The Best Snack Hacks for Any Outdoor Adventure

Ashley Brown|Updated June 7, 2023

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Snack Hacks for Any Outdoor Adventure

Few things inspire as much passion as adventure snacks. They're a great way to motivate and reward yourself, friends and kids during your outdoor adventures. We asked REI Co-op employees and members how they get creative with trail snacks and they delivered. Use these ideas to spice up your next outdoor excursion, or to come up with fun riffs of your own. Don't forget to share your snack creations with your friends!

1. Mountain Mocha

Mountain Mocha

Start your day off right with caffeine and chocolate. Premix instant coffee and hot chocolate powder at home for an easy morning mocha.

2. Powered-Up Oatmeal

Sondra Polonsky, senior customer analyst at REI, suggests stretching your morning oatmeal by adding protein powder to help keep you feeling full longer. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find your favorites, like peanut butter protein powder with chocolate oatmeal, or chocolate protein with banana oatmeal. Sondra's favorite is maple brown sugar oatmeal with vanilla protein and freeze-dried raspberries.

3. Summit Banana Split

Summit Banana Split

This banana split, courtesy of former thru-hiker and park ranger Helen Beelen, is the ultimate summit treat. Simply peel a banana, slice open the side like a hot dog bun and spread chocolate hazelnut spread on both sides of the banana. Sprinkle your favorite crunchy chocolate candy on top and savor your well-deserved dessert.

4. Tortillas for Everything

Tortillas are a game changer on the trail, and my favorite way to build an on-the-go meal or snack. They pack flat and don't get smashed like bread, and you can fill them with all kinds of ingredients. Try honey, peanut butter and a banana for a sweeter option, or some salami, avocado, cheese and hummus for a savory lunch. Or, use your tortillas to build a pocket burrito, which former Expert Advice editor Maren Horjus declares the all-time best trail snack of all time. Read her ode to the Pocket Burrito to find out why.

5. Trail Frozen Yogurt

Thrill your kids (not to mention other adults) with trailside popsicles on day trips like REI domain architect Jim Weller does. Throw some tube-style yogurts in the freezer the night before you hit the trail. They won't stay frozen forever, but even if you get to them after they melt, you'll still have a nice, refreshing snack.

6. PB&J Wafflewich

PB and J Wafflewich

For an easy, quick take on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take REI content producer Dustin Kingman's advice and spread a stroop-style waffle with some Justin's nut butter and single-serving preserves. Voila, on-the-go PB&J.

7. Backcountry Charcuterie

Backcountry Charcuterie

A charcuterie spread is so simple, yet so satisfying. Enjoy a savory feast by packing portable snacks like salami or jerky, olives, your favorite cheese (REI product copy manager Heather Young suggests a hunk of Parmesan or aged Gouda), fancy nuts, dried fruit and even smoked salmon.

8. Put a Fish On It

Smoked Salmon

According to Jim Weller, smoked salmon goes great with almost anything: with cream cheese on a cracker, added to ramen or a dehydrated dinner, in a wrap. It's a welcome hit of salt and protein and can make an otherwise average meal something to look forward to at the end of the day. An REI staff favorite is Patagonia Provisions.

9. Backcountry Pickleback

UX designer Mary Simpson knows the secret to refreshment when you have access to snow on a hot day: pickle juice, which is known for its ability to prevent muscle cramps and boost your electrolyte levels. She pours pickle juice over snow for a refreshing slushie. Mary says, "I know it sounds nuts, but it's so refreshing when it's hot and the sun is reflecting back on you in the snow and you need to make a final summit push."

10. Avocado Saver

Avocado Saver

No matter how you slice it, avocados are a superfood off- and on-trail. Copywriter Logan Jenott protects ripe avos by carrying them in an empty chip tube or large plastic eggs. He enjoys them simply cut in half and eaten with a spoon, but if you want to get fancy, make your own trail avocado toast with a bagel or crackers and whatever toppings you prefer, like everything bagel seasoning and a sprinkle of salt. Better yet, try this On-the-go Avocado Bowl recipe from James Beard Award-winning chef and REI Co-op member Maria Hines.

11. Sweet Potato "Crackers"

Perfect for gluten-free grazing, sweet potatoes are a surprisingly tasty and nutritious snack. Slice a raw one up thin to make crackers for savory toppings like avocado or sardines. REI Experiences program manager Daniel Grillo says, "I was on a bike tour last summer when a friend pulled a sweet potato, knife and tin of sardines out of her pannier. I thought they'd be starchy or unpalatable, but sliced up thin with something savory and fatty they changed my world."

12. Homemade Energy Balls

Make adventure-worthy energy snacks that are both easy and delicious with this recipe from Jen Skjerven, trip and training coordinator for REI Adventures. Fill a bowl with 1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats, 3/4 cup peanut or almond butter, 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup chia or flax seeds, and any desired mix-ins like nuts, coconut, and/or cinnamon. Mix well and roll into 1-inch balls (wet your hands so they don't stick). Place in the fridge until firm, typically eight hours or overnight.

13. Apple Donuts

Apple Donuts

Sometimes you just need to indulge. Christina Miller, social media program specialist, makes what she calls "apple donuts" on-trail by smearing apple slices with cream cheese and topping them with dried cranberries. Eat around the core or cut it out for a true donut look.

Chip sling

Bonus pro tip: Halley Knigge, director of REI Co-op communications, has a brilliant hack for packing chips into the backcountry: Make a chip sling to prevent them from getting crushed. There are two methods. 1) (pictured above): Use shipping or duct tape to attach a gallon freezer zip-top bag to a carabiner by attaching the tape on either side of the bag and through the carabiner, similar to tote bag handles. 2) Cut a small hole in the upper corner of a gallon freezer zip-top bag, reinforce the edges with duct tape and hook a carabiner through the hole. Clip the carabiner to the outside of your backpack and you're good to go.

Of course, you don't have to do anything to some snacks; they're perfect just as they are. REI staff favorites include sour gummy anything, wasabi peas, and cookie butter. For a quick pick-me-up when you need to keep going, energy chews are perfect. According to the REI product information team, Skratch Labs Energy Chews won their taste test of all the chews we carry. Bonus: They don't stick to your teeth.