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Energy Bars
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Energy Bars on 04/12/2005 22:22:21 MDT Print View

This forum thread was created in response to the new article released at on April 12:

First Annual Energy Bar Test

So, the topics du jour for this thread includes:

  • Your favorite bars?
  • The role of bars in your ultralight meal plan
  • Bars vs. Gels?
  • Better ways to spend weight than on bars?
  • Any bars out there that Don't Get Old on a Long Distance Hike?

Edited by ryan on 04/12/2005 22:22:42 MDT.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Cane Juice on 04/12/2005 23:49:16 MDT Print View

I'd like to know what marketing genius came up with "evaporated cane juice" -- sounds a lot like sugar to me.

Is this stuff somehow better than regular ol' C&H?


PS -- Please take this post with a grain of salt. Umm...err, make that a grain of organic-evaporated-crystalized-ocean-essence. <g>

Edited by MikeMartin on 04/13/2005 10:01:20 MDT.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
food bars on 04/13/2005 00:04:13 MDT Print View

As far as I am concerned, the best bars are good old fashioned "candy bars". Perhaps this article could benefit from a control: a snickers, mars, or maybe cadbury milk chocolate for us to get everything calibrated.

I personally am unable to eat more than one "energy bar" a day but I can put away a fine multiple of that in good chocolate bars.

jeremy wo
(jwucd) - F
old fashioned bars on 04/13/2005 01:29:31 MDT Print View

Hear, hear.

Candybars are much cheaper and easier to get. Also, they taste better. They can be a bit sweet, so I like to add some granola bars to the pack.

I noticed Snickers has an energy bar out. I tried it, and as far as I can tell it's just like a normal Snickers bar but tastes nasty.


p.s. When I got tired of carrying around energy bars that I never ate because they were no good I just made my own energy goo. A stick of butter, half cup sugar (I mean, dehydrated cane juice), half cup flower, half cup peanut butter, and a little vanilla (it's basically peanut butter cookie dough). And take a vitamin.

Edited by jwucd on 04/13/2005 01:36:35 MDT.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Not candy bars... on 04/13/2005 07:56:00 MDT Print View

I am by no means a nutrition freak, but I'm not a fan of candybars. Just don't like the taste and/or chocolate.

I, do however, love Cliff/Luna bars. Plenty of flavors to choose from and I can get them from Big Lots for $0.50-$0.60 each. I guess they are not "natural" so they don't qualify for this report.

Alfred Pelayo
(movingmountain) - F
Cliff bars on 04/13/2005 08:31:39 MDT Print View

I prefer Cliff bars. On long trips I do not get tired of eating them as some other bars. Not sure why there not on the list.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
Cliff Bars and Snicker's Marathon on 04/13/2005 09:46:54 MDT Print View

Cliff Bars get my vote. Plenty of variety and high quality taste. Throw in a few Snicker's Marathon's for extra-good flavor and that provides me with plenty of energy on short and long trips.

Marcus Needham
( - F
Clifs, Odwallas, Larabars on 04/13/2005 09:53:35 MDT Print View

Another vote for Clifs, and I also think that Odwalla bars are similar and very good. Finally, the best of all IMHO though smaller and more expensive, are Larabars, which are just pressed fruit and nuts.

jerry rounsley
( - F
Energy Bars on 04/13/2005 10:08:56 MDT Print View

Boomi Bars,any flavor.
Clif Bars new Builder's 20g protein,
peanut butter flavor, break them into pieces and ration those, will last you for miles. Any dark chocolate over 70%
chocolate from

David Robinson
(RobinsonHome) - F
Power Bar "harvest" on 04/13/2005 10:18:55 MDT Print View

I went through a period where I tried just about every energy bar I could lay my hands on. For me, the two largest criteria were:
1) Taste
2) Calories/weight ratio

Most failed the taste test in my book. In the end, I found Power Bar "Harvest" to be the only one that I could pretty consistently eat any flavor without gagging. They don't have the best calories/weight ratio, but at least I'll eat 'em.

