I’ve experimented with lots of energy bar recipes for hiking and backpacking trips and I’m pretty sure these are the very best! They’re essentially a slightly-sweet granola bar made with good-for-you ingredients including rolled oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, banana and dried fruit. No sugar, no weird stuff.
This energy bar recipe combines everything you want in a hiking snack:
- Nutrient-dense with oats, nuts, seeds, and fruit
- High in slow burning calories to power you through long walks and big climbs
- No-sugar-added containing only natural sugars from fruit to keep your energy levels stable and avoid sugar crashes
- Easily packable: you can keep them stashed in your pack’s top pocket or hip pockets and they won’t crumble or fall apart
- Easy to make, requiring just one bowl and no special tools
- Long shelf-life: they’ll keep for at least three days so you can take them on multi-day treks
- Freezer friendly: They store well in the freezer so you can prep them in advance and keep them on hand for impromptu adventures
- Vegan and gluten-free: if you’re following a special diet, these energy bars are vegan, and gluten-free if made with gluten-free rolled oats.
- Versatile: use your favourite dried fruit and nuts, or try adding chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Having made variations of this recipe for numerous hikes and multi-day trips, I’ve observed that these energy bars really deliver. They provide sustained energy thanks to the inclusion of lots of slow-burn carbohydrates and fats and total lack of refined sugar. Also, they’re fancy-able! Appetite can do a funny things when you’re on the move, but I always seem to have a taste for these.
This recipe is adapted from Angela’s Feel Good Hearty Granola Bars recipe, which was adapted from Anjali’s Oat Snack Bars, which was adapted from Faith’s 4-Ingredient Banana Oat Bars. So many adaptations! Isn’t the internet a wonderful place?
The Best Homemade Energy Bars for Hiking and Backpacking
- 360 g mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 g porridge oats / quick cook oats
- 90 g dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cranberries, etc)
- 50 g walnuts (chopped)
- 75 g sunflower seeds
- 80 g pepita seeds
- 60 g sliced almonds
- 35 g flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish (approximately 9" x 13" / 23 x 33 cm) and line with a piece of parchment paper (with overhang so the bars are easier to remove.)
In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until fully combined. You’ll end up with a heavy thick mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish. With lightly wet hands, smooth out until even and uniform. Press down on the dough until compacted.
- Bake for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm and lightly golden along the edges.
- Place the dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a knife to loosen the ends and gently lift out. Place the slab on a cooling rack until completely cool.
Once cool, slice into bars. I like to use a pizza slicer as it easily cuts through the dried fruit and nuts. A bread knife also works well. Leftovers can be wrapped up and stored in the fridge for a week, or stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 weeks.
Approximate nutritional info (per bar, based on 14 large bars): 186 calories, 8.7 grams fat, 22 grams carbs, 4.7 grams fibre, 6 grams sugar, 6.6 grams protein.