You finally reach that beautiful mountain overlook where you plan to stop for a lunch break.
Your stomach grumbles and you open your bag to pull out the food that you packed for yourself.
And there it is… DUH DUH DUHHH! The dreaded turkey sandwich.
There’s nothing worse than waiting all day for a meal and then remembering that you didn’t even pack a good lunch!
But once you’ve read through this epic post of day hike lunch ideas, those boring sandwich days are OVER!
Continue reading to help revamp your hiking lunch bag.
The Best Day Hike Lunch Ideas
Here are 23 of the best lunches for your hike to keep you fueled, full, and happy (not hangry!) while out on the trail.
1. Tuna Pasta Salad
One of our favorite easy hiking lunches is a tuna pasta salad.
This is an extremely easy and tasty meal that you can prepare beforehand and simply pull out when it’s time for lunch on the trail.
There are a few different ways you can go about making these.
For the easiest way, grab a pre-made box of pasta such as a Suddenly Salad, and combine it with a can of tuna and a can of peas.
This way requires minimal effort because it already has a seasoning packet.
The other option includes creating your own with a box of noodles, onion, tuna, peas, mayo, and seasonings.
Just mix all of the ingredients together, throw it in a container, and you’re set to go!
This is a great meal with both carbs and protein, making it great for hiking.
2. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are an easy hiking lunch idea that is easily customizable and will cure that sweet tooth.
You’re able to prepare this meal the night before your hike and just grab it out of the fridge before you head out.
Just mix together old-fashioned oats with a little yogurt, some milk, and a sweetener such as honey. Then top it with whatever you want!
They’re also able to be eaten cold, so there’s no need for heating up.
Oats are a super filling food with many health benefits. Plus, you’re able to add many toppings and add-ins to make it even more nutritious!
Many people make overnight oats in a Mason Jar, but since they tend to be pretty heavy, I would opt for a container like this one for hiking.
3. Meal Bars
For a simple and no-prep meal on the trail, simply grab a meal bar and toss it in your bag.
There have been multiple times when I haven’t felt like making lunch and just had a bunch of snacks instead!
Choosing a few different snacks such as crackers or jerky to pair with a meal bar makes for a great meal.
For these ‘snack meals,’ as I like to call them, a container like this one works awesome to keep all of your food in one place.
4. Turkey and Cheese Pinwheels
Pinwheels are a delicious spinoff of a sandwich that are easy to make, eat, and pack up for a hike.
They’re filling and different enough from a classic sandwich that it’ll feel like you’re eating a whole new meal!
Paired with some crackers and an apple, they make for the perfect day hike lunch.
Simply take any flavor wrap or tortilla that you like, and spread a sauce such as cream cheese or mayo on it.
I personally like a spinach wrap and mixing a ranch seasoning packet in with the cream cheese to give it more flavor.
Then top it with chopped-up deli meat and shredded cheese as well as other things like lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded carrots.
You can customize them by adding extra toppings and changing the variety of meats and cheeses that you use.
They provide protein while you’re on the trail and aren’t messy at all, which is a huge plus in my book!
5. Black Bean Taco Salad
You may not think of taco salads as a trail food, but they’re a good protein-filled option that will keep you full for hours.
Simply prepare the meal the night before, pack it up, and assemble just a few things at lunchtime.
You can add anything you like to a taco salad, but this one specifically has no meat, but black beans with taco seasoning instead!
This is nice because they’re able to be kept out of the refrigerator for longer, but still give you some good protein.
Then just add toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and olives.
It’s a good idea to keep add-ins like sour cream and salsa separate until lunch, but everything else can be prepared at home.
These small containers are perfect for storing those sauces until it’s time to eat!
I prefer to keep it pretty basic when I’m hiking, but if you like, you can add extras such as avocado.
6. Broccoli Salad
This day hike lunch idea is a different take on a cold salad, but instead of noodles, is loaded with fresh broccoli.
If you love an easy, refreshing, no-cook meal, then this is definitely the perfect one for you.
Gather up some chopped broccoli and red onion, craisins, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and sunflower seeds and toss them together.
Then, top with a dressing made of mayo, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper for a yummy salad.
This one is best for shorter hikes because you’ll want to keep it semi-cold, but it’s still a great option!
7. Classic PB & J
I know, I know. I said no more boring sandwiches.
But who could ever forget about a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
It’s one of the easiest and quickest lunches to make for hiking, plus, you can jazz it up a bit by adding new toppings.
