Whether you’ll be kayaking or canoeing, crushing kilometres on portage trails or making miles on the river, backcountry camping trips burn major calories. Staying properly fuelled is necessary to keep you moving, and, perhaps more importantly, to keep “hanger” at bay (therefore allowing you to maintain a good relationship with your tripping partner).

Everyone has their guilty pleasure backcountry snacks, whether it be gummy bears or chocolate bars. But these healthy camping snacks will ensure you get the nutrients you need in addition to the calories.

Photo by Dayvison de Oliveira Silva from Pexels

1. Energy balls

All kinds of healthy and delicious ingredients can be incorporated into these delicious bundles. Most contain nut butters, nuts, dried fruit and some kind of sweetener. Energy balls are great for paddling trips because they can pack a lot of calories, protein and fibre into a small package. You can throw a dozen into a small container and break them out on portages or for a quick floating snack.

Paddling Magazine’s energy ball recipe


  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soaked dates


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse for about 10 seconds, until ingredients are mixed together but not too fine.
  3. Remove from food processor and form mixture into small balls.
  4. Place on a plate in the fridge for one to two hours.
Trail mix with nuts and chocolate
Snack on the go or take a break, but either way stay fuelled!

2. Ultimate trail mix

Trail mix is the classic backcountry trip snack. Make it your own and ensure you will eat it by skipping the prepackaged variety and adding in healthy and scrumptious ingredients. Our favourite additions?


  • Brazil nuts
  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • A dark chocolate bar cut into pieces
  • Skor bar chunks
  • Slices of dried mango
  • Roasted almonds
  • Dried apples
  • Peanut-butter M&Ms
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Chocolate-covered goji berries
Photo by Keegan Evans from Pexels

3. Homemade beef jerky

Beef jerky is a satisfying and high-protein snack perfect for paddling trips. Most beef jerky you find in stores, however, is full of sodium, chemicals and unhealthy additives. Make a healthier and more delicious version at home in large batches and grab some each time you go on a backcountry adventure.


  • 2 kg 5lb grass-fed beef brisket (or other lean cut such as top round, flank or sirloin)


  • 1 cup sweet apple cider, or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup unpasteurized honey
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp Himalayan salt
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp crushed chili pepper
  • 2 dried chipotle peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove

We like The Healthy Foodie’s recipe, which calls for lots of spices, a lean cut of meat and a few other pantry staples.

Photo by Alesia Kozik

4. Salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain 15 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of dietary fibre per serving, allowing you to stay satisfied and fuelled on your paddling trips. Roasting them with salt and vinegar infuses them with lots of flavour.

We like the Oh She Glows easy salt and vinegar roasted chickpea recipe; the simple preparation and four-ingredient list means you can whip up a tray or two the night before your trip as you pack.


  • 1.5-2 cups cooked chickpeas (one 15-oz can), drained and rinsed*
  • 2.5-4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2-1 tsp fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.

2. Add chickpeas into pot and cover with vinegar. Add a dash of sea salt. Open a window and turn on range hood fan to air out the soon-to-be potent vinegar smell. <– you were warned!

3. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let sit in pot for 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

4. Preheat oven to 400F. Carefully drain chickpeas in a strainer and discard vinegar. Place chickpeas on lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Massage with fingers until fully coated.

5. Roast for 25-35 minutes, stirring once half way through. Keep a careful eye on them after 20 minutes of cooking to ensure they don’t burn. Enjoy as a high protein snack or as a side to a lunch or dinner. Cool on pan for 5 minutes. They will crisp up as they cool.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

5. Backcountry smorgasbord

For something in between a snack and a meal, the backcountry smorgasbord is king. Buy your favourite cheese, crackers, olives, cold cuts, raw veggies, hummus or other dips and assemble on a plate or cutting board during a break from paddling.

To make this a quicker snack, pre-cut items as necessary and store near the top of your food hatch or pack.


  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Olives
  • Cold cuts
  • Raw veggies
  • Hummus

Our favourite combination? smoked gouda, turkey, Wheat Thins, black olives, sliced red peppers and baba ghanoush.

6. Dehydrated yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a high-protein snack that will keep you full for hours. To dehydrate Greek yogurt, spread a thin and even layer over parchment paper laid on a cookie sheet. You want the yogurt in a thick enough layer that you can’t see parchment paper. Dehydrate at 135 degrees for approximately seven hours.

When the yogurt is done it should peel off the parchment paper easily. Pack it in a plastic bag in pieces. Once you are on your paddling trip, add water to the dehydrated yogurt in a bowl and mix. Keeping adding water gradually as needed. Top with nuts, hemp hearts and honey.

7. Ants on a log

This classic kids’ snack is perfect for a day on the water. Pre-cut three stalks of celery into two-inch pieces. Spread all-natural peanut butter in the hollow space and top with raisins. If you want to get really wild, opt for dried cranberries.


  • Celery
  • Peanut butter
  • Raisins or dried cranberries

8. Rice cakes with peanut butter and banana

This delicious snack gives you carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Swap the peanut butter for almond or another nut butter if preferred. Make sure to have a knife handy to chop the banana. Tip: Pack the rice crackers in something solid to prevent crumbling.


  • Rice cakes
  • Peanut butter
  • Banana



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