If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, a hike, or camping in the great outdoors, you’ve probably eaten “gorp, “you just might not have called it that at the time. Basically, if it was a combination of nuts and dried fruits, it was gorp. Yep, that’s right, gorp is just another term for trail mix. In fact, it’s actually the older term for trail mix, and there are a few theories about what it means and where it comes from, so let’s dive in.

What is gorp?

Gorp is a popular snack often enjoyed during outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or backpacking (but there are no rules, it’s a great at-home snack, too). Like trail mix, it typically consists of a mixture of nuts, dried fruits, oats, seeds, and sometimes chocolate or other sweet treats. 

Many believe that “gorp” is actually an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts,” passed down over generations of hikers and backpackers. This theory does make sense—after all, these two ingredients are the base of the mix. But there are many other theories about gorp, too. Who knew a mixture of nuts, seeds, and chocolate could be so polarizing?


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Where did gorp come from?

There are actually two acronym theories for gorp. As well as “good old raisins and peanuts,” some believe that the letters stand for “granola, oats, raisins, and peanuts.” This meaning was mentioned by the Boy Scouts of America in a newsletter from the 1960s, and of course, also makes sense when you consider what gorp is often made from.

But many are of the opinion that gorp is not an acronym at all, but rather a word all on its own. In 1913, for example, the Oxford English Dictionary listed gorp with the definition “to eat greedily.” This also tracks—when you’ve been hiking for a long time, it’s hard to resist the temptation to munch your snack down voraciously.

And it could even be both a word and an acronym. Backpacker and writer Ashley Brown wrote in a blog post for outdoor clothing and gear brand REI: “If gorp begat GORP then, that means “good ol’ raisins and peanuts” is actually a backronym—an invention of well-meaning GORP lovers trying to give meaning to the already existing word.”

And the word is still evolving. Now, many lovers of the outdoors and hiking refer to “gorpcore,” which encompasses fashion that is functional, durable, and often utilitarian. The trend often emphasizes comfort, practicality, and a connection to nature. Think: rugged boots, weatherproof jackets, cargo pants, and backpacks with plenty of pockets.

Trail mixLiudmyla Chuhunova

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How to make vegan gorp

Whether it’s called gorp, GORP, trail mix, or just a bag of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit, the fact remains: it’s easy to make, tasty, and nutritious. The carbohydrates from dried fruits and chocolate provide quick energy, while the protein and fats from nuts offer longer-lasting energy, helping to keep levels stable during a hike. It also provides a good boost of protein, too, especially if you go heavier on the nuts.

If you’re short on time to prep, you can also buy pre-made bags of gorp in advance. Options include Nature’s Eats Nuts for Energy (which features cranberries, mango, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and almonds), for example, or BetterFoods Raw Superfoods Trail Mix, which includes Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, goji berries, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

There are also many different ways to make gorp from scratch—it entirely depends on your preference. You could mix together almonds, cherries, and dark chocolate pieces, for example, or you could opt for a blend of cashews, sunflower seeds, and wasabi peas. Alternatively, you could mix raisins and nuts with dark chocolate candy, like these M&M-style Dark Chocolate Quinoa Gems from Unreal, for example. 

Some gorp recipes include ingredients like coconut flakes or electrolyte-rich dried fruits, which can help to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat on a particularly strenuous hike.

You can mix whatever combination of nuts, seeds, fruits, and chocolate you like in a bag or a Tupperware, but the golden rule is to make sure your gorp mix is lightweight, portable, and doesn’t require refrigeration. And if in doubt about what to pack in your gorp mix, remember: you can’t go wrong with good old raisins and peanuts.

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