If you prefer something besides peanut butter, you can also use any other nut butter such as almond or sun butter.
To make this meal idea more fun, customize it by adding things like sliced banana, Nutella, and marshmallow fluff.
My favorite is creamy peanut butter with this Oregon Growers raspberry jelly.
8. Italian Pasta Salad
Here’s another cold pasta salad that is easy to prepare and delicious to eat when you’re ready for lunch on the trail.
Especially in the summertime, this salad will be perfect for hot hikes where you need something to cool off with.
It’s one of my favorites because it’s just so easy and fast to make.
Simply cook some noodles (I like tri-color rotini) and mix them with your favorite veggies, pepperoni, and shredded parmesan.
Then top it with however much zesty Italian dressing as you like, and throw it in a container for the trail!
You can also customize this one by adding in literally whatever kind of vegetables, meats, and cheeses you like.
There are many different types of pasta salads that you can make, but this one is my personal favorite.
9. Vegan Greek Pita
This meal is great for vegans, vegetarians, or just anyone who wants to try a unique and delicious sandwich variety on their hike.
Sandwiches are great because they provide good nutrition and are super easy to eat, but don’t really want a classic pb&j all the time.
This Greek pita has plenty of veggies and carbs from the pita to provide you with energy while out on the trail.
It’s easy to store in a container and then assemble once you arrive at your lunch destination.
There are a few different ways you can make these, but I really like this recipe from Vanilla and Bean.
It’s a delicious pita stuffed with veggies like spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes as well as feta cheese, and a yummy sauce that you can find in the recipe.
I do change it up a little bit because I’m not a fan of some of the veggies and sometimes use a store-bought tzatziki sauce.
I recommend storing your salad in a separate container from your pita and then assembling it once you’re ready to eat.
10. Bagel with Cream Cheese
Another light meal that requires almost no preparation and is just a change-up from the classic sandwich is a bagel with cream cheese.
You can choose between a variety of bagels like blueberry, plain, everything, and onion.
Then there are other cream cheeses such as wildberry, garden veggie, and plain to choose from.
There isn’t much protein in this meal, so I would recommend pairing it with something such as a couple of hard-boiled eggs and trail mix.
Or, if you crave a sandwich but aren’t feeling the classic bread, use a bagel and top with your traditional sandwich toppings (see above!).
Some people also like adding lox, which is a thin salmon, to their bagels.
11. Revamped Ham and Cheese
Another classic trail lunch idea is a ham and cheese sandwich, although it isn’t the most fun.
So instead of it being plain, add fun toppings like lettuce, tomato, bacon, and different varieties of meats and cheeses.
I like to call it the revamped ham and cheese.
To prevent your bread from getting soggy, avoid making the sandwich the night before, and instead do it the morning on your hike.
12. Crackers and Cheese
Another one of my most commonly eaten hiking foods is crackers with block cheese.
It’s so easy to prepare, easy and quick to eat, and keeps me full until my next snack or meal.
Another simple way to make this is with snack-size cheeses, such as the Tillamook ones above. These are so good and require no prep!
Since this tends to be more of a ‘snack-like’ lunch, I usually will pair it with a granola bar and an apple.
If you like, you can also add something such as summer sausage to your crackers and cheese to make it more filling.
13. Soup in a Thermos
Sometimes, you just want a warm meal rather than a cold sandwich when it’s time to rest and enjoy lunch on the trail.
Cooking up a soup the night before (or bringing leftovers) and storing it in a thermos is the perfect solution to this.
This Thermos is perfect for packing in a hiking bag because it keeps your food hot for up to 12 hours and comes with a foldable spoon.
A few soup ideas include chicken noodle, chili, sausage tortellini, and creamy vegetable.
Simply heat up your soup in the morning, and make it warmer than you would typically eat it to help it stay warm.
Pour it into your Thermos, and you’ve got yourself a hearty, delicious, and easy hiking meal idea for cold weather.
14. Power Balls
For the ultimate ‘snack meal’ on this list of day hike lunch ideas, whip up some power balls to bring with you on your adventure.
These are one of my all-time favorite snacks, breakfasts, and additions to lunches.
They’re easy to make, filled with healthy ingredients, and delicious to eat.
The base for these power balls is oats, peanut butter, and honey, and then you can add so many yummy add-ins.
From coconut to chocolate chips to dried fruit, you can flavor them with anything you want!
