A cold winter hike or snowshoe adventure demands a hearty set of snacks with the extra calories and warmth you need to power through the day. Just as critical as your layers and gear, enticing snacks help drive you forward—providing that burst of energy (and incentive) you need to climb on. These nine snacks for winter hiking come from our team’s list of go-to favorites and will keep you fueled up on a cold, rewarding day in the hills.
3 Snacks to Boost Warmth
1. Ramen, dried mushrooms, miso soup, seaweed, pecan butter, tofu
Perfect for that mid-day snack or lunch stop, steaming ramen with hearty fixings will thaw even the most frigid spirits. Bring the water to a boil. Add the ramen, mushrooms and miso soup packets and reduce heat to a simmer. Once the ramen and mushrooms have rehydrated, add the seaweed, pecan butter (for flavorful calories) and shelf-stable tofu (for protein, albeit at a little extra weight in your pack). Warmth from the inside out is key to marching on.
Just the drink: If the heat and salt are all you need, simply add the miso soup packets to a thermos of hot water for an on-trail replenishment drink.
2. Tasty Bite® packet + instant quinoa
Tasty Bite Thai and Indian food packets are delicious and ready to serve. Packed with flavor and calories, they can be heated up in a pot of hot water and eaten straight from the bag. Or, make a pot of instant quinoa (five-minute wait time), and toss your curry or lentils soup in for a robust snack that will hold you all afternoon, no matter the temps. Best for the causal hikers, these ingredients are likely too heavy for fast-and-light adventurers.
3. Dehydrated bulk pea soup, bacon bits, bread
Whether you just take the soup in a thermos or bring the bacon and bread for a supreme trailside snack or lunch, pea soup hits the spot on an icy day. Loaded with protein, with a creamy texture that makes it feel substantial, dehydrated pea soup can usually be found in the bulk food aisle at community grocery stores. Pack an ultralight bag of it to heat up on the trail, or pre-make it to carry as a warm, propelling drink.
3 Winter Snacks for Calories
4. Avocado boats with tuna packets, salt & pepper
Simple, substantial and healthy, this is a go-to hero for year-round missions. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and add a topping of tuna, salt and pepper. Scoop up, and continue to add more tuna as your vessel becomes deeper. The calories in this will keep your tank full for hours.
5. Charcuterie board with salami, cheese, crackers, fruit, olives
There’s nothing like a colorful spread of calorie-packed fuel to keep the spirits high on an all-day winter trek. Bundle up, hunker down and feast on your favorite selections of meat, cheese and other complements. Fortunately, a day hike requires far fewer precautions with perishable foods, letting you pack and dine freely.
6. Mac & cheese, optional pre-cooked sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach
Meal or snack? That’s up to you and the size of the day. What we can tell you is that you won’t be disappointed sitting on a snowy perch with snowshoes on, overlooking the winter mountains when you dig into this hot, gourmet meal-snack. Pack powdered milk for extra richness.
3 Easy Snacks for Winter
7. Trail mix with pumpkin seeds, dried coconut & chocolate
This is pure high-octane fuel for charging hard in between rest stops. Any trail mix with these three ingredients will provide a burst of protein (pumpkin seeds), fat to keep your furnace going (coconut), and sugar to rev your engine when you need it most. Find the ingredients separately in the bulk aisle and custom-build your perfect on-trail power source.
8. Summit salmon (smoked)
Maybe it’s because MSR is headquartered in Seattle, where towering mountain ranges nearly touch the Pacific, but we are big fans of the summit salmon. Easy to toss into your pack (bring a reusable silicone bag or plastic baggie for the open wrapper afterward) and easy to eat anywhere, this unique snack makes a grueling climb worth it, especially when paired with crackers and cream cheese. Not hitting a summit on your next adventure? Smoked salmon is perfect for any winter outing, adding savory flavor to a day of exploration.
9. Instant mashed potatoes with cheese & bacon bits
Carbs (for energy), fat (for slow-burning warmth) and bacon (for salt), all mashed together in one hot concoction of adventure-powering fuel. Light and easy to toss into reusable silicone or plastic bags, these ingredients create a snack sum that’s far greater than its parts. On that hike, allow yourself a quick break to sit, fire up the stove and whip up a serving for you and a partner. You’ll both be glad you did and winter hiking will never be the same.
Gear for the Pro Winter Snacker
Because these snacks are ideal for longer days and lunch stops, here are a few pieces of gear to make the process easier when dishing up on snow:
Therm-A-Rest Z Lite™ Sol—The perfect extended seat, with a heat-reflective layer that’s noticeable even with layers on. This foam pad is ultralight and easy to strap to the outside of day packs.
Evo Snowshoe™ Kit with removable foam seat—Includes the high-quality gear you need to explore winter in one easy bundle. The full-featured carry pack includes a removable foam seat, a zippered pocket for keys, and is hydration compatible.
MugMate™ for coffee pour-overs—Ultralight and hardly noticeable in your pack. Employ for a shot of caffeine.
Alpine Folding Cutting Board—Slips easily into day packs but expands to deliver the rigid cutting surface you need for all those gourmet (and now go-to) snacks.
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Updated. Originally Published December 1, 2019.