The heat of summer has long since faded. But while it may seem like a winter hike would be far easier than one in the sweltering sun, it can actually be more draining than hiking any other time of year.
There are a variety of reasons why hiking in the winter is more difficult. One is that our bodies work harder to warm the air we’re breathing. Another is that we naturally feel more tired when there’s less daylight.
To keep you energized during your hike through the snow or to the top of Angels Landing in freezing temps, keep reading to learn 7 high-protein snacks you should bring along.
1. Beef Jerky
The higher the protein count, the better. And beef jerky is perhaps the most protein-packed food you can easily pack and eat on the trail.
Jerky is an excellent choice if you know you’ll be missing lunch while you’re on the trail or for hikes that will be particularly strenuous, like a snowshoe hike through the snow. While beef has the highest protein count per ounce, if you aren’t a fan, you can also opt for turkey, pork, or even meatless, vegan jerky instead.
2. Packaged Tuna or Salmon
For those who prefer fish to meat, packaged tuna or salmon is a great choice for your next hike. Skip the canned fish and opt instead for foil pouch varieties. These are lightweight and easy to open and eat. Plus, you won’t have to worry about packing empty cans off the trail when you’re finished with your snack.
These foil pouch snacks and meal additions have become very popular in recent years. They are now available in a wide variety of flavors, like buffalo, spicy Thai, or lemon pepper. Like beef jerky, these are great for replacing a meal while you’re on the trail, or for adding a protein-punch when you start feeling sluggish during your hike.
3. String Cheese
String cheese is another delicious snack that’s easy to eat on the trail. Available in a variety of cheese, like Colby Jack, cheddar, and the most popular, mozzarella, string cheese is packed with protein. Pack it on its own, or with a meat or fish to make the perfect simple trail meal, no cooking required!
4. Cured Sausages
While it might seem as though cured meats like salami or pepperoni should offer just as much protein as a bag of beef jerky, this actually isn’t true. Thanks to the extra additions that make these meats so tasty, the protein counter-per-ounce is actually lower.
But with an average of 6 grams of protein per ounce of meat, this is still a great snack to have along on the trail. Keep in mind that you’ll either want to slice your sausage in advance or else bring along a clean knife to cut your snack.
5. Protein Bars
Protein bars are designed to give you the protein and other nutrients you need to stay energized while enjoying your favorite sport or outdoor activity. Plus, for those who like a tasty, dessert-like snack, these might be more enjoyable than beef jerky or plain cheese.
However, be mindful of which protein bars you’re choosing. Some are packed with a lot of sugar. While this may make them taste better and give you a quick burst of energy, you may also experience a drop in energy as that so-called “sugar-high” wears off.
Also, some protein bars are designed to be snack foods, while others are meal-replacements. Check the ingredients of your favorite bars, and look for options that are high in fiber and protein but lower in sugar.
6. Peanut Butter
One popular ingredient in many protein bars is peanut butter. While you can certainly enjoy it in bar form, this is also a great snack on its own. Scooped onto crackers or even eaten with a spoon, you’ll get up to 7 grams of protein for every ounce.
If peanut butter isn’t your thing, don’t fret; there are tons of other nut butter varieties out there to choose from. Almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter with honey, and even chocolate hazelnut butter all pack in the protein. Like protein bars, though, be mindful of the sugar in your chosen brand and flavor.
7. Nut, Seeds, and Trail Mix
If you’re someone who enjoys noshing on the go during your hike, trying to scoop out peanut butter or peel string cheese can be a challenge. But nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and trail mix containing all of the above are easy to carry and eat without interrupting your trek. Buy a packaged trail mix, or make your own using your favorite ingredients.
Prepping for Your Winter Hike
If you’re prepping for a visit to Zion this winter, any one of these snacks is a perfect addition to your pack. To learn other tips for properly preparing for a winter hike, check out this article next to learn the gear you need to stay safe on the trails.