Paired with other snacks such as a cheese stick or crackers, and this is the perfect meal.
15. Pre-Packaged Salads
I usually don’t like to buy pre-packaged salads at the grocery store because I can make a better one at home.
But they tend to make a really easy and fast no-cook hiking lunch ideas to bring on the trail.
Most grocery stores have a variety of bagged salads like Caesar, Asian, garden, Southwest, and more.
These are really simple because they already have all of the ingredients portioned out and ready to mix.
If you prefer to make your own salad, you can do that too by just adding any toppings to some chopped lettuce or romaine.
I would recommend keeping the dressing on the side until it’s time to eat to avoid a soggy salad.
16. Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt parfaits for a super easy and yummy lightweight lunch while out hiking.
You can also customize these by choosing the type of yogurt, fruit, and other toppings that you add.
I’m a simple girl when it comes to yogurt parfaits and I like to use vanilla Greek yogurt with strawberries and this Love Crunch granola.
(You HAVE to try this granola. It is SO GOOD!)
When I pack this for a meal, I typically add the yogurt and fruit into a container and keep the granola separate so it doesn’t get soggy.
I like to use a cold bag like this one to put my yogurt container in, because it’s freezable and will keep the yogurt cold!
17. Hummus and Veggie Sandwich
This hummus and cucumber sandwich is a great vegetarian sandwich idea that is easy and delicious.
Start with a few slices of bread and layer it high with fresh veggies and a hummus spread.
You can even add cheese or deli meat if you aren’t eating a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Pair this with some snacks such as carrots or trail mix for a full meal.
The only downside with this meal is that if you let it sit for too long, the hummus can cause the bread to get soggy.
To prevent this, you could just keep the hummus in a separate container and then spread it on when it’s time for lunch.
This recipe from Cooking Classy is a great one to follow. Otherwise, do your own thing and create your own delicious sandwich!
18. Club Wrap
Wraps are one of the best lunches for hiking because they’re different enough from a sandwich but still provide that same energy boost.
You can make them any way that you want, and they tend to get less soggy than a piece of bread.
Plus, they’re an easy no-cook lunch!
I love making mine with a spinach wrap, deli turkey, and some cheese.
Then I stuff it full with lettuce, diced tomatoes, and bacon bits.
I always bring a small container of mayo to spread on it at lunch or dip it in, because this prevents it from getting soggy.
19. Leftover Pizza
I know not everyone likes cold pizza, but I actually don’t mind it and think that it makes for an easy meal during a hike.
Just bake your favorite frozen pizza, throw a few slices into a container and you’re ready to go!
Or, make homemade pizzas like we do! We use naan bread and throw toppings like shredded chicken, cheese, tomatoes, and onions on it.
This is one of the best options because you can make it for dinner and get two meals for one!
20. Chicken Salad with Crackers
Chicken salad with crackers is an easy and filling meal to take with you on a hike.
You can make your own by using shredded chicken, onion, celery, and a little bit of mayo and dijon mustard.
Some people like adding other things such as craisins or quartered grapes to spice it up a bit.
To make it even easier, you can purchase a pre-made chicken or tuna salad at the grocery store.
Scoop with salad up with your favorite crackers, and you’re set for lunch!
21. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Here’s another yummy pasta salad recipe that makes for a great day hike lunch idea.
I just can’t get enough cold pasta salads on hikes because they’re so easy to pull out and eat, plus they taste delicious, especially when it’s hot.
This one has a Mediterranean twist to it.
Simply mix your favorite noodles, olives, spinach, onion, grape tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and a Greek salad dressing.
You can either buy the dressing at the store or make your own using a recipe such as this one from Love and Lemons.
It’s really simple and made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and some seasonings.
Believe it or not, a BLT can be another good option for your hiking lunch.
With carbs, veggies, and protein, it’s a yummy, filling choice to keep your energy high.
Plus, they’re super easy to make and in my opinion, taste way better than your classic hiking sandwich.
To prevent the bread from getting soggy, just spread the mayo on once you stop for lunch.
23. Apples and Peanut Butter
This simple meal idea is a bit on the lighter side, but when paired with other snacks, it’s filling and delicious.
It’s another of my favorites because I love super easy snack-like lunches when on the trail.
I personally like Honeycrisp apples dipped in creamy peanut butter, but you can go for whatever your favorites are!
You can even go for something else like almond butter if you prefer that.
I also like to dip my apple in granola to make it more filling and add a crunch.
