A lot of preparation goes into taking a hike. You have to plan your route, decide what to wear, pack your bags with the essentials, figure out how much water to bring, figure out what to eat during your hike, and what to eat after your hike.

While it's important to fuel your body for your activity, it's also important to make sure you aren't falling into the trap of thinking you need to pack a ton of candy bars or other sugary snacks. When you fuel your body with quality food your body will repay you with an awesome and enjoyable hike!

Just a note here: Pack food even on short hikes, just in case. You never know what is going to happen if something doesn't go according to your plan and you are stuck on a mountain for much longer than you thought it's best to be prepared.

There are a few things to consider when deciding what to eat:

  1. How long the hike is
  2. How difficult the hike is (usually gauged by elevation change, average grade, and trail quality)
  3. How far you have to drive to the trailhead (how long since you last ate)


  • Protein/Energy bars


  • chapati
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola 
  • Fruit (dried or fresh - make sure you wash it before you pack it!)
    •  Apples
    • Bananas (your body needs the potassium!)


  • Trail mix/energy mix (this is really a mix of carbs and fats ... watch your portion sizes!)
  • Nuts or nut butter (fats)
    • peanut butter
    • gnuts


  • Electrolytes
  • Energy Gels/Chews



For the purpose of this article, we are going to consider anything 6Km or less a short hike. On a hike like this, just eat your normal meals before and after the hike (meals that consist of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats).


  • Eggs (protein) with avocado or peanut butter (fats) toast (carbs -bread)
  •  yogurt (protein) with fruit (carbs) and peanut butter (fats)
  • You could also drink a protein shake but I would advise eating real food since you will likely have a protein bar on your hike

Water: Plan on consuming 1 liter of water for every 4Km hiked and adjust up to 1 liter for every 3Km if it’s hotter than 26 degrees centigrade and/or there are more than 500 feet of elevation gain per kilometer. For example, if you’re doing a 6-Km hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain in 28-degree weather, you should consume at least 2 liters of water.


On hikes that are between 6 and 16 Kilometers and/or more difficult, you will want to plan out your meals in advance. Obviously, hikes that are 6 Km  long will require a lot less effort than hikes that are 16 Km long, so take the actual length into account when planning your food needs. You will not only need to know the distance but also the difficulty. There's a difference in energy used when walking 11 Km on a flat surface around a lake versus that of a 6Km trek to summit a mountain.


For breakfast before your hike, I suggest eating a combination of protein, carbs, and fat (same examples as the list for short day hikes). Slightly adjust your calories up (by about 15%) to ensure you’ll have plenty of energy to start your hike so that you don’t stall a kilometer into the hike.


In your pack take protein, fat, and carbs. Energy gels or chews could also be used on medium distance hikes with plenty of elevation gain.

Water: Plan on consuming 1 liter of water for every 4.8 Km hiked and adjust up to 1 liter for every 3.2 Km  if it’s hotter than 80 degrees and/or there are more than 500 feet of elevation gain per mile.  For example, if you’re doing a 10 Km hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain in 85-degree weather, you should consume at least 3 liters of water.


Refuel your body with a healthy meal once you finish! Again: protein, fat, and carbs. There are a ton of options for this! Also, a BCAA drink will help you recover faster if you can get one around.


We consider anything over 16 Kilometers a long day hike.  

Your planning becomes a lot more important on these hikes and you’ll need to get very strategic with your calorie planning. Pack foods that are calorically dense and provide a high calorie to weight ratio   

Use energy gels during the hike to help provide quick energy boosts. Try to avoid frequent stops as lactic acid will build up in your legs and feet and get you out of your hiking rhythm. We like to stop no more than 10 minutes once every 8 Km for a quick little energy boost. Strategically plan your stops at scenic vistas to optimize the use of your time at those vistas and replenish those much-needed calories.

Your water needs change drastically as well - plan on working in some electrolyte mix to ensure you’re hydrating properly. You’ll have to become adept at treating water from a natural source (spring, stream, lake, etc.) if the hike you’re doing doesn’t have places to refill your water and if you don’t want to lug around 9 Kg of water all day. 



Eat as you would for the medium distance hike, just increase your portions a bit (maybe even double your portions if the hike is very long and difficult).


You should try to consume the following calories during the hike:

  • If you weigh between 54 and 72 Kg = 150 calories for every Km hiked
  • If you weigh between 72 and 90 Kg = 200 calories for every Km hiked
  • If you weigh more than 90 Kg = 250 calories for every Km hiked

Sure, you’re likely burning more than this during your hike, but you’ll be hard-pressed to make up the calories during the hike.

Water: For long hikes, you should definitely try to consume 1 liter for every five kilometers hiked and mix in one electrolyte drink for every 16 Km hiked. Pay attention to heat and elevation gain as you may need to adjust your water consumption up if you’re doing a strenuous hike in the heat. Dehydration is a serious issue and can creep up out of nowhere...be proactive with your water consumption and refilling strategies on long hikes!


Refuel your body with protein, fats, and carbs. 

And hydrate more.





See you on the trail.