The Trail Bar Test
While Tusker will be providing all of our food on the hike, they don’t provide trail snacks. Hence we started our “Trail Bar Taste Test”. We were not very scientific – taste was our number one category. Melt potential was a factor, along with potential freeze factor. We were looking for bars with either high carbs or protein per calorie. But taste and texture were the most important. Of the 10 brands we tried, the only two we did not like were both gluten free bars trying to have a cookie texture: Braaap and Perfect Fit Cookies. The OatMega Bar is also gluten free, and while the flavor was bland, it has 14g of protein per 190 calories. Another gluten free bar we threw off the list was the Keen-Wah Decadence. While the Keen-Wah was delicious, the chocolate coating has a huge melt potential.
Most trail bars are sweet; too sweet. When we hike, we like salty snacks. Finding that sweet/salty trail bar should be easy, but it is not. Bars that were put in the “dessert” category were the Fruit Chia bars, the Rise, the Honey Stinger bar and most of the Larabar varieties; especially the Larabar UBER. In addition to being too sweet, the Rise was dense at room temperature and we were sure that they would break teeth if we tried to eat them cold.
The average Calorie count was 240 per bar, the highest bars were the Pro-Bar Meals at 360 and the lowest the Fruit Chia at 155. The Fruit Chia was not only lowest in Calories, but also in Fat.. Most Trail bars are high in fat (nuts) and low in sodium. We couldn’t decide if being high in fiber would be a benefit or detractor. On one hand you stay regular, on the other hand you are hiking and you do not want to be too regular…
When it comes to Protein + Carbs per Calorie, the good old Cliff Bar still wins out. Also high on the list were Bobo’s Oat Bars, the Bonk Breaker Bar and the Pro-Bars. Some of those brands actually made it to our food stash: Cliff bars, Pro-bars. Then we added the EPIC bar. EPIC makes 3 varieties of trail bars: Bison, Turkey and Beef. They are not as chewy as jerkey but have a nice chewy consistency. After having a lot of dessert bars, when we popped open the Epic bars, it was such a nice change that we both decided to bring some along. Our favorite was the Bison.
Oh – we did try 4 different brands of electrolyte drink powders. No brand stood out because in each brand there were flavors we liked and disliked. Which is really the key point – bring what you like. Forget about the calories or protein content. Forget about the high fiber or the antioxidents or RAW ingredients. You will not be happy if you are forcing down something that just does not taste good.