One of the easiest camping foods to pack is trail mix, and when it comes to camping food…..simplicity is king. Especially if it has flavor, didn’t require any cooking or washing any dishes. DEAL, right?!?!
Camping food like trail mix is an excellent alternative to traditional camping foods because its versatile, cheap, lightweight & lasts forever. You can buy it pre-made or make it from scratch. It only costs a couple of bucks, and over the years my trail mix recipes have saved me thousands of dollars in camping food supplies and thousands of hours from washing dishes.
From tropical to downright nutty I have a trail mix recipe for every camping occasion, but most of my creations come from spur of the moment in-store cravings. Budgets beware when I’m hungry I just don’t care. Click the following text if all you want is my latest camping food trail mix recipe OR usual camping food trail mix ingredients.
When I was growing up camping was our families vacations. We didn’t stay in fancy hotels, all-inclusive resorts or even campgrounds for that matter. My mom would do the grocery shopping, and my dad would do the packing. The last item we always loaded was the cooler or coolers depending on the time of the year or length of trip. These camping chests would be loaded with burgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments and a few treats. Then topped with sodas & ice. Which was always my job. If my brother & I were fighting at the time his soda’s wouldn’t get covered in ice, and well shaken.
Healthy trail mix wasn’t stashed in our bags or secretly hiding under the car seats. We were a burger & brat camping family. That relied heavily on BBQ sauce to bring some excitement into our campfire food.
Trail Mix Hobby
Trail mix wasn’t even on our radar, but besides being a great alternative to your traditional campfire foods. Healthy homemade trail mix can turn into a hobby. From smoking or dehydrating your own meats & fruits to creating your own marinades & seasoning recipes. You can take it a step farther by candying your own candies and hiding your own little treasures under a candy-coated shell.
I haven’t taken it that far yet, but I am courting. So if you have any dehydrator tips leave them in the comments below. Specifically for off-grid or backcountry lifestyles like mine. Or if you just want to share stories of sibling torment those are always fun to read too.
What ingredients are in trail mix?
The most common ingredients in trail mix are nuts, dried fruit & chocolate. Walnuts, cashews & peanuts dominate most trail mix recipes. Cranberries, bananas & raisins are usually the dried fruit of choice. When it comes to chocolate………….. M & M’s take the crown. This is what I call a Walmart Trail Mix. Basic, affordable & functional. And you can make an incredibly tasty trail mix from big box stores like:
By buying pre-packaged trail mix flavors and mixing them all together you can create your own homemade trail mix concoction. Big box stores generally carry four trail mix recipes: Cajun, Mountain, Indulgent or Tropical.
Cajun Trail Mix
Maybe your the type of person that likes Tobasco sauce with your cereal, or cuts your own hair with a lighter. Well, you’re probably a Cajun trail mix fan then. This healthy camping food is usually a blend of sesame sticks, peanuts, almonds & buttered toffee nuts coated in a bold spicey salt. Other variations will also include chex, toasted corn & wasabi peas. Be careful though of those wasabi peas they pack a punch, but if you want to have some fun with your younger sibling tell em ……………a fat lie on how awesome they are.
Mountain Trail Mix
Maybe wasabi peas aren’t your thing but you like to kick bananas & stare down crickets while still craving a healthy camping food. Give the pioneer of store-bought trail mix a try then. The usual suspects include raisins, M & M’s, cashews & peanuts. It’s not going to win any awards for its exotic flavor profile, but it travels well and keeps your energy up. The mountain trail mix is a gateway to healthy camping foods, and your kids will love it. Well, they’ll probably just love the M & M’s but they’re better for you than playing with a flamethrower in a tent right?
