Luke Cuenco 06.23.22 Food is an important part of any hiking or camping trip. After all, you can’t expect to take on the entire Appalachian Trai
Table of Contents
1. CLIF Zbar Organic Trail Bars
The Editor’s Choice
If you’ve got a family and need to feed your entire pack on the trail, these are the ticket. Cliff Zbars are kid-friendly, organic, feature whole grains, and are quite calorie dense per unit price. You can get these bars in large quantities and they are fairly inexpensive in the grand scheme of things when purchased in bulk. Best of all, they taste about as good as any dessert which should keep the kids interested and energized for the whole hike or at least keep them satisfied till you get back to camp for a proper meal. They’re not only for kids, however-Rusty’s pick for this week would be the Cliff Zbar in the Oatmeal Cookie variety, as they’re a constant item in his hunting pack.
Pros/Affordable, taste great.
Cons/9 additional grams of sugar added per bar, recent “shrinkflation”
Bottom Line/A great option for families that like to hike and travel together.
2. Larabar Protein Apple Cobbler Bars
Larabars are some of my favorite trail snacks because of their simple and low ingredient count. The bars are a little on the sweet side for me but I’m often the odd one out when it comes to how things taste so take that with a grain of salt. Speaking of salt, Larbars have plenty of it clocking in at about 120 grams which should be about 7 tablespoons worth if my math checks out. Sodium or Salt can be a boon to travelers on the trail and still fairly healthy as long as you continue to drink lots of water to keep your body processing all of it. The best feature that these Larabars have is that they have zero added sugar and all the sugars you’re getting are coming from the dates and apples contained within the bar. As a last note, this is a soy-free, dairy-free, and kosher trail snack which should satisfy a lot of people’s needs on the trail without sacrificing special dietary needs.
Pros/Dietary delight with zero added sugar and a sweet taste
Cons/A little on the expensive side
Bottom Line/A great trail snack that shouldn’t make you feel too terrible about eating them
3. KIND Bars Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
The Author’s Choice
KIND bars are my favorite trail bars hands down. While I’m partial to the dark chocolate nuts and sea salt variety, their entire lineup is pretty good across the board and has very little junk in it in comparison to a lot of other more affordable bars on this list. While you could go a bit healthier by opting to pick other options without chocolate or candy coatings like caramel, I think it’s a worthy sacrifice to make especially when you factor in the incredible morale boost something even slightly sweet can do while you’re on a tough hike or climb. KIND Bars have a few more ingredients than Larabars but they’re also a tiny bit more affordable. If you’re allergic to nuts these are bars you should avoid as they rely heavily on almonds, peanuts, and other tree nuts.
Pros/Great array of flavors and varieties with a surprisingly short ingredients list
Cons/Some flavors contain chocolate which can melt in your backpack and make a huge mess when you try to eat them
Bottom Line/A good option for those who enjoy mroe “crunchy” bars with lots of nuts.
4. Kate’s Real Food Trail Bars
Kate’s Real Food trail bars a unique offering that I’ve been able to find in the grocery store a handful of times, although it’s much easier to find them at outdoor stores like REI, Bass Pro, Cabela’s, and other outdoor activity-oriented stores. Kate’s Real Food bars live up to their name and have a pretty short ingredients list and also are USDA organic and non-GMO (also soy free for all you lads out there). The biggest downside of these bars is that they are deceptively calorie dense and each package is not only expensive but they still only offer you about 260 extra calories per package (each package contains two bars at 130 calories each).
Pros/Organic high quality ingredients
Bottom Line/A great organic option that fetches a premium for its clean non-GMO ingredients.
Following on the “real food” theme, we have RxBars. I’m going to be completely honest and let you know I don’t actually like the taste of any of the RxBars I’ve tasted so far but I can’t ignore the absolute quality of ingredients used and their relative calorie density in comparison to what you pay per bar (about $1.50 per bar). If you’re trying to build some muscle while you hike, you’ll be happy to know that these are some of the most protein-rich bars you can buy and this is due to their heavy use of egg whites.
Pros/Simple ingredients list, protien dense.
Cons/Taste isn’t that great. Will melt on hot days if not stored properly
Bottom Line/Probably the most simple in terms of ingredients but offers you a great amount of protien and a decent amount of carbs to keep you energized while still providing muscles with protien
6. Sheffa Savory Bar
Sheffa bars are another dietery-conscious option that is often vegan-friendly. Sheffa bars use some pretty high-quality ingredients like chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and quinoa and they have a pretty wide variety of flavors that sound a lot chic and savory than your standard energy bars which often focus on being sweet. These bars are good for those who are vegan, on a Keto diet or have concerns about overconsuming sodium.
Pros/Diet concious, differnt flavor lineup if you’re tired of or don’t like sweet stuff
Cons/Very expensive ($2.64 per bar)
Bottom Line/Probably the most health concious option on the list for both men and women.
7. Bearded brothers Trail Bars
Containing mostly fruit, Bearded Brothers Trail Bars kind of blur the line between a trail bar and a fruit snack. That being said they aren’t overly sweet by virtue of all the sweetness coming solely from the fruits in the bar. What I like most about them is that in opposition to other options on this list, they aren’t crumbly which means you’ll have an easier time eating these on the go, and they also contain caramel or chocolate so you can also avoid them melting in your bag and can keep them stowed basically as long as you need.
Pros/Mostly Organic, free from gluten or meat products
Cons/Lacking a dcent amount of protien (mostly carbs)
Bottom Line/Another sweet option that is about middle of the road in terms of price and also won’t melt in your bag or crumble in your hands
What kind of ingredients should you avoid in trail bars?
You should really avoid anything that has hydrogenated soybean oil and added sugar if you can. Most of the time, trail bars have enough fruit or natural sugars in them to be sweet enough for most people who want that kind of flavor, however, it’s a lot harder to avoid hydrogenated soybean oil as it’s used in virtually everything these days. If you’re a man, it’s also probably best to avoid anything that contains soy in it as it can negatively impact your endocrine system with frequent consumption.
What if I don’t want to use trail bars? What’s the best overall trail snack?
Nuts – specifically tree nuts. Tree nuts like peanuts, almonds, and cashews are a pretty good source of fat, protein, and carbs and they store basically indefinitely, don’t use a lot of packaging that you have to throw away later and they can also be found in several varieties depending on your dietary needs. For example, I try to avoid anything with a lot of sodium in it so I like to opt for raw almonds whenever I can.
Is a high soduium content something that I should be worried about in trail bars?
I would lean towards yes. When you’re out on the trail sweating and exerting yourself, your body does need salt in order to facilitate muscle and nerve function. However, most modern diets are drastically oversaturated with sodium and salt and therefore I would say that you should try to get away with an as little salt as possible in your foods especially if you’re consuming sports drinks like Gatorade and the like. For reference, you basically only need about a teaspoon of salt per day with normal activity to facilitate proper nerve and muscle function so anything beyond that should be monitored carefully lest you throw your kidneys and hydration out of whack.
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