Trail Smoothies Are Here to Shake Up Your Backpacking Breakfast

These vanilla almond, strawberry, and mocha cocoa peanut butter smoothies are a tasty, lightweight option for breakfast on the trail—and making them is dead easy.

Photo: Andrew Bydlon

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Do the shakes pictured above look like trail food? We were skeptical, too, until expert trail chef Jennifer Bowen, showed us how easy they are to make. (Scroll down for a detailed recipe.)

Bowen’s go-to is egg white powder, which adds flavorless and digestible protein and helps create a fluffy texture. Look for it in the baking aisle or at health food stores (sometimes called “egg white protein”). Don’t eat eggs? Rice protein powder can also work. Small packets of nut butters are ideal for adding essential calories and flavor-boosting fat.

There’s no need to bring fresh fruit: Freeze-dried fruit packs big nutrition and flavor into a nearly weightless, trail-friendly format. Bowen especially likes strawberry and banana, but you could try raspberry, blueberry, apple…your imagination is the limit. Tip: Make sure your fruit is the crispy freeze-dried kind, not the leathery, dried variety.

Ground flax seed or black chia seeds each provide fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and help thicken the texture of a smoothie.

For a true energy boost, your smoothie should contain plenty of easy-to-digest simple carbs that will hit your bloodstream quickly—just like those found in energy gels. Instant coffee can add flavor and caffeine, while a hot chocolate packet is a great way to boost carb content and add a chocolately finish.

For optimal trail smoothies, Bowen recommends the BlenderBall wire whisk. “It weighs almost nothing, flattens for easy carrying, and banishes lumps. I also use mine for dry milk, pudding, soup packets, and sauces,” she says. It comes with a BlenderBottle ($9), or buy just a replacement whisk.

See below for three of Bowen’s favorite combos to get you started.

“These shakes started as a gym drink,” Bowen says. “I soon realized they’d provide tasty nutrition on the trail too. They balance protein, carbs, and fat—and keep you hydrated.”

Recipe: Trail Smoothies

Vanilla Almond

1/3 cup egg white powder*
¼ cup freeze-dried bananas, ground (use a coffee grinder or food processor)
1 tsp ground flax seeds
1 squeeze packet almond butter
1 Vanilla Clif Shot gel


1/3 cup egg white powder
1 packet cashew or coconut butter
1/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries, ground
2 tsp black chia seeds
1 Strawberry Clif Shot gel (contains caffeine)

Mocha Cocoa Peanut Butter

1/3 cup egg white powder
¼ cup freeze-dried bananas, ground
1 packet hot chocolate mix
2 tsp freeze-dried/instant espresso
1 packet peanut butter

At home Combine all non-packet ingredients in a zip-top bag.

On the trail Knead nut butter packets so they are fully blended and soft (tip: keep them in your back pocket). Drop your ball whisk into a wide-mouth bottle, then add 6 ounces water and all ingredients. Close lid and shake vigorously for 30 to 45 seconds, until lumps are gone. Add about 6 more ounces of water and shake again until fully blended.

Originally published July 2014; last updated June 2023

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