Indulgent Trail Mix
Have you ever done any fan kicking? Or dancing in the rain? Not all trail mix is healthy for you, but neither is fan kicking or bacon & french fries. And almost every restaurant in America serves up both these ingredients. Sometimes you just want to indulge in your camping food, and the Indulgent Trail Mix will let you let you dance in the rain. I promise. Maybe
With a blend of white chocolate, dark chocolate & peanut butter drop chips its no mystery why this is a popular choice. Regrettably, this trail mix finishes off with golden raisins, cashews & peanuts though instead of ice cream & a Netflix Original series. Pick out the raisins –still goes great with ice cream, and makes a great non-cook campfire food treat that everyone will love. Seriously who doesn’t like ice cream?
Tropical Trail Mix
I have a friend that is padded room crazy, but loveable. Which is exactly is how I feel about tropical trail mix recipes. The healthiest trail mix is the mountain mix. Particularly if you pick out the M & M’s, but a lot of people think the tropical trail mix is the healthiest on the market because of the dried fruit. Unfortunately, because companies add a lot of sugar to their dried fruit the tropical mix is one of the unhealthiest trail mixes for you. Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of the flavor profile of tropical trail mix recipes, but it’s just not the healthiest camping food for you unless you make it yourself.
A traditional tropical mix recipe will include a lot of dried fruits like papaya, mango, pineapple, peaches, and apricots. As well as coconut shavings and your usual ingredients like golden raisins, cranberries, banana chips, honey roasted peanuts & toffee brittle. Tropical trail mix recipes are full of exotic flavor profiles and are the most unique homemade recipes.
Homemade Trail Mix
For years these four trail mix recipes found their way into my backpacks, cupboards, and tuppaware. I would buy various quantities of each one. Sometimes mixing them together and sometimes not. It wasn’t until an adventure in Utah went horribly wrong that I discovered the ultimate homemade trail mix method. I came across a climbing group that spends 6 months a year in the backcountry and the only camping food they pack is three 50 gallon drums of homemade trail mix to snack on. One they buy. One they make and the third is a combination of both.
Being the trail mix superfan that I am. I felt like a rock band groupie stumbling backstage by “accident.” wink wink. This group of dirtbags (what climbers like to call themselves) is what I like to call trail mix hobbyist. They dehydrate all their own fruits & meats. Wish I would have paid more attention to their dehydrator, but I guess we’ll just have to chalk that up to another travel regret. They also make all their own chocolates & granola bars.
Learning Homemade Trail Mix
I was lucky enough to get an invite when they went on their resupply field trip. Instead of buying pre-packaged trail mix recipes like I had been doing. They bought items in bulk. Five pounds of cashew. Twenty pounds of almonds. Three pounds of pumpkin seeds. Two pounds of this; Eight pounds of that. Bags & bags of oats, raisins, pistachios, coconut flakes, sesame sticks, pretzels, wasabi peas & so much more. The big surprise for me was hundreds of boxes of cereal. Cocoa puffs, chex, corn flakes, cheerio’s, Golden Grahams, cookie crisps & mini wheats. The check out lady probably thought this was our first time out of the bunker in the last 50 years. We almost needed to rent a box truck to get our trail mix supplies back to camp.
When we got back to camp the music was turned up. Bags were ripped open, and the creation party began. I’ve been to keg parties, bong parties even sushi-rolling parties in Montana, but I had never even heard of a trail mixing party. Twelve hours & 10 cases of beer later these dirtbags had restocked their camping food supply for another 6 months of climbing adventures. All the barrels were full. Everyone had their own bucket, basket or ziplock bag filled with their own unique trail mix recipe. It was like going to Colorado’s Microbrew Festival. Where you go from booth to booth trying each trailmasters’s mix, and voting on who’s was best.
That moment in time with strangers in the desert of Utah showed me how to pursue a passion I never even knew I had. Traveling alone with strangers will open your eyes like this. Might even unlock personal mysteries, but most of all travel will turn you into a sponge. Everywhere you go and everyone you meet will have you soaking up information, mannerisms & viewpoints. I tell you this because before meeting this group of climbers I made trail mix from the “big four” recipes that big box stores carry, and now I am on the hunt for a dehydrator. Did I mention that yet?
My “pre-travel” self would have imploded trying to figure out a solution to my situation. Where my “post-travel” self just rolled with the punches, and by doing so found a solution, entertainment, great friends & a hobby I can do anywhere in the world.
