on the go
  • Can spread it on a cracker

Cons

  • Single-serve pouch is more wasteful than other options
  • Not appropriate for individuals with tree nut allergies

Product Description

I always pack a jar of peanut butter for camping trips. It’s a fail-safe in case I somehow didn’t pack enough food (hasn’t happened yet). It pairs well with a bunch of my other usual camping standbys. It’s both healthy and delicious. And—excepting those with allergies—everyone eats it. It’s a win-win-win. The only problem is that the times when a dollop of peanut butter would most hit the spot, when you’re cranking into overdrive up to a mountain pass, say, is always when it’s in the trunk of my car back at camp. But there’s no way I’m going to lug a whole jar of peanut butter on a hike.

Joe McConaughy, who holds the unsupported speed record for a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, knows a thing or two about the importance of a great camping snack. He told Outdoor Life that one of his favorite treats for camping is Trail Butter. “It’s jam packed with calories, and the consistency is smooth and great to have on its own or paired with a cracker,” he says. Even better, it comes in small serving sizes, so it’s easy to toss into a pack for my next day hike. 

Best Keto: Whisps Cheese Crisps

Whisps

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: parmesan cheese
  • 150 calories per serving (23 crisps)
  • No refrigeration required

Why It Made the Cut

Even if you’re not doing keto, these parmesan chips are a tasty, high-protein alternative to potato chips.

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Delicious alternative to a potato chip
  • Shelf stable

Cons

  • High in saturated fats

Product Description

Camping trips can be landmines for people on specialized diets. Seemingly everything has carbs or processed sugars, and usually both. Finding effective alternatives to some of the mainstays of outdoor menu planning is imperative if you’re going to avoid eating nothing but hot dogs during your time away from the frontcountry. 

The Whisps Cheese Crisps not only serve as a replacement for the potato chip standby, they’re also so delicious that the rest of your camping group will want in on the bag, too (we recommend bringing at least one bag of these per person for a weeklong trip). I’ve even found these to be an effective alternative to the classic cheese stick (which usually needs some refrigeration) for kids. And, unlike the potato chip, these parmesan crisps actually pack some serious nutritional punch—an impressive 13 grams of protein for every 150 calories. The only drawback here is the high level of saturated fat—this is cheese, after all—so don’t get carried away. 

Best Trail Mix: Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Trail Mix

Trader Joe’s

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: roasted almonds, semi-sweet chocolate chips, roasted salted cashews, cranberries, dry roasted pistachios, tart cherries
  • 160 calories per serving (¼ cup)
  • No refrigeration required

Why It Made the Cut

This twist on the classic mix of almonds, chocolate, and dried cherries is one that I could eat every day for a week in the outdoors. 

Pros

  • Delicious
  • Different flavor profile with each bite

Cons

  • I sometimes forget to eat real meals while snacking on this trail mix

Product Description

“When I’m out for a long effort, trail mix is extremely calorically efficient, tasty, and incorporates a variety of types of foods,” Joe McConaughy says. And while I might not be putting in the miles that Joe is, I agree that the variety of types of foods they incorporate is their biggest appeal. Yet, with many of the trail mixes I’ve tried, everything from homemade gorp to specialty mixes seasoned with wasabi to smoked salt, more often than not I find myself picking through the bag for my favorites until nothing is left but the peanuts. 

To really get the most out of the trail mix experience, you need the perfect mix of salt, fat, and sweet, with just a hint of tang. My favorite in this category is the Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Trail Mix, which pairs dried cherries and cranberries with a mix of almonds, cashews, and pistachios—then adds in a generous portion of chocolate chips for good measure. Instead of picking through the bag, I eat these by the handful. The only trick is to make sure I stop before it’s time to eat an actual meal. 

Best Beverage: Crystal Light with Caffeine Variety Pack

Crystal Light

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: you don’t want to know
  • Five calories per serving (one packet)
  • No refrigeration required

Why It Made the Cut

When I need a boost of energy on a long hike, or even if I just want to mask the taste of some so-so water, these Crystal Light packets get me going again. 

Pros

  • Pleasant fruity flavor
  • 30mg of caffeine per serving (about a third of a cup of coffee)
  • Contains some electrolytes

Cons

  • Ingredient list that includes both artificial sweeteners and food dyes

Product Description  

There are two things that are always going to be true about camping: the water (unless you bought it from home) is going to taste a little off, and you didn’t bring enough coffee. Again.

I’ve always had a few of the regular Crystal Light packets in my hiking backpack—in case I ran low on electrolytes mid-hike—but when I discovered the caffeinated ones, I realized I could kill two birds with one stone by counteracting that midday energy lag that always hits after lunch. 

