What’s in your pack?

Much of the snow has melted on the trails in Tahoe, the woolly mule’s ears are in full bloom and summer is upon us. Whether you take a small hike, a full-day hike or a long bike ride, it’s important to make sure you have water and snacks in your pack. Some of us are more obsessed than others when it comes to food. There are those partial to packing nutritional sustenance and those who choose more unique hiking fare.


Water is essential, and it’s the bulk of weight in the backpack. The length of your adventure may determine what snacks or food you pack. Personally, when I hike, I love peanut butter and jelly on whole grain toast. Berry jams are my fav. There’s nothing like a PB&J after a long hike to the top of a summit. Toasting, the key to this sando, helps to keep it from getting crushed in the pack.

“There’s nothing like a PB&J after a long hike to the top of a summit.”

In addition, trail mix with raw nuts and dried fruit, especially, dried mangoes, also goes with me. Apples, although heavy, often make it into my pack, as do a few electrolyte packets. Nuun tablets are my new favorite way to carry electrolytes and are available at New Moon. My homemade trail bars (the recipe is at the end of this article) will also make the list this summer.

I asked a few colleagues and local residents what their favorite things to bring are when they hike and bike. Katherine Hill, publisher of Tahoe Weekly, is an avid hiker and vegetarian. She is a fan of Shot Bloks (good for a quick boast when her low blood sugar kicks in), protein bars, dried fruit and trail mix. Her homemade trail mix varies according to what she has on hand in her pantry but always has dried apricots, golden raisins, an ever-changing assortment of nuts and seeds, and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Her sandwich of choice is toasted wheat with peanut butter, honey and cheddar cheese (she didn’t like jelly as a kid, so her mom subbed out cheese and it stuck.)

Tahoe Weekly associate editor and marketing director for Coalition Snow, Jenn Sheridan, is a fan of salami and cheese on a bagel or in a wrap. She is not a fan of gels, goos or bars. She opts for chocolate-covered almonds and peanut M&M’s.

Karen Terrey of Tangled Roots Writing spends a good portion of her summer hiking and biking around Tahoe. She always eats before a bike ride to get nutrition into the body. Lärabars, Clif Bars — especially Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip — and Odwalla Bars can be found in her pack. “They are good for both hiking and long bike rides,” she says. Hard cheddar cheese, salami and apples are her foods of choice. “I rarely hike with crackers or bread,” says Terrey, who prefers her trail mix with M&M’s. “Dried apricots pack well and dark chocolate is a must.”

For Terrey protein and high-fat foods are important on a hike. If she does make sandwiches, she uses bagels or tortillas, which hold their shape in the pack. She chooses almond or sunflower butters, which, for her, are easier to digest than other nut butters.

Michelle Shea of Adventure Dining Guide carries jerky, hummus, peppers and pita. “It’s super basic, but I can break it up and eat it at several stops, or make pitas and eat the whole thing for lunch,” she explains.

Abby Polus of Truckee hikes with fresh veggies and Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars in her pack. “It’s like trail mix in a bar,” she says. Granola bars and Lärabars are her favorite trail bars. Polus also carries jerky on trips, which is easy, lightweight and packed with protein.

Jeff Brunings, hiker, climber and backpacker, is all about simplicity in his pack.

“I always pack performance chews for those unexpected caloric crashes, an emergency blanket, nuts, dried fruit and a few protein bars. For long hikes, I bring a water purifier, especially if there’s a water supply. It’s less weight to bring a water purifier, especially if you plan on drinking two quarts or more,” he explains. “If I bring food, it’s a bagel with cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto.”


Nut and Seed Trail Bar
From the Kitchen of Priya Hutner | The Seasoned Sage

Makes approximately 1 dozen bars

1 C raw almonds, roughly chopped
½ C walnuts
½ C raw pumpkin seeds
½ C raw sunflower seeds
¼ C sesame seed
1 C mixed dried fruit
¼ C coconut oil
¼ C maple syrup
¼ C honey
1 t vanilla extract
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Set aside.

Melt coconut oil. Remove from stove and mix in honey and maple syrup. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.

Line an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with parchment paper one-half inch up the sides of pan and pour ingredients into the pan. Spread evenly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate for 12 minutes. Cut into bars.