Today I’m featuring 8 of my favorite healthy hiker foods and trail supplements (and one book!) which enhance my energy, immunity, and performance in the backcountry. These products increase my enjoyment of my time outdoors and my intention with sharing is that they’ll do the same for you. Every one of these products are ones that I’ve used for hundreds of miles of backpacking trips and they’ve allowed me to stay strong and healthy on trail. Each makes a great gift for yourself or a health-minded outdoor enthusiast in your life.
After a few years of research and experimentation, collagen is now an essential component of my nutrition program, both on trail and at home. I have it every morning on trail as part of my daily trail smoothie. At home, I blend it into green smoothies, coffee, and even soups for added protein and joint support. In addition to using the powder, collagen bars are a great snack as well that I know are full of healthy protein. Collagen is the main structural protein in the various connective tissues in the body. Having enough collagen in the body is essential to good health, specifically stronger bones, pain-free joints, and a more secure gut lining.
Supplements from Fullscript
Supplements are how I take my nutrition–and health–in the backcountry to the next level. They’re one of the factors I credit with being able to maintain consistent 30+ mile days on the CDT with an autoimmune condition. Even with good nutrition, it’s hard to get everything my body needs on trail exclusively from food. This is particularly true since vitamin and mineral stores are depleted more quickly with heavy exercise. Supplements help me fill in the gaps. This post shares the supplements I carried on the CDT. The standard disclaimer applies: I’m not a doctor and this is not a prescription. It’s just my experience. To ensure that I’m getting professional-grade supplements that haven’t been tampered with and aren’t full of sawdust, I order through Fullscript.
By setting up a free account here, you can receive 15% off of any supplements you order from November 28-December 2. If you already have an account, you’ll automatically receive an email for the promotion!
I discovered LMNT electrolytes last winter and used them on all of my hikes this past summer, including the Great Basin Trail, and while guiding as part of Andrew Skurka’s team. I’m hooked. Many electrolyte powders are high in sugar and low in actual electrolytes. No so with LMNT. They contain a good amount of the key electrolytes I’m looking for: Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium, plus they’re sugar-free, gluten-free, and void of any other weird fillers. And the best part is their flavors are incredible. My favorites are chocolate salt and lemon habanero.
Access to fresh fruits and veggies is limited on trail, which is unfortunate because they’re powerhouses of antioxidants, which combat the exercise-induced oxidative damage caused by hiking for 10+ hours daily. To make up for micronutrient deficiencies on trail and support better energy and immunity, a serving of greens powder is another key ingredient in my daily trail smoothie. In addition to getting in more than a full serving of fruits and veggies, this product adds 1 billion+ CFU of probiotics to my trail diet to support better digestion and overall gut health.
This is another ingredient in my daily trail smoothie. Cordyceps increases oxygen uptake and has been shown to increase energy, endurance, and muscle recovery.
Protein is essential on trail for many reasons including minimizing muscle breakdown, supporting muscle synthesis during recovery, improving endurance, and enhancing glycogen storage in muscles, which is essential when you want to push your body. It also supports balanced blood sugar, and therefore, steady energy levels. I find it’s the most overlooked macronutrients in most hikers’ diets. When I found Wild Zora meat and veggie bars at Outdoor Retailer a few years ago, I was stoked. Not just a good source of protein, but with veggies included as well! Plus they’re paleo-friendly and offer a variety of tasty flavors. They’re a great alternative to the abundance of sweet bars out there.
Another good find at Outdoor Retailer. These granola-like clusters are the type of whole food snack I look for. They’re rich in antioxidants so they support good energy, immunity, and muscle recovery. They’re gluten free, dairy free, paleo and keto friendly. My favorites are the dark chocolate nut crunch and triple berry vanilla crunch.
I like these chips because 1) they’re salty and crunchy and 2) they contain only 3-4 real, recognizable ingredients rather than the 40+ ultra-processed ingredients found in other brands. They’re high calories per ounce, so they keep pack weight low, and they’re void of the inflammatory industrial seed oils found in most brands. These are something I tend to only indulge in on trail, but if I’m going to eat chips, this is what I look for.
The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort to Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self
After hearing the author, Michael Easter, interviewed on several podcasts and jiving with what he had to say, I recently decided to pick up his book and I’m so glad that I did. He weaves together personal stories, wisdom from traditional cultures, and science on why our modern lives often leave us tired and unfulfilled and how doing hard physical challenges in nature (e.g. backpacking) can refresh us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A lot of it hits home for me and if you’re into the outdoors, it might for you too.
I hope these products add to your time in the outdoors as much as they have to mine.
To a lifetime of healthy adventures,