A staple of hikers and summer campers alike, trail mix, is a favorite snack everywhere from the football field to the office. And honestly, what’s not to like? A perfect blend of sweet, salty, savory, crunchy, and sometimes spicy, trail mix offers a healthy dose of energy in every delicious handful.
There are as many types, and flavors of trail mix as there are needs people have in their trail mix criteria – a bodybuilding construction worker probably has a very different set of requirements for a snack than someone who spends most of their day seated behind a computer.
Of course, that’s not even factoring in taste preferences – some people reach for a salty, savory snack when hunger pangs hit while others simply won’t even consider a mix that doesn’t include something sweet.
So, with such a diverse variety of mixes on the market, how do you decide which flavor and nutrition combination meet your needs? To make the process as straightforward as possible, we’ve rounded up our favorite trail mix blends in a single article – read on to see which winners deserve a spot in your pantry.
Emerald, Tropical Trail Mix
In no other situation is trail mix more suited than during hiking and backpacking. When you’re expending energy walking and climbing for hours at a time, you need a delicious way to refuel that will last without refrigeration for up to a few days. Emerald’s Tropical Trail Mix is a great way to get calories in without adding too much weight to your pack.
Made from crunchy glazed walnuts, roasted cashews, granola clusters, shredded coconut, banana chips, dried mango, and dried pineapple, this is practically rocket fuel for sustained activity.
With 130 calories and 17g of carbohydrates per ¼ cup serving, you’re getting lots of energy in a relatively small serving size so you can keep climbing without having to weigh your backpack down with heavier food. The dried fruits and coconut shavings keep calories up while keeping overall bulk down.
The bold tropical flavor also provides a welcome deviation from the traditional raisin-and-almond trail mix blends – the burst of flavor is a welcome treat while you’re on the trail.
Nature Valley, Oats and Dark Chocolate Protein Granola
After a heavy weight session at the gym or a long training run, it’s important for athletes to refuel tired bodies with muscle-repairing protein.
With 10g of protein per generous ½-cup serving, Nature Valley’s Oats and Dark Chocolate Protein Granola delivers a healthy dose of this nutrient, along with tasty chocolate and oats. In addition to heart-healthy oats and decadent dark chocolate, this oat and chocolate mix uses soy protein isolate for an extra boost of protein for a snack that will help repair exhausted muscles and keep you feeling full until your next meal.
It’s also a good serving size to calorie ratio – whereas most trail mix brands are around 200 calories for a ¼-cup serving, this oat and chocolate mix contains just 210 calories for a ½ cup portion – that’s double the amount of mix you’d get for the same calories.
This mix has a bold texture – instead of consisting of individual, small pieces; there are crunchy clusters, individual oats, and chocolate chips for different textural elements throughout the bag. It’s perfect for topping other foods, making into homemade protein bars, or eating by the palmful straight out of the bag.
Trader Joe’s, Just a Handful Trail Mix
While buying trail mix in a large container can be economical, every dieter knows that having an open two-pound container of trail mix can be a siren call. Though trail mix provides plenty of energy and protein, the calories can add up quickly, which can thwart weight loss efforts.
That’s why Trader Joe’s “Just a Handful” packs of their signature trek mix are the perfect mix of tasty snack and portion control. Each 1.5-ounce individually wrapped bag contains 210 calories and 7 grams of satiating protein.
The combination of almonds, dried cranberries, and cashews creates a sweet-and-salty snack that’s a perfect topping for oatmeal or eaten right out of the bag when the 2 pm munchies roll around. The single-serving portions mean no measuring cups, food scales, or estimation needed – you can eat the entire bag and be able to budget exactly that many calories into your daily intake.
Each box contains 10 individually wrapped 1.5-ounce portions, so you can tuck a few into your purse, keep some in the glove box of the car, stuff into a lunch bag, or keep in your drawer at your desk for convenient snacking.
GERBS, Crunchy Monkey Snack Mix
Are you the type that picks all the chocolate pieces out of trail mix?
GERBS Crunchy Monkey Snack Mix is perfect for people with an especially demanding sweet tooth, who want to use trail mix as a sweet snack or dessert. With crunchy banana chips and rich dark chocolate pieces mingling with roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, this snack mix is just as delicious out of your hand as sprinkled over oatmeal, cereal, and ice cream.
Despite its decadent status, GERBS is a sweet trail brand mix you can feel good about, as it contains no GMOs, trans fats, chemicals, preservatives, or artificial colors or sweeteners.
It’s also a perfect choice for those with food allergies or households with multiple dietary restrictions. Packaged on dedicated allergen-free equipment in Rhode Island, USA, this trail mix brand is safe for people with severe allergies to nuts, dairy, gluten, peanut, shellfish, egg, sesame, soy, and shellfish.
The blend uses sophisticated dark chocolate chunks for rich chocolate flavor without being cloyingly sweet, and they play beautifully with the sweetness of the banana chips. The mix is available in 2-pound bags and contains 150 calories per 1-ounce serving.
Archer Farms, Zen Party
The world of trail mix is often dominated by sweet berries and chocolate chunks. But sometimes, you want a change of pace from the norm – a savory, salty snack as opposed to oppressively sweet. Archer Farms’ Zen Party trail mix offers just that.
This blend mixes Asian-inspired ingredients like rice crackers, sesame sticks, and wasabi peas with trail mix staples like almonds and cashews. The result is a crunchy, savory snack with 140 calories and just 1g of sugar per ⅓ cup serving.
The lack of sugary add-ins means you get more bang for your calorie buck and can enjoy this mix even if you’re watching your sugar intake. This trail mix comes in a 21-ounce jar, which means you can take a serving at a time and store it in your pantry, office drawer, or gym locker without having to transfer it to another container.
Because it contains wheat ingredients, this trail mix blend is not suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Enjoy Life, Not Nuts! Seed and Fruit Mix
Nut allergies are some of the fastest growing intolerances out there, and reactions to nut-based ingredients can be fast and sometimes fatal. As a result, many schools and offices are going nut-free, which means even those who do not suffer from a nut allergy cannot bring nuts on the premises to protect those with allergies.
Luckily, going nut-free doesn’t mean you have to give up tempting trail mix!
Enjoy Life’s Not Nuts trail mixes are made from sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and add-ins like raisins, dried apples, and dark chocolate.
In addition to being entirely nut-free, the blends are also free of gluten, wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, and sesame. It’s a great snack to keep on hand in households where there are lots of dietary restrictions or allergies.
The seed and fruit mixes are available in two flavors: Mountain Mambo, which contains seeds, apples, raisins, and chocolate, and Beach Bash, a bright tropical blend consisting of sunflower seeds, dried pineapple, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and apricots. The dried fruits in the trail mixes are sulfite-free.
Each ¼ cup serving contains 130 calories.
One Snack, Many Needs
Just as each of us is different, the criteria we have for our snacks are also wildly different, whether we are looking for energy during a multi-day backpacking trip, or just need something to tide us over until dinner.
With so many flavors and nutritional profiles of trail mix, it seems as though there is a snack available on the market for every possible need and flavor preference combination.
Even for those with severe allergies to traditional trail mix ingredients, there are countless options out there – all you need to know is what you need to get from (and to avoid) in your mix. Give each one a try to keep things interesting, and to keep your body fueled with healthy, natural ingredients.