For 22 years, I didn’t know people enjoyed being outside. In South Louisiana, it just meant sweating by 10 a.m. and swatting away mosquitoes. We didn’t have gorgeous mountain vistas or breathtaking, mirror-like lakes to inspire nature-filled jaunts. Heck, days would get so hot we’d just sit in front of the A/C. So, yeah, I wasn’t a hiker.
But then I moved to a city a stone’s throw away from the romantic Pocono mountains, and my roommate wanted to climb them every weekend. They were only day trips, but I slowly learned the basics of walking a trail: Wear layers, support your ankles, apply sunscreen (and bug spray!), uphill hikers have the right of way, always say hi, and, most importantly, pack snacks.
And the easiest snack of all? GORP. Traditionally just “good ol’ raisins and peanuts” (and M&Ms), it’s a tried-and-true combo to throw together before hitting the trail.
But according to authors Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson in their newest book, The Campout Cookbook, you can make GORP even greater. They outline how in seven simple steps:
1. Pack Plenty
Bring 1 cup trail mix per camper, plus an extra cup for that errant enthusiast.
2. Prevent Picking
Trail mix goes off the rails when there’s a lot of day-to-day filler (sad raisins) and just a little of that thing everyone wants (chocolate). Go big on the good stuff.
3. Scoop Like So
2 cups nuts, 1 cup crunch (seeds or grains or cereal), 1 cup dried fruit, 1 cup surprise, such as cacao nibs, candied ginger, or edible gold flakes.
4. Refresh Your Bulk-Bin Bounty
Toast nuts on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet in a 350º F oven for 8 to 15 minutes, tossing at least once, or in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until fragrant and one shade darker.
5. Keep the Mix Colorful
Select diverse items to create visual je ne sais quoi, and package prettily. We hike with our feet and eat with our eyes.
6. Trust the Trifecta
Sweet, salty, spicy.
7. Choose Your Moment
There’s a fine art to dishing out GORP just when your campers need it most. Nothing boosts morale like a well-timed M&M.
Rather follow a trail guide? Here are three of Hanel and Stevenson’s favorite flavor combinations:
Share your favorite hiking snack or dream trail in the comments below!