By Aunty Rata
Kia ora fellow trampers
Snacks are very important on tramps and when engaging in other outdoor activities where shops are not close at hand. Nobody gets very far on an empty stomach. There are a few obvious things to take into account when choosing tramping snacks. Snacks need to be tasty, nutritious, light, durable, robust and good value for money. These attributes are so obvious I don’t think they require further explanation. However, there are a few additional considerations when selecting your tramping snacks.
Tailor the snack to your trip
Ask yourself what grade is the trip? On a hard trip you may not get many opportunities to stop but you want to keep your energy levels up. You will need snacks that are easy and quick to eat that provide an instant energy hit. I’m thinking lollies and carbo gels and yes I know, some of you do not consider these to be valid food groups. On easier trips you can possibly afford to indulge in elaborate, messy, heavy stuff of dubious calorific benefit – cucumber sandwiches and oranges if you wish, a lunchtime pint, no wait the club has a no alcohol policy. On kayaking trips weight will not be a big issue but you may want snacks that still taste good after a quick dip in salt water or being smeared with sand and sunscreen. What is the weather forecast? If there is a heavy rain warning you want snacks you can eat on the run. I’m thinking something like the Healy Double Down (two slabs of cheese with a slice of salami in the middle). If gale force northerlies are forecast lollies in paper wrappings are just asking for trouble as you chase after the rubbish heading south over the hills. Likewise there is a risk your lightweight scroggin will end up down the front of your fleece, in your hair or in the face of the person next to you rather than in your mouth. Heading out in a heat wave? Not going to the Tararuas then. Snacks with a high moisture content such as tins of tuna will be welcome. On the other hand your chocolate will likely melt and any yoghurt or salad will go off, and yes punters do take yoghurt and salad on trips.
Trial and error
Snacks are very personal. Just because your buddy likes tinned oysters doesn’t mean you will. By all means take note of other people’s snacks and experiment with them but it is unwise to try a new snack for the first time on a long trip without some back up nourishment. Don’t forget to change your snacks from time to time otherwise you will get sick of them. Boredom is not good because this will lead to you pinching other people’s snacks or under eating. Both outcomes could make you unpopular or slow and tired which will have the same result. You want to reach your destination in daylight. Just as you can be a gear freak you can be a snack food freak. New snack foods are constantly coming onto the market giving you different stuff to try out.
Aunty Rata has three favourite snacks: unsalted, unroasted mixed nuts, Em’s Power Bars and diant jelly beans. Nuts fill you up and provide protein, fat and nutrients. Em’s Power Bars provide slow release low GI carbs and a bit of chocolate. I’m surprised giant JBs are legal. They are colourful, shapely, taste delicious, lift the spirits, ignite the soul and provide an awesome, if fleeting, sugar high.
Variety is the spice of life
See my comment about boredom above. Do not rely on sweet snacks. Okay you may have a sweet tooth but your body will start to crave savoury, salty stuff after a bit of a workout and if you don’t have the appropriate snacks you risk getting cramp or just under eating because you can’t face any more sugar. Salty nuts or pretzels are a good option as is chomping down on some of the cheese and crackers you brought for lunch. If you tramp with the same people on a regular basis you may be familiar with their snack preferences and you can mix and match accordingly. This is a subtle difference between trading snacks and bringing snacks you don’t like.
You can have the most amazing snacks but if they are not within easy reach you may as well have left them at home. Snacks need to fit into and be stored in, shorts pockets or the top pocket of your pack. Unless you have exceptional taste in snacks and lots of them to share, you don’t want to be the one keeping the rest of your party waiting while you empty out the entire contents of your pack looking for your snacks.
It is best to have more snacks than you think you will need just in case you are delayed or need to bribe the trip leader but unless you are a really annoying punter there is no need to go overboard. If you do not take a packed lunch and rely totally on snacks for your nutrition during the day then you will need more snacks than the people who produce sandwiches, last night’s left overs or a thermos of soup for lunch.
Finally what about a new game? Why don’t you guys send in your tramping related questions to the newsletter editor and I’ll answer them. Dream up a cool pseudonym. Now possibly you’re thinking Aunty Rata is not an expert on all things tramping. Well, we will have to see won’t we? Send your questions to and Sarah can forward them on to me.