You can even dip the peanut butter in chocolate chips if you’re feeling a little sweet!
Hiking Snack Ideas
There are a lot of really great hiking snacks out there that are healthy and easy to grab.
It’s important to keep a variety of snacks readily available so you can reach for them anytime you get hungry.
Here are a few ideas to snack on between meals and keep that energy up.
- Protein bars
- Trail mix or nuts (pistachios are my favorites!)
- Banana chips
- Apples or oranges
- Tuna packets
- Fruit snacks (just for fun 😊)
Hiking Breakfast Ideas
Heading out on the trail early and also needing some sort of breakfast to pack along?
I’ve got a couple of delicious ideas for you that will keep you energized until it’s time to pull out whatever you brought for lunch.
These all can be made beforehand and just brought along for your hike!
What Kind of Food Should I Pack for Hiking?
You should choose foods that are lightweight, easily portable, and that you actually enjoy.
The foods you eat should have a mix of carbohydrates and protein to ensure that you stay energized and are eating nutritious foods.
Try to avoid super sugary foods that will bog you down. Bring healthy snacks and meals that will keep you full for a long time.
When it’s hot out, pack extra salty snacks as this will help balance out your salts from drinking extra water.
I also can’t express how important it is to pack foods that you actually like.
I know that it can be tempting to pack all of those fancy backpacking and hiking meals that you see inside REI.
But, if you’re never tried them or don’t like them, you’ll find yourself hungry on the trail, which isn’t good for anyone.
How Much Food Should I Pack for a Day Hike?
How much food you choose to pack for a day hike will depend entirely on how long of a hike it is and your eating tendencies.
Backpackers typically plan to bring around 2 pounds of food per person, per day, but for a day hike, you may not need that much.
If you’ll be out at a typical mealtime, bring a nutritious meal to fill you up.
Then, pack 3-4 snacks to have on hand. These should also be nutritious and filling.
If you’re going to be out for even longer, you may need 2 meals or more snacks.
I always bring more food than I think I’m going to need, in case of emergencies and also to just have plenty of choices.
How to Pack Your Lunch for a Day Hike
I’ve been there. Opened my bag to grab my sandwich and it was crushed.
So I’ll never use a Ziploc bag again for my meals. (They’re bad for the Earth anyway!)
Below, you’ll find a few of my favorite storage solutions to avoid having those crushed meals when you’re ready to eat.
Main Dish Storage: My favorites are these divided collapsible containers because I can store multiple foods in it and collapse them after lunch to save space.
Dip/Sauce Storage: These small containers are leakproof and are perfect for storing your sauce or dips until it’s time to eat.
Hot Lunch Storage: For soups or warm pasta, I store them in a tight, insulated Thermos to keep them warm all day.
Snack Storage: If you want to use a bag for your snacks, choose a reusable set like these so you aren’t using single-use plastics.
Ice Packs: If you won’t be eating your food for a while, then you might want a bendable ice pack like this one to keep it cold.
Cold Bags: These are bags that you freeze that keep your food cold all day. I really like this one because it’s pretty small.
Read This Next –> Packing for a Day Hike: 21 Top Essentials to Bring
FAQs: Hiking Meals
What is the Best Hiking Lunch for Hot Weather?
When it’s hot outside, it can be easy to forget about eating all day long.
I always pack something refreshing such as a cold salad for those hot weather hikes.
My favorite is an Italian pasta salad.
I also tend to go for snack meals such as meal bars, fruit, nuts, and jerky since they’re easier to eat.
What is the Best Hiking Lunch for Cold Weather?
When it’s really cold outside, I opt for a warm soup for my hiking lunch idea.
I typically store the soup in a Thermos to make sure that it stays warm until I’m ready to eat.
I also will typically carry a warm drink like herbal tea to help keep me warm.
What Food Should I Not Eat While Hiking?
Foods that should be avoided while hiking are heavy, greasy, sugary foods.
These will bog you down and just won’t provide you with the energy that you need to hike.
How Much Water Do I Need For Hiking?
It’s recommended to have 1/2 liter of water for every hour of hiking.
Conclusion: Day Hike Lunch Ideas
When it comes to packing a lunch for hiking, there’s no need to think that the only option is a boring sandwich.
There are so many options for day hike lunch ideas that are delicious, easy, and fun and will fill you right up.
So why stick with that boring ham and cheese or pb&j when you could have pasta, soup, or pizza?!
Get creative and try out one of these meals for your next adventure!