Sunday, November 17, 2013

Best snacks for a winter day hike – and why you should pig out on them

Mixing carbs and fats in snacks is a good idea for winter
hiking with kids.
Arguably one of the many fun aspects of a day hike in winter is that you can snack – and not just a little snack, like you might enjoy on a summer walk.

Your body uses more energy on a winter day hike than in summer. First, more exertion is required to move over snow, and secondly your body must generate heat to keep itself warm. Because of this, you can burn around 100 more calories an hour than you would during a summer hike on the same trail.

To keep up your energy, during winter you’ll want to mix carbs and fats in your snacks. If you stick only to carbs, you risk a sugar crash in which you’ll become sluggish and cold. Being tired on a trail is never any fun, but when your body struggles to stay warm during a winter hike, that’s problematic.

Some great snack carb/fat combos for a winter day hike include:
g Nuts and dried fruit – Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios provide the fats while dried fruit work as carbs.
g Nuts and chocolate pieces – The sweets give you carbs while the nuts again offer up the fats.
g Candy with cookie wafers – The frosted or chocolate portions provide the fats while the cookie wafer is the carb.

And don’t worry about eating larger portions of these snacks than you would during summer. You almost certainly won’t gain weight because the body actually needs the extra intake of food.

Finally, don’t forget water with those snacks. You’ll need extra water on a winter day hike not just to help to metabolize the nuts, fruits and candy but also to ward off dehydration. Hikers often don’t realize that dehydrating oneself in cold weather is just as easy to do as it is on an extremely hot day. Due to the freezing temperatures, moisture is locked up in the snow, and so the air is desert dry.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.