High-performance fuel doesn’t have to come at any great cost. Trader Joe’s is a treasure trove of adventure-ready snacks, especially those that aren’t heavily processed. We polled the Outside staff to find out which affordable goodies they bring deep into the backcountry.
This gluten-free Norwegian crispbread is my new Trader Joe’s fave. It’s packed with good fiber (like sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds and oat flakes) and tastes substantial, almost like a piece of toast. You can smear it with hummus or goat cheese or just eat them plain.
—Mary Turner, deputy editor
I would like to say that Trader Joe’s Soft and Juicy Mandarins are full of nutrients that fuel me all day. But mostly I’m drawn to them because dried oranges sound like an abomination yet are really the most delicious things I’ve ever stuffed into my pocket for a day of hiking or skiing. They maintain a refreshing element that’s usually sucked right out of things like raisins and dried apricots, so they’re great for hot days or dehydrated days on the ski hill when you forgot to pack water.
—Erin Berger, associate editor
I dry my own fruit at home, but when I run out, I turn to TJ’s. The pears are my favorite. Eat a dried pear and you’ll realize why pear juice is used as a sweetener. They’re a great physical and mental pick-me-up when I’m hiking or trail running. The hiking partners I share them with love them as well. Chopped up, dried pears make an amazing addition to my homemade breakfast granola.
—Kevin Meyers, HR manager
This winter, TJ’s chile-spiced mango was a staple in my pack. These dried mango slices are sweet and spicy and offer plenty of fast-burning carbs for long tours and hot laps. Plus, they’re good for sharing, which means they help me make friends on the ski lift and in the lodge.
—Abbie Barronian, assistant editor
This cold brew is like a little can of rocket fuel. It’s strong enough to take me all the way to the summit and light enough that I can pack it for overnighters—saving me from the campfire coffee I’ve yet to perfect.
—Kelsey Lindsey, assistant editor
TJ’s farm-raised smoked trout in a tin is the best and doesn’t weigh much. I’ll throw it on crackers or add it to whatever backpacking meal I’m creating for extra flavor.
—Josh Drinkard, IT manager
Trader Joe’s peanut butter–filled pretzels are a staple in my crag pack. They’re salty and offer fast energy, and the protein from the peanut butter helps kick-start recovery for sore muscles after a long day of climbing. At least that’s what I tell myself while I’m munching them by the fistful in the car on the way home.
—Ariella Gintzler, assistant editor
I am all about Trader Joe’s pretzel products, from peanut-filled to yogurt-covered pretzels. The salty, the sweet, and the crunch are just what I want during a snack break on a backpacking trip or when my stomach grumbles after an afternoon tour.
—Luke Whelan, associate editor
There’s nothing better than cracking open one of these tins of dolmas and diving into a sea of oil to fish out a grape leaf–wrapped delicacy. They travel great in a backpack for summit munching, but they’re equally tasty at camp when your late-night munchies hit. Be careful when disposing of the oil, though—I’ve ruined a shirt or two in the process.
—Emily Reed, assistant editor
Peruvian Inca Corn
Few salty snacks are as ruggedly durable as the humble Inca corn, and it’s easier on the teeth than regular corn nuts.
—Aleta Burchyski, associate managing editor