Whether you’re hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, or just practicing your Scouting skills in a local state park, the right snacks will keep you energized and prepared for fun troop activities. In this article, I’ll be telling you about my 5 favorite snack options for easy, healthy, and delicious trail food!
Written by Eagle Scout and pro outdoor journalist, Owen Clarke.
Cole here — I asked Owen to share his experience on ScoutSmarts, as he’s a true expert in outdoor adventuring. Get ready, this article will be a real treat!
As a Scout, you’re going to be participating in tons of exciting, energy-intensive activities, like kayaking, hiking, orienteering, and swimming. Although you’ll cook meals with your patrol during most outings, you’ll still want to pack snacks to stay energized if you’re hungry between meals. 😀
Even less physical Scouting activities, like practicing first aid, knots, fire-building, and wildlife identification will still require you to use a TON of brainpower! So, it’s important that both your BRAIN and your BODY get all the fuel they need through healthy snack foods.
What Should I Look for in a Scouting Trail Snack?
Not all snacks are created equal! Just because a snack is tasty (or high in sugar) doesn’t mean it’ll give you sustained, lasting energy.
Candies like M&Ms and Skittles, and other sweets, like brownies, might give you a brief “sugar high.” But unfortunately, you’ll also crash later, as the sugar wears off, becoming even more tired than you were initially. That’s no good! 🙁
Healthier snacks like veggies, dried fruit, granola, beef jerky, and tuna are much better choices than sweets! They don’t just provide a sugar rush. They give you proteins, calories, necessary nutrients, and healthy fats to keep you going all day long.
Below, you’ll find five of my favorite snacks for Scouting, whether you’re spending all day hiking on a trail in the woods, or just out with your troop working on your next merit badge.
My 5 Top Snack Picks For Scouts
1. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is my favorite snack for any outdoor adventure. Thanks to natural sugars, dried fruit is extremely sweet, so it’s a healthy substitute for processed candy. It also has the same nutrients and calories as fresh fruit, compacted into a tiny, dried package!
Fun Fact: By weight, dried fruit contains over 3.5x the fiber, vitamins, and minerals as fresh fruit!
Unlike fresh fruit, dried fruit is also non-perishable, so it won’t go bad, even after days of hiking! My favorite dried fruit is mango, but there are DOZENS of options. Whether you like bananas, apples, pineapple, kiwi, or something else, a little bit of dried fruit is a great choice for a Scouting snack.
2. Veggie Sticks & Dip
Vegetables are some of the healthiest snacks you can bring along when Scouting. Carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, and other sliced veggies are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain natural water, so they keep you hydrated, too!
Pro-Tip: If you aren’t a huge fan of fresh veggies, adding a bit of your favorite dip, like ranch dressing or hummus, can turn even the blandest veggies into an enjoyable an energizing trail snack!
Veggies sticks and dip are best for one-day outings because, unlike dried fruit, they’ll go bad after several hours in the hot sun. However, if you want a good non-perishable veggie option that you can take on a multi-day outing, consider trying these healthy garden veggie straws!
3. Trail Mix
Good ‘ol trail mix! The classic Scouting snack. With plenty of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and a bit of candy thrown in, trail mix is an excellent (and varied) snack option. It’s like having several different snacks all at once! 🙂
Fun Fact: Reportedly, American Indians were the first peoples to have widely eaten trail mix! Instead of M&Ms, their version contained buffalo meat, nuts, and grains.
To learn more interesting facts about American Indian culture, check out Cole’s guide to the Indian Lore merit badge!
Unfortunately, not all trail mix is healthy. Many trail mixes are just massive bags of M&Ms and peanuts. Instead, bring a trail mix with lots of variety. The trail mix I’m sharing with you below includes pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, cranberries, almonds, walnuts, and chocolate, so it’s equally sweet and nutritious!
4. Meat & Cheese
Some combination of dried meat (like beef jerky) and cheese, is another tasty, filling trail snack. Cheese is one weak point of this trail snack though, since cheese, like vegetables, tends to go bad after a few hours out in the warm sun.
Pro Tip: Balance Your Snacks! Bringing too much of a single snack is a bad idea, no matter what the snack is.
Dried fruit, for example, is healthy in moderation, but it’s still high in sugar, so eating pounds and pounds of dried fruit isn’t much better than eating candy! No matter what snacks you choose, bring a mixture of different types, not just all of the same kind.
Luckily, buying pre-sealed beef & cheese combo packs, like the one linked below, avoids the issue of your snack going bad too quickly. Plus, if you want a bit of extra flavor, add crackers or some sourdough bread for an even more filling bite!
5. Canned Tuna & Crackers
Canned tuna is a lightweight, compact source of protein, so it makes for a great Scout snack. If you don’t like tuna, you can try canned sardines, salmon, mackerel, mussels, or even octopus! Like I mentioned earlier, you can add crackers or bread to your tuna for some extra calories (and taste!).
Cole here — As a scout I’d most often get basic tuna and cracker kits, which were always super tasty and filling. However, if you’re wanting to try the best canned tuna snack out there, check out the link below!
Bonus Pick: Scout Trek Hydration
Always remember to drink plenty of fluids. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, how much activity you’re doing, or how cold it is — staying hydrated is just as important as eating. Make it a point to drink water regularly while Scouting, and encourage your buddies to do the same!
Staying hydrated is so important that we made a reliable water bottle the #1 item on our List of Scout Hiking Essentials. Learn what the other 14 essentials are by checking out the article!
If you’re getting bored with plain old water though, try adding a flavored hydration mix, like Liquid I.V. It’s tasty, like Gatorade or Powerade, but also contains a ton of essential vitamins, such as Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, and Vitamin C. Drinking flavored water is a great way to get more fluids in your system!
Remember To Pack Out What You Pack In
Remember when packing your Scouting snacks: You have to pack out whatever you pack in. Even natural, biodegradable items, like a banana peel, should be packed out to comply with Outdoor Code principles. Did you know that banana peels can take up to two years to decompose?
So, keep in mind, whatever snacks you don’t eat (plus the wrappers), must be carried out with you. Storing snacks in baggies, which can easily be stuffed into your backpack when finished eating, is better than carrying them in Tupperware or the bulky packaging they come in from the store.
So there you have it! These are my top 5 favorite health snacks to bring along on any outdoor trek. Remember to bring a combination of these items so that you can keep a balanced diet and get all the nutrients you’ll need to fuel your Scouting adventures.
Healthy snacks are great for quick energy, but if you really want to eat well you’ll need to learn how to cook great camp food (this article will give you 4 key tips for better camp cooking) …
That’s why, I’d highly recommend you check out Cole’s guide to the Cooking merit badge if you haven’t earned it already. As a bonus, your patrol will love you even more if you can cook them a great meal!
With that, you’re now prepared to pack healthy, tasty, and easy trail snacks throughout the rest of your Scouting career! Just make sure to share some with your troop buddies, since not everyone will be lucky enough to read this article. Wishing you some amazing treks and trail snacks ahead! 😉