How do I make Camping food trail mix?
Those gravity-defying hippies opened my eyes to a way of life & new trail mix recipes. I don’t take it to the lengths they do yet, but if I find the right dehydrator …..never say never. Knowing that I could create my own healthy homemade trail mix with an exciting flavor profile combining both taste and texture was a game changer for me. So when its time to pack camping food for a backcountry trip I can now bring more then brauts & burgers to the table. These days my go-to camping food is trail mix for a number of reasons. It’s a great social snack around the campfire at the end of a long day of hiking. Has a long shelf life. Healthy, versatile & customizable. Plus, I would be willing to bet there are more trail mix recipes then there are websites in the world.
For me, I don’t have a “structured” method when creating my trail mix. I mean come on I don’t even have a structured life let alone measuring cups and spoons. But I did go to a friends house and try to create a “structured” trail mix recipe for you. You can find that further in the reading, but for me, I just throw it all together. If I bought too much like I did in the pictures above. I just wait a few days, and then add the remaining ingredients. In this case, I had no room for the cereal, but a few days later I did.
That’s why I love trail mix. You can add anything you want at any time to your recipe. My original recipe wasn’t my end recipe. Because not only did I add cereal a week later, but two weeks after that I also added chocolate truffles & teriyaki chicken jerky. Eventually, I added honey roasted peanuts & cocoa puffs too.
I don’t always do healthy or indulgent recipes. Sometimes I call an audible in the middle, end or even the beginning. Which is why I love trail mix because of its versatility. I have never had meatloaf and dried fruit trail mix before, but I am sure there is some drunk decision making still left in me. So never say never.
- Gluten Free Honey Nut Chex Mix(mainly for filler)
- Dried Mangos, Apricots, Strawberries & Cranberries
- Bulk Nuts salted/unsalted/honey roasted/chocolate covered (almonds give me a stomach ache but I still throw em in there)
- 1-2 Indulgent items (peanut butter filled pretzels, candy covered burnt peanuts or something else covered in chocolate)
- Wasabi Peas or something spicy
- Nature Valley Granola Bars (chocolate 1st choice) break em into bite-size also makes a great cereal)
- dried veggie chips
- 1-3 wild cards (triscuits/wheat thins, coconut flakes, toffee brittle, beef jerky, popcorn, dried green beans, dried peas, etc etc)
Is Trail Mix Healthy?
Trail mix ingredients have earned a reputation of being a healthy nutritious camping food designed to fuel your body and give you the energy you need to be physically active, and while most trail mix ingredients live up to this reputation some ingredients do nothing more than drive up the calorie count of this camping food. The answer to “Is trail mix healthy?” Is most likely no. It has nuts and fruit, two major ingredients that do technically belong under the healthy camping foods umbrella, but store-bought trail mix recipes bring along saturated fats, artificial flavors, and added sugars. So finding a trail mix recipe in stores with health benefits and no unhealthy benefits might be a bit frustrating.
But if your playing chess with a unicorn, the nutritional value of trail mix is probably the least of your concerns. Peanuts, raisins & dried fruit carry a lot of nutrients and protein, but they also provide a lot of calories and sugar. If your a healthy person trail mix is healthy for you, but then again if you are an active person what isn’t healthy for you? If trail mix was good for weight loss corporate America & affiliate marketers would be all over this cash cow camping food. If trail mix was heart healthy & lowered cholesterol TV ads would be saturated with products.
The ingredients in this camping food are good for you, but the way the ingredients are manufactured is what triggers the unhealthy alarms. Serving size also contributes to this equation. Something I believe I am immune too (not really but I can dream right) because when I break out this camping food its generally an hour later before I pack it back away.
How Do You Ensure A Healthy Camping Food Trail Mix Recipe?
