35 Trail Mix Ingredients Ranked from Best to Worst

35 Trail Mix Ingredients Ranked from Best to Worst

When making your own trail mix, you’ve got a lot of options. In fact, Boys’ Life magazine has developed a list of 35 potential ingredients you can use in creating a trail mix that suits your taste and gives you the energy you need for that hike you want to go on.

The Scouting Wire team thought it would be fun to take that Boys’ Life list of 35 trail mix ingredients and rank all of the ingredients in the order we would choose to put them in our own trail mix. Again, this list is just for fun. A nutritional best-to-worst list would probably require us to have degrees we didn’t earn in college.

This ranking process was pretty painstaking. In fact, we expect this trail mix ranking might be kind of polarizing, so feel free to tell us in the comments how wrong we are about where raisins belong on the list (but you should know now that we’re not wrong about where we ranked raisins), and share your own personal trail mix ranking with us.

So, without further ado, here is the definitive ranking of Boys’ Life magazine’s 35 Tasty Trail Mix Ingredients in our preferred order from best to worst:

  1. Reese’s Pieces – Crunchy candy shell + peanut butter center + not boring old chocolate = perfection. Can the whole trail mix just be this?
  2. Cashews – While it’s not technically a nut, it is technically the most delicious option among the nuts you’d put in trail mix.
  3. Banana chips – Combines two of the world’s greatest foods: bananas and chips.
  4. Chex cereals – We can have our favorite childhood cereal (seriously) in a trail mix? Yes, please!
  5. Granola – Tried and true. If our trail mix doesn’t have granola, we might just not hit the trail at all.
  6. Cheetos – Artificially orange and artificially cheesy, but authentically the kind of fun surprise you want to find when you dig the trail mix bag out of your daypack.
  7. Cayenne Pepper – Adding a little classic spice is always nice.
  8. M&Ms – If you haven’t already guessed, we’re suckers for a crunchy candy shell on a small, round treat.
  9. Dried Cranberries – These are tart, sweet, chewy, and a million times better than yucky raisins.
  10. Salt – A little salt goes a loooooooooong way, but it does help kick up the flavor and, frankly, it makes trail mix taste like you always remember it.
  11. Pretzels – crunchy and salty and they come in a variety of fun shapes to keep texture interesting in the mix.
  12. Pistachios – So green! We’re not talking about the pistachios; we’re talking about all the money you’ll spend on this expensive ingredient – but it’s totally worth it.
  13. Dried Apples – Apples are maybe a little boring, but that’s not their fault, and they’re pretty good in a trail mix.
  14. Peanut Butter Chips – These can get a little melty, but peanut butter is full of energy and full of flavor, and, and their most important character trait is that peanut butter chips aren’t aren’t chocolate chips.
  15. Walnuts – great texture and good aesthetics when you gaze into that bag.
  16. Wasabi Peas – These add a spicy surprise and remind you that you need to be drinking plenty of water when you’re out on the trail.
  17. Pecans – Don’t tell pecans that they’re so far down on the list, but we like them better in pie than we do in trail mix.
  18. Garlic Powder – Be super careful not to use too much. You’ll already be smelling less than fresh when you come off the trail, no need to add to the problem with too much garlic.
  19. Chocolate Chips – They get melty and suffer from being too obvious, but if you like to keep your adventure on the trail instead of in your trail mix, this might be a good option for you.
  20. Almonds – Good for energy and filling, but you won’t gain any points for originality.
  21. Dried Apricots – We’re just not all that fond of these. The texture is like biting into an ear — not that we’ve done that — we’re just sayin’…
  22. Curry Powder – Could be polarizing – much like this ranking list.
  23. Sunflower Seeds – Small and not tremendously satisfying. They also fall right to the bottom of the mix, which makes them basically pointless.
  24. Dried Blueberries – Ranked so low on the list because they have a tendency to look a lot like raisins.
  25. Chili Powder – We prefer the spicier cayenne pepper.
  26. Pumpkin Seeds – Including these in trail mix is really more of a trick than a treat.
  27. Sweetened Cereal (like Fruit Loops) – Something about putting sweet cereal in a trail mix just conjures images of mom telling us we’re going to rot out our teeth on that stuff.
  28. Candied Orange Peel – Gross.
  29. Onion Powder – Also gross.
  30. Popcorn – Picking kernels out of your teeth while hiking isn’t very fun.
  31. Sweetened coconut – This is so low on the list mostly because coconut seems to always draw loud complaints. We like coconut, but we don’t like listening to complaints while out on the trail.
  32. White Chocolate Chips – Unless you just hate chocolate or are allergic, there’s almost no reason ever to have white chocolate in anything. Ever.
  33. Cinnamon – Cinnamon is only really OK around the holidays, which makes it a bad trail mix ingredient for about 11 out of 12 months of the year.
  34. Peanuts – Come on. Peanuts just aren’t that interesting. They aren’t terrible, but you can do a whole lot better.
  35. Raisins – We’re pretty sure no one has ever said, “Mmmm. I’m really craving some raisins right now!” So if you know someone who has said that, don’t put them in charge of making the trail mix.

Nathan Johnson

As a member of the Communications team at Boy Scouts of America, Nathan Johnson enjoys finding and sharing the stories that inform, inspire, and delight the Scouting family.


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35 Trail Mix Ingredients Ranked from Best to Worst
35 Trail Mix Ingredients Ranked from Best to Worst
35 Trail Mix Ingredients Ranked from Best to Worst