Perhaps, trail mix – otherwise referred to as “GORP” – really is supposed to just be “Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”, but I personally think the possibilities are nearly limitless.

While its origins date back to the early 1900s – with popular outdoorsmen Horace Kephart recommending the combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as being the ultimate hiking/camping snack – the energy-boosting mix has also been popularized around the globe as studenterhavre (translating to “student oats”) in Denmark and schmogle in New Zealand.

There’s no denying that trail mix is delicious. What could be a better excuse to snack on chocolate throughout the day? Of course, the original “formula” was certainly a satisfactory one, there are so many new ways and ingredients you can use to combine into the perfect craving-buster.

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It’s an art form (kinda, truly), and to create epic trail mix, you must think outside the proverbial snack bag. Composed of 4 main “food groups” – nuts, sweets, fruits and crunchy add-ins – there are plenty to choose from that are way cooler than just raisins and peanuts.

1. Nuts

  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Pepitas
  • Cashews
  • Brazil Nuts

I do understand that peanuts are technically “legumes” but for the sake of this list, I’m grouping it with the rest of these nuts. Other than that, the next top choices in the category are almonds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, brazil nuts and cashews. Hazelnuts are a little too alternative for this traditional snack and sunflower seeds are just a mess to eat because they are too small. These should satisfy you enough and give you a healthy dose of protein. In all honesty, I could probably just eat cashews and pecans alone all day long.

2. Sweets

  • M&Ms
  • Coconut Shavings
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Peanut Butter Chips
  • Yogurt Chips
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Chocolate Covered Fruit
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels

While the original combo was probably a lot more “wholesome” and made do with regular chocolate chips, what would life be without a little candy? Most concoctions stick to chips or M&Ms but I’ve had some mixes that had peanut butter chips and yogurt chips, giving the whole snack a nice creamy, dairy kick. White chocolate chips (especially coupled with craisins) has always been a longtime favorite as well.

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3. Dried Fruit

  • Raisins
  • Craisins
  • Banana Chips
  • Dried Apricot
  • Dried Pineapple
  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Mango

Dried fruit is glucose-rich meaning it will provide you with an instant boost of energy. In the health world, dried fruit has a bad rap, but you know… everything is ok in moderation – especially if you are not downing bags full like I sometimes tend to do… The best fruits in my opinion are craisins (dried cranberries), banana chips, goji berries and mango. They’re delicious and don’t taste like plastic turd, to be frank. If you have good dried apricot or pineapple, this can also be a great mix-in – as long as it’s more fresh and not “chalky” as some varieties tend to be. Raisins are on this list because it’s a classic and some [crazy] people actually like them, but honestly… I could do without. Sh! Dried fruits that are just a waste of money, time and space? Dates, mulberries and golden raisins. Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh medjool dates, but those turd-looking dried dates that typically come in trail mix usually get tossed aside. Mulberries and golden raisins? Just no.

4. Crunchy Add-Ins

  • Granola
  • Cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Sesame Sticks
  • Popcorn

I don’t always see this in trail-mixes, but if you’re really feeling indulgent or on the wild side of things, these can certainly rev things up. While I prefer my trail mix to be sweeter, sometimes adding something salty like pretzels, sesame sticks and/or popcorn can give trail mix a higher, more complex taste profile.

Personally, my dream trail mix recipe would be: Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, cranberries, banana chips, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and granola. Yum!

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What is your favorite Trail Mix recipe?