My favorite flavors are the Wild Strawberry and Peach Mango, but it’s best to keep them all in rotation so you don’t get tired of any one flavor by the end of your camping trip. 

Best for Kids: Peter Rabbit Organics, Banana, Mango, Broccoli, and Kale

Peter Rabbit Organics

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Key Features

  • Ingredients: organic banana, organic mango, organic broccoli, organic kale, organic lemon juice concentrate
  • 90 calories per serving (one pouch)
  • Must be refrigerated after opening and eaten within 48 hours

Why It Made the Cut

Your kids will get at least a couple of servings of fruits and veggies with these shelf-stable pouches.

Pros

  • Kids love them
  • Healthy mix of organic fruits and vegetables
  • Simple ingredient list

Cons

  • Need to be refrigerated after opening if unfinished
  • Not eco-friendly packaging 

Product Description

Getting enough fruits and vegetables into your kids’ diet is hard enough to do at home, where you at least have the option to prepare them in whatever style your kids like best. But while camping, where the siren song of hot dogs and smores is strong, it can be next to impossible. Not only do these provide excellent nutrition for your little ones while outside (let’s be honest, probably better than what you’re getting), but they are also extremely popular with kids. If anything, I’ve found that the real problem can be getting my toddler to eat anything else when she knows these are in the camping box. 

Since the packaging on the Peter Rabbit Organics is not the most eco-friendly (it’s a lot of plastic going into the landfill for less than 100 calories), I tend to limit the number of these I bring to two or three per day, which also helps ensure my kid actually finishes the pouch that she has before asking for a new one, since these would otherwise take up precious space in my cooler. 

FAQs

Q: How can I eat healthy while camping?

Eating healthy fruits and vegetables doesn’t necessarily translate well to the varied temperatures of the outdoors when you’re camping. But there are options that hold well without refrigeration and provide enough variety to keep you going for four or five days. Beefsteak, tomatoes, avocados, and bananas, will last for at least a day, possibly two, while bell peppers, citrus, and cucumber can extend for as long as three or even four days. Getting to day five and beyond with fruits and vegetables can be tough, and you can always break things up with a quick run to the store for a resupply. But if the weather is cool, go with apples, carrots, and onions.

Q: How do you eat greens when camping?

There are a number of ways to ensure you get enough greens while camping. The first is to pack them in a camping cooler—with enough ice (or juice in one of the best power banks, if you are using an electric cooler), you can bring enough greens to last for as long as a week. If cooler space is precious, there is also the option to include dried or freeze dried vegetables, which retain a surprising amount of the nutrients found in their fresh counterparts. My favorite brands for dried and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are Harmony House, North Bay Trading Co, and Packit Gourmet. 

Q: How do you get fiber when camping?

Compared to vitamins and minerals, it’s relatively easy to ensure you get enough fiber while camping. If you are used to using a supplement at home, like Metamucil, it’s simple enough to bring that along with you to the outdoors. But if you prefer to procure your fiber from natural sources, there are other options available. For instance, if you’re used to having oatmeal at breakfast, you’re guaranteed at least four grams of fiber per packet (and who ever just eats one packet?). While it’s typically difficult to pack fruit on camping trips, bananas, which don’t require refrigeration, are the exception to this, with three grams of fiber each. If you have space in your cooler, a packet of hummus also packs a substantial amount of fiber, about one gram for every tablespoon. Finally, there are almonds—one of the mainstays of trail mix—which have about five grams of fiber per quarter cup. 

Methodology

The recommendations in this article are based on a number of criteria, including: 

  • Price: Camping is typically a low-cost outing for families, so the price of each camping snack was taken into consideration.
  • Taste: The best camping snacks are the ones that you eat. It’s also important to consider how the experience of eating something indoors may differ compared to out of doors.
  • Nutrition: Since, more often than not, our camping snacks become defacto camping meals (especially lunch), I considered the role that the snacks chosen would plan into a healthy, high-fuel meal.
  • Versatility: Snacks that are fun to munch around the fire are sometimes different from what you would grab out of your bag on a day hike from camp, so I considered the best use of each snack type. 

The best adventure fuel recommendation comes from Joe McConaughy, an ultramarathon coach who holds the self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail, as well as the supported FKT for the Arizona Trail. 

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, the best camping snacks are the ones that you enjoy eating with friends and family around the campfire or while out on a hike. They should also give your body the energy and stamina you need to enjoy your time outdoors to the fullest. Picking a healthy mix of crowd pleasers, energy boosters, and healthy alternatives—including snacks that are appropriate for vegans and vegetarians, as well as individuals on specialized diets such as keto, atkins, or paleo—will help ensure that everyone can find the right pick-me-up in the camping bin when hanger strikes.