Want Kids to Hike? Better Bring Snacks.
Anyone who’s hiked with kids knows that the key to a successful outing isn’t finding the perfect trail, the right ratio of distance to elevation gain, or the place with the most beautiful scenery. The most important factor when hiking with kids is your snack strategy. Kids are burning a lot of calories when they’re out on the trail, and it’s important to keep them fueled. The more snacks you have on hand, the better your expedition will go.
For the toddler set, this may involve carrying a bag of M&Ms in your pack and doling them out three at a time at five-minute intervals (not that we have ever done this). With any luck, your children will soon outgrow the outright bribery phase of their hiking careers and by the middle grades be ready to hike up to 10 whole minutes without flinging themselves to the earth complaining of starvation or dehydration.
If so, you may become a GORP family. Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts—extremely uncomplicated but a classic for a reason. It’s lightweight, nutritious, and easy to store and carry. Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to just raisins and peanuts. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans are also great sources of fat for long-lasting energy. Dried cranberries, apricots, and pineapple, or banana chips provide the quick energy of carbs. Non-melty chocolate like chocolate chips and M&Ms work best. Other things you can include in your GORP are granola, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, or shredded coconut. Though at this point you might want to call it trail mix. Or, if you’re in Australia or New Zealand, “scroggin” or “schmogle.” To carry your trail mix/scroggin/schmogle, consider using a sustainable alternative to disposable plastic bags. Reusable silicone food storage bags are a good choice.
PACKING BARS & LUNCH
Many hikers prefer the TABOBIMP method. This adorable acronym actually stands for Throw A Bunch of Bars in My Pack. There are so many bars these days, from gluten-free to high-protein to made-entirely-of-chocolate, that you’re sure to find an assortment that will please your group at your local supermarket. (Just make sure to pack those pesky wrappers out.)
Some hikes will find you miles from the trailhead right around lunchtime. If this was on purpose, and you’re not waiting for the rangers to rescue you, you have most likely packed some sandwiches in foil that have been mashed into a weird shape and crumble when you open them. These will be rejected by your kids as being “gross.” You can avoid this fate, and fill the ungrateful imps with protein, by bringing along a selection of charcuterie, a hard, non-melty cheese, smoked almonds, and a couple of apples. Suddenly you’re at a chichi lakeside restaurant with little to no effort. If you’re vegetarian, tortillas are hardier than bread and make sturdy wraps that you can fill with almond butter or hummus. Don’t forget that the grown-ups in the party need to stay fueled too!
MAKING YOUR OWN TREATS
If you want to make something to take along on your next trek, try this high-protein take on classic crispy rice cereal treats. Made with honey and peanut butter instead of marshmallows, these cereal bars are crispy, chewy and easy to make. (KEEN Kid review: "Mmmm, they’re better than the ones from the store.")
Honey Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Cereal Treats
PREP TIME 10 mins
COOK TIME 3 mins
• 8-inch or 9-inch square pan
• Small saucepan
• 5 cups crispy rice cereal
• 2/3 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar)
• 2/3 cup creamy unsalted peanut butter (or almond, cashew, or sunflower butter)
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Grease your pan with butter or baking spray.
2. Pour the cereal into a large mixing bowl.
3. Pour the honey into your saucepan and set over medium heat.
4. Bring to a rolling boil then allow it to boil for one minute.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and pinch of salt.
6. Pour over the cereal and stir until well combined.
7. Spread into the prepared pan and press down.
8. Set aside for at least 1 hour until the bars feel firm.
9. Cut into 16 squares.
10. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re looking for even more recipes, former KEEN ambassador Chelsea Yamase has an awesome kid-friendly recipe for energy balls over here.