...and I'll put a third vote in for candy bars. I normally carry a couple snicker's / day and sometimes a bag of peanut M&M's. One of my snickers traditionally gets downed at night when I'm in my bag... the extra calories help keep me warm and ward off that urge to pee at 4am.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
another clif bar fan on 04/13/2005 11:02:27 MDT Print View

I pretty consistently choke down one clif bar a day on a trip. For a longer trip and consistent high-mileage days (e.g. 20+ mpd), maybe two a day and a gel or two.

Probably the biggest thing I look for in a "food bar" is that it should not break teeth at low temperatures and not require a spoon to eat on a warm day. Clif bars do that, and come in enough flavors to ensure variety and I generally am happy with the flavors. Actually, the peanut butter flavor reminds me of homemade granola bars.

The caffeinated bars are great when you roll out of bed early and skip brewing up, and also on a midafternoon when you still have nine miles to go to make camp, or at the start of a 3000' climb.

I'm neither proud nor consistent, though, and have consumed tiger's milk bars, odwalla bars, snicker's bars, various granola bars, bear valley "pemmican" bars (although they have this aftertaste that makes me think of paint thinner).

A local bakery here makes "date bars" which are outrageously dense, and probably have about fifteen hundred calories. They also sometimes sell "granola bars" which are also quite tasty. These don't keep as well as the commercially packaged bars, but they are so much more tasty that it is often worth the trouble.

I've experimented with the various "gels" over the last few years, and found they are great for quicker energy (the Clif Bar buzz seems to take about twenty minutes to kick in, and lasts 2-3 hours) and for making you thirsty enough to drink more water. Supposedly they are good electrolyte replacers as well, and that can be important if you are drinking four or five liters of water a day. My big gripe about the gel products is the packaging is awkward. I'd rather see the stuff in a tube with a cap (like toothpaste, pesto mix, or wasabi) and I could just take a hit off the tube when the urge strikes. A tube that held the equivalent of 3-4 gel packages would seem to be about right. My guess is that it would also be cheaper to package them this way, and since the gels are so outrageously expensive that is no small thing.

Edited by david_bonn on 04/13/2005 11:04:22 MDT.

Marcus Needham
( - F
Hammer and CarbBoom gels on 04/13/2005 11:08:55 MDT Print View

David, you can buy Hammer and CarbBoom in large bottles (16 or 20 fl oz) and then repackage them into 5 floz polyethylene poptop flasks. Hammergel comes (or at least used to) packaged with a free flask per bottle, or you can buy them from Ulitmate Directions. I find a 5 oz flask to be great for supplementing solid food on a tough day hike. Gu and some of the other gel brands come in 5oz sizes for refilling a flask too.

Alfred Dole

Locale: Northwest
Power Bars on 04/13/2005 14:08:39 MDT Print View

Several years ago my son and I hiked the John Muir Trail. I realized on the second day that we needed a bit more food. At the Tuolome Meadows store I bought enough Power Bars for us to share through the trip, (one each day.) We began stopping for a morning break each day at about 10:30, carefully cutting a Power Bar in half, and doing our best to keep hydrated. We stopped again for lunch around 2:30, and then camped at about 6:00 or 6:30. The Power Bars made a huge difference! We remained very satisfied and full through the rest of the incredibly memorable trip. I was very surprised! I can't wait to do it again!!

Don Lake
(donlake) - F - M
promax bars on 04/13/2005 19:58:47 MDT Print View

you should have checked out the promax bars. they taste great and have the right stuff. i use them on all my sierra trips.

