Outdoor snacks for cold weather

As the temperature drops and the days become shorter, outdoor enthusiasts still venture into nature, whether it’s for hiking, camping, skiing, or simply enjoying the brisk air. Cold weather activities require not only appropriate clothing and gear but also the right kind of nutrition to keep energy levels high and bodies warm. This article explores various snacks ideal for cold weather outings, focusing on their nutritional benefits, ease of preparation, and suitability for the cold environment.

Outdoor snacks for cold weather

The Importance of the Right Snacks

When engaging in outdoor activities in cold weather, your body works harder to maintain its core temperature, which means it burns more calories. Therefore, the snacks you choose should be high in energy and nutrients to replenish the calories you burn and keep your body fueled. The right snacks can also help maintain hydration and provide essential vitamins and minerals that support overall health.

Key Nutritional Components for Cold Weather Snacks

  1. Carbohydrates: Quick energy sources that are essential for sustaining physical activity.
  2. Proteins: Important for muscle repair and recovery.
  3. Fats: Provide long-lasting energy and help in keeping the body warm.
  4. Fiber: Helps in maintaining digestive health and prolongs the feeling of fullness.
  5. Vitamins and Minerals: Support overall health and aid in energy production.

Top Outdoor Snacks for Cold Weather

1. Trail Mix

Trail mix is a classic snack for outdoor activities, and for good reason. It is lightweight, easy to carry, and packed with energy-dense ingredients. A good trail mix typically includes nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and sometimes chocolate or yogurt-covered bits.

  • Nuts and Seeds: Provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Examples include almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Dried Fruits: Offer quick-digesting carbohydrates and natural sugars for an energy boost. Popular choices are raisins, cranberries, apricots, and apples.
  • Chocolate/Yogurt Bits: Add extra calories and a touch of sweetness, making the mix more palatable and satisfying.

2. Energy Bars

Energy bars are convenient, compact, and formulated to provide a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. There are many types available, from those designed for quick energy to those aimed at sustained endurance.

  • High-Carb Bars: Ideal for a quick energy boost. Look for bars with a higher carbohydrate content.
  • Protein Bars: Good for muscle recovery and longer-lasting energy. These typically have higher protein content.
  • Balanced Bars: Provide a mix of macronutrients for overall energy and satiation.

When choosing energy bars, opt for ones with natural ingredients and minimal added sugars to avoid energy crashes.

3. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers make for a satisfying and nutrient-dense snack. Cheese provides protein and fat, while whole-grain crackers offer complex carbohydrates and fiber.

  • Cheese: Choose hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda, or Swiss, which are easier to pack and less likely to spoil in cooler temperatures.
  • Crackers: Whole-grain or seed-based crackers are ideal for added fiber and nutrients.

This combination offers a balanced mix of macronutrients, helping to keep energy levels stable and providing a satisfying crunch.

4. Jerky

Jerky is a protein-rich snack that is easy to pack and doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s an excellent source of protein, which is essential for muscle repair and recovery.

  • Beef Jerky: The most common type, offering high protein and various flavor options.
  • Turkey Jerky: A leaner alternative with lower fat content.
  • Vegan Jerky: Made from plant-based sources like soy, mushrooms, or jackfruit, providing a good option for vegetarians and vegans.

Jerky is also high in sodium, which can help with electrolyte balance during prolonged physical activity.

5. Nut Butter Packets

Nut butter packets are a convenient way to carry healthy fats and protein. They are easy to eat on the go and can be paired with other snacks like fruit or crackers.

  • Almond Butter: Rich in vitamins E and magnesium, offering a creamy texture and nutty flavor.
  • Peanut Butter: High in protein and popular for its taste and versatility.
  • Cashew Butter: Creamier and sweeter, providing healthy fats and essential minerals.

These butters can be squeezed directly from the packet or spread on other snacks for added flavor and nutrition.

6. Hot Soup in a Thermos

Bringing a thermos of hot soup can be incredibly comforting and warming in cold weather. Soup provides hydration, essential nutrients, and a morale boost when the temperature drops.

  • Chicken Noodle Soup: A classic choice that provides a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.
  • Vegetable Soup: Packed with vitamins and minerals, and easy to digest.
  • Chili: High in protein and fiber, offering a heartier option that can keep you full longer.

Using a thermos designed to keep liquids hot for extended periods ensures you have a warm meal ready whenever you need it.

7. Fresh and Dried Fruits

While fresh fruits can freeze in very cold conditions, they are still an excellent snack if temperatures are above freezing. Dried fruits are more resilient and offer concentrated energy.

  • Fresh Fruits: Apples, oranges, and bananas are easy to carry and provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Dried Fruits: More resistant to cold, they offer a quick energy boost and are lightweight. Examples include dried apricots, dates, and figs.

8. Granola and Yogurt

If you can manage to keep yogurt from freezing, pairing it with granola makes for a nutritious snack. Yogurt provides protein and probiotics, while granola offers complex carbohydrates and fiber.

  • Granola: Look for varieties with whole grains, nuts, and minimal added sugars.
  • Yogurt: Greek yogurt is particularly high in protein. Choose plain varieties to avoid added sugars.

9. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a compact, nutrient-dense snack that is easy to prepare and pack. They provide high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.

  • Preparation: Simply boil the eggs and keep them in their shells until ready to eat to maintain freshness.

10. Hot Beverages

Hot beverages can provide warmth and hydration, which are crucial in cold weather. Consider packing a thermos with:

  • Hot Chocolate: Provides a sweet treat and a quick energy boost from sugars and fats.
  • Tea: Herbal or green tea can be soothing and hydrating.
  • Coffee: Offers a caffeine boost to help maintain energy levels.

Tips for Packing and Enjoying Cold Weather Snacks

1. Use Insulated Containers

To keep your snacks at the desired temperature, use insulated containers for both hot and cold items. Thermoses and insulated lunch bags can help maintain the integrity of your snacks.

2. Pack in Layers

If you’re carrying a backpack, pack snacks in the middle of your bag, surrounded by other items to provide insulation against the cold. This helps prevent freezing and keeps foods at a more stable temperature.

3. Stay Hydrated

Cold weather can sometimes mask the signs of dehydration, so it’s important to drink water regularly. Consider packing an insulated water bottle to keep liquids from freezing.

4. Monitor Portions

Pack snacks in manageable portions to avoid overeating and to make them easier to handle with gloved hands. Small, frequent snacking can help maintain energy levels more effectively than large meals.

5. Consider Special Diets

If you have dietary restrictions or preferences, plan your snacks accordingly. Many of the suggestions above have alternatives that cater to various dietary needs, such as vegan, gluten-free, or low-sugar options.



Choosing the right snacks for cold weather outdoor activities can significantly enhance your experience and ensure you stay energized, warm, and healthy. Opt for nutrient-dense, easy-to-carry options that provide a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Whether you prefer the classic trail mix, the convenience of energy bars, or the comfort of hot soup, there are plenty of options to suit every taste and need. By planning and packing wisely, you can enjoy your cold-weather adventures to the fullest.