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TRAIL FOODS TASTE-OFF

Go the Distance With
Enticing Energy Snacks

We’re back with another Trail Food Friday, continuing our series on fresh new trail food finds. This week, we’re highlighting a selection of organicvegetarian and gluten-free energy snacks to help you keep motoring down the trail and tackling the big ascents. Our team’s selection includes a mix of tasty bars, flavorful snack blends and a particularly potent energy drink. Wanna get away from the same ol’ thing. Give one of these appetizing alternatives a try.

1. Setton Farms: Pistachio Power Blend

A very tasty mix of sweet and nutty whole foods. ~ Tami

This refreshingly sweet, crunchy and chewy blend of fruit and nuts was a big hit with our tasters, and takes the top spot on our energy snacks list. Featuring a vegan blend of pistachios, almonds and pumpkin seeds for carbs and protein, and cranberries, cherries and blueberries for antioxidants and potassium, it makes a great energy booster to keep putting the miles on. Our crew found it hard to limit themselves to just one serving (1 ounce). It just means you might have to carry more—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our only comment: more pistachios!

DIET: VEG, GF*
CARBS: 15g    
SERVINGS: 5
PROTEIN: 4g   
CALORIES: 140
FAT: 8g  

2. Skout Backcountry: Organic Energy Bars

I will definitely take some of these on my hikes. ~ Mitzi

With only a handful of whole-food ingredients in each bar, this selection of organic, gluten-free bars was a real crowd-pleaser. Featuring a pleasantly moist and chewy texture, these bars provide a healthy serving of antioxidants and low-glycemic fuel to help keep you going without any sudden crashes. Our team found the Oregon Blueberry Almond (“super-tasty”), Washington Apple Cinnamon (“like apple pie”), and Argentinian Peanut Butter (“great flavor”) to be the tastiest. The chocolate varieties left our team wanting a little more flavor-wise.

DIET: ORG, VEG, GF*
CARBS: 20–25g    
SERVINGS: 1
PROTEIN: 3–4g   
CALORIES: 110–160
FAT: 4–8g  

3. Supernola: Superfood Snacks

A tasty alternative to snack bars. ~ Eli

Super-what? A recent discovery at Outdoor Retailer, these tasty snacks are gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO blends of nuts, seeds and organic superfoods that pack an on-trail punch. The two flavors that wowed our tasters were the Triple Berry Vanilla, with nine nuts and seeds plus gogi, golden and maqui berries, coconut and red maca; and Dragonfruit Lemon Zest, with ten nuts and seeds, dried dragonfruit, coconut, ginger and organic lemon oil. One package indicates 1 1/2 servings, but there’s no way to resist demolishing the entire thing in one sitting (specs adjusted).

DIET: VEG, GF*
CARBS: 12–13g    
SERVINGS: 1
PROTEIN: 7.5g   
CALORIES: 210–225
FAT: 17–18g  

DID YOU KNOW:

GET YOUR POTASSIUM: This essential nutrient is a powerhouse for hikers. Maintaining a regular intake of potassium (4,700mg/day for adults) can help stimulate neural activity, strengthen muscles, prevent cramps, boost your metabolism and reduce stress. LEARN MORE.

CHERRY ON TOP: Adding dried cherries to your trail diet gives you an extra dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that can help reduce muscle damage and fatigue, promote faster muscle recovery, and assist with better, more fitful sleep. LEARN MORE.

4. Patagonia Provisions: Fruit + Almond Bars

Nice flavor and texture without being overly sweet. ~ Mitzi

Made from just a few organic, gluten-free ingredients, including real fruit, chopped nuts, baobab and black chia, we found these bars to be a fresh and flavorful alternative to typical trail bars, while also providing a good dose of antioxidants, potassium and Omega-3s. The only drawback is that they’re quite small, at just 1.2 ounces per serving, with less trail fuel than some of the other beefier bars. Despite that, they’re a tasty option for a small pick-me-up. Our team’s favorite flavors were Incaberry + Almond and Mango + Almond (see Pro Tips).

DIET: ORG, VEG, GF
CARBS: 22–23g    
SERVINGS: 1
PROTEIN: 2g   
CALORIES: 120
FAT: 3–3.5g  

5. Skout Backcountry: Plant Protein Bars

With just five ingredients, these bars knocked my socks off. ~ Tami

Skout managed to score another place in our lineup with their new organic plant protein bars, loaded with all-natural calories and carbs in a chewy pumpkin seed and date base. One of our tasters even likened them to a “moist and chewy brownie—without the guilt!” Made with just four or five ingredients each, the flavor of these bars is a bit on the subtle side, which left a couple of our tasters underwhelmed, but all liked the big dose of fuel each bar provides. We liked the Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Cherry varieties the best.

DIET: ORG, VEG, GF
CARBS: 19–22g    
SERVINGS: 1
PROTEIN: 10g   
CALORIES: 260–280
FAT: 15–18g  

HYDRATE: Mtn Ops: Ignite Energy Drink

Refreshing, energizing and tasty! ~ Rachel

Need a good dose of rocket fuel for a big mileage push, or to help you down the home stretch to camp? Our team was quite pleased with this drink’s performance and great taste—much better than many other energy drink mixes or tablets. Mixed into 8–12 ounces of water, one serving provides a 900mg dose of choline bitartrate, ly-tryosine and DMAE bitartrate to help improve mental clarity, plus essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to deliver long-lasting energy without jitters or crashes. The Green Apple flavor (“like a Jolly Rancher!”) was a team fave.**

DIET: VEG, GF
CARBS: 1g    
SERVINGS: 1
PROTEIN: 0g   
CALORIES: 30
FAT: 0g  

PRO TIPS:

EAT YOUR FRUIT: Trail bars and snacks that include large portions of real fruit can dry up quickly and turn hard if not fully consumed shortly after opening. To enjoy the best flavor and texture with these fruit food items, it’s advisable to eat the entire snack in one sitting.

PEAK PERFORMANCE: The best energy snacks provide a balance of calories, carbs, protein, fat and essential nutrients. Nuts and nut butters are excellent for sustained energy and B vitamins, while dried fruits are good sources of fiber, antioxidants and potassium.

DON’T OVERLOAD: The average body can only process about 60 grams of carbs per hour. More than this can cause stomach irritation. This means you don’t have to “carbo-load” to stay fueled up. Rather, take regular snack breaks every hour or two.

LEARN MORE:

Wild Backpacker: Food and Nutrition
REI: How To Choose Energy Foods and Drinks

Next week we’ll be featuring some of our favorite organic, vegetarian and gluten-free no-cook meals—all great lunchtime options to help you break free from the same ol’ bag of jerky. See you next week!

Meet Our Taste-Off Panel

asars spot
Tami Asars
brandon spot
Brandon Fralic
lisa spot
Lisa Holmes
kramer spot
Philip Kramer
mitzi spot
Mitzi Sugar
wood spot
Rachel Wood
eli spot
Eli Boschetto
This post contains affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, PCT: Oregon may receive a small commission. These commissions help offset PCT: Oregon’s hosting, operating and development expenses. Affiliate links do not change your purchase prices.
Based on sample availability and dietary restrictions, not all panel participants taste-tested all menu items. Nutrition information is based on single serving size. *Indicates a food item that is made with gluten-free ingredients, however it may not have been produced or packaged in a gluten-free environment. **Consult your health care provider before using if pregnant, nursing or have any serious medical conditions; see Mtn Ops website for more information.  
Main photo: PCT hiker traversing the base of Three-Fingered Jack in Oregon’s Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.

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