Top Hiking Foods for Foodies

A myth exists that somehow hikers are only bohemian cooks. As though the only thing on their daily menus is granola—with a side of more granola.

There’s a little bit of truth to that. It only takes a quick Google search of “hiking food” to see granola is a prominent ingredient. Granola was No. 3 on this Top 10 list of best hiking food.

Enter Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez, editor at She’s a self-described hiker and foodie. “Rob and I don’t go for super long hikes but when we do go hiking and camping we pack a lot of different food. I find we get bored of the same thing,” McIntyre-Gonzalez says.

Rob, here, is her partner of five years, Robert Tennant, a chef. He’s credited for enfusing a passion for food into McIntyre-Gonzalez, whose first love is nature. The two spend most of their time in kitchen or in the woods. We tapped the couple to help show us that camping food doesn’t need to be defined by “granola-only.” It should be defined by “excitement.”

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The Truth About Granola

As sassy as this story began about granola, the food does have its place in a hiker’s backpack. The “best food to pack for a hike” is often something that is high in calories, compact and fast to prepare such as almonds, peanut butter and protein bars. Yes, you can count granola in that list.

These foods don’t necessarily excite a foodie. Or do they? For McIntyre-Gonzalez, “I think the exciting part is that [nature and hiking] reminds us that food is made to fuel us,” she says. That means hikers aren’t stuffing their pieholes with blandness. They are finding the aforementioned “best food to pack for hike” that excites them to climb higher, hike longer and see the beauty of the world. For example, “Rob loves [peanut butter] because he can’t live without peanut butter. It is definitely his fuel,” says McIntyre-Gonzalez.

The Alternatives to Granola

It’s not like McIntyre-Gonzalez is in anti-granola. She eats it almost every day for breakfast, and a granola bar is one of a few foods she often packs on her hikes. But when asked what foods excite her, she answers, “fruit such as dried apricots and banana chips.” Then, the foodie really gets going. “I absolutely love any kind of jerky.” Also, “Smoked fish and sausages are great too. It is to die for and it is all meat.”

While McIntyre-Gonzalez has a long list of hiking foods that excite her, Tennant knows you can punch up a traditional granola menu. You just have to take an extra step or two. “If the store-bought [granola bars] don’t excite, you can definitely make you own gourmet protein bars with honey, dried fruits and pretty much any nuts you can think of,” he says. Here are a few examples.

The couple doesn’t take marathon-esque hikes. Their hiking adventures fall more into the moderate range. For those, “we pack a lot of different food. I find we get bored of the same thing,” she says. One thing she is sure to pack for a moderate hike: “I make a killer egg salad sandwich.”

Balancing the Life of a Foodie and a HIker

OK. So manicotti may be a food that excites you. That doesn’t mean you should pack it for the trail. Remember. We’ve redefined “great foods for hikes” here. These foods are “high in calories, compact, fast to prepare—and excite you.”

Is learning about what those foods are difficult? Answer: It does take work.

“To be both a foodie and a hiker is very accessible for me,” says McIntyre-Gonzalez. She cites Rob, a chef, as a go-to food resource and her home in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada “is surrounded by some of the most beautiful Canadian wilderness and Provincial Parks out there. The hard part is to balance those two things with running a successful website for pet parents, freelance writing, working in a busy animal hospital and having a social life with friends and family.”

If juggling a busy life sounds familiar, consider this advice for being a master chef in the kitchen and on the trail. “Hiking is a lot like cooking. Good preparation can make or break you in the kitchen and in the wilderness. Sometimes less is more. Whether it’s less weight in your pack or focusing on making a few ingredients shine instead of overdoing it,” says McIntyre-Gonzalez.