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Gluten-Free Tips

Best Yummy Gluten-Free Snack Ideas for Day Hikes

What are the best gluten-free snacks for taking on day hikes or hiking trips? We rounded up gluten-free snacks including gluten-free snack bars, ideas for healthy fresh foods and gluten-free protein bars.

Part of hiking is getting to the top of the mountain and having a yummy snack while taking in the view. This is where you rest and recharge, and hopefully, you’ll be looking forward to great snacks.

Packing snacks was simple before I became gluten-free. I’d pack some sandwiches, a few Quaker or Nature Valley bars, and get going.

Now that I’m gluten-free, it takes a little more planning, but it’s not difficult to pack gluten-free snacks for hiking. There are so many ways to eat delicious snacks that are also gluten-free and healthy.

Which fresh fruits and veggies make the best gluten-free snacks?

For fresh fruits and veggies for snacking, think about which will be the least messy. Also consider the ones that will taste good if exposed to heat or change in temperatures.

My favorite gluten-free snacks when it comes to fruits and vegetables are ones that I don’t have to cut, and ones that I can pre-wash. For fruit, my choices are clementines, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and bananas. All berries are small, and require pre-washing, which is fine. Be careful, though, because they can be squished easily. I put my berries into a hard Tupperware or travel container so that nothing gets squashed in my backpack. 

Banana on a pink background

Difficult fruits are the ones that get mushy fast, like pears or peaches and plums, or ones that create a lot of juice and liquid. Fruits with too much juice are watermelon and oranges. An exception are clementines and mandarins because they come with a skin and sectioned-off pieces. These are actually ideal for hiking, and you can share with friends. 

For vegetables, it gets a little harder, but there are lots of ways to make gluten-free snacks out of fresh vegetables. The easiest are cherry or grape tomatoes. Wash these, and put them in a reusable plastic container so that they don’t get squashed and explode.

Next, baby carrots are great, especially if you won’t be in hot temperatures. Hot carrots don’t taste as good as cool ones. You can also cut up and slice cucumbers, either in round slices or long slices. My final favorite vegetable snack is sliced bell peppers — red, yellow, orange and green ones. Again, with vegetables, keep in mind the temperature. Overheated and hot vegetables are not going to be delicious when you finish your hike. 

Overall, my winners for gluten-free fruit and vegetable travel snacks are bananas, clementines, berries in containers, tomatoes and carrots.

Which dried and freeze-dried fruits are the best gluten-free snacks?

Nuts are a very easy gluten-free snack to take traveling or on a day hike. Many types of nuts come in shells and can handle being thrown around in a backpack. They also do well in the heat. These are all things to consider when picking your snacks.

Assorted nuts in small cups

In many parts of the world, if you’re hiking internationally, you’ll see that nut varieties differ. Sometimes peanuts (not actually a nut — they’re a legume!) are popular, and sometimes it is cashews, pistachios, walnuts or almonds.

Some of my favorite gluten-free nut snacks are walnuts, cashews (salted or raw), pistachios, almonds (salted or raw) and pecans. These can also be mixed to create your own gluten-free trail mix.

Something to watch out for if you’re new to buying nuts is that some nuts come in shells. If you’re buying walnuts in the shell, beware that you’ll need a walnut cracker! However, for pistachios, their shells are easy to break off. Beware that if you buy pistachios without the shells, they’re easy to eat, and maybe so easy to eat that you could eat too many. Nuts tend to be high in calories, and if they’re salted, they have a high salt content.

No matter how you consume your gluten-free nut snacks during your hike, it is good to diversify. Different nuts have different types of vitamins and nutrients and it’s important to have a few kinds, in their recommended serving sizes. This is, of course, if you’re not allergic to nuts! 

The last idea is to mix nuts with dried fruit for the ultimate gluten-free homemade trail mix. Yummy!

Which gluten-free fruit bars are the best hiking snacks?

I remember the first gluten-free fruit and nut bar I ever had was Lara Bar, back in the early 2010s. Gluten-free fruit and nut bars make it easy to consume healthy natural ingredients in a compact snack bar, without feeling guilty. 

Years later, there are now tons of gluten-free fruit bars on the market. If you like healthy snack alternatives to cereal and grain bars or if you are on a grain-free diet, these are a good choice.

Lara Bar is one of the original gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, kosher, dairy-free fruit-based snack bars. The vast majority of the original line of fruit bars are based with dried dates. This makes them naturally sweet. Lara Bar adds crunch with cashews, pistachios, peanuts and other nuts. There are a wide variety of flavors. My favorites are lemon bar, banana bread, blueberry muffin and cashew cookie. 