If done right a trail mix recipe can be nutritious & healthy. Alternatively, if you buy from stores to make this camping food healthy and nutritious you will need to avoid the unhealthy ingredients. It takes a little more effort and a few more dollars, but if you’re after healthy camping food all it takes is awareness & effort. Farmers markets are great for finding raw healthy trail mix ingredients. Particularly, vegetables and fruit you can dry your self.
Healthy Trail Mix Recipe
The homemade trail mix version you can tweak and clicking the links below will take you to the exact ingredients I use:
- 2 Cups Cheerios
- 2 Cups Granola (crumbles or bars)
- 1 1/2 cups raw nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts etc..)
- 1 cup raw seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc..)
- 1 cup unsweetened, unsulphured dried fruit (apricots, mangos, papayas, cherries, cranberries, raisins etc..)
- Fun stuff (amounts vary) (beef jerky, chopped dark chocolate, wheat thins, triscuits, rice cakes, dried strawberries, popcorn, pretzels etc..)
- Spice i.e. 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
**Some of these items will require a Prime Membership to get lower prices.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup chocolate granola
- 1 bag of rice cakes
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup of raw coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried strawberries
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured apricots
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured mangos
- 1 bag of ramen noodles( i don’t use the salt)
- 1 box of gluten free honey chex cereal
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon,
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of garlic
**NOTES** I toast the pecans and cashews for 10 minutes at 350 degrees before adding to the rest of the ingredients. I also crumble up the rice cakes & granola bars. Sometimes I will put the granola bars in a separate container for easy cereal making access.**
Is Trail Mix Good For Weight Loss?
I get this question all the time. I want to say yes, but then I look down at a bowl filled with chocolate, candies & gas station store bought dried fruit. Trail mix is associated with outdoor adventurous activities. Which makes people assume this camping food is healthy and good for weight loss.
Unfortunately, this camping food isn’t focused on weight loss. Mainly because nuts are pretty high in calorie count. Unless you are engaged in a physical activity these calories will be stored and turned into heart-healthy fats by the body. This transforms this so-called “healthy” snack into a high-calorie dessert. A small handful can easily contain 300+ calories. Not what you want if weight loss is your goal.
Speeding up your metabolism and energizing your body are two factors everyone needs when trying to lose weight. Proper portion size and combing trail mix with another appropriate diet will help you lose weight fast. I wish I could tell you this is the magic bullet where you could eat as much as you want, and the pounds would start to shed quicker then it began. But weight loss requires activity, and no matter how healthy or unhealthy this camping food may be it is not a substitute for activity.
Is Eating Trail Mix Bad For You?
Eating trail mix as your camping food for 6 months straight is most likely extremely bad for you. Eating this camping food for 6 months straight while climbing mountain faces for 10 hours a day is probably necessary. Trail mix is high in fats, sugars & calories.
Three things active people need to sustain their energy. Eating trail mix isn’t bad for you it’s just not good for you if you’re not active. Trail mix is a camping food. Nothing more nothing less. Eat it in moderation and you will be just fine. Unless your allergic to nuts then I suggest you delete everything you learned from this post. In fact, why are you reading this post? Don’t drink almond milk either.
Trail Mix Stole My Heart
I love trail mix. I love creating it, and the people I go camping with love inviting me because they know I am bringing trail mix as my camping food. Its a great social snack around the campfire at night. It’s the perfect camping food because of its lightweight. Travels well and keeps my energy up. Does that mean I am going to fill my cupboards full of this camping food?
Well, probably, but I also camp 350 days a year. Ski 100+ days a year. Kitesurf ~ well I have the gear but have only used it once. My lifestyle might be different than yours, but trail mix is wonderful. Especially for people like me that hate doing the dishes. Or spending an hour cooking for five when I only have one. I love to snack all day every day. Specifically, if it doesn’t require a trip to the store or prepping. Trail mix may not be good for you in large doses, but what it is? I’ve tried to give you as much knowledge & background information as I can about trail mix, but at the end of the day the only thing I can guarantee you is this:
Trail Mix Is Highly Compatible With My LIifestyle & you ladies out there will want to read this before buying your next back country pack.
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