Is Beef Jerky Good For Hiking? (The Truth)
When it comes to hiking and outdoor excursions, one of the most popular snacks is beef jerky. It’s light, easy to carry, and tasty — but is it really a good option for hikers? Let’s take a look at the truth behind beef jerky and see what makes it an ideal snack for your next hike.
Personally, I absolutely love beef jerky. I eat it all the time, even when I’m not hiking. But when it comes to hiking – beef jerky is an ideal snack because it is typically high in protein and low in fat and calories, which can help provide you with sustained energy throughout your trek. It is also full of essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins — all of which are important for maintaining energy levels and overall health. Additionally, beef jerky is lightweight and easy to carry, making it perfect for long hikes.
So, with that being said, let’s explore further to learn more about the nutritional benefits of beef jerky and why it makes an excellent snack for hikers.
What Makes Beef Jerky Good for Hiking?
So in this section, I’ll break it down by nutrients, such as protein, fat, sodium, etc., to paint a full picture. Let’s start with the protein content.
Protein is essential for providing energy and helping your body to rebuild and repair muscles after strenuous activity. Beef jerky is an excellent source of protein, providing as much as 14 to 18 grams per 1-ounce serving. Typically, in a small pack (like the one I pictured above), you’ll find between 25-35g of protein per pack, which is quite incredible when it comes to protein per calorie.
While beef jerky does contain some fat, it is relatively low in fat compared to other snacks. Generally speaking, 1-ounce of beef jerky will contain around 2 grams of fat, making it a great option for hikers who are looking for a low-fat snack.
It is true that beef jerky does contain sodium — but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Depending on the brand, 1-ounce of beef jerky can contain up to 400 mg of sodium. Sodium usually gets a bad wrap, but it can actually be beneficial for hikers and anyone building up a sweat, as it helps to replenish electrolytes and fluids lost through sweat.
However, IT IS STILL important to note that too much sodium can be detrimental to one’s health. As such, it is important to read the label to ensure you are getting the right amount, and not just loading up on sodium without any sort of exercise.
Vitamins and Minerals
Beef jerky is also an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, beef jerky is high in iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. Iron plays a role in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to the cells in your body.
Zinc is essentially a master healer and helps with wound healing, and the B vitamins are essential for metabolism, energy production, and maintaining a healthy nervous system.
Beef jerky is also relatively low in calories. 1-ounce of beef jerky usually has between 80-100 calories, making it a great option for those looking to maintain their calorie intake. Of course, there are some beef jerky brands that are higher in calories — so just be sure to read the label before buying (if you’re looking for a low-cal option.)
Carbohydrates are a major component of any diet and beef jerky actually has little to no carbohydrates. In fact, depending on the brand, 1-ounce of beef jerky can contain as little as 0-2 grams of carbohydrates. This makes beef jerky a great option for those who are following a low-carb diet. HOWEVER – carbs get a bad wrap just like sodium. Carbs are not evil.
As a matter of fact, carbohydrates are actually quite essential for a healthy body. I’m not going to get into a debate on whether low-carb, Atkins, or keto diets are worth it – there is enough scientific evidence that proves they work. However, carbs are responsible for providing your body with energy and are broken down into glucose, which is used by your cells and tissues for growth and repair.
How to Store Beef Jerky for Hiking?
So you’ve decided to take some beef jerky with you on your next hike, but you are wondering how to store it. Very simple!
Storing beef jerky properly can help it last longer, so here are a few tips on how to store beef jerky for your next hike:
1. Keep it Dry – Beef jerky will last longer when it is stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight, and make sure to keep it away from any moisture, as this can cause it to spoil quicker.
2. Use an Airtight Container – When storing beef jerky, make sure to use a container that is airtight. This will help keep the jerky fresh and prevent it from getting stale. Usually, if you buy from a store-bought pack, they’ll come in a seal-tight pack; make sure that it’s sealed when you’re not eating from it.
3. Refrigerate It – If you have a lot of jerky and plan on taking it with you on many hikes, consider refrigerating it. Jerky that’s at room temperature typically has a shelf-life of about 2 weeks. Just make sure to put it in an airtight container before storing it in the refrigerator. If you want the beef jerky to last even longer, you can freeze it.
Why Does Beef Jerky Contain So Much Sodium?
So I wanted to touch a bit more on the sodium part. Sodium is a mineral that helps regulate the body’s fluids and electrolytes, but too much of it can lead to higher blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. So why does beef jerky contain so much sodium? The answer lies in the curing process.
To make beef jerky, meat is soaked in a salty brine solution containing preservatives and spices. This solution helps to preserve the meat, making it easier to store and transport. However, the salt also adds a lot of sodium to the final product, which can be unhealthy in large quantities.
Luckily, as I mentioned, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding low-sodium beef jerky. Many brands offer varieties that contain less sodium, or have natural flavors with no added salt. Additionally, you can make your own beef jerky at home, using a lean cut of meat and a blend of spices that suit your taste. This way, you can control the amount of sodium in your jerky and make sure it’s as healthy as possible.
Best Brands For Beef Jerky
For those looking for a convenient, pre-made option, there are plenty of brands offering quality beef jerky. Here are some of the best options:
Jack Link’s: Jack Link’s is one of the most popular brands of beef jerky on the market. They have a huge range of flavors and styles to choose from, including classic Original, Teriyaki, and Peppered. Plus, they have several low-sodium options and some sugar-free varieties as well.
Get Jack Links beef jerky here.
Oberto: Oberto beef jerky comes in a variety of flavors, from traditional favorites like Original and Teriyaki, to more unique flavors like Pineapple Orange and Bourbon BBQ. Plus, all of their products are made with natural ingredients and no added MSG.
Archer: This Californian-based company offers a variety of jerky beef flavors, ranging from Mango Habanero to Jalapeno to Fuego! Their products are all made with premium cuts of beef and contain no added MSG or fillers.
Krave: Krave offers a delicious range of all-natural beef jerky options, from classic flavors like Sweet Chipotle and Sea Salt to unique flavors like Chili Lime, and Black cherry.
So Is beef jerky good for hiking? Overall, beef jerky is a great snack for hikers, providing a convenient source of protein, energy, and flavor. It’s also versatile, with plenty of flavors and varieties to choose from.
Additionally, many brands offer low-sodium or sugar-free options, so you can ensure you’re getting a healthy snack. When picking out a beef jerky, it’s important to read the label and look for products made with all-natural ingredients and no added MSG or fillers. This will help you make sure you’re getting a healthy snack that provides the nutrition you need for your hike.