Recently, some new fruit-based gluten-free snack bars have added protein. Have you heard of Rx Bar? Rx Bar combines egg protein with dates and nuts. Their flavors have expanded recently as well. Some of the basic flavors are chocolate or chocolate coconut, and now Rx Bar also comes in maple sea salt, apple cinnamon, mixed berry and mint chocolate. When I eat Rx Bar as a hiking snack, I feel like I’m getting more protein than I am getting when I eat other snacks. 

The last basic gluten-free fruit bar snack is fruit leather, or fruit strips. These are made from pressed fruits and fruit juices. Popular brands are “That’s It” or the Trader Joe’s fruit leather strips. These snacks are thin, easy to carry, lightweight and sweet. Note, however, that they can have high sugar content.

Which gluten-free cereal and grain bars make the best snacks?

The upside of gluten-free cereal and grain snack bars is that they are filling and travel well. They also taste good even after being exposed to heat, so they’re versatile as far as snacks go.

When looking for a gluten-free cereal or grain snack bar for your hike, be sure to read the ingredients. Many bars will be gluten-free, but may contain dairy, soy, nuts or peanuts. If you have other allergies, look for the included ingredients in the ingredients lists. 

A few of my favorite bars through the years have been GoMarco bars, Nature’s Bakery (Gluten-Free) bars and LUNA bars. 

GoMacro bars are the ultimate gluten-free filling energy bar, made from brown rice and a list of other relatively healthy and definitely GF/vegan ingredients. I have fallen in love with a lot of their flavors, like Sunny Uplift (Cherries+Berries), Sweet Rejuvenation Cashew Butter, Wholehearted Heaven (Almond Butter + Carob),  Protein Purity (Sunflower Butter + Chocolate). 

GoMacro bars are dense and don’t crumble, so they are perfect for staying at the bottom of your backpack and even lasting an entire vacation. They taste fine when they’ve been flattened or squished. I have also eaten them when they’re warm, and they remind me of warm cookies. GoMacro is a great choice for a gluten-free power snack on the go. 

Nature’s Bakery is newer on the block. The thing to note with Nature’s Bakery is that they have regular gluten products alongside a line of gluten-free bars. Unfortunately, the packages are similar. I suggest reading closely. Their gluten-free bars say “gluten-free” on the boxes, but the flavors are similar in both varieties.

Nature’s Bakery fruit and grain bars also remind me of cookies. They’re made from a mix of gluten-free grains: tapioca flour, amaranth flour, teff flour and sorghum flour. These are followed by brown rice and oat products like oat flour and oat fiber, with fruit products like fig paste and date paste. Super yummy. 

My last recommendation of a gluten-free snack bar is Luna Bar. Luna Bars remind me of breakfast bars, and they’re sweet, light and crunch. Do note that Luna Bars contain soy, so if you have a soy allergy, you should avoid these.

Luna Bars are marketed toward women, but they’re really for anyone. The flavors are varied and some of them are Lemon Zest, Caramel Nut Brownie, Peanut Butter Cookie and Blueberry Bliss.

Which gluten-free protein snacks are best for hiking?

There are some delicious types of gluten-free protein bars that I enjoy as snacks for hikes. For those who don’t feel full after fruit, vegetables or snack bars, try these ideas for meat and protein-lovers.  Protein bars don’t get crushed in your backpack, withstand heat and have a long shelf life.

One of the newcomers to the gluten-free snack scene is KRAVE jerky. With jerky, I originally found it difficult and challenging to find types of jerky that either did not have soy sauce (wheat product) as an ingredient, or some type of hydrolyzed wheat protein or starch. 

KRAVE jerky is a gluten-free snack because the brand uses gluten-free soy sauce. With a range of products from turkey jerky, chicken jerky, pork jerky and beef jerky, there’s something for every carnivore. Being gluten-free shouldn’t mean that you have to say ‘no’ to meat! 

My favorite flavors and products in the KRAVE jerky snacks are Honey Habanero Chicken Jerky, KRAVE Beef Jerky in Sea Salt flavor, KRAVE Beef Jerky in Garlic Chili Pepper and Krave Gluten Free Beef Jerky Sweet Chipotle. 

Another snack bar that’s actually a protein bar made with meat is EPIC bar. These meat bars are absolutely delicious and made great snacks for hiking because they can withstand heat, being crushed (they’re dense, so they can’t get crushed or broken) and won’t expire during your trip. 

EPIC bars come in flavors like EPIC Bison Bacon Cranberry Bars, Chicken Sriracha Protein Bars,Chicken Sesame BBQ Protein Bars and the Beef Habanero Cherry Walnut Bar. They are gluten-free, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly and Whole30-friendly.


By Becca Siegel

Becca has been gluten-free since 2005 and enjoys living a gluten-free lifestyle. She has traveled extensively eating gluten-free around the world and helping others manage transitions into gluten-free diets.