Craig Zastera
(craigza) - F
you left out the best backpacking bars on 04/13/2005 20:47:26 MDT Print View

I can't believe that you ommitted Bear Valley Pemmican bars. I consider them easily the best choice for backpacking trips. They contain 100% natural ingredients and come in four varieties. For example, the "carob cocoa" flavor contains "Malted corn and barley, nonfat milk, soy flour, honey, almonds, raisins, oats, soy oil ,sunflower seeds, cocoa, wheat bran, carob."
Each bar is 3.75 oz and 410 - 440 calories (depending on flavor) with a good balance between protein, fat, and carbs plus vitamins.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Tiger's Milk rules! on 04/13/2005 22:39:59 MDT Print View

I think I'll try some of these new bars. Energy bars are nice becuiase they pack so well and are so convenient. If only they had good taste without being too sweet.

I'm a big fan of Tiger's Milk bars. Sort of a cross between a candy bar and an energy bar. Not too sweet, but I don't need to suppress my gag reflex after a day or two of eating these gems. They come in two flavors, which taste exactly identical to me (peanut butter and high protein, I think).

I too have a collection of energy bars which I have hoisted around on various trips, always leaving them for last, and never eating them unless I'm desparate. Some have been on numerous trips and circumnavigated the globe.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Snickers comparison on 04/14/2005 10:21:53 MDT Print View

I just did a stare-and-compare between the Snickers Marathon Energy Bar and the Snickers Candy Bar. Listing the percentage of Daily Value (DV) based on a 2000 calorie diet. The energy bar has many vitamins and minerals listed that the candy bar does not. The candy bar tastes better (probably because of the doubled fat and sugars), but offers minimul or no information on nutritional value. I have tasted worse energy bars than the Snickers.
I believe an earlier post stated something like 'I'd rather eat the candy bar and take a multi-vitamin', which is not too far off if taste is a concern. Then you have to add the weight of the vitamins in addition to the heavier candy bar!
I think the energy bar packs better than the candy bar and it doesn't melt like the candy bar so they last longer in the pack.
I usually get these type bars by the case for the scouting event (you find they will eat just about anything). With the kids, they also tend to eat the candy bars on the first day rather than spread them out for the duration of the trip. In the past, I have bought the PowerBar (regular and harvest), the Gold Bars and the Snickers bars. I guess I will have to try Tigers Milk next.

Edited by mikes on 04/14/2005 10:24:53 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Second Breakfast on 04/14/2005 11:09:14 MDT Print View

Lately we've been eating an energy bar or maybe a package of Pop-Tarts (boo, hiss!) about 2 hours after breakfast. In honor of Hobbits, some of whom have walked many long miles barefoot, we've started calling this 'Second Breakfast.' (LOTR fans may recall the bit of dialogue that mentions this.) Second Breakfast is a huge help in getting through the morning, both physically and psychologically. (Actually, the finest second breakfast we ever had was at a small cafe just off the AT north of Damascus, Va. Mmmm, biscuits!)

I like Clif bars for all the reasons listed above: taste, easy to eat in both warm and cold conditions, and did I mention taste? I like the Carrot Cake flavor, though some might find it too sweet. I was particularly fond of the Spiced Pumpkin flavor last fall, though that one's gone now.

I also like BV Pemmican Bars, but I find I need to drink a LOT of water to eat an entire bar. Mostly we share one among the three of us.

I have a harder time with Snickers and the like. I like chocolate, but I find I have to force myself to eat a whole bar, even after a couple of weeks on the trail. (Really good dark chocolate still goes down just fine, though.) So I buy the mini-bars, and use them as occasional taste-treats while hiking and after meals.

Thanks the test crew for trying all of the tested bars. I found it most interesting that each had a different favorite.

Ken B

hobbits culturally adapted to backpacking meal regimes on 04/14/2005 12:35:50 MDT Print View

"Daily hobbit meals include Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Luncheon,
Afternoon Tea and Supper, supplemented with plenty of snacks in between. ..."

Middle Earth had lembas we have clif bars

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
lembas... on 04/14/2005 15:30:28 MDT Print View

Lembas, one bite will last the day. Imagine, an ounce or so of food for an entire trip!

Edited by tlbj6142 on 04/14/2005 15:31:10 MDT.