The warmth of a fire you made yourself, a camp meal that somehow tastes better than a Michelin Star restaurant (even though it came from a box), and the inevitable moment when your friend John finds a spider and screams like your 10-year-old niece.
Camping is a way of hitting the off button on society’s computer. It grounds you, is good for your mental health, and brings you closer to both nature and the ones you love.
And while I argue that camping is always enjoyable, there is one thing that can really take a camping trip to the next level — good camping snacks.
How to Choose the Best Camping Snacks
While everything does taste a bit better out in the wild, nothing beats delicious snacks made with natural ingredients and packed full of the nutrients you need to stay energized. You’ll feel cleaner, have more energy when hiking, avoid subjecting your body to unnecessary additives, and the snacks will just taste better.
For the best on-the-go camping snacking, pick up snacks from transparent, trustworthy companies that prioritize sustainability and health over profits OR opt to make your own with fresh ingredients. I’m not saying you shouldn't indulge in some s’mores or cheeky sleeping bag chocolate — just that having a balance and opting for better ingredients in your snacks has a lot of benefits!
With that in mind, we’ve got 14 of our must-have camping snacks to help you get your shopping list prepped, collected over many years of pitching tents and trial and error.
Or should we say, “trail and error?”
14 Must-Have Camping Snacks
Here are our all-time must-have camping snacks, starting with our absolute favorite — beef jerky.
#1 Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is the holy grail of hiking snacks. It keeps well, is easy to pack, is full of protein, and is lightweight. The feeling you get eating beef jerky at the top of a summit or after finally setting up camp is priceless. Your body just screams for the nutrients, and the taste is so good and so filling.
The thing is, regular beef jerky always feels like too much money for your dollar — plus many national brands are full of additives and use low-quality beef. The solution? Chomps Original Beef Jerky Sticks. They are made with the freshest, tastiest, and highest-quality ingredients available, can be enjoyed on the trail or cooked over the fire for some extra pizzazz, and are as portable as it gets.
I know I just talked up beef jerky as being the best camping snack, which I still stand by, but complementing it with fresh fruit is really the way to play. There’s something magical about biting into a crisp apple after a long walk in the woods — even better if it’s in autumn. The natural sugars and carbs just taste so refreshing.
My favorites are Fuji and Gala apples, and make sure you pick out some good ones! A mushy apple is the worst.
#3 Dried Fruit
The next best thing to fresh fruit? Dried fruit! The sugars give you a nice bit of energy and feel like dessert without the crash. I love dried apricots in particular, and they’re also good for adding to oatmeal in the morning. My go-to camp breakfast is two oatmeal packets, some dried fruit, and dehydrated peanut butter for extra protein.
#4 Trail Mix
Trail mix got its namesake for obvious reasons. This camping staple is always a great option, and there are so many varieties. I prefer trail mix without raisins and with minimal chocolate, but you can either buy or make your own with whatever ingredients you like.
Just try to opt for a trail mix that has a good balance of fats, sugars, and proteins. In other words, try to make your mix as nutritionally “complete” as you can — that way your snacking checks all of your body’s needs.
#5 Nuts and Seeds
Also known as trail mix light. For a budget-friendly camping snack, opt for peanuts. They are by far the cheapest nut* and are packed with healthy fats and high-quality protein[*]. They’re also pretty high in calories, which is a good thing if you plan on hiking around where you camp. Outside of peanuts, you can grab almonds, pecans, shelled pistachios, pumpkin seeds — or whatever mix of those options you like!
*For the semantics police out there, we know peanuts are technically legumes!
#6 Granola Bars
I’m a big fan of making my own granola bars and/or energy bites, but store-bought can be fine, too! I love RX bars due to their preference for natural sweeteners like dates, but they can be a bit expensive. For a more budget-friendly and store-bought option, buy granola bars in bulk from somewhere like Costco and pack some for the whole family.
Salami or any other cured meat like Spanish chorizo is another delicious camping snack. You can grab a log of salami, pull out your knife, and cut yourself some slices for a nice after-lunch snack or dinner appetizer. I’m a big fan of making little sandwiches out of salami when out in nature, which brings us to...
Cheese is a little tricky to pack without a cooler, but if you pick the right kind, it is so worth it! You want a sharp, hard cheese in block form for best results. I like Dutch Irish Cheddar. It can be a little crumbly, so pack it in a separate bag, but it is so good! You could also get some cheese sticks, but believe me, opting for slightly nicer cheese on a trip really pays off. And if you’re packing a cooler in a car, then the culinary world is your oyster!
And now for the final ingredient in our cracker sandwich trio, the cracker! You have a ton of options here, but I like to opt for thin multigrain crackers. Crackers like Triscuits get really crumbly and pretty much disintegrate on walks (that won’t matter as much if you’re car camping), so I like to buy crackers that don’t crumble as easily. You can obviously eat your cracker sandwiches at camp, but I think these are best enjoyed on a hike before settling into your campsite for the night.
Mandarins, especially when they are in season through the winter and early spring, are wonderful while camping. That natural burst of Vitamin C and delicious sugar is to die for. Plus, they are extremely easy to pack, peel, and eat. Navel oranges have nothing on mandarins!
#11 Turkey Jerky
If you’ve got beef with beef, or would just rather stick to poultry instead of beef for any reason, then turkey jerky is a leaner alternative that is just as convenient and satisfying.
It’s also important to have go-to camping snacks that are small enough to eat in between meals yet packed with enough protein to leave you satisfied and full until your next meal. Chomps Turkey Mini Jerky Sticks will do just that with 5g protein per serving.
Popcorn, as long as it’s not microwaved, is probably healthier than you think! And it weighs almost nothing, making it great for camping trips when hiking is on the menu. If you’ve never bought your own kernels and popped them on the stove — try it for your next trip! Not only is it super fun, but you can customize the flavor and end up with a healthier end product than store-bought brands full of preservatives.
I’ll admit I was late to the date game, but my goodness are they good. I was finally convinced when a friend of mine filled them with almond butter and brought them on a backpacking trip in the Smoky Mountains. The almond butter got a bit messy, but the texture and flavor was incredible. Even without almond butter, dates are a delicious way to get some carbs in during your next camping trip!
#14 Peanut Butter
The good thing about peanut butter is that it’s versatile. You can make easy sandwiches for the kids with it, smear it on your apples, eat it out of the jar as a snack, bring dehydrated peanut butter for oatmeal in the morning, put it on crackers — you name it. If you bring it on your trip, you’ll find use for it!