Low-Waste Trail Snacks

In Combining Adventure and Sustainability, I mentioned that trash from trail snacks can add up. Most times, individual pieces (like granola bars, chips, etc) are wrapped in non recyclable plastic, as well as the actual package that you get at the grocery store actually containing all the individual pieces.

While convenient snacks are a must when you are out hiking, biking, kayaking, etc., it doesn’t mean that convenient can’t be low waste.

So let’s take a look at some of the low-waste snacks I look towards when putting together my pack:

homemade granola in a glass reusable jar
Buying bulk oatmeal is a great and cheap way to start some yummy homemade granola.


Granola is a camping and outdoor staple snack. A whole culture of outdoor adventures are even colloquially named after it. Granola is a very popular bulk item at stores that even have small bulk sections.

But it’s also easy to make. And customizable. All you need is oats and peanut butter (or any other nut butter). Plus mix ins like chocolate, craisins, coconut, maple syrup, or whatever you want.

While it does take a little bit of mixing, the oven mostly does the work.

My camp granola recipe was even one of my first recipes, so check it out here. 

Sweet potatoes

Okay, so this one sounds weird, but it’s seriously the most unexpected trail snack. Maybe it’s just me being an Idaho gal.

I had it all the time before track and cross county meets in high school, and I forget how good and easy sweet potatoes are.

It does take some preparation beforehand, but it’s very much worth it. You just have to cook it like a baked potato in the oven until soft. And then you just eat it like a burrito. Just chomp on it. And it doesn’t need flavoring, unless you want to maybe add some brown sugar or some salt and pepper.

Make it low waste by buying bulk sweet potatoes (don’t you dare use single-use produce bags), bake in the oven, and storing in reusable containers.

peanut butter sandwich in the tetons
I’m not the only one that loves Pb sandwiches on the trail.

Peanut Butter Sandwich

This is my go-to camp lunch. It doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s full of protein. It gives you quick carbs. You can add honey. Jam. Agave. Bananas.

You can get store-bought bread and save the plastic bag for a bulk bag later. Or use it to carry your sandwiches instead of  buying plastic Ziploc bags.

Or you can buy local bread (my personal favorite), which means less transportation from the bakery to your cupboard.

Or if you’re really motivated, and want to be zero waste, get bulk ingredients to make your own bread (which is probably the most rewarding).

And remember to get bulk peanut butter or peanut butter in recyclable glass jars to minimize waste.

That’s it. That’s all about peanut butter sandwiches.


It isn’t very caloric, but it’s nice to have a little bit of fruit when you are usually having snacks like bread and nuts. It’s a sweet (and sometimes tart) and refreshing snack while hiking in the heat.

Water-dense fruits like apples and oranges can also provide a small amount of water. This is the reason that I choose fresh fruit over dried fruit for small trips.

Make it low waste by buying bulk fruit without plastic product bags.

Also make sure to leave no trace, even with fruit leftovers because the scraps take awhile to break down naturally.

homemade vegan blueberry lemon granola bars
Granola bars are alot easier to make than you think…. grab some bulk ingredients and some fresh fruit, and it’s as easy as pressing it all together.

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade granola bars take the most amount of effort, but are still easy compared to most recipes out there. It’s, again, very easy to make different varieties if you switch out ingredients like berries, coconut, nuts, and chocolates.

It’s mostly just mixing together a couple of these mix-ins with some oatmeal, but stay tuned for my recipe soon.

Make them low waste by buying bulk ingredients and storing in reusable containers.

Nuts, Seeds & Pretzels

We’ve covered a lot of sweet snacks for traveling, but salty snacks should be just as important, especially if you are drinking lots of water.

You can make your own trail mix with nuts, pretzels, cereals, and more. A salty mix balances your sweet peanut butter sandwich or fruit. Plus, nuts offer lots of calories to keep you going and going, even with just a small amount.

Make it low waste by buying bulk or in large tin cans.

big sky skiing
There’s nothing quite like some chairlift candy to get you through until apres.


Candy is another sweet item for some quick sugars if you are lagging on a hike. While it’s not the healthiest, sometimes it’s nice to break away from nuts, seeds, and fruits.

While most candy is covered in non recyclable plastic, head to bulk stores like Winco to see a wide selection of bulk candy. Gummies similar to Sour Patch Watermelons are my go-to because they don’t contain gelatin.


While I am not perfect sometimes when it comes to camp snacks, I think it’s important to still have a conscious mind.

Give it a second thought when buying things in plastic when you hit up a gas station on the way to the trailhead.

When bulk isn’t available, choose nuts in a tin/cardboard can instead of a plastic bag.

Choose a fruit over some candy, not because you want to be healthy, but because you want to reduce the amount of plastic trash you have to carry out.

Don’t let the single-use bread bags be single-use. Use them for sandwich bags, then garbage bags.

Little steps help towards bigger steps.


Your nacforadventurer and low-